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Thursday
Feb252016

Earth's Least Explored Places

Despite the ability of mankind to spread, often in a bad way, across the face of our planet, it can never be underestimated how vast the earth is. It is part of the glimmer of hope for preserving the earth that its sheer size and diversity will always benefit its ongoing conservation. For all the expansion we have managed, there are still vast areas of our planet that are sparsely inhabited.

From huge expanses of mountain range to the completely hostile Polar Regions, the earth still holds many secrets. In an attempt to explore it a little bit better, here are five of the world's least explored places.

Antarctica –
Bound to make an appearance on this list, Antarctica is the only continent without a native human population for a whole host of reasons. The big reason is its sheer inaccessibility, only since the invention of air travel has it been consistently possible to reach Antarctica. Being surrounded by the brutal southern ocean meant that many expeditions to the continent were sunk before they ever fully set sail. When you get there, you encounter the coldest, driest, windiest, darkest and highest continent on earth. Fairly clear as to why it’s so unexplored, right? There are no permanent human populations in Antarctica but there is a permanent scientific base, the sole purpose of which is the research and understanding of the extreme continent. Record temperatures have reached -89 in Antarctica with 200mph winds which goes a long way to help retain Antarctica’s largely unexplored landscapes.

flickr | TakMariana Trench, Western Pacific Ocean –
Our oceans as a whole could have found their way onto this list, given that we have explored less than five percent of them. Narrowing it down a bit though, we get to the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of our planet.  Roughly 1,500 miles long and a staggering seven miles deep in places, scientists are always quick to add that that seven mile depth is the “maximum known depth”. Basically, it could be deeper, darker and dangerous-er than it is already. In 2012, Canadian Director James Cameron became only the third ever person to reach the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, and the first in a solo attempt. Despite being the deepest part of our oceans, it isn’t the closest to the earth’s core thanks to the not-quite-spherical shape of the earth, making parts of the Arctic Ocean closer. We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about our own oceans, so the Mariana Trench and the oceans as a whole definitely deserve a spot on this list.

flickr | Tony WebsterGangkhar Puensum, Bhutan –
This mountain range, translated as “Three Mountain Siblings”, straddling the borders of Bhutan, China and Tibet boasts the highest un-climbed mountain in the world of the same name. Not a single expedition to climb Gangkhar Puensum has been successful and, as of 1994, the Bhutanese government has outlawed its ascent for spiritual reasons meaning that it will likely never be climbed. In addition, the range as a whole and surrounding forest land has been a political hotbed with many countries, empires and dynasties laying claim to the region over many hundreds of years. Such is the mystery that still surrounds this area that the official height of the mountain is still in dispute as it was only properly mapped in the twenty first century.

flickr | Juan Alberto Puentes PuertasThe Amazon Rainforest –
Despite all the media frenzy surrounding the deforestation of the Amazon, the sheer size of this area of the world is so vast that most of it is still unexplored, unmapped and untouched. As a result, there could be as many as 50 unreached and uncontacted peoples living in the Amazon who have never come into contact with civilisation. How staggering of a concept is that? The Amazon is a mixing pot of flora and fauna too where new species are being discovered all the time, new areas are being mapped and new adventures undertaken. Despite the huge effect that we are having on this wilderness, the Amazon remains a huge mystery that is waiting to be understood.

Frontier has a project working in the Peruvian Amazon, helping to conserve the environment and species habitat, check it out here

flickr | CIFORGreenland Ice Sheet –
Greenland is 80 percent covered with ice which is so difficult to pass and manoeuvre through that people have rarely ventured there. The population of Greenland live around the southern coastlines as most of the world’s largest island is inhabitable. As a result, it is the least densely populated country on earth, with only 50,000 people living in an area ten times the size of the U.K. Despite being geographically more a part of North America, Greenland has been culturally European and, particularly Scandinavian, for more than a millennium. The Ice Sheet is the second largest body of ice on the planet after the Antarctic Ice Sheet with the majority of it being unexplored.

flickr | stang16041For all the worry about globalisation, the speeding up of human development and the changing climate, it’s quite reassuring to learn that there’s still so much out there we haven’t seen and don’t know about. Research and discovery are still good things though, it’s just a question of putting what we learn to good use.

by Guy Bezant - Online Journalism Intern

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