Our reaction to climate is a funny thing. When we’re born in a hot place, we tend get used to it—and laugh at visitors who complain that it’s “too hot.” That is, unless you live in one of the following five locations, verified to be among some of the hottest places in the world. The heat here isn’t a question of comfort; it’s a question of survival.
5. Tirat Zvi, Israel
Record Temperature: 129°F (54°C)
First on our list is the community of Tirat Zvi, located in Israel’s Beit She'an Valley. While the area isn’t typically known for being one of the world’s hottest regions, it did reach some truly fearsome heat levels in the summer of 1942. The local temperature reached a peak of 129 degrees Fahrenheit, one of the highest temperatures ever recorded in the world. And while Tirat Zvi never again reached that same extreme, it still sees high temperatures characteristic of its subtropical climate.
4. Ahwaz, Iran
Record Temperature: 129°F (54°C)
Measured in the summer of 1967, the Iranian city of Ahwaz holds one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded, clocking in at 129 degrees Fahrenheit. Iran’s location is known for its extreme weather, with temperatures fluctuating wildly throughout the year. In fact, despite Iran’s arid conditions and extreme summer heat, it bears the distinction of having one of the biggest and deadliest blizzards in history when over 10 feet of snow fell across it in six days. Coupled with the country’s political troubles and strict Islamic traditions, Iran isn’t always high on the list of can’t-miss travel destinations.
3. Kebili, Tunisia
Record Temperature: 131°F (55°C)
Coming in with one of the highest temperatures ever recorded in Africa is the city of Kebili in Tunisia. In 1931, the city saw one of the hottest summers on record with temperatures reaching 131 degrees. But unlike other regions on this list, this area is actually inhabited by plenty of people across the year. In fact, evidence suggests that Kebili has been inhabited by humans for hundreds of thousands of years, so clearly, the locals have found ways to beat the heat.
2. El Azizia, Libya
Record Temperature: 136.4°F (58°C)
The pseudo runner-up of our list is the town of El Azizia, Libya. This is a bit of a unique situation in terms of world record ownership. Back in 1922, researchers recorded a sweltering temperature of 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the Libyan village, a world record-setting temperature. This record would stand for nearly a century before modern-day researchers began to notice some discrepancies in the data.
Meteorologists determined that the longstanding record had been made in error, likely a result of inexperienced researchers taking information from outdated equipment. Thus, the World Meteorological Association recanted the record, giving the title to…
1. Death Valley, California
Record Temperature: 134°F (56.7°C)
Taking the top spot, we have the aptly-named Death Valley. Situated in an unforgiving location near the border of California and Nevada, Death Valley is an inhospitable desert with temperatures rivaling many of the deserts in the Middle East. Both the World Meteorological Association and Guinness World Records recognize Death Valley as the hottest region in the world, with its peak temperature reaching 134 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer of 1913.
But it’s not all sand, dust and dirt—Death Valley actually features impressive biodiversity despite its rugged conditions. Visitors may see wild sheep, hawks, burros and even fields of wildflowers in bloom, provided you come during the right season.
The hottest temperatures on Earth
It’s not easy to determine the hottest place in the world. Weather tracking technology is constantly advancing, showing us new data that may contradict previously-held records. Add in the fact that seasonal fluctuations in temperatures can skew results even further, and it’s clear that tracking temperatures is a tricky business indeed. New information in the coming years may redefine our views on the hottest places in the world, but for now, these staggering temperatures are the records to beat.