12. The Coca-Cola Vault
Have you ever wondered about that tasty Coca-Cola beverage? Where does it actually come from? The recipe is locked up in a high-tech vault in Atlanta at the World of Coca-Cola attraction – and it’s one of the most closely guarded places in the world.
You can head up to the door, but no one’s getting in since it’s extremely prohibited. Only two people know the full recipe at any given time, their identities are secret, and they’re not allowed to travel together. There is only one written copy of the formula in the world, and the vault holding it is as secure as any bank.
11. Bhangarh Fort
In the 1500s, the ruler of the province of Amber Kachwaha, India, built a majestic fortress for his son. It became a thriving kingdom – until famine ruined the local economy, and the villagers fled. But while the buildings are still standing today, although in disrepair, many locals believe it to be the victim of a powerful curse.
While tourism is still allowed in many of the buildings, it’s officially classified and prohibited as the only legally haunted location in India, and entering it without a government permit is strictly prohibited after dark. This may be as much because of the roving tigers as any restless spirits, though.
Hawaii has been an independent nation and later part of the United States, but not all of its main islands are what you’d expect. The island of Ni’ihau is the seventh-largest inhabited island in the chain, and is almost seventy square miles.
It serves as a habitat for several local birds and native plants, but its population is under two hundred people. In fact, almost everyone living on the island is a member of a single family, and it’s nearly impossible to visit unless you’re invited or a member of the US government or military. That’s because Ni’ihau is privately owned.
In 1864, Scottish landowner Elizabeth Sinclair paid $10,000 for the sparsely populated island and purchased it from the Kingdom of Hawaii – and she and her family have rejected any attempt to purchase it.
While very limited tourism activities are allowed by the family, they are expensive and rare. But the most famous visitor was an unexpected one – a Japanese navy fighter pilot who crashed on the island and was helped by the residents, who didn’t know he had just participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
9. Mount Athos
On an isolated peninsula in northeastern Greece, there is a stunning mountain. And on that mountain is one of the most isolated groups of people in Europe. Living in Mount Athos, a group of Eastern Orthodox monks runs a monastery dating back over a thousand years.
They live a life of isolation and piety, and they have strict rules for who is allowed to come onto their mountain. Chief among those rules? No women. This is a strictly all-male monastery, and the ban even extends to no female livestock being allowed on the grounds. And these rules continue even today – because Mount Athos is essentially independent.
While it’s officially part of Greece and the European Union, it’s also granted a special jurisdiction that makes it an autonomous region. They have their own borders and have no problem keeping people out.
They only allow a limited number of men from the outside world, but those who enter will find something stunning – a huge collection of artifacts, books, artwork, and documents dating back centuries. It’s been named a World Heritage Site, and the Monks don’t have any intention of changing their secretive ways.
8. Diego Garcia
Located deep in the Indian Ocean is an isolated island – but it doesn’t belong to any of the nearby nations. It’s technically part of the United Kingdom, but they don’t use it anymore.
They sold the rights to use it to the United States in 1966 in exchange for debt forgiveness, and the island became a US military base – and the US government wasted no time locking it down tighter than that Coca-Cola recipe. The local inhabitants, mostly coconut farmers, were quickly expelled from the island and became a top-secret military location.
Till this day we still don’t know what the island is used for.
Diego Garcia is a large naval base with a constant military presence and is a base for bombers in Asia. But many islands fill those purposes, and none are quite as secret as Diego Garcia.
It’s completely prohibited to outsiders not invited by the military, and those who do get that elusive invite are placed under a confidentiality agreement. It’s been speculated to be a secret military prison for high-value detainees, or a testing ground for new military technology, but whatever its purpose, the government isn’t talking and you’re not finding out.
It’s not often the landmass of earth changes so dramatically, but in 1963, a volcanic eruption off the southern coast of Iceland created a chain reaction. It lasted until 1967, and when the smoke cleared a new island had been formed.
Around a square mile in size at first, the island of Surtsey was one of the newest landmasses on planet Earth and was named after a Norse fire giant of legend. Scientists quickly swarmed the island and watched as it was colonized by various plants and animals. But one species wasn’t invited to the new-island party.
Want to get on Surtsey? It’s not going to be easy. The government strictly controls access, and only approved scientists are allowed. This is for a number of reasons.
First, they don’t want anyone disrupting the new ecosystem there. Second, the land is unstable, with wave erosion shrinking its surface area by half. It’s less than two hundred feet above sea level now and getting lower. Only one hut used by researchers is on the island, but they’d better study fast. Surtsey is looking like a limited-time engagement and may be below sea level in a hundred years.
6. Fort Knox
You’ve all heard the expression – “It’s locked up tighter than Fort Knox!”. Well, the original location lives up to the name. Located in northern Kentucky, it’s a US Army post that serves as the United States Bullion Depository. That means gold.
Lots and lots of gold, roughly 4500 tons of the stuff. That’s more than half the entire government’s store of gold, and it was transferred there to keep it safer from military attack. It also holds countless other priceless US artifacts and was used as a secure vault during World War II. That valuable cargo demands top-level security.
The only people allowed in Fort Knox are military members – and you don’t get assigned there straight out of boot camp. The building is fenced and surrounded by razor wire and minefields, and the surrounding cameras are high-tech enough to pick up any movement or sound.
As for the vault actually containing the gold, the door is almost two feet thick and requires multiple separate combinations to be entered. It’s also set on a hundred-hour time lock. And you can bet no one unapproved is ever seeing the inside of this vault.
5. Room 39
Deep in North Korea, asking too many questions about the government isn’t a great idea. If the government wants you to know, they’ll likely tell you – and if they don’t want you to know, the odds are you’ll only ask once.
That’s the case for Room 39, which may not actually be a room at all. It’s a secretive organization run by the ruling party. Based in the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, it’s one of the most highly classified parts of the government along with its legal and intelligence organizations.
Room 39 is more secretive than others is the cause of one simple reason – this is where the Kim regime gets all its illegal funds. It’s essentially a government-sponsored slush fund that funnels its profits to the regime, helping them subvert global sanctions.
It’s estimated to generate up to a billion dollars a year through activities like insurance fraud, smuggling, trafficking, and counterfeiting, but no actual records are available. Because it’s an illegal arm of a powerful dictatorial regime, the odds are that anyone who gets to see it upfront is either part of the scam – or won’t be leaving the room.
4. RAAF Woomera Range Complex
Let’s head down under, where there is plenty you wouldn’t want to encounter. Those entering the Outback are taking their lives in their hands with the dangerous wildlife and harsh climate.
But in South Australia, there’s a massive range that’s prohibited to anyone outside of the military. The Woomera Range Complex is locked down for weapons testing and aerospace experimentation, and not only aren’t you walking in – you’re not even flying over it. The Royal Australian Air Force has locked the entire region down.
The Woomera Range Complex has a land area of around 47,000 square miles. That’s about the side of the state of Pennsylvania – or the countries of North Korea or Portugal. In fact, less than a hundred of the world’s countries are larger, making this one of the largest locked-down regions in the world.
You can see it via a highway that runs through, but there wouldn’t be all too much to see. And don’t even think of going off the designated road. Not only is it mostly desert, but you’d never know where the next munitions blast is coming from. Even the wildlife probably wants to stay out.
3. United Nations Buffer Zone – Cyprus
In 1974, a war between Greece and Turkey ended. The island country is closely aligned with Greece, but part of it is claimed by Turkey due to the island’s large minority of Turkish origin.
When a cease-fire was finally instituted, the United Nations would play a key role in keeping the peace. Part of the agreement was the establishment of a demilitarized zone dividing the country into two sides – with a massive barrier separating the two regions and making any hostilities much harder to pull off.
You could ask the citizens of Nicosia, whose city is split in two by the demilitarized zone. Those on either side can move freely, but moving between the two is much harder. A 112-mile buffer zone is prohibited to anyone who isn’t UN personnel or otherwise approved, and even the residents who lived there before were strongly encouraged to leave.
However, the UN didn’t forcibly evacuate everyone, and the region is sparsely populated. But if they have friends on the outside, the odds are they won’t be popping in for visits any time soon.
2. Mount Weather
In day-to-day affairs, Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is the base of FEMA and works as a control center for their radio system that can connect everyone to the Emergency Alert system if needed. It’s a critical government facility – but why is it so secure?
It was built during the Cold War and was fully equipped for the worst of all possible scenarios – a nuclear attack on the United States. So while it operates normally, it’s got security measures for just about any nightmare scenario. And that’s because it’s expecting some special guests.
If a disaster or attack happens, Mount Weather is prepared to host the evacuated politicians from the highest levels of government – including the President. It also has storage facilities for irreplaceable American treasures, like the art held in the National Gallery.
Everyone would want to get in if the end of the world happened – and that’s why no one’s getting in. Only the cleared professionals and the elite politicians who have a spot in the bunker have access, and that’s not changing any time soon – no matter what the global climate is.
1. Plymouth, Montserrat
In the Caribbean, the small British overseas territory of Montserrat has a population of 4,600 people. What it doesn’t have is a capital city. That’s because, in 1995, its capital of Plymouth was directly in the path of a massive volcanic eruption.
They probably should have seen this coming – the city was built on lava deposits! But by 1997, it was completely uninhabitable and became the only ghost town in the world to serve as a capital city. A new city is under construction – and let’s hope they remember location, location, location!