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16. Forest on Robinson Crusoe Island

Robinson Crusoe Island, San Juan Bautista village in the forefront
Robinson Crusoe Island, San Juan Bautista village in the forefront / Serpentus, / CC BY-SA 3.0
Where?South America, Chile
Why unique?All tree species – around 20 of them – of this forest grow ONLY in this forest and nowhere else in the world! In total in this forest are 132 endemic plant species and hundreds of species of unique insects.

17. Goualougo Triangle

Chimpanzee using tools in Goualougo Triangle. Humans never lived in this forest
Chimpanzee using tools in Goualougo Triangle. Humans never lived in this forest / Photo Credit: Morgan/Sanz, Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo.
Where?Africa, Republic of the Congo
Why unique?In this forest people have never lived and animals don’t fear people here. In Goualougo Triangle is living the only population of chimpanzees which is experiencing fast evolution – nowhere else on Earth apes have evolved as much as here.

18. Ikaite tufa columns in Ikka Fjord

Ikaite columns in Ikka Fjord, Greenland
Ikaite columns in Ikka Fjord / Screenshot from Youtube video, Jesper Kikkenborg
Where?North America, Greenland
Why unique?“Forest” of columns on the floor of Ikka Fjord. These columns are up to 18 m tall and have been formed from ikaite – mineral which can exist only in a cold water. Columns have been formed by submarine springs. There is not known similar place in the world.

19. Jellyfish Lake

Jellyfish Lake from air with swarms of jellyfish visible, Palau
Jellyfish Lake from air with swarms of jellyfish visible / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Where?Oceania, Palau
Why unique?Marine lake with millions of unique jellyfishes which live only in this lake. Only here jellyfish have developed a specific pattern of behaviour with a special migration. There are some more similar lakes in Palau (with other subspecies of jellyfish), but Jellyfish Lake is by far the most impressive one.

20. Kelimutu crater lakes

Kelimutu crater lakes
Kelimutu crater lakes, Flores / Neil, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
Where?Asia, Indonesia
Why unique?Three lakes – each with a different color of water. These are crater lakes – each with its own geochemical and hydrothermal regime. There is no other place on Earth with such unusual phenomena.
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Map, 40 unique natural wonders of the world

Places with unique life forms

There are countless places on Earth where grows one or another unique species of plants or lives some small creature which is found nowhere else in the world. Such places are found on many mountaintops, islands, caves, lakes. But sometimes these places are very unusual and beautiful, without analogs in the world. Some fine examples are:

Mist in Dendrosenecio forest, Tanzania
Mist in Dendrosenecio forest / Brendon, / CC BY 2.0
  • Dendrosenecio woodlands on Mt. Kilimanjaro and other stands of giant groundsels on the great African volcanoes – Tanzania and also Kenya, Congo Democratic Republic. These plants just look like… well, like they are from another plant.
  • Harenna Forest – Ethiopia. Beautiful and remote montane forest which has something we all know… but at the same time know very little about: some of the few natural stands of natural coffee. This forest holds interesting secrets – may be one day new kinds of coffee will be found here?
  • Modjadji cycad forest in South Africa is like an island of prehistoric world, with some 15 000 enormous cycad trees. Even more – this forest is part of a living legend of African witchcraft and political power games, which continue up to this day.
  • Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the United States is a grove of Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva). Here grow oldest known individual trees in the world – more than 4,750 years old.
  • Monte de Ombúes in Uruguay is one of the few natural forests of the unique ombúe tree, which in reality is a herb. Quite unusual herb, by the way, with a circumference exceeding 15 meters!
  • Palm Valley in Australia is an unusual oasis in the middle of enormous desert – here grows a small forest of palm trees. And what palm trees – the very rare Livistona mariae! People brought these rare trees here some 30 – 15 thousand years ago.
  • Wooramel Seagrass Bank in Australia is the largest seagrass grove in the world, 1,035 square kilometres large.
Palm Valley - the only place in the central deserts of Australia where grow palms
Palm Valley – the only place in the central deserts of Australia where grow palms / Cgoodwin, / CC BY-SA 4.0


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