After a heat wave this past weekend, the US has had its taste of scorching temperatures. But compared to some places in the world, those temperatures pale in comparison.

Many spots in the world claim to be the “hottest on earth,” but the dubious honor changes from year to year, as the weather can vary. In addition, many places — such as the Lut desert— are too remote and inhospitable to even have a permanent weather station to record the temperatures. NASA has been operating two satellites equipped with a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to help measure temperatures in these remote areas for the last dozen years, which fills the gaps somewhat.  

So while it is unlikely that there is one place that can be named the hottest ever, there are places that generally see scorching temperatures. And these places usually have a few characteristics in common, according to They tend to be in deserts with little soil moisture or vegetation, where there is a lot of direct sunshine unimpeded by clouds during the hot season. This means the sun’s energy goes directly into heating the ground. These places also tend to be at lower elevations.

From Ethiopia to Iran to Australia, some places are so hot, they test the limits of the meaning of the term habitable. Here are just a few of these places.