One hundred and fifty miles off the Horn of Africa lies a tiny archipelago of islands known as Socotra.
Because of its extreme isolation from other land masses, Socotra has very unique plant life, a third of which can be found nowhere else in the world.
Not only are the plant endemic to Socotra, but they look weird as can be, causing people to refer to it as “the most alien-looking place on earth.”
Because Socotra is one of the most isolated land masses in the world, as well as its extreme temperatures and dryness, Socotra's flora is incredibly unique and unusual-looking. A third of all plant life on the island can only be found on Socotra.
One of the most distinct plants on the island is the Dragon's Blood Tree. It gets its name from its crimson red sap, which as has been prized for centuries for its purported medicinal qualities. The people of Socotra still use it today as a cure-all for many daily health problems, as well as for dying fabric.
Can we talk about the beaches for a second? Socotra has some of the most pristine, beautiful beaches in existence. Look at that turquoise water.
The only mammal which is endemic to Socotra is the bat. They can be found in Socotra's massive, limestone caves.
But that's not the only thing the caves of Socotra are known for. In 2001, researchers discovered inscriptions deep inside the cave that they attributed to sailors staying on the island between 1 and 6 AD. The writings were many in different languages.
Back then, Socotra is believed to have been quite different. Historical writing says the island may have had crocodiles, lizards, and even water buffalo. However, introduced species not native to the island have since changed the ecosystem. Today, many plants on Socotra are considered endangered.
The people of Socotra, whose population is a little less than 43,000, have traditionally and still mostly work as fisherman, animal herders, and date farmers.
The people of Socotra are unique as well. Many of the females are from a lineage of DNA found nowhere else on Earth.
In July 2008, UNESCO named Socotra a World Heritage Site, and rightfully so. The island is one of the most unique places on Earth.
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