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From Death Valley to the Amazon, these are the absolute hottest places on earth

Think your hometown is hot? These are the hottest places on the planet (and they are absolutely scorching)

A desert setting
Lisha Riabinina / Unsplash

In the depths of winters that never seem to end, it’s easy to forget just how hot things can get. But the sun is coming, don’t you forget it. And thanks to climate change, what used to be considered hot is not significantly hotter.

So, by all means, enjoy the record snowpack and skiing this winter; just don’t forget that some places are straight boiling. Perhaps you need a warm place to think about as the incessant spring rains do their thing. Perhaps you’re just curious where on earth a place could possibly surpass 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps you are seeking a thrill or a place to go camping and want to know what is out there. Whatever your reasons, read on.

These are the hottest places on earth, period.

Death Valley
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Death Valley, California

While somewhat disputed, the hottest temperature on record was registered in the blazing heart of America. In July of 1913, in Furnace Creek, California, the mercury read 134 degrees Fahrenheit. Some think a sandstorm caused superheated material to confuse the weather equipment. Others think it was just a hotter-than-normal kind of afternoon. Either way, the tiny town within the larger Death Valley is no stranger to scorching weather, registering record temperatures almost annually. 

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Flaming Mountain in China
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Flaming Mountain, China

You can’t call a range the Flaming Mountain unless they’re practically on fire. The lifeless-looking strip of red topography resides within the Taklamakan Desert and routinely breaks 122 degrees Fahrenheit. And with so much radiation from the rocks, it can often feel hotter. An unverified soil surface reading in 2008 read 152.2 degrees Fahrenheit!

How do locals cope? Long ago, the Chinese would beat the heat with silk or even bamboo clothing. The latter material is still used to cover beds and things like car seats today to insulate from the heat. There’s also a tendency to enjoy a cup of mung bean juice, which is believed to cool your core temperature.

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Sand dunes of Lut Desert in Iran
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Lut Desert, Iran

Iran’s Lut Desert looks like another planet with its dramatic plateaus and countless colossal sandcastles that dot the salty desert. One of the hottest areas within the Lut is called Gandom Beryan, Persian for “toasted wheat.” It’s believed that here, some wheat was left out and roasted by the sun in a matter of a few days.

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The sand dunes in the Sahara Desert
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Sahara Desert

The Sahara is the largest hot desert on earth, pretty much making up the entire top half of Africa. It’s a sunbaked mass of some 3.6 million square miles that is easily identifiable from outer space. It’s a place of few clouds and harsh heat. In fact, where there is water, it evaporates at the quickest rate anywhere on earth. There is sand almost everywhere, and it draws heat immensely. Ground temperatures often surpass 170 degrees Fahrenheit in the Sahara, warranting special shoes or, better still, a trusty camel. Many of the top claimants for the hotly contested “highest temperatures in Africa” crown are cities either within or on the edge of this vast sea of sand.

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Stone structure at El Azizia
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El Azizia, Libya

This town of about 25,000 in northwestern Libya was believed to have the hottest temperature recorded on earth for many years until it was disproved back in 2012. Regardless, it’s home to extreme heat, as well as an ancient trade route that led up to nearby Tripoli. The landscape is pretty quintessential when we think of scorching deserts, with its golden sand dunes, occasional oases, and cloudless skies. Here, residents tend to be much more active at night, taking on chores and going to the market in the wee hours, when it’s more tolerable outside.

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Tall cactus in the Sonoran Desert
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Sonoran Desert

A cactus-strewn expanse in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, the Sonoran Desert bakes. It’s a surprisingly diverse place in terms of biology, and it’s even home to a rare jaguar population. The rather large region is home to Phoenix, a city so hot most simply stay indoors during the summer months. Here, in July, temperatures average in the mid-90s, and it’s quite common to break 115 Fahrenheit during peak heat hours.

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Skyline view of Bangkok Thailand at night with the buildings lit up.
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Bangkok, Thailand

The heat of Bangkok is a deceptive one. The Thai city is never setting any all-time highs, but it’s so consistently warm year-round that it’s one of the hottest inhabited places around. And there’s often very little relief at night when so many cities cool off. Locals like to combat the warmth with things like boat transit, fresh fruit juices, squirt guns (which are especially popular here), or food dishes that are so often spicy they distract you from the hot weather.

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Aerial view of Kuwait City.
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Kuwait City, Kuwait

The capital of Kuwait is one of the hottest cities in the Middle East and the world. With a population of more than 4 million, it’s also one of the hottest metropolises out there. Here, average summer highs hover around the stifling 115 Fahrenheit mark. Strangely, it’s also quite cold during the short winter, with lows dipping into the 40s. The heat, which dominates most of the year, can feel even more extreme due to common sandstorms.

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Colorful landscape of Dallol, Ethiopia.
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Dallol, Ethiopia

Extremely remote and set in the far north of Ethiopia, Dallol is a tiny village known for setting records. It’s the hottest year-round spot in the world, with the average annual high temperature coming in at a blistering 106.1 degrees Fahrenheit. A study that took place over six years in the 1960s determined that the record low over that stretch was a remarkable 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Aerial view of the Amazon river and forest.
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The Amazon

Earth’s most famous tropical rainforest may be veiled in trees, but it’s still damn hot and humid. Granted, it’s misty, and rainfall is common, but it’s also very close to the equator and quite toasty. A thick type of heat pervades here, the kind you can feel in your lungs with every breath. With an average temperature of more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s always warm and amplified by off-the-charts humidity levels.

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Sunset view of river Nile Khartoum Sudan
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Khartoum, Sedan

Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, is and for much of its history always has been a crossroads. Sitting where the Blue and White Nile converge to form the famous Nile River, Khartoum is a sweltering city. Among the hottest major cities in the world, the average temperature here during the day is a jaw-dropping 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Even during the coldest months of the year, the city’s average high temperature never falls below 86.

This city, as mentioned earlier, is no backwater either. Containing not only the nation’s government but also 4 million residents in the city alone — and as much as an additional 5.5 million, if satellite cities are included — it’s hard to imagine such a prosperous city existing in conditions like this.

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Mecca Cityscape Saudi Arabia
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Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Mecca is a place truly like no other. Islam’s Holy City, a core element of the religion, instructs followers to, at least once in their lives, make a pilgrimage — known as the Hajj — to the city and visit a number of sites of religious significance. The city also rates among the hottest in the world, with a daytime average of 96 degrees Fahrenheit. These elements combined create a one-of-a-kind city, one with great prestige but also great responsibility.

Several multimillion-dollar projects have gone toward making the journey as safe as possible, as the annual event must allow for upwards of 2 million people to take the same trek by foot in a span of 10 days. Even still, between the heat, the circumstances of the Hajj, and the health of the pilgrims, each year faces fatalities. The Hajj, and the city of Mecca with it, is today perhaps one of the greatest examples of modern engineering on the planet.

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There you have it, some of the hottest places on planet Earth where each year they battle for the top spot. Do you think you would be able to spend a day there? It may be a bit too hot for us, but we’d be willing to give it a shot.

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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