Some of the most beautiful places on Earth are also the most endangered. Because of issues like climate change, urban development, and tourism, many of these destinations may disappear within the next century. Charter a jet and see these threatened natural wonders and historical sites before they’re gone.
White-sand beaches and jewel-toned waters make tourism the largest economic industry in the Maldives, the lowest-lying country on the planet. As sea levels rise, the islands, which sit an average of five feet above sea level, are slowly disappearing into the Indian Ocean. The United Nations Environmental Program predicts the Maldives could be lost to the ocean by the end of the 21st century. The risk is so great that the government has already purchased land in other countries for its displaced citizens.
A small, isolated island in the Pacific, Nauru doesn’t receive the same attention as its larger neighbors, such as the Cook Islands or Fiji. The second-smallest country in the world has become the victim of economic growth, climate change, and rampant phosphorus mining.
Glacier National Park, Montana
With stunning lakes, alpine meadows and 700 miles of hiking trails, Glacier National Park once had around 150 glaciers a century ago. Today, only 25 remain. Scientists predict that if the planet continues to warm at its current rate, the remaining glaciers will only survive 15 more years.
Located on the Peloponnese peninsula in a dense pine forest, Olympia was the site of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC and has been inhabited since ancient times. Recently, wildfires have threatened the archaeological site on numerous occasions. While the ruins can’t catch fire, the wooden scaffolding supporting some of the ancient walls can. The stone structures at the site can also crumble from the heat because of the physical and chemical changes they’d undergo. Rising temperatures and lower rainfall levels in the area don’t help.
Congo Basin, Congo
An area that spans six countries and is responsible for almost half of the oxygen in the world, the Congo Basin is one of the most vulnerable yet important areas on the planet. It’s also one of the most biodiverse with animals living in its swamps, forests, rivers, and savannas. Illegal wildlife trade, mining, and deforestation threaten the area. Scientists worry that a significant percentage of the area’s flora and fauna could disappear by 2040.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Providing one of the most extraordinary vistas on the South American continent, the salt flats at Salar de Uyuni are the largest on the planet. They also sit on half of the world’s lithium reserves, which the Bolivian government is extracting to meet the demand for lithium batteries. As this demand continues to increase, Salar de Uyuni may soon become a distant memory.
Venice, the “Floating City,” may soon be known as the “Sunken City.” Offering art, culture, amazing food and intimate gondola rides through canals, Venice has everything required of a perfect vacation. The city, however, experiences about 100 floods a year and is sinking on its wooden foundation. With sea levels continuing to rise, Venice could be completely underwater in the next 100 years. While the city is installing mobile floodgates, climatologists question their effectiveness.
Other Endangered Areas around the World
- Dead Sea, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine
- Great Barrier Reef, Australia
- City of Petra, Jordan
- Great Wall of China
- Grand Canyon
- Patagonia Ice Fields, Chile
- Kasbah Telouet, Morocco
- Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
- Big Sur, California
- Amazon rainforest, Brazil
- Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
- The Sundarbans, India, and Bangladesh
- The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
- Madagascan rainforest
- Komodo Island, Indonesia
- European Alps glaciers, Switzerland
- Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
- Choquequirao Archaeological Park, Peru
- Bordeaux vineyards, France
- Alaskan tundra
- Magdalen Islands, Quebec, Canada
- Athabasca Glacier, Alberta, Canada