For anyone who has ever spent time reading the Guinness Book of Records, records are often shocking and amazing. However, people often forget about the natural records — natural oddities and occurrences on the planet itself that we live on.
Many geographical records are some of the most dramatic places on Earth. While northernmost and southernmost points have nothing spectacular in themselves, their location make them rather unique places to visit. Meanwhile, highest elevations and bodies of water records are often amazing sights and make interesting tourist destinations or tourist stops.
While there are regional extreme points as well as global extreme points (like the highest point in the United States), due to the number of record-breaking places around the world only global records are included here. They are listed by their location, not by the records themselves.
The name of the place that breaks the record is in bold and the record it breaks is in italics. Accessibility describes how easily a destination can be reached, and varies from easy to very difficult.
Northernmost and southernmost points of land on Earth
- Due to the remoteness of the Arctic north and the existence of temporary islands in this region, there is no definitely established northernmost area of land on Earth north of Greenland with the exception of 1 Kaffeklubben Island (Northernmost land on Earth). This sandy, barren island isn't much of an attraction except for this record it quite possibly breaks, although there are very small sandbanks to the north that may or may not still exist as of 2018. Accessibility: very difficult.
- There is land at the 2 South Pole (Southernmost land on Earth). This of course makes it the southernmost land on Earth. Accessibility: difficult to very difficult.
Northernmost points of continents
This can be somewhat complicated due to the fact that there often islands off the shores of the continents themselves. Generally on this list, if there are large islands, those are listed, but islets are not usually counted as northernmost points of continents here.
An exception to this rule, however, is Oceania. Because basically all of Oceania consists of islands, small islands are not ignored as northernmost points in that continent.
The following are listed by the latitude of their northernmost point (northernmost first, southernmost last):
- This is Greenland's Kaffeklubben Island. Please see the listing in #Northernmost and southernmost points of land on Earth for more information.
- North of Siberia are some islands, including 3 Komsomolets Island (Northernmost point in Asia). A large ice-covered area means that the exact northernmost point could be either 81.21 degrees north if no land is under the ice or 81.27 degrees north if land is under the ice. Accessibility: very difficult.
- This northernmost point isn't so well known: 4 Rudolf Island, Franz Josef Land, Russia (European record). It's just a little farther north than Svalbard, an island group that is part of Norway. Accessibility: difficult to very difficult.
- Excluding small offshore islands, Africa's northernmost reach into the Mediterranean is close to 5 Bizerte, Tunisia (City close to the northernmost point in Africa). This city is northwest of Tunis and the northernmost end of the city marks the eastern end of the northernmost piece of coastline in Africa. Accessibility: moderately easy.
- When you exclude coral reefs, this one is 6 Green Island, Hawaii (Northernmost point in Oceania). However, if you exclude the United States territories, the northernmost island region is the Marshall Islands. Accessibility (for Green Island): difficult; however, easy access for visiting the nearby Hawaiian Islands, which are also part of Oceania.
- In Colombia, there is a region of sparsely populated desert, the 7 La Guajira coastline (Northernmost point in South America). It may seem odd that this region is desert, but this biome can actually be found in northern Venezuela as well. Accessibility: moderately difficult; no proper road leads to this section of coastline.
- The only continent with a northernmost point in the southern hemisphere is Antarctica. However, the exact northern point of Antarctica is a difficult call due to the fact that, along with the Antarctic Peninsula, there are also quite a few Antarctic Islands and Subantarctic Islands around the continent's mainland. If you assume that the Antarctic Islands are part of Antarctica and the Subantarctic Islands are not part of Antarctica, as this travel guide assumes, then the northernmost point in Antarctica is on 8 Coronation Island, Antarctic Islands (Northernmost point in Antarctica). If islands are excluded, however, the northernmost point is on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Southernmost points of continents
The following are listed by the latitude of their southernmost point (southernmost first, northernmost last):
- Antarctica is excluded because its southernmost point is the ultimate southernmost point, the South Pole.
- The southernmost point of South America is difficult to pinpoint because the southern tip of this continent consists of many islands, big and small. However, the southernmost island of South America is 9 Isle Hornos, Chile (Southernmost island in South America). This island is essentially the cape, and there is a monument on the island dedicated to Cape Horn. That makes it quite clearly the southernmost land in South America.
- This is definitely something hard to affirm due to the existence of the Subantarctic Auckland Island and Adams Island. But these islands are Subantarctic Islands, and therefore cannot be considered part of Oceania. Instead go to the 10 Snares Islands, New Zealand (Southernmost island in Oceania). These islands are islets, but as mentioned above, Oceania is an exception to the islets rule due to the fact there are no dominating landmasses on Oceania. (Even though Australia is a large landmass, it's not the dominant landmass because people in French Polynesia would not see themselves as Australians like people on Martha's Vineyard would see themselves as Americans.) However, the Snares Islands could be regarded as Subantarctic Islands, which would make Murphy Island, a tiny island close to a large island that is close to New Zealand's southern island, the southernmost land in Oceania.
- While Cape Town is often assumed to be the southern end of Africa, this title actually has to go to 11 Agulhas National Park (Southernmost point in South Africa). There is a lighthouse and monument at this point.
- A small island in Asia that lies quite definitely south of the equator is 12 Pulau Ndana Island, East Timor (Southernmost island in Asia). While Christmas Island could be considered part of Asia, it like a few other islands in that region is governed by Australia, which is part of Oceania.
- There isn't much on the 13 Panama-Colombia border (Southernmost point in North America). The nearest point of interest is Darien National Park and the Darien Gap.
- The United Kingdom has control over this location of importance, 14 Akrotiri, Cyprus (Southernmost point in Europe). However, if you do not consider Cyprus part of Europe, Gavdos Island, Greece is the southernmost. On mainland Europe, the southernmost point is in Tarifa; the southern end of Isla de las Palomas (connected to the mainland by a causeway).
Westernmost points of continents
Arranged by longitude from the westernmost to the easternmost.
- The westernmost point in all North America is 15 Cape Wrangell on Attu Island of the Aleutian Islands. It's so far west that it's in the Eastern Hemisphere. The westernmost point on the mainland is Cape of Prince Wales, a part of Alaska peeking out towards the Diomedes.
- Easter Island might be regarded as both the easternmost point of Oceania and the westernmost point of South America. Otherwise the westernmost land administered by a South American country is on 16 Darwin Island, one of the smaller Galapagos Islands, and probably the closest to the Equator of all cardinal extreme points in this list. Punto Parinas in the northwestern corner of Peru is the westernmost point of mainland South America.
- The westernmost point part of Europe is geologically on the North American plate; the 17 Monchique Islet right outside Flores (Azores). The westernmost point on the mainland is likewise part of Portugal; it's Cabo da Roca.
- Africa's westernmost point is on 18 Santo Antão, while the westernmost point on the mainland is in a major city — Dakar.
- The westernmost point in Asia is 19 Babakale, a village and a point jutting out into the Aegean Sea.
- Australia has some territories to the west in the Indian Ocean, and if regarded as part of Oceania on this basis, McDonald Island would be the westernmost point. Otherwise, the title would go to a tip on the 20 Dirk Hartog Island, with the westernmost point on the mainland just south of this island.
Easternmost points of continents
Arranged by longitude from the easternmost to the westernmost.
- The definition of the easternmost point of Oceania is a bit tricky. The Easter Island can be regarded as both the westernmost point of South America and the easternmost point of Oceania. The easternmost point definitely not part of some other continent is 21 Henderson Island. Both of these are so far east, they're deep into the Western Hemisphere. For Oceania, it's meaningless to look for any "mainland" easternmost point.
- Asia's easternmost point is the 22 Big Diomede. The nearest mainland point, Cape Dezhnev, is only about 50 km northwest. These points too are so far east, they're in the Western Hemisphere.
- Europe's easternmost point is also one of its northernmost, 23 Cape Flissingsky in the northerneastern end of Novaya Zemlya. The easternmost mainland point is undefined, as the border between Europe and Asia isn't as strictly defined as other continental borders.
- The easternmost point of all Africa is 24 Rodrigues, a remote island part of Mauritius. On the mainland, the easternmost point is Ras Hafun on the east coast of the Horn of Africa.
- Also North America's easternmost point is very far north; 25 Nordostrundingen in Greenland. The easternmost point on the mainland is Cape Saint Charles, Labrador.
- 26 Ilha do Sul far out in the Atlantic is the easternmost point of South America. The easternmost mainland point is much easier to access, it's Ponta do Seixas in João Pessoa.
Highest and lowest points on Earth
- If want to want to feel on top of the world, go to 27 Mount Everest (Highest location above sea level). Accessibility: difficult.
- Everest is not the point furthest away from the center of the Earth, however. As the Earth is a bit "wider" around the Equator, this distinction goes to 28 Chimborazo. Accessibility: difficult
- "What is the world's tallest mountain?" is a bit of a trick question. 29 Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island reaches 4,207 metres above sea level. However, as the mountain makes up the whole island, and has its base on the seafloor, it is more than 10,000 meters tall.
- But if you're feeling down, go to the 30 Dead Sea shoreline (Lowest land not water-covered). Accessibility: moderate.
Highest peaks per continent
See also Seven Summits
- Mount Everest, Asia, 8,848 m
- Aconcagua, South America, 6,961 m
- Denali, North America, 6,194 m
- Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa, 5,895 m
- Elbrus, Europe, 5,642 m
- Vinson, Antarctica, 4,892 m
- Mount Kosciusko, Australia, 2,228 m
Most remote points
Poles of inaccessibility per continent
Continents listed in alphabetical order
- In Africa, the pole of inaccessibility is at 5.65°N 26.17°E, 1,814 km (1,127 mi) from the coast, near the town of Obo in the Central African Republic and close to the country's tripoint with South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- In Antarctica, the southern pole of inaccessibility is the point on the Antarctic continent most distant from the Southern Ocean. A variety of coordinate locations have been given for this pole. The discrepancies are due to the question of whether the "coast" is measured to the grounding line or to the edges of ice shelves, the difficulty of determining the location of the "solid" coastline, the movement of ice sheets and improvements in the accuracy of survey data over the years, as well as possible topographical errors. The pole of inaccessibility commonly refers to the site of the 31 Soviet Union research station. This lies 878 km (546 mi) from the South Pole, at an elevation of 3,718 m (12,198 ft). However, the exact location of this base has shifted over the years.
- In Australia, the continental pole of inaccessibility is located either at 23.17°S 132.27°E or at 23°2′S 132°10′E, 920 km (570 mi) from the nearest coastline, approximately 161 km (100 miles) west-northwest of Alice Springs. The nearest town is Papunya, Northern Territory, about 30 km (19 mi) to the southwest of both locations. In 2016, the Turner Twins reached the continental pole of inaccessibility of 23°2′S 132°10′E flying paramotors.
- In Eurasia, the Continental Pole of Inaccessibility lies in northwestern China, near the Kazakhstan border. Earlier calculations suggested that it is 2,645 km (1,644 mi) from the nearest coastline, located at 46°17′N 86°40′E, approximately 320 km (200 mi) north of the city of Ürümqi, in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, in the Dzoosotoyn Elisen Desert. The nearest settlement to this location is 32 Suluk, which is about 10 km (6.2 mi) to the east. However, the previous pole location disregards the Gulf of Ob as part of the oceans, and one study proposes two other locations as the ones farther from any ocean (within the uncertainty of coastline definition): EPIA1 44.29°N 82.19°E and EPIA2 45.28°N 88.14°E, located around 2,500 km (1560 mi) from the oceans. These points lie in a close triangle about the Dzungarian Gate, a significant historical gateway to migration between the East and West. EPIA2 is located near a settlement called K̂as K̂îr Su in a region named K̂îzîlk̂um (قىزىلقۇم) in the Karamgay Township (zh), Burultokay County.
- In North America, the continental pole of inaccessibility is in southwest South Dakota about 11 km (7 mi) north of the town of Allen, located 1,650 km (1,030 mi) from the nearest coastline at 43.36°N 101.97°W. The Canadian pole of inaccessibility is allegedly in Jackfish River, Alberta 59.03°N 112.82°W, a few kilometres up the Peace River from where the Jackfish River (one of six Canadian rivers of that name) flows through it.
- In South America, the continental pole of inaccessibility is in Brazil at 14.05°S 56.85°W, near Arenápolis. In 2017, the Turner Twins became the first adventurers to reach the South American Pole of Inaccessibility.
Bodies of Water
- This is a somewhat debated issue, but the longest river is most likely the 33 Nile River (Longest river). This river flows all the way from Lake Victoria north to the Mediterranean Sea and goes through lush regions and deserts. However, the Amazon River has been considered the longest river in some records, as well as the largest by discharge and drainage area. Accessibility: moderately easy.
- Interestingly, the largest lake doesn't have the word "lake" in it, but is instead called the 34 Caspian Sea (Largest lake). This lake sits at an elevation below sea level and, although you would think it was an ocean due to its saltiness and great size, does not connect to other oceans so it is considered to be a lake. However, there are many other large lakes, including the Great Lakes and in the past the Aral Sea, which was similar in size to the Caspian Sea until agricultural water usage brought down the lake's size. The deepest lake is Lake Baikal in Russia, which was an obstacle for the construction of the Transsiberian Railway Accessibility: moderately easy.
- The deepest lake in the world is 35 Lake Baikal. The lake in southeastern Russia has its deepest points at 1,642 m (5,387 ft) below its surface: 1,186.5 m (3,893 ft) below sea level. There is a large island in the lake called Olkhon Island.
Record-breaking often means dangerous: many record-breaking locations with dramatic scenery, such as the Grand Canyon, provide greater risks to the traveler due to inherent factors such as elevation change.