Coordinates: 51 20 N 30 15 E
Former Population: 49,000
It’s not altogether uncommon to come across ghost towns around the world, and in fact, in the western United States, some of these former settlements have become tourist attractions. The abandoned city of Prypiat, a short distance from Ukraine’s capital in Eastern Europe, is a different story. Evacuated in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster, it remains deserted due to radiation levels that will stay at harmfully high levels for the foreseeable future. In a rather interesting twist however, while Prypiat has lacked any human inhabitants (other than the guards stationed to keep the curious and cavalier away that is) for over 20 years now, a variety of woodland fauna have returned to area in the interim. Badgers, boars, European bison, elk, lynx, as well as eagle owls, cranes, egrets—just to name a few, have been spotted by visitors to this so-called “Zone of Alienation.”
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.