As climate change continues to crank up the heat on our planet, the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at increasingly rapid rates. In the United States, for example, parts of Miami could be underwater by 2040.
With a population of less than 11,000 people, Tuvalu—which is composed of three reef islands and six atolls in the Pacific—is the third least populous sovereign nation in the world. Since its most populous parts are only six feet above sea level—with its highest elevation reaching only 15 feet above sea level—most of the island is built on stilts. The most pressing problem for Tuvalu is the diminishing amount of fresh water on its ten square miles of land.
Photos: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images
Most of Kiribati’s 32 atolls and one coral island are less than six feet above sea level, with the highest point in the entire island-chain being only nine feet above the Pacific Ocean. Kiribati President Anote Tong is trying to purchase land in Fiji to relocate more than 110,000 people.
Photos: The AGE/Getty Images
At just less than five feet above sea level, the Maldives is the planet’s lowest-lying country. To make matters worse, its highest point is only three feet above sea level.
The nation experienced extensive damage from the Sumatra earthquake. According to the Guardian: “The wave that struck the Maldives was barely a metre high, but it killed 82 people, displaced 12,000 more and inflicted $375m of damage.”
Located north of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands is an island country of over 1,156 islands, islets, and coral atolls. The capital city of the Marshall Islands, Majuro, is only ten feet above sea level at its highest elevation—and much of the island is only three feet above sea level.
Photos: Glow Images/Getty Images
One hundred and fifty-five islands make up the Seychelles, but 90 percent of the 80,000 citizens live on the big island, Mahe. While Mahe’s highest point, Morne Seychellois, reaches an impressive height of 905 meters, it is a large granite formation surrounded by thick vegetation. Most of the island’s inhabitants, and the only airport, are along the coastline, which is only 30 feet above sea level. The next closest airport is over 1,000 miles away (Zanzibar or Madagascar), making it a chore to get supplies to the island.
Andrew Freeman is a California native with a degree in history from UCLA. He’s covered a wide range of topics for TakePart, but is particularly interested in politics and policy. Email Andrew | @imandyfreeman | TakePart.com