Macquarie Island, Australia
It became a tourist destination by a fluke when vessels carrying travelers to Antarctica stopped there to break up the multi-day voyage. Halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica, the island is home primarily to scientists and support staff.
A territory of Norway, this 24,000-square-mile island is above the Arctic Circle, and residents can look forward to months of either continuous daylight or continuous darkness. About 2,000 of Svalbard’s 2,700 residents live in the town of Longyearbyen with the rest consisting of miners and scientists. In spite of the inhospitable climate, the island is home to the Global Seed Vault, an underground store of the world’s plant seeds that are kept safe there in case of global catastrophe.
Utqiagvik (Formerly Barrow), Alaska
Famous for its lengthy polar night, the sun goes down in November and doesn’t rise again for approximately 2 months. It’s the northernmost town in the US and one of the northernmost towns in the entire world with a rapidly dwindling population of around 4,000.
The most remote county in China, it’s the only county in the entire country completely inaccessible by road. This hasn’t always been the case – in 1993, they finally got around to building a highway. It existed for two days, carried a total of four vehicles (one of which got stuck and had to be abandoned), and was promptly swallowed up by the jungle. Today, the only access into the county is via a 200 meter long suspension cable, 100 meters in the air. Supplies such as food and medicine have to be carried in and out by hand.
Alert, Nunavut, Canada
Located in northern Canada, Alert is a small village that lies on the Arctic Ocean only 500 miles below the North Pole. It is widely considered to be the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world with a population of up to 200. Temperatures in Alert can get as low as 40 degrees below zero, and the nearest town is a small fishing village some 340 miles away. It can only be reached by air or dogsled.