So you’re thinking about summer vacation plans and trying to decide where you would most like to go. The world is at your fingertips, and there are so many possibilities. How do you decide which places to visit? Well, you may want to consider visiting the places that are most likely to vanish in the near future. While most places in the world will be there for years to come, there are a few places that are on the verge of extinction. Several different factors contribute to this, including our environment, the possibility of natural disaster, and the corrosive effects of time.
Lest you think it is unlikely that these places will actually disappear, consider some spots that have already vanished. The names Pompeii, Petra, Roanoke, and New Orleans should all remind us that, sometimes in an instant and sometimes mysteriously, places can be wiped off the map, or changed forever. Some lesser known sites have also been erased from existence. The town of Reschensee, Italy, for example, was swallowed by water in 1950 when Lake Reschen overflowed, obliterating 1,290 acres of land. Several surrounding towns were also impacted, and a bell tower from a 14th century church still stands in the middle of the lake now as an ominous reminder. Another city, Pripyat, Ukraine was destroyed in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, when it was abandoned by residents who never returned. Other abandoned areas, like Bodie, CA, one of the famed “ghost towns” of the West, have been preserved as national historical sites.
Many locations will not be so fortunate, and we have already lost some amazing places to the fierceness of nature and other forces of destruction. Check out the list below to see some of the most enchanting places in the world that may soon be gone.
This city in Mexico is often in the news for almost every reason except this one: it is in danger of falling in upon itself. But it’s true. Originally built on a lake bed, this underground reservoir has served as a holding tank for the city’s water. As they have begun excavating that water out from underneath the city to supply its residents, the city has started sinking. If nothing is done, it could collapse.
9 9: Bangladesh
Set between India and Myanmar, this low lying country touches the Bay of Bengal and is sliced through by the Ganges-Brahmaputra River. In perpetual danger of flooding, this region is also in the monsoon belt, which brings on various tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and massive flooding consistently. If the water level were to rise 1 meter, over half the country would be submerged.
8 8: Dead Sea
Also known as the Salt Sea, this buoyant body of water is not only one of the saltiest bodies of water on the planet, but boasts Earth’s lowest land elevation. However, because its main tributary, the Jordan River, is being siphoned and redirected for irrigation purposes, the sea is estimated to be shrinking about four feet each year. Strict conservation efforts have been recommended if the Israeli/Jordan region would like to preserve this popular tourist attraction.
7 7: Everglades
While one might not think that part of the United States is in real danger of disappearing, the Everglades in Florida are indeed at a high risk for that very thing. As the largest subtropical wilderness in America and the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere, it might be surprising that urban development and rerouting water to irrigate local farms is threatening the area. The bird population has already seen an impact, with 90 percent fewer birds inhabiting it.
6 6: Maldives
Situated out in the middle of the Indian ocean, this string of islands is the lowest lying country in the world, averaging only 4 feet, 11 inches above sea level. It is actually built upon a massive subterranean mountain range. Not surprisingly, then, that this country is in high threat of being submerged by rising ocean levels. The scenic beauty and secluded venues of this island nation would be sorely missed.
5 5: Patagonia
This region is located within Chile and Argentina in South America and includes the geographical climates of the Andes mountains, deserts, steppes, grasslands. However, originally this whole area was a sheet of ice known as the Patagonian Ice Sheet (or field). The growth of Antarctic flora in what is today comprised of dry land and fresh water points to what once was a frozen mass of earth. Currently, the remaining mountain glaciers in Patagonia are receding rapidly, and are set to follow in the same pattern as was set by the frozen mass before.
4 4: Glacier National Park
Located in Montana, this park was home to about 150 glaciers, which have now been reduced to a mere 25. The National Park Service predicts that if the warming trend continues, all the glaciers could disappear by 2020. This would have a significant impact on the current habitat, which still retains almost all of its original native plant and animal species.
3 3: Egyptian pyramids
While these structures have survived thousands of years of weather and climate change, these wonders of the ancient world face another, different threat - humans. Before 2008, the site of the pyramids was a breeding ground for peddlers and merchants hawking their wares to tourists. While open to the desert on one side, slums have been built right up to the edge of the desert plateau on which these colossal monuments sit. Action by the Egyptian government in 2008 imposed more security and a fence around the site for better preservation.
2 2: Great Barrier Reef
This massive underwater structure is the world’s largest coral reef system, and the world’s biggest single structure made my living organisms. It can even be seen from space. However, there are a host of environmental threats facing it today, including climate change that causes coral bleaching, pollution, eutrophication (lack of proper nutrients), and sediment run off that blocks light to the reef. The diversity of the reef is being compromised by these threats.
1 1: Venice
Probably one of the most well-known water cities, Venice, Italy experiences up to 40 floods per year. It is predicted that the city is sinking at the rate of about 2.5 inches every 10 years, although in recent years this has been debated. It is famous for its waterways through which to navigate around the city, the main public transportation being motorized waterbuses to get people around. In many old houses the lower level has become uninhabitable due to rising water levels, and the city is in a state of alert.