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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]

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)

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Fireworks explode in the sky over Bucharest, Romania, at midnight, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, during street celebrations of the new year. Large crowds gathered around the word to bring in 2012. Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters assist a man out of his apartment along with a cage of birds as multiple cars burn in a [...]

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KNEE-DEEP IN THE NETHERLANDS: A man watched water rise around his home in Dordrecht, Netherlands, Thursday. The nation—25% of which lies below sea level—has been drenched by heavy rains and buffeted by strong winds for days. (Robin Utrecht/European Pressphoto Agency)

TANGLED UP: Librada Martinez, a member of the Ava Guarani ethnic group, scuffled with police officers who worked to clear a square in Asuncion, Paraguay, Thursday. People have been occupying the square, demanding government aid. (Jorge Saenz/Associated Press)

DISTRAUGHT: Estranged couple Matthew and Madonna Badger cried at the funeral for their three daughters in New York Thursday. Authorities say discarded fireplace ashes started a blaze at a Connecticut home where the girls died. Mrs. Badger and her friend escaped, but the girls and her parents were killed. (John Moore/Getty Images)

MOVING ON: Boeing employees left a meeting Wednesday in Wichita, Kan., where it was announced that the company would relocate all of its Wichita operations by 2013. The closure will affect 2,160 workers. (Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/MCT/Zuma Press)

DOWNTIME: Switzerland’s Dario Cologna lay down after crossing the finish line to win the FIS World Cup men’s cross-country skiing free-pursuit race from Cortina d’Ampezzo to Dobbiaco, Italy, Thursday. (Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters)

GOP ENDORSEMENT: Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) listened as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke at a Boys and Girls Club in Salem, N.H., Thursday. Mr. McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, endorsed Mr. Romney. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

LANDSLIDE LOSS: The body of a girl who was killed when a mountainside collapsed early Thursday morning in Pantukan, Philippines, lay in a funeral parlor. Dozens of people were killed in the gold-mining village. The government had warned that the mountain was certain to crumble. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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GUITAR AND A GUN: U.S. Army Sgt. Larrison Manygats, from Coal Mine Mesa, Ariz., walked with his guitar and weapon near housing units at Camp Kalsu in Iskandariya, Iraq, Tuesday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

SITTING PRETTY: A fruit vendor applied makeup near pumpkins at a market in Quezon, Philippines, Tuesday. (Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters)

FIERY RAGE: A protester threw a Molotov cocktail toward police officers at Greek Parliament in Athens Tuesday. Thousands of people protested to commemorate the third anniversary of the fatal police shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

PAINFUL PRACTICE: Shiite boys practiced self-flagellation during Ashura in New Delhi Tuesday. Ashura is on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, when Muslims remember the killing of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

TIRE CHECK: An employee inspected tires at a Hankook Tire factory in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, Tuesday. (Reuters)

STEMMING BLOOD: Police officers carried a fellow officer after he was wounded during clashes with people who illegally occupied an area in Asuncion, Paraguay, Tuesday. Hundreds of families were evicted from the municipality’s land. (Jorge Saenz/Associated Press)

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