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A World Without People

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For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have recently evacuated or otherwise abandoned a number of places around the world -- large and small, old and new. Gathering images of deserted areas into a single photo essay, one can get a sense of what the world might look like if humans were to vanish from the planet altogether. Collected here are recent scenes from nuclear-exclusion zones, blighted urban neighborhoods, towns where residents left to escape violence, unsold developments built during the real estate boom, ghost towns, and more. [41 photos]

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A tree grows from the top of a chimney in an abandoned factory yard in Luque, on the outskirts of Asuncion, Paraguay, on October 2 , 2011. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
A tree grows from the top of a chimney in an abandoned factory yard in Luque, on the outskirts of Asuncion, Paraguay, on October 2 , 2011. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
A bust of Confucius rests at an abandoned workshop in the town of Dangcheng in Quyang county, 240 km (150 miles) southwest of Beijing, on December 7, 2011. (Reuters/David Gray) #
Ivy grows over a street in Tomioka town, Fukushima, northeastern Japan, on August 19, 2011. Vines creep across Tomioka's empty streets, its prim gardens overgrown with waist-high weeds and meadow flowers. Dead cows rot where they were left to starve in their pens. Chicken coops writhe with maggots, a sickening stench hanging in the air in this nuclear no-man's land poisoned by radiation from a disaster-battered power plant. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae) #
Sand blows across the coastal highway near Brega in eastern Libya, on April 1, 2011. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
Cnoc An Iuir, an empty and unsold housing development, is pictured in the village of Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, Ireland, on January 28, 2012. During the economic boom, Irish developers attempted to cash in, building tens of thousands of houses. However, poor planning decisions and the global recession have resulted in a large number of estates being abandoned, unoccupied or unfinished. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton) #
The abandoned conference hall inside the Benghazi Cathedral, in the Libyan rebels' stronghold city of Benghazi, photographed on June 5, 2011. Benghazi Cathedral, designed by Italian architects Guido Ottavo and Cabiati Ferrazza, was built between 1929 and 1939, and was one of the largest churches in North Africa. The building was later used as a headquarters for the Arab Socialist Union, finally becoming vacant and derelict. As of 2009, the cathedral and its entire site have been under renovation by an Italian company. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images) #
An arch that formerly read "The Alamo", at the entrance to the former U.S. soldiers living quarters at Camp Adder, near Nasiriyah, Iraq, on December 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton) #
Smashed windows and abandoned satellite dishes pepper a facade of one of the blocks of the derelict Heygate estate in South London, on November 29, 2011. (Reuters/Andrew Winning) #
A goat walks through a deserted school classroom in the village of Voynitsa, some 100 kms (60 miles) north of the capital Sofia, at the heart of Bulgaria's northwestern region, on December 6, 2011. The bare fields, the empty roads, the ruined houses and the shuttered schools say it all. Welcome to Bulgaria's rural northwest, officially the poorest region in the European Union. In the 1970s and 1980s, the region saw massive industrialization, making goods solely for the communist-era Comecon market. But when the Iron Curtain fell 20 years ago, the factories closed. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images) #
A view of the abandoned city of Prypiat near the failed Chernobyl nuclear power plant, on April 15, 2011. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich) #
A neighborhood of mostly empty houses in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on December 21, 2011. Tens of thousands of people have abandoned Ciudad Juarez, a city wrecked by Mexico's drug violence. Although official figures vary, the city this month likely surpassed 10,000 homicides in the past four years. (Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez) #
A damaged home at dusk in Joplin, Missouri, on August 16, 2011. Residents were still recovering and rebuilding from a devastating tornado that ripped through Joplin, in late May, 2011. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
Swings hang in tall grass at a playground in Scenic, South Dakota, on October 6, 2011. The city's school closed down in the late 1990s, when the area ran out of school-aged children to teach. The city was recently sold by ailing owner Twila Merril to Iglesia ni Cristo, a Filipino church whose intentions are a complete mystery to area residents. (AP Photo/Amber Hunt) #
Fiberglass dinosaurs and swans at the abandoned amusement park Spreepark in Berlin, on July 16, 2011. Berlin is littered with relics of its communist past, and one of the eeriest is the Spreepark, where the remains of what was once East Germany's only amusement park still stand. (Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch) #
The abandoned Michigan Central Station in Detroit, Michigan, on April 5, 2011. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
The interior of the abandoned Martyrs of Uganda Catholic Church, in Detroit, Michigan, on December 18, 2011. (Reuters/Mark Blinch) #
Apartment blocks in Sesena in the Toledo Provence near Madrid, Spain, seen on February 9, 2012. Only a 45-minute drive from downtown Madrid, towering vacant apartment blocks loom over empty streets and weed-filled lots. Apartments galore are for sale and rent, and prices are plunging. More than 13,000 apartments were supposed to go up here to create a mini-city for 30,000 people. But only 5,100 were built, many are uninhabited and most commercial storefronts in the mega-development are bricked shut. Spain's phenomenal real estate crash and economic implosion has turned what was supposed to become a vibrant suburban paradise for young Spanish couples and their children into one of the most visible monuments of the country's real estate boom gone bust. (AP Photo/Paul White) #
Unused flagposts stand in front of a litter-strewn water feature in the 2004 Olympic Games Complex in Athens, Greece, on February 18, 2012. In 2004 the Olympics returned to Greece, the birthplace of the ancient and modern Olympic Games, however the legacy of the Games has been called into question with many facilities falling into disrepair less than 8 years after they were held. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #
Discarded fencing outside the Olympic indoor pool and the OAKA sports hall in the 2004 Olympic Games Complex in Athens, Greece, on February 18, 2012. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #
A hallway in the empty Pennhurst State Hospital in Spring City, Pennsylvania, on September 15, 2010. Since the last residents left more than 20 years ago, Pennhurst State Hospital sat vacant, its sprawling complex of buildings crumbling, overcome by brush in the suburban Philadelphia countryside. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) #
A boat lies stranded on the cracked bed of a dry area of Xieshan, which is part of Poyang Lake in east China's Jiangxi Province, on May 4, 2011. (Reuters/China Daily) #
A paved road is surrounded by weeds in an unfinished subdivision in Coolidge, Arizona, on December 6, 2010. (Reuters/Joshua Lott) #
A monument to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin, in front of an abandoned Soviet-era factory in Tbilisi, Georgia, on May 31, 2011. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili) #
A long-abandoned farmhouse sits in open fields near Osoyoos, British Columbia, on September 24, 2011. British Columbia has one of the largest collection of ghost towns or derelict communities in the country. Many are past mining dreams that harvested copper, silver and gold and are either gone without a trace or lie in ruins ravaged by time. (Reuters/Andy Clark) #
The abandoned and decaying manufacturing plant of Packard Motor Car in Detroit, Michigan, on April 2, 2011. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
An abandoned airport stairway, left on a road near the airport in Sirte, Libya, on September 29, 2011. (Reuters/Anis Mili) #
The Jamesburg Earth Station, in Cachagua Valley, near Carmel, California, on February 23, 2012. The earth station, which helped bring Apollo 11's first images from the moon, was an important link for the nation's television, telephone and military networks from 1968 to 2002. Current owner Jeff Bullis, a Silicon Valley businessman, is selling the 97-foot satellite receiver and a 21,718 square foot bunker-like support building on 161 acres of land for close to $3 million. More about the station from the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal here. (Reuters/Michael Fiala) #
An abandoned barn, submerged near Great Bend, North Dakota, on April 12, 2011. The Red River was spreading out in a record swath across broad stretches of rural North Dakota and Minnesota. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
The site of the demolished Frontier casino sits vacant on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 2, 2011. Across this hardest-hit Western state, a battle of perceptions is being waged over whether Nevada is on the edge of economic recovery, or still falling four years after the collapse of its mighty housing, tourism and construction industries. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) #
Fog engulfs HMS Belfast on the River Thames during the early morning rush hour in London, on March 15, 2012. (Reuters/Dylan Martinez) #
The old detective's offices in the Memphis, Tennessee police station, on November 30, 2011. Police officials say their headquarters is overcrowded, but a plan to renovate older quarters is stalled. The old city police station has sat vacant for 30 years. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Alan Spearman) #
A home is covered with sand on Atafona beach in Atafona, about 225 miles (360 kilometers) north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 11, 2010. The town of Atafona is disappearing. Located in a delta in the state of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, this small town of sand is being swallowed by the ocean as rising temperatures speed up the process of erosion. According to researchers, a total of 183 buildings have been destroyed and the Marine lighthouse moved twice in the past 30 years. (Reuters/Sergio Moraes) #
Abandoned homes in Gary, Indiana, on March 31, 2011. (Reuters/Eric Thayer) #
The sun sets behind an empty staging area in Camp Adder which was the departure point for the last U.S. military convoy to leave the country near Nasiriyah, Iraq, on December 17, 2011. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #
A stray dog walks in the Abruzzo region village of Villa Sant'Angelo's main square on October 20, 2010. 17 of the 450 inhabitants of Villa Sant'Angelo were killed by an earthquake that hit the region on April 6, 2009. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images) #
An abandoned colonial mansion is surrounded by trees in McCluskieganj, India, about 40 miles northwest of Ranchi on October 24, 2011. Nearly 80 years ago, Ernest McCluskie, an Indian of Scottish descent established McCluskieganj in what is now the eastern state of Jharkhand, hoping to attract Anglo-Indians anxious about the impending demise of the British empire. Today, the few colonial bungalows still standing are in disrepair, the local economy survives on the back of a single school, and McCluskieganj's aging residents say the "chhotta England" (little England) they grew up in has vanished forever. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images) #
A view of destroyed buildings along Tripoli street in central Misrata, Libya, on May 22, 2011. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra) #
The abandoned construction site of the "New Benghazi" project in Benghazi. Libya, on June 14, 2011. Hundreds of cement mixers, cranes, and forklifts stood silent on a massive construction site among gray buildings left unfinished when Chinese workers abandoned Libya as fighting flared. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images) #
Sofia's central railway station stood deserted on November 24, 2011, during a strike by rail workers in Bulgaria. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images) #
The main gate of an abandoned cooperative farm in the village of Komoshtitsa, some 100 kms (60 miles) north of Sofia, Bulgaria, on December 5, 2011. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images) #
A cat sits in a deserted street in Peleas de Abajo, in northwestern Spain, on March 8, 2012. Decades of overspending and accumulated interest on unpaid debt has put Peleas de Abajo 4.6 million euros ($6 million) in the red and the mayor claims it is now the most indebted town in Spain. The town's debt per inhabitant is nearly 20,000 euros for every resident. (Reuters/Susana Vera) #

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