Imagine lying on a beach, cocktail in one hand, good book in the other, the sun beating down on you, the sound of sea lapping gently in the distance. Sounds like paradise, right? Now imagine it being twice as hot, a full 100% hotter, double the heat, hot like hellish hot. Not so pleasant now, is it? The truth is, despite the apparent extremes of weather worldwide, planet Earth is actually an extremely hospitable place. We humans have little tolerance for extremes of cold, and fair hardly any better in extreme heat. The narrow band of temperatures we occupy in everyday life is a twist of fate. So the next time you are in the office on a warm day with a fan set to maximum, remember it could be a lot worse. You could, for instance, find yourself in one of the five hottest spots on the planet. Check out the list below to see how bad it can get.
5. Villa de María del Río Seco, Argentina
You might be expecting names like Sahara, or Gobi, to appear on this list. While it is true that deserts are incredibly hot places, the famous ones are not always the hottest. Deserts are deadly because of the combination of heat and dryness. Villa de María might not be the driest place on Earth, but it does not need to be when it can boast of being the site of the highest recorded temperature in South America, a continent not exactly known for its temperate climate. In 1920 it reached a stonking 49.1 °C (120.4 °F) in the shade.
4. Oodnadatta, South Australia
Oodnadatta (not to be confused with a rubbish Beatles song) boasts a population of less than 300, which is understandable in a place widely regarded as the hottest in Australia, a land where being out in the sun, anywhere, can result in almost instant sunburn. This small town is the first on the list with the distinction of breaking the 50 barrier, with a highest recorded temperature of 50.7°C (123.3 F) back in 1960. Surely, you must be thinking, it cannot get any hotter?
3. Death Valley, Eastern California
Death Valley (you do not get a name like that without having something to shout about) is the lowest, the driest and the hottest place in North America. Wikipedia does well to reinforce its intimidating name with the following: ‘Moving masses of super-heated air blow through the valley creating extreme high temperatures.’ Moving masses of super-heated air? Get me out of here. Having already hit 50 degrees, it is a struggle to even wonder how Death Valley made it to number three, but here is how. To start with, the highest ever nighttime temperature recorded in the Valley was 39 °C (103 °F). In 1992, the Valley also went over 200 days with the temperature consistently reaching 32 °C (90 °F). And the hottest day in the Valley? A scorching 57 °C (134 °F). Make no mistake, this is an inconceivably hot place.
2. Dallol, Ethiopia
But not quite as hot as Dallol, Ethiopia. This ghost town is one of the most remote places on the planet. Dallol has only one statistic worth documenting, but it is a mind-blowing one. In fact, if you were to base the hottest place on Earth as the one which is most consistently hot, then Dallol would be your destination. Between 1960 and 1996, an average temperature of 34 °C (94 °F). Bear in mind, that is an average temperature. In other words, you could count on the temperature scraping the lower limits of 100 °F on a daily basis. That is crazy hot. But not the hottest place ever.
1. Al ‘Aziziyah, Libya
Before we go any further, bear in mind that over 4,000 people choose to live in Al ‘Aziziyah, Libya. True, most of the town’s occupants who were around in 1922 to experience the hottest temperature ever recorded are unlikely to be around now, but a day where the thermometer hit 57.7°C (136°F) should live long in the collective memory. While Al ‘Aziziyah does not match Dallol’s astonishingly consistent super-hot weather, it earns the top spot on the list for that one extraordinary day.