It is that time of year when many of us are dusting off our sunglasses and enjoying warmer times. We worship the sun and cannot wait to get into it to darken our skins and soak up the Vitamin D. Some places are just too hot and have brought about the end of countless lives, warnings to the rest of us who wish to test our thresholds. Harry Potter actor Dave Legeno, an accomplished athlete, recently suffered heat stroke and died while hiking through what is now known as the hottest place on the planet.
The world’s hottest places are by and large uninhabitable, unable to produce adequate agriculture to feed the populations that choose to live there. Surprisingly, despite the shortages, there are settlements where people continue to duke it out, fighting the elements on a daily basis simply to survive. Many of them are living the life of a third world community and yet they have been settled there for thousands of years and refuse to budge, or are unable to see the possibilities of another way of life.
So if you really want to experience the heat this year, then think about checking some of these locations out. Keep in mind that most of them are surrounded by sand dunes, deserts, little water and many of them are subject to harsh conditions from nature. The odd location is home to resorts which offer some respite from the beating sun, but by the end of reading this you may just come to appreciate your winter months and not-so-extreme sunny days.
10) Wadi Halfa, Sudan
Highest Temperature – 127 F/52.8 C
It may be hot as hell, but Wadi Halfa, Sudan has been a human settlement since ancient times. Apparently there are those people who like a touch of warmth and stuck around long enough to build a city, home to 15,725 people as of 2007. Sitting at the end of a railway line from Khartoum, on the shores of Lake Nubia, this city has been the site of excavations by archaeologists seeking to protect some of the ancient Nubian monuments. It is a border town, surrounded by sandy desert, with an economy derived from agriculture and fishing. It has always been an important trading town due to its location, and provided it does not get flooded anytime soon, could be around a while longer.
9) Aghajari, Iran
Highest Temperature 128 F/53.3 C
In 1986 there were over 64,000 people in Aghajari, Iran, but that number dropped severely, almost overnight, and is now hovering at the 15,000 mark. This sudden drop is not due to sudden temperature increase, but due to the war that raged between Iran and Iraq at that time. Close to the town is an oil field that was developed by the National Iranian Oil Company with a total reserve of over 28 billion barrels of oil.
8) Ahvaz, Iran
Highest Temperature 128.3 F/ 53.5 C
Ahvaz, Iran has long summers and very short winters, an obvious location for all those who complain about North American winters. Not only that it is consistently one of the hottest cities on the planet throughout the summer months, at least hitting the 113 F/45 C mark. All is not rosy in the city though, the World Health Organisation deemed it the worst in the world for air pollution in 2011. During the Iran-Iraq war it also suffered, due to being so close to the front lines of that war. Today it is home to close to 1.5 million people of many ethnicities.
7) Tirat Tsvi, Israel
Highest Temperature 128.7 F/ 53.7 C
Tirat Tsvi is a religious community, a kibbutz, in the Beit She’an Valley in Israel. It is a small community with only 654 people at the last census. With 18,000 trees, it is the largest date growing location in the world, helped along by the high heat. It also houses a meat processing factory. 220 meters below sea level, it has experienced some of the highest temperatures ever recorded.
6) Araouane, Mali
Highest Temperature 130.1 F/ 54.5 C
The area surrounding the village of Araouane, Mali is barren and there is not enough rainfall for the community to be able to depend on local agriculture. It was once a trading post, or entrepot, for trans-Saharan trade. The 300 inhabitants of the village rely on the caravans that travel to and from the village to the mines of Taoudenni, 420 km north of the village. Today the villagers depend on a good deal of help from international organizations; the International Committee of the Red Cross financed a health center in the village.
5) Timbuktu, Mali
Highest Temperature 130.1 F/ 54.5 C
Even by third world standards Timbuktu is a poor town, ravaged by both droughts and floods at different times. It sits on the Southern edge of the Sahara Desert, about 15 km north of the Niger River. It is this river that floods in the fall months in Guinea and it is in September that the flood waters hit Timbuktu. Most of the year the town itself is much drier, with temperatures exceeding 104 F/40 C for most of April, May and June. The streets are covered by sand and big sand dunes lie on the outside of the town. The main agricultural crop is rice, but as with other hot locations, the ground is not good enough for many other crops.
4) Kebili, Tunisia
Highest Temperature 131 F/55 C
Kebili is one of the oldest Oases in Tunisia and has evidence of having been inhabited in excess of 200,000 years. After the Punic wars it came under the control of the Russian Empire. During the days of slavery it was a main hub for transporting slaves through to European ports, but after that had to make money in other ways. The main agricultural output of the town is dates, and it produces particularly high quality ones that are exported around the world.
3) Ghadames, Libya
Highest Temperatures 131 F/ 55 C
Ghadames is an oasis town in northwestern Libya with a small population of 10,000, close to the borders of Algeria and Tunisia. Although the government built a new area of the town in the 1970s, many of the residents return to the old town in the summer months because the old buildings are better at protecting them against the heat. The old town is considered a UNESCO Heritage Site.
2) Al’Azizia, Libya
Highest Temperature 136.4 F/58 C
Up until recently Al’ Azizia, also known as El Azizia, was the hottest place on the planet, but it lost that claim. The reason for this was that the method of measuring the temperature was considered invalid by the World Meteorological Organization. Still, nobody can argue that it is not a hot place, with soaring temperatures that beat down upon the population of 280,000 in this trade center for the region.
1) Death Valley
Highest Temperature – 134 F/56.6 C
Until 2012, El Azizia was the hottest place on the planet, but as of September of that year the crown rested upon Death Valley. Located in the Mojave desert of Eastern California, it is the hottest, driest and lowest area of land in North America. The valley itself is flat, but surrounded by mountains so a lot of the heat reaches the earth and becomes trapped in the rocks and soil. It gets very little rain at all, with the record being 2.59 inches falling in 2005. It received its name during the gold rush in 1849, despite the fact that only one person actually died walking across the barren lands. Unfortunately, it was in this valley that Harry Potter actor, Dave Legeno, died due to sunstroke.