1. Kowloon Walled City, China
In its final year of existence, Kowloon was a densely populated, nearly lawless city. The town began as a military outpost but became a crowded refugee city after World War II. Neither Britain nor China wanted responsibility for it, so it became its own lawless town. Eventually, Kowloon Walled City was torn down in 1993 after a mutual decision by British and Chinese authorities, who had finally grown wary of the unsanitary and anarchic city with its out-of-control population.
2. Deception Island, Antarctica
Deception Island has one of the safest harbors in Antarctica and is a popular tourist destination. But what makes it a precarious location for permanent habitation is the fact that this island is the caldera of an active volcano. A Norwegian captain began whaling off Deception Island in 1906 and Whalers Bay became a safe anchorage for ships processing whale blubber. The small whaling station remained active until 1969, when a volcanic eruption destroyed much of the facility.
3. Craco, Italy
Craco was built as a fortress on a rocky peak. However, building the city on a rock began to pose a threat to its existence. Following several earthquakes and landslides, the locals abandoned Craco and people descended to a lower land.
4. Grytviken, South Georgia Island
The isolated settlement of Grytviken, or “The Pot Cove” in English, is located over 1,000 miles east of South America. The settlement was established as a whaling station in the early 20th century. Workers utilized every single component of the hunted whales to forge a highly profitable trade. However, the station was closed in December 1966 due to perilously low whale stocks. Now the settlement serves as a tourist attraction.
5. Oradour-sur-Glane, France
During World War II, 642 residents of this small village in France were massacred by German soldiers as punishment for the French Resistance. The Germans had initially intended to target the nearby village of Oradour-sur-Vayres, but mistakenly invaded Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10th 1944. After the bloody massacre, the village was razed. Its ruins still stand today as a memorial to the dead and a reminder of the horrific events that took place.
6. Centralia, Pennsylvania, USA
The road that once led to Centralia is blocked off, its zip code was revoked and the entire city of Centralia was condemned by the state of Pennsylvania. In 1962, a fire broke out in a landfill near the Odd Fellows cemetery and quickly spread through a hole to the coal mine beneath the city. The fires have been burning ever since. The city has been slowly evacuated over the years, though around 10 residents have chosen to stay.
7.Bodie, California, USA
The gold rush in the 1870s led to the town of Bodie growing to 8,500 people and more than 2,000 buildings. However, by 1881 the mines were depleted and the population started shrinking. A decade later a fire destroyed part of the town, and another fire in 1932 destroyed almost everything left. Today, only a few decaying houses and dusty shops are all what’s left of Bodie.
8. Chaitén, Chile
Even in the modern, industrialized ages, natural disasters are still able to destroy whole communities. The Chaitén Volcano erupted in May 2008 and the entire nearby town of Chaitén was evacuated. However, this was just the beginning of the sad ending of this town’s story. Chaitén became completely uninhabitable after the Blanco River flooded the town as a result of the volcano eruption.
7 Chinguetti, Mauritania
Chinguetti serves as the perfect illustration of how a once frenetic trading centre can regress into a thinly populated ghost town in a few centuries. In the 13th century, Chinguetti was an integral educational site and it was considered by some to be the seventh holiest city in the Islamic world. Today almost the entire city is consumed by the desert and Chinguetti holds a mere specter of its former glory.
6 Humberstone, Chile
Humberstone was once a bustling saltpeter refinery in the desert of northern Chile. Outposts like this town served as factories and home for many Pampino miners, whose efforts to extract nitrates from the largest saltpeter deposit in the world transformed farming in Europe and the Americas. Humberstone was abandoned in 1960.
5 Varosha, Cyprus
The Varosha quarter in Famagusta, Cyprus once played host to hundreds of hotels, houses and businesses catered to visitors and the residents. However, this fabulous area, lined with palm trees, has been fenced off since 1974, following Turkish invasion of Cyprus. None of the residents ever returned to Varosha, and the only people allowed entry into the district are Turkish Armed Forces personnel.
4 Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, India
The ruined city of Mandu is referenced in a Sanskrit inscription dating back to 555 AD. Continuous feuding saw the city change hands between Islamic and Hindu dynasties. Today, intrigued visitors of the ghost city marvel at the amazing Jahaz Mahal, a two-storied former harem for the Sultan which is perched between two man-made lakes.
3 Wittenoom, Australia
In its mining heyday, Wittenoom was home to 20,000 people. The asbestos mining town effectively shut down after the health risks of asbestos became clear in the 1960s. Around 1,000 locals died of asbestos-related illnesses. The remaining residents left, aside from the 8 people who still inhabit the ghost city today.
2 Kayaköy, Fethiye District, Turkey
After the Greco-Turkish War of 1919 – 1922, Kayaköy’s almost exclusively Greek Christian population of 2,000 was sent back to Greece, and the entire town became deserted. Hope remains that people will eventually come back to Kayaköy, with some houses redeveloped for modern occupation. However, the area retains its hauntingly abandoned quality to this day.
1 Plymouth, Montserrat, Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom
In the summer of 1995, the Soufrière Hills Volcano erupted violently, covering the southern region of Montserrat in ash. The former capital and seat of government, Plymouth, was decimated. The settlement is now abandoned and uncompromisingly barren, while the island has lost over half of its population. As Soufrière Hills continues to terrorize the community, it remains to be seen whether the area can ever recover.