Halloween is fast approaching, and with it comes a lot of sweets, a lot of costumes and, most importantly, a lot of scary activities. Think sleepovers in a churchyard, scary movie marathons, haunted house tours and you’re well on your way to a typical 21st century Halloween.
Typically voted one of the best holidays of the year (second only to Christmas, of course), it’s not hard to see why: the weather is just autumnal enough to enjoy the colours of the landscape without being too cold, the decorations are nonsensical and easy to put together (even if carving pumpkins always becomes a massive competition), and, let’s face it, it’s just full on fun. And undoubtedly one of the best Halloween traditions is hunting out the scariest, spookiest, most haunted places you can find, and seeing how long you can last there on Halloween night. That’s why here at Premium Tours we put together the Paranormal Geography ranking, looking at the world’s spookiest countries – so no matter where you are in the world, you can find out the best haunted locations to explore on 31st October.
In order to put the ranking together, we thoroughly analysed an array of devilish data for every country around the world, including haunted location, horror movies, UFO sightings, and native mythical creatures and ghosts. We then ranked the countries around the world who offered the best for each of these categories, giving them a score out of ten for each category.
The number one location was, unsurprisingly, the eery USA, followed by the ultra-terrifying UK in second place and irksome Ireland in third place. Considering how old each of these countries are, and how many archaic religions, fables, myths and legends are embedded in the local culture it’s not shocking to see these countries place so high.
On a personal note we were thrilled (and slightly scared) to see the UK rank so highly, likely as a result of the numerous haunted locations around the country. For instance, the headless ghost of Anne Boleyn is rumoured to appear at Blickling on the anniversary of her execution, and people have reported seeing floating lights, strange apparitions, and skeletons chained together in the dungeon of Dunster Castle in Somerset. Not only this, but Edinburgh in Scotland is commonly known as the most haunted city in Europe thanks to locations such as Mary King’s Close, where plague victims were sealed up to die – while they were still very much alive.
Note that the figures listed in the table above relate to the country’s score out of 10 for each category, with 10 being the highest score.
The USA ranked number one for haunted locations and horror movies, and also ranked in the top 5 for UFO sightings. Thanks as well to countless fights and wars, and the very distinct burial process carried out by Native Americans (for example, the Plains Indians commonly practiced above ground burials using trees, scaffolds, canoes, and boxes on stilts, and left the bodies there to decay over time), the idea of spotting a ghost is not entirely dismissed.
Almost all of America is built on top of a potential burial site, giving residents reason to believe the spirits have been disturbed and are thus haunting the location.
There is at least one haunted spot in every state, and most likely every town, village, and city in the USA. These include the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – which was known to house criminals like Al Capone and “Slick Willie”, and the Lizzie Borden B&B in Fall River, Massachusetts which was the scene of the gruesome murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, found in 1892 covered in blood and beaten to death with an axe. It’s possible to stay in the room where Abby was murdered, and guests have often reported seeing apparitions in Victorian clothing, and hearing the sounds of weeping, footsteps, and conversations in supposedly empty rooms.
There’s also the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana, which was featured on season three of American Horror Story. The story goes that Madame Delphine LaLaurie lost her sanity after her third husband left her, and starting torturing the slaves who lived and worked there; a fire at the mansion caused police to come across the mutilated bodies of multiple slaves in the attic, where it is believe LaLaurie tortured the slaves by drilling holes into their heads, breaking their bones, and removing their intestines. The ghosts of her victims are said to have remained in the mansion, where visitors claim they can still hear their screams.
Following the USA, the top 10 countries are:
- Puerto Rico
The UK ranked highly for UFO sightings, mythical creatures/ghosts, and haunted locations. Indeed, the country is reported to have 146 haunted locations – not bad for a country that is only the 78th largest country in the world, at 242,496km2 just making it into the top half for all the countries around the globe. It also has 410 horror movies, coming second only to the USA, and again came second for mythical creatures, beaten only by Japan. Again, this is unsurprising considering legends like the Loch Ness Monster are famous all over the world.
Japan ranked particularly highly mainly as a result of the number of mythical creatures that are embedded in their local culture. The Japanese culture embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions, as well as agriculturally based folk religion, so the list of mythical creatures is incredibly vast, stemming from the abura-akago (an infant ghost who licks oil out of andon lamps) to the yato-no-kami (deadly snake god which infested a field), and everything in between.
The results by continent are as below:
Spookiest country in Europe: UK
Spookiest country in Oceania: New Zealand
Spookiest country in North America: USA
Spookiest country in South America: Colombia
Spookiest country in Asia: Japan
The USA topped the chart for the most haunted destinations, boasting over 200 supposedly haunted locations, and that’s just the ones that have been reported.
Also ranking highly for haunted locations are the UK, Mexico and Colombia.
The USA also came out on top with a massive 1290 scary movies having been filmed or set in the US. The UK, Canada and India are also home to some of the most thrilling movies.
Ireland has reported the most UFO sightings, with 101 unidentified flying objects reportedly having been seen in Ireland’s skies. Also popular for UFO sightings are Puerto Rico, the UK and Portugal.
Japan is the country which is home to the most mythical creatures and ghosts, with the UK, USA and Ireland also telling of many creepy local legends.
To compile the Paranormal Geography ranking, we used the following methodology. We analysed a variety of studies and surveys of spooky lovers in order to find out what was needed from each destination in order for it to be considered “spooky”, and we then gave them a score out of 10, with 10 being the best. The elements we found to be important were:
- Haunted Locations
- UFO Sightings
- Horror Movies
- Mythical Creatures/Ghosts
In order to identify exactly what each destination had to offer, we searched through a variety of different sources. One source we looked at in particular was a UFO Hunters site, which documented how many UFO sightings had been recorded in each destination, as well as when and where it was, and what shape the sighting was in. We also used IMDB to discover the number of horror movies, looking at where the film was based rather than which country made it.
The full dataset is available upon request.