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10 Most Uninhabitable Places on Earth

uninhabitable places on Earth

Our planet is the only place in our solar system that can sustain life. But surprisingly, there are many places on the planet that are extremely uninhabitable.  Whether they are uninhabitable due to their natural state or because of the nasty things that we, humans, have done to our environment, there are some places that you should never relocate to or even visit. Being infested with deadly snakes to becoming extremely toxic due to mining, we bring you 10 such places which are the most uninhabitable places on Earth.

1. Ilha da Queimada Grande

Commonly known as Snake Island, the island is filled with the extremely venomous golden lancehead pit viper with one snake per square meter.

Ilha da Queimada Grande, Bothrops insularis snake
Image credits: Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaém/flickr, Nayeryouakim/wikimedia

Snake Island was once part of the Brazilian mainland until it was isolated from the continent 11,000 years ago due to rising sea levels. The rising waters trapped the snakes on the island when it covered up the land that connected it to the mainland. The extremely venomous and critically endangered golden lanceheads flourished rapidly on the island since there were no ground-level predators on the island.

Scientists estimate that up to 4,000 snakes live on the 110-acre island, with some reports indicating that there exists one snake per square meter. This means that nearly every step you take on Snake Island, you might experience a face-to-face encounter with the world’s most dangerous serpents. These snakes are reportedly responsible for 90% of all snakebite-related deaths in Brazil.

The island is closed to the public and access is only available to the Brazilian Navy and selected researchers. (1,2)

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2. Iron Mountain Mine, California

Iron Mountain Mine is the source of the most acidic waters on the planet. The water from the mine has pH values as low as 3.6, total dissolved metal concentrations as high as 200 g/l, and sulfate concentrations as high as 760 g/l.

Iron Mountain Mine
Image credits: U.S. Geological Survey/wikimedia, NOAA Restoration Center & Damage Assessment and Restoration Program /photolib.noaa.gov

Also known as the Richmond Mine at Iron Mountain, Iron Mountain Mine is a mine located near Redding in northern California. It was famous for iron, silver, gold, copper, zinc, and pyrite mining from the 1860s until 1963.

In the 1890s, a company by the name of Mountain Copper established a 4,400-acre mine at the site. They began to supply sulfuric acid to refineries in the Bay Area. They became the largest copper mine in California in the 1900s. Twenty cavities the size of office buildings were drilled into the rock. Excessive mining activity at the site ultimately fractured the mountain. This, in turn, exposed the underlying minerals to contact with water, rainwater, and oxygen. They combined to create a poisonous runoff. The result was the worst concentration of acid in the world, about 500 times more toxic than any other mine.

NASA once sent a robot into the mountain and nobody ever saw the machine again or collected any scientific data from it. The water is so acidic that it could dissolve fabrics and burn skin, making it one of the most uninhabitable places on Earth. (1,2)

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3. Big Major Cay, Bahamas

Commonly known as Pig Beach, Big Major Cay is an uninhabited island that takes its unofficial name from the fact that it is populated by a colony of feral pigs that live on the island.

Pig Beach, Exuma Bahamas
Image credits: Pixabay, Pixabay

Big Major Cay is an uninhabited island. The island is populated by a colony of feral pigs that live on the island and in the surrounding shallows. It is said that the pigs might have been dropped on the island by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and cook them. The sailors never returned and the pigs survived on excess food dumped from passing ships. One legend says that the pigs were survivors of a shipwreck and managed to swim to the island, while another claims that the pigs escaped from a nearby islet. Others suggest that the pigs were part of a business scheme to attract tourists to the Bahamas.

Some experts believe that the phenomenon of pigs living on an island is an anomaly. This is because pigs do not normally live on beaches. Also, even though pigs do not enjoy the warm heat from the sun, these pigs at Big Major Cay gladly risk the tropical Bahaman sun to greet tourists. The pigs appeared on the island first in 2001. Their population has increased from seven in 2011 to 20 as of 2013. The island is approximately one square mile in size and has three natural springs that provide fresh water for drinking. The beach is protected by neighboring islands from large waves caused by tropical storms leaving the waters safe for the pigs to swim. (1,2)

4. Antipodes Islands, New Zealand

The Antipodes Islands are inhospitable volcanic islands that have an extremely cold climate and harsh winds. High densities of mice, unintentionally introduced to the island in the 19th century most likely by shipwrecks, are destroying the natural ecosystem.

Rat, Antipodes Islands south bay
Image credits: Pixabay, LawrieM/wikimedia

The Antipodes are a group of volcanic islands located south of New Zealand. The group consists of the main Antipodes Island, Bollons Island to the north, and several other smaller islets and rocks. Their remote location makes the islands a critically important breeding ground for thousands of marine mammals and millions of seabirds.

The island is harsh for people to survive because of its cold weather and fast blowing winds. Mean wind speeds vary from 30 km/hr to 40 km/hr. Precipitation generally occurs on more than 300 days per year. They have a mean annual temperature of 5°C. The islands are known for numerous shipwrecks and deaths. Some deaths have occurred from people trying to survive on the islands even though supplies were left there in castaway huts.

The island has a high density of house mice. They may have been introduced from a shipwreck or from one of the many sealing trips to the island following the island’s discovery in 1800. These mice are destroying the natural ecosystem of the islands by eating invertebrates, vegetation, and possibly bird eggs. In 2012, a “Million Dollar Mouse” campaign was launched to raise funds for an eradication program. (1,2)

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5. Danakil Desert, Ethiopia

The Danakil Desert has been called “the cruelest place on Earth” by National Geographic. It is one of the hottest and most arid places on Earth. It is filled with sand, salt, heat, and volcanic activity.

Danakil Desert, Ethiopia
Image credits: maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com, Achilli Family | Journeys/flickr

Africa’s Danakil Desert is dotted with active lava beds, sulfurous hot springs, and salt lakes making it one of the harshest places to live. Temperatures rise to as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It only receives 100 to 200 mm of rainfall per year and is also one of the lowest places on the planet, at 410ft (125m) below sea level. These factors make it one of the most inhospitable environments in the world.

Even under such harsh conditions, the desert is home to a few Afar people, who rely heavily on the salt present in the desert for their livelihood. They mine slabs of salt from the flats surrounding the Danakil Depression. They then load the slabs onto camels and travel miles back to the nearest city to offload and sell their precious cargo. (1,2)

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