DestinationsSouth AmericaChile10 Harshest Places to Live on Earth: A Testament to Human Resilience
10 Harshest Places to Live on Earth: A Testament to Human Resilience

10 Harshest Places to Live on Earth: A Testament to Human Resilience

Embark on a journey to the harshest places to live on earth, where the extremes of nature meet the pinnacle of human perseverance. These ten locales are not just geographical points on a map; they are epic tales of survival, showcasing the incredible adaptability of life in the face of daunting environmental challenges.

Dallol, Ethiopia – The Place with Highest Temperature

Dallol Ethiopia highest temperature can reach nearly 63 degree celsius
The Dallol Ethiopia’s highest temperature can reach nearly 63oC.

Dallol is located 483km from the capital of Ethiopia and is recognized as one of the hottest places in the world. The temperature here is often above 38oC and peaks at nearly 63oC. If you just stand still for a few minutes, your shoes can melt because of the heat. The reason Dallol is so hot is because this place is located on an active volcano.

It would seem that with such heat, Dallol would not have a soul, but on the contrary, the Afar people use Dallol as their place to live. To be able to adapt to the heat in Dallol, the Afar people created a special type of paint that can reflect sunlight. They wait until it is cooler at night and then move around the area to collect seaweed. Afar people often use cow’s milk and goat’s milk to supplement electrolytes and prevent dehydration.

Oymyakon, Russia – The Coldest City

coldest place on earth oymyakon russia
The coldest place on earth: Oymyakon, Russia.

Oymyakon is the coldest city in the world, located in Russia, with a population of about 500 people. The average winter temperature is about -50 degrees Celsius, and there is only light during the day for about three hours. At Oymyakon Square, a memorial was erected, recording a record temperature of -71.2 degrees Celsius in 1924. Although cold in winter, summer here has temperatures as high as 34 degrees Celsius. Main food The people’s staple is fish caught from the glacier.

La Rinconada, Peru – The World’s Highest City by Elevation

La Rinconada is one of the world's highest cities by elevation
In fact, La Rinconada is one of the world’s highest cities by elevation.

La Rinconada in Peru is a city located at the highest altitude in the world, which is 5,100 m above sea level. The city has 50,000 people living there. Actually, people live in La Rinconada because this is a huge gold mine. Indeed, people can own anything they find in La Rinconada’s unregulated gold mines. The town has no hotels. It can only be reached by gravel roads, but it takes several days to reach.

Read more: Top 20 Highest Cities in the World by Elevation – A Sky-High Adventure Awaits!

Arica, Chile – The Driest Place

Arica Chile is the driest city in the world
Arica, Chile is the driest city in the world.

The driest inhabited place in the world is Arica city in Chile, in the Atacama desert region. Each year, the city only receives about 0.76 mm of rain, whereas the Atacama desert has not had rain for 500 years. Although harsh, the population here still remains around 220,000 people. They are working mainly in the port sector and transporting fruit in the nearby AzapaandLluta Valley area.

Mawsynram, India – The Wettest Place

the village Mawsynram India is the wettest place on earth
The village Mawsynram, India is the wettest place on earth.

Mawsynram village in Khasi Hills, Meghalaya state, eastern India, is the place with the most rainfall in the world. This “world’s wettest” village records more than 11,880 mm of rain per year, 11 times that of Glasgow and 22 times that of London – two cities that are also famous for being wet because of a lot of rain.

Located near the Bay of Bengal and Bangladesh, Mawsynram’s geographical location provides for long monsoons. The towering Himalayan mountains block the clouds from escaping, contributing to heavy rains.

The rain in Mawsynram is not like the rain in most places. Once it rains, it usually lasts for several consecutive days, sometimes even a week. The record rainfall in Mawsynram was 1,003 mm in June 2022, twice the amount of rain London received in a year. Residents still choose to live here because the village welcomes about 10,000 tourists each year.

La Oroya, Peru – The Most Polluted City

la oroya peru pollution
The pollution is severe in La Oroya, Peru.

La Oroya in Peru is the most polluted city. ”Life is truly terrible for 25,000 residents of the central Peruvian city” is a comment from BBC Science Focus magazine. Dangerously high levels of arsenic, lead, and sulfur dioxide are in the air, while acid rain destroys surrounding vegetation.

La Oroya is home to a smelting facility owned by Doe Run Peru, the city’s major employer, and produces metals such as gold, silver, bismuth, cadmium, and many others. The Blacksmith Institute – a non-profit organization working to improve risks from pollution – recognized La Oroya as one of the most polluted cities in the world in 2007.

Tristan de Cunha, St. Helena – The Most Remote Destination

beautiful but isolated Tristan de Cunha
The beautiful but isolated Tristan de Cunha.

Tristan de Cunha island in the South Atlantic, population of 246 people, is the most isolated place in the world. The island is isolated because of its small area, not enough to land a plane. The closest approach to Tristan de Cunha is by boat from South Africa on a six-day journey, totaling 2,430 km.

Read more: Top 10 Most Remote Destinations in the World

Santa Cruz del Islote, Colombia – The World’s Cramped Place

view of Santa Cruz del Islote from above
A view of Santa Cruz del Islote from above.

Santa Cruz del Islote stands as a testament to human ingenuity and adaptability, claiming the title of the world’s most densely populated island. Nestled in the Caribbean Sea within Colombia’s Archipelago of San Bernardo, this tiny speck of land, no larger than two soccer fields, is a kaleidoscope of vibrant life.

Home to approximately 1,200 inhabitants, the island buzzes with an energy that defies its mere 0.012 square kilometers (1.2 hectares) size. The colorful houses, stacked side by side, mirror the close-knit community that thrives here, where space is a luxury, yet communal harmony prevails. With no room for cars or law enforcement, the island operates on a unique system of self-governance, guided by a council of elders. Despite its challenges, including reliance on the mainland for resources, Santa Cruz del Islote exemplifies the extraordinary capacity of humans to flourish in even the most crowded of conditions.

Vanuatu – The Riskiest Place to Live

beautiful Vanuatu is one of the harshest places to live on earth
The beautiful Vanuatu is one of the harshest places to live on earth.

The riskiest place to live is the South Pacific Ocean nation of Vanuatu – according to the United Nations Risk Index. Data shows sea levels are rising about 6mm per year around Vanuatu, with average temperatures increasing by 1oC by 2030 due to climate change. In April 2020, Vanuatu was hit by tropical storm Harold with wind speeds of up to 250 km/h.

Araouane, Mali – The Hottest Inhabited City

the desert Araouane city is one of the harshest places to live on earth
The desert Araouane city.

Araouane in Mali is the hottest inhabited city in the world, with a population of 300 people. Surrounding the city is a barren desert and frequent sandstorms – also known as harmattan. Sandstorms blowing through reduce humidity, disperse clouds, prevent rain formation, and create large dust clouds. In summer, the average temperature here is about 46oC. However, this is still an important transportation center for salt mining and transportation. Thus, some people still choose to live in Araouane.

Celebrating the Resilient Human Spirit

As we conclude our exploration of the harshest places to live on earth, we stand in awe of the communities that have flourished in these unforgiving landscapes. Their daily lives are a powerful reminder of our collective capacity to overcome and adapt to the most severe conditions imaginable.

The Broad Life introduces to you great, inspirational books for your wanderlust. They aren’t just simple travel, each book recounts the author’s journey to discover and learn many awesome things from new civilizations and places.


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Khoi Nguyen builds The Broad Life with a desire to inspire people go exploring the world and live a more interesting, experience, and adventurous life. This blog shares the stories, pictures, and experiences at destinations where he has traveled to.

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