The Hottest Inhabited Places on Earth

Recently we got to house sit at the home of an American Embassy couple while they were on vacation in the US. They had a pool, American tv, and air conditioners in every room. We didn't get a vacation this year, so the five weeks we spent at their house constituted a "working vacation" for us. We were able to take 4 or 5 days off from the office each week and rest a bit.

One of the things I found at the Embassy home was the World Reference Atlas (2007 edition). In the back of the atlas were lists of extremes: the largest countries in the world, the poorest countries in the world, the most populous countries, the usual types of lists you would expect with the usual culprits in the lists. One list I found unusual and fascinating. It was a list of the hottest inhabited places in the world. I discovered some very interesting bits of information. And I had one of my greatest suspicions confirmed: Niamey (where we live) is one of the hottest inhabited places on earth as measured by the average annual temperature!!!!!!!!!! Surprised? I'm not.

Now it's true that there are probably small places that didn't make it into the worldwide statistics for hottest places. We know of two places in Niger, for instance, that consistently average slightly hotter than Niamey. And there may be at least one place in Mali, the neighboring country that is hotter on average.

It's also true that there are places hotter than Niamey during certain times of the year. Right now, for instance, it is positively balmy here in Niamey. The temperature at 4 p.m. was 84F (29C). That really isn't all that hot, either for here or for some places in the US in the summer. The reason for the cool weather is that we've had almost 3 inches of rain in the past 36 hours. When it rains, it cools the temperature down considerably. In places where it doesn't rain much in the summer (like Iraq or Saudi Arabia), it is much hotter than in Niamey right now.

Another thing that is probably true is that there are places where it feels hotter than Niamey because the humidity is much higher than here. I'm sure New Delhi feels much hotter at this time of year because heat and humidity combined make the heat seem much more intense (it's called heat index). Niamey is very dry much of the year, which makes the heat more bearable. But from May to October, it is quite humid here, and it feels very heavy even when it's relatively cool.

Also, we're not talking here about places that are virtually uninhabitable. Places in the Arabian Desert or the Sahara are probably hotter than Niamey. Indeed, the highest temperature ever recorded in the world was 136F (57.5C) in the modern country of Libya. That was on 13 Sept 1922. In the US the hottest temperature recorded was in Deat Valley, California on 10 Jul 1913: 134F (56.5C). But those places are sparsely inhabited precisely because the heat makes them practically inhospitable to life, and so they are not included in the statistics.

So, what we're talking about is average annual temperature only. And we're excluding small towns and places that are very sparsely inhabited.

So, where does Niamey stand? Well, it's tied for fourth hottest inhabited place in the world and second hottest capital city in the world. Here is the list with average annual temperature:

1. Djibouti 86F (30C)

If you don't know where this is, pull out your atlas.

2. Timbuktu, Mali 84.7F (29.3C)

(tie) Tirunelveli, South India

(tie) Tuticorin, South India

3. Nellore, South India 84.5F (29.2C)

(tie) Santa Marta, Colombia

4. Aden, Yemen 84F (28.9C)

(tie) Madurai, South India

(tie) NIAMEY

5. Hodeita, Yemen 83.8F (28.8C)
(tie) Ougadougou, Burkina Faso
Thanjavur, South India
Tiruchchirappalli, South India

Now, I hope you're getting the picture here. With one exception, the hottest inhabited places in the world are grouped in three general locations: the Horn of Africa around the Gulf of Aden, the Sahel of Africa (the southern fringe of the Sahara), and southern India. We live in the Sahel of Africa.

Now, I've updated my blog page, and I've tried to put an icon on there that gives you the actual temperature in Niamey. You should be able to see what the temperature here is whenever you consult my blog. You can also go to Weather Underground to check out some of these other places. Have fun!!

And remember us as we live in one of the hottest places on earth.


Dusty Penguin said...

Great posts! Very interesting. I always read them, but I don't always comment. But don't quit posting, because I always check on them.

Hari K said...

Hi, I'm from Tirunelveli, the second-hottest inhabited place on earth! Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Madurai, Thanjavur and Tiruchirappalli are all located in one state, Tamil Nadu, India.

Anonymous said...

The single highest land surface temperature (LST) recorded in any year, in any region, occurred in Lut Desert,Iran in 2005, when MODIS recorded a temperature of 70.7°C (159.3°F) - more than 12°C (22°F) warmer than the official air temperature record from Libya. Hot enough to fry an egg!