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World's Strangest Natural Wonders

World's Strangest Natural Wonders: Socotra Archipelago

Michele Falzone / Alamy

Socotra Archipelago, Yemen

Sitting alone at the junction of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, the Socotra Archipelago has enjoyed almost uninterrupted isolation since it broke off from the super-continent of Gondwana (the land mass from which the Americas, Africa, Australia, Arabia, and India emerged) 100 million years ago. Since then, Mother Nature has evolved in many weird and wonderful ways. This Unesco World Heritage Site is home to exotic flora (trees that ooze bloodred sap; some that bear foul-smelling, poisonous cucumbers; and others shaped like bottles), 180 exotic birds, and 700 plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth.

Traveler’s Tip: Don’t bother brushing up on your Arabic. The local Socotri language, spoken by the 40,000 inhabitants, is unique in this world—just like the environment.

—Adam McCulloch

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