Earth is a planet of extremes. At its Poles, temperatures get so cold that only a handful of humans have ever even visited. At its hottest points, temperatures reach such heights that not even bacteria can survive on the surface. As the American summer is hitting its hottest days, you’re likely sweating it out by the air conditioner. Even so, be thankful you don’t have to handle heat as extreme as these regions do.
#5: Ghadames, Libya
Libya is in Northern Africa, so you might not think that it’d have some of the world’s hottest temperatures. Well, you’d be wrong. Ghadames is a small community of 10,000, located in the country’s southwestern portion. The hottest recorded summer temperature is 131 degrees Fahrenheit. Routine temperatures nearly as hot, forcing residents to live in huts with thick mud walls.
#4: Kebili, Tunisia
Civilization first made it to Tunisia in Northern Africa some 200,000 years ago. Some time later, our ancestors moved on, probably because it was so freakin’ hot. Today, temperatures regularly climb to 132 degrees. Fortunately, there is enough water and palm tree coverage that some relief is possible for Kebili’s people, though a Western standard of comfort is rare.
#3: Rub’al Khali, Arabian Peninsula
Though perhaps not as well-known as the Sahara, the Rub’al Khali Desert is actually the world’s largest continuous sand desert (The Sahara is larger, but with different clients breaking up its massive range). The Rub’al Khali stretches across a full third of the Arabian Peninsula. Annual rainfall often fails to exceed 1 inch. The highest temperature ever recorded here was 133 degrees, but with so much of the history of Rub’al Khali unrecorded, the highest ever temperature may have been much higher.
#2: Death Valley, California, United States of America
Death Valley in California’s Mojave Desert is the, usually, the hottest place on Earth, though hotter temperatures have been recorded elsewhere. Death Valley is formally uninhabitable, though critters like snakes and scorpions can be found, especially in the cooler nights. A record temperature of 134 degrees was recorded all the way back in 1913. This is the hottest temperature ever directly recorded by a human, though, as we’ll see, satellites have recorded even hotter temperatures elsewhere.
#1: Dasht-e Lut Desert, Iran
The Dasht-e Lut Desert in Iran is an inhospitable place. Everybody agrees. We know this because no life has been discovered in the salty desert. Even bacteria aren’t able to find a foothold, as high temperatures and ubiquitous salt combine to deprive life of its one necessary requirement: moisture. Because the 200 square mile desert is so harsh, humans rarely spend enough time within its borders to measure the torturous temperatures. This job has been delegated to satellites. NASA followed Dasht-e Lut temperatures for a period of 7 years, and during this time measured one day where the ambient air temperature climbed to 159 degrees Fahrenheit. At this level, human beings run serious risk of death, even in the shade. As you can imagine, no real society has ever really emerged from this particular desert region.
As temperatures in the United States hit the 80’s, 90’s, and (sometimes) 100’s, we may be suffering and cursing our electric bills, but our climates are nothing compared to the regions listed above. In your part of the world, a combination of air conditioning, iced beverages, and Mrs. Meyers sunscreen is likely enough to get you through the worst this summer has to offer. When the coming days get hot, just remember these record temperature regions and remember that things could always be worse.