Article written for listverse.com

Article for listverse.com

10 places that nature never intended for people to live in

This list looks at some of the most hostile places on earth that, despite the odds of nature, humans manage to live in.

10. Cook, Australia was built in 1917 as a railway station for trains to refuel at, on the longest stretch of straight railway in the world (478 kilometres), in the heart of the country’s desert outback about 826 kilometres from the nearest town Port Augusta.

There is one functioning shop in Cook which only opens when a train is scheduled to refuel there, but with the privatization of train companies this is required less and less of the town which instead provides emergency overnight accommodation to train drivers and hols medical equipment in case of a train accident. 

Cook is a hot and arid place, and previous attempts at growing trees and vegetables have all been failures, meaning all food supplies must come by train. Water was once pumped from underground when the town was active, but now with only 4 residents to call the place home water is also delivered via the train, meaning life in the area would otherwise be completely unsustainable with its lack of food, water and natural materials.

 

 

9. La Rinconada, Peru is generally known as the highest city in the world, located in     South America’s beautiful Andes Mountains. This shanty mining town is built upon a glacier (of all the landforms to build a town upon!) 5,100 m (16,732.28 feet) above sea level, and those wishing to journey to La Rinconada must endure perilously narrow roads, freezing conditions and unavoidable altitude sickness.

It is said that most people do not live in La Rinconada for very long because of its incredible remoteness, but that the lure of gold continues to attract the impoverished from all corners of South America, keeping the little town alive and functioning.

 

 

8. Motuo, China is a jungle of 30,550 square kilometres on the Southern side of the Himalaya Mountains; being the only Chinese County with no road or highway access travellers must leave on foot from nearby villages and trek over a suspended footbridge to access the mysterious county, which can take up to 4 days to reach. 30 years ago there were attempts to build a highway into Motuo, this highway lasted 2 days before the landslides and unpredictable nature of the wild forest consumed the construction.

Although the county abounds with fresh fruit during good seasons and wild animals, there is no access to preserved food when crops do not prosper, and there is also no access to medical treatment within the area, making this isolated location a hard place to live. Luckily “Labor carriers” transport medical and food supplies into the region, facing the rain, mudslides, dense forest, leeches, and poisonous insects via motorbikes, making life for the 10 000 some natives of Menba and Luoba ethnic groups possible.

 

 

 

 

 

7. Antarctica is no doubt one of the harshest places that a person (or penguin) could call home; 98% of the continent consists of ice and is in complete darkness for 6 months of the year, with no natural food supply (for humans to live off), no naturally found materials like trees or stone for building, and below freezing temperatures that can kill.

Not surprisingly, there are no native peoples of the Antarctic.

However from the 1800s onwards many scientists and researchers have spent months living on the frozen continent for the sake of research, building ‘bases’ from imported materials and receiving supplies from cargo ships, and today there are over 65 research stations in the Antarctic with many being manned all year round by various personnel – the population in Antarctica ranges from 4000 people in Summer and 1000 in Winter with 40,000 summer tourists.

 

6. Pompeii, Italy is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, if not the most famous. After the nearby volcano Vesuvius erupted in 69AD the city of Pompeii, along with neighbouring town Herculaneum was completely coated in lava which killed every townsperson present at the time. This lava preserved every person and building pristinely, giving historians and archaeologists unprecedented insight into everyday Roman life – and showed that the town had been victim to earthquake and volcanic activity many times before. It was due to the fertile soil of the lands surrounding Pompeii that people continued to live in the area, and about 25,671 people still do to this day. Considering that since the devastating 69AD eruption there has been two more fatal eruptions (one in 1906 which saw 100 people killed and in 1944 which  saw 3 small towns wiped out), and with future catastrophes expected , Pompeii is a town clearly not meant for people to live in.

 

5. Múli is a tiny town located on the Faroe Islands (halfway between Iceland and Norway) with a total population count of just 4. The Faroe Islands are renowned for unpredictable weather, torrential rain, fog, snow, and windstorms can crop up at all times of the year. The landscape surrounding Múli is bleak, with little vegetation or natural materials for people to thrive on, which meant that supplies had to be flown in to Múli via helicopter or delivered by boat from larger towns until 1989 when a road connecting to Norðdepil was built.

During Summer Múli experiences 24 hour daylight Summer, and in Winter most of the day is completely dark, this combined with being 691.52 kilometres (429.69) miles from the mainland of Iceland made life very hard for the residents of Múli, who only received electricity in 1970 – but by this time the majority of people had departed from the area, leaving the remaining 4 residents alone in the desolate ghost town.

 

4. Verkhoyansk, Russia is considered the “coldest city in the world” by local residents, of who there are about 1500, and considering that minus 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit is a typical winters day for these people it’s not hard to imagine why they would claim this title.

The fact that this area was once used by historic Tsar’s and later by Soviets as an exile ground gives good indication as to the quality of life expected here; with its main water supply the Yana River frozen solid most months of the year, an average of 5 hours sunlight each day between September to March and little local industry besides Reindeer farming, this city relies on its airport and river port for supplies necessary to survive the otherwise impossible conditions.

 

3. The Maldives, a collection of tropical Islands that lay South-West of India by about 400 kilometres (250 miles) are home to approximately 328,536 people and attract 500,000 tourists each year. Considering the luxurious beaches, secluded resorts, fishing industry, popular scuba diving locations and tropical summer weather the Maldives are renowned for being a honeymoon spot, rather than a place particularly hard to live in.

However, what many people are unaware of is the Maldives are thought by scientists to not have very much time left above land – an assessment in 2005 showed that the mining of coral reefs left the sea surrounding the Maldives eroded and damaged beyond repair after flooding; meaning that the impact of tsunami’s (which are common in the area) will leave worse and worse impact each time. In 2004 one at low tide left 10% of the Island uninhabitable, and one third of the population were severely affected.

In 2008 President Nasheed came to office for the republic of the Maldives and initiated an emergency evacuation fund, so that in the case of severe flooding all residents could be evacuated to nearby India or Sri Lanka – proving that the vulnerability of these picturesque islands is a legitimate concern for residents.

 

 

2. Java is an island home to over 120 million people, and 22 active volcanoes. Mount Merapi is one of these volcanoes, which has erupted 60 times in the last 100 years, and as recently as 2006. 60 people were burned to death by hot gas in 1994 and in 1930 it is estimated that within an 8 mile radius 1000 people died from an explosion of lava. Today, 200,000 or so residents live within 4 miles of Mount Merapi, if the mountain were to have another explosion the result would be devastating – but like all volcanic areas fertile land surrounds the mountain, keeping farmers living close to these natural time bombs. 

 

 

1. Minqin County, in China is an unfortunate city to live in for its residents. In 1999 there were about 281,826 people living in the county, and in the present day this number is thought to have now increased dramatically to over 2 million – adding killer strain to city’s main form of sustainability, the Shiyang River, which is all but dried up due to irrigation developments upstream. This, coupled with the county being sandwiched between deserts Tengger and Badain Jaran which creep in on the county by 10 meters each year (literally known as “creeping deserts”), has caused the government to relocate farmers whose land has been overtaken by the arid and infertile desert of recent years.

With only 60 square miles of fertile land left, desert approaching, not enough water to go around, and residents being forced out of the towns it seems that Minqin is destined for complete obliteration.

 

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