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If you want to experience one of the wettest and driest places in the world, the most efficient way is to travel to South America. In a span of less than 2,000 miles, you can visit the rain capital of the world, Puerto Lopez in Colombia, and a place where rain almost never falls in the Atacama Desert in southern Peru.
Wettest Places on Earth
1. Puerto Lopez, a small fishing village in Colombia, is the wettest place in the world. The Colombian National Meteorological Service reported an average annual rainfall of 12,892.4 mm (507.57 inches) over the span of 50 years, from 1960 to 2011. Between 1984 and 1985, it rained every single day, for 2 years.
(Official Site of Micay Lopez in Cauca, Colombia)
2. The Khasi Hills, located on the Shillong Plateau of Meghalaya State, India is known for its spectacular waterfalls, and also for the two towns of Cherrapunji and Mawsynram. With a population of about 350, Mawsynram has an annual average rainfall of 467.35 inches (11,871 mm). Likewise, Cherrapunji, with a population of about 10,000, has an annual average rainfall of 463.66 inches (11,777 mm).
Nohkalikai Fall, Meghalaya, India. (Via Sohel78bd Wikicommons )
3. Cropp River in the Hokitika River catchment, South Island, New Zealand is one of the wettest locations in the Western Hemisphere, only second to Cherrapunji and Mawsynram. Data reported the annual average rainfall was at 453.38 inches (11,516 mm). On December 12-13, 1995, for a period of two days, there was a record rainfall of 41.3 inches (1,049 mm).
(LawrieM via Wikicommons)
4. Ureca, on the southern tip of Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, is the wettest location in Africa. It has a reported annual average rainfall of 411.42 inches (10,450 mm).
(Bioko Islander via Wikicommons)
5. Hawaii’s Mount Waialeale, meaning the “rippling water,” was once known as the wettest place on Earth. Even though that title has dropped, it is still the wettest place in America. Mount Waialeale, located in Kauai, has an annual average rainfall of 384.35 inches (9,763 mm).
(University of Hawaii)
Driest Places on Earth
1. Surprise! The driest place in the world is in Antarctica, not Africa or South America. Known as Ridge A, it is located within the Australian Antarctic Territory, on the Antarctic Plateau. It was described by Will Saunders of the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Australia in a press release as “so calm that there’s almost no wind or weather there at all.” Aside from being dry, Ridge A is also the coldest place with an average winter temperature of -94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70 Celsius).
(United States Antarctic Program)
2. In Peru’s southern border, some parts of the Atacama Desert have been said to not have felt rain for thousands of years. With soil comparable to that of Mars, this desert is actually home to more than a million people. Around 600 miles long, people crowd into oasis towns, mining compounds, and coastal cities such as Arica.
ALMA project Radio telescope antennas in the Atacama Desert on the Chilean side of the border with Peru. (Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images)
3. Death Valley is the driest place in North America. Death Valley has an average rainfall of less than 2 inches. From 1931 to 1934 was its driest time with a record of 0.64 inches over a period of 4-months. Because storms coming from the Pacific Ocean must pass a series of mountain ranges while heading east, much of the clouds have already cooled and condensed as rain or snow before arriving in Death Valley. However, weather patterns may be slightly changing. the first 65 years of record-keeping, it rained an average of 1.6 inches per year. Over the most recent 30-year period, that’s increased to 2.5 inches, for an overall average of 2 inches.
(David McNew/Getty Images)
4. Despite being a favorite tourist location, Aswan is located in the driest region of Egypt. Aswan has an annual average rainfall of 0.0338 inches (0.861mm) and is one of the driest inhabited places in the world.
An aerial view shows a small island in the Nile River in Aswan, about 500 miles south of Cairo, (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)
5. If you want to find a good surfing spot, Pelican Point is praised as being one of the best. Located on the coast of the western part of the Atlantic in the African country of Namibia, Pelican Point has an average rainfall of just 0.32 inches (8.13 mm). But that just makes surfing here even more respectable feat.
(Courtesy of Namibia Tourism Board)