Special Report

28 Amazing Places That Could Be Underwater by 2050

Source: XIUYUAN YAO / iStock via Getty Images

6. Zhujiajiao Watertown
> Site: Qingpu District (Shanghai), China

Shanghai is one of the most endangered cities in China. Many parts of it could be inundated, including its extensive park system and a good portion of its distinctive architecture, from medieval temples to the Art Deco structures of The Bund.

One particularly picturesque treasure that will likely be lost is the so-called Watertown in the township of Zhujiajiao. Dating back as much as 1,700 years, this is a complex of intersecting canals lined with traditional Chinese houses and crossed by 36 age-old bridges.

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7. Medieval center
> Site: Bruges, Belgium

One of the cities sometimes called “the Venice of the North,” Bruges, on Belgium’s northern coast, is known for its canals and its storybook medieval center, with its cobbled streets and ornamented 12th- through 14th-century buildings. The low-lying North Sea coastline makes the area, named as a UNESCO World Heritage site, particularly susceptible to flooding.

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8. Mayan ruins
> Site: Tabasco state, Mexico

Its exposed position on the Gulf of Mexico in southeastern Mexico as well as the lack of flood control measures on its rivers puts Tabasco state in danger. Among the cultural treasures that could be lost are the vestiges of the ancient Olmec capital at La Venta and the pyramids, ceremonial structures, and other Mayan ruins at such sites as Comalcalco, Pomoná, El Tortuguero, Jonuta, and Aguada Fénix (where the largest Mayan temple yet discovered was found in 2020).

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9. Shek O Village
> Site: Hong Kong, China

A peninsula jutting out into the South China Sea from the southeastern corner of Hong Kong Island, this one-time fishing village now known for its beaches, casual restaurants, hiking trails, and country club — a pleasant respite from the bustling heart of the city for visitors and locals alike.

Serious flooding has already affected the area, and storm-driven tides of more than nine feet above normal are possible in the coming decades.

Source: simonbradfield / Getty Images

10. Sydney Opera House
> Site: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

One of the most instantly recognizable architectural masterpieces in the world, this remarkable building on Sydney Harbour rises only 11 feet above sea level. While the entire structure is unlikely to disappear, the interior is already at risk of being flooded by storm surges, and could become permanently submerged if the water level in the harbor continues to rise.