Green Travel Magzine

These 5 Vulnerable Countries Might Disappear Sooner Than You Think

Think about the last time you had a vacation at your favorite island getaway. You loved every second of the warm sea breeze hitting your face, and the transparent water touching your toes. But what if I told you that some of these paradise islands might only be a distant memory by the end of the century? Thanks to climate change and carbon emissions, sea levels have been rising so fast that roughly 410 million people are at risk of losing everything by 2100.  

The Impact of Rising Sea Levels and Why it Matters 

Environmental experts have been worried about sea-level rise for decades, and their fears have been exacerbated considering how much water levels have risen in the last quarter-century. If nothing changes, the effects will be catastrophic, especially in low-lying countries. The rise in sea levels would completely change the global system as we know it, contaminating water supplies, reducing crop yields, and seriously limiting economic development. Millions of people will be displaced, and will have to leave their homes for safer places or become refugees. Given that the refugee numbers are already at their highest, even a slight increase in sea level will make the situation worse. 

5 At-Risk Countries That Might Disappear

1. The Maldives 

Tropical beach with turquoise waters, swimmers, and boaters
Source: 12019 from Pixabay

When you’re picturing the perfect island getaway, the Maldives is probably one of the first places you think of. Its endless natural beauty, friendly hospitality, and luxury accommodations bordering its beautiful blue waters draw millions of tourists to these islands every year. But did you know that the South Asian nation is one of the world’s most affected areas by climate change? If nothing changes, 80% of its islands could be underwater as early as 2050. That gives the country less than 30 years to prepare before its inhabitants have no choice but to leave their homeland. 

The Maldives government has acknowledged the crisis and has been proactive in ensuring the country is better prepared for the future. From building defense systems to protect their coasts, to supporting sustainable community initiatives, Maldivians are investing resources to try and ensure their slice of paradise stays intact.  

2. Comoros

Tropical beach shoreline with palm trees, rocks, a sandy beach, and mountains
Source: urf From Getty Images Pro

This lesser-known country in East Africa has been dealing with environmental catastrophes for years. The island country has dealt with changes in ecology firsthand, from more severe tropical storms to less rain. Rising water levels can make life even more dangerous. If sea levels rise by 20 cm by 2050, as they are projected to, the changes in salt content will damage the nation’s coastal aquifers, which make up most of its water supply. In a country as water-scarce as the Comoros, this can potentially make some islands uninhabitable if nothing changes. 

Thankfully, there’s hope that things can change for the better. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) partnered with the Comorian government to create more efficient water resource management systems and infrastructure to operate year-round. This way, Comorians can be better prepared for a changing environmental future. 

3. Micronesia

Beautiful turquoise water with a tropical island in the background
Source: Global_Pics from Getty Images Signature

Located in the heart of the Pacific, Micronesia has the beauty and peaceful island life that will draw you in. But much like the other places on this list, it’s running on borrowed time if water levels continue to rise. Since the 1990s, this region’s been one of the most affected by sea-level rise. The water increases roughly 12 millimeters each year, and things have gotten so severe that some of their islands have already disappeared, along with their cultural past. If this continues, most of their low-lying islands will be completely submerged by the end of the century. 

Seeing how serious the situation is, the government has prioritized climate change off-setting strategies. In fact, Micronesia is the first country in the Pacific to implement a national Green Climate Fund and other initiatives to fund sustainable development in the area. 

4. Seychelles

Tropical beach shoreline with rocks, palm trees, and an orange sunset in the background
Source: TPopova from Getty Images Pro

This gorgeous East African archipelago offers you a chance to get lost in lush nature and picturesque beaches. Nevertheless, because of its fragile ecosystem and low elevation, its vulnerability to rising sea levels makes local residents fearful for the future. Studies show that sea levels are at their highest in 6,000 years, and a large part of the recent growth is attributed to industrial development over the past couple of centuries. Even a sea-level rise as low as one meter could submerge 70% of the country, leaving most Seychellois without a home.

The Seychellois government has taken this threat seriously, implementing programs and initiatives to put their environment first and ensure their people are safe. One program, their debt-for-nature swap, ensures that $6.6 million goes to community development, nature restoration, and other environmentally friendly projects over the next two decades. 

5. Bangladesh

Two children toss water from a large bowl over a field of bright yellow flowers
Source: fotomatik from pixabay

Bangladesh is the 8th most populous nation with almost 165 million inhabitants, and it’s among the most affected countries by rising sea levels. Due to sheer population, even the slightest loss of land due to rising sea levels and river erosion can devastate large parts of the nation’s inhabitants. In fact, if rising sea level rates remain constant, the country will lose 11% of its land, leaving over 15 million people displaced. There will be an unprecedented refugee crisis that neighboring countries may not be able to handle. 

Fortunately, projects are underway to protect the country’s coast from eroding. Founded by the World Bank, The Coastal Embankment Improvement Project (CEIP) was created to implement defense systems that protect these areas from flooding, erosion, and the destruction of water sources. So far, the project has helped over 180,000 Bangladeshis and will continue to help more families as it develops in other parts of the country.

Can These Countries Be Saved? 

Climate change makes it seem impossible to save these countries. But if anything, these studies are exactly why governments need to take action to create a more sustainable future. Bangladesh, along with the other countries on this list, is our “ground zero” scenario of what can happen globally if nothing changes. Fortunately, these countries have committed to creating policies that prioritize preserving their own homes. Water levels are projected to rise, but by looking at the brave initiatives of  these vulnerable nations as examples, the global community can find and implement real solutions that help humanity adapt to – and combat – rising sea levels.

ecomadic is a sustainable tourism brand that empowers travelers to make more conscious decisions. By curating a marketplace to easily find and identify responsible businesses to support, and providing educational publications through our online green travel magazine, ecomadic is committed to helping empower travelers make responsible choices throughout their journeys.

Want to learn more? 

Up to 410 million people at risk from sea level rises – The Guardian 

Sea level rise, facts and information – National Geographic 

UNHCR’s Refugee Population Statistics – UNHCR

Facing dire sea level rise threat, Maldives turns to climate change solutions to survive – ABC News

‘There’s no higher ground for us’: Maldives’ environment minister says country risks disappearing – NBC

Executive Summary Initial National Communication Comoros –  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

COMOROS – Global Environment Facility

Ensuring climate resilient water supplies in the Comoros Islands – UNDP

Eight low-lying Pacific islands swallowed whole by rising seas – New Scientist

Sinking Islands: Sea Level Rise Is Washing Away Micronesia’s History – Newsweek

Policy Brief: Federated States of Micronesia Leads the Way in Accessing Climate Change, Disaster Risk Finance – SDG Knowledge Hub 

Sea level and global ice volumes from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene – PNAS

Impacts of Sea Level Rise in Seychelles – Eco Magazine

Global Climate Risk Index 2018 – German Watch 

Climate Displacement in Bangladesh – Environmental Justice Foundation

Coastal Resilience in Bangladesh: Protecting Coastal Communities from Tidal Flooding and Storm Surges – World Bank

Climate change already worse than expected, says new UN report – National Geographic

Bangladesh: A Country Underwater, a Culture on the Move – NRDC


Gus Gonzalez
Gus is a content writer and who helps brands bring their stories to life. Since 2018, he has been traveling as a digital nomad around the world. His mission is to inspire digital nomads to design their dream lifestyle while exploring the world sustainably, one country at a time. When he’s not typing away from his favorite cafés, Gus is busy honing his travel photography skills and exploring a country’s culture, food, and history. You can find more of his work at