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In which wilderness area on modern-day Earth would it be easiest for a lone human to survive year-round? What resources are available there and what tools and skills would be necessary? What is the approximate minimum age necessary for this person to survive there?

Now. that being the essence of the question, there are some caveats:

  • This person will not be attacked by hostile creatures regardless of whatever creatures that are potentially hostile to humans exist there. Lions or tigers or bears, etcetera...? Not a problem.

  • The person in question begins with no special clothing, and can be assumed not to risk suffering from sunburn or Vitamin D deficiency.

  • They will initially have no tools, and must make any tools required from local resources.

  • This person will have the necessary skills and physical prowess to survive in the chosen location, however I would like to select the location in order to minimise the skills necessary.

  • This person may survive by any necessary combination of hunting and gathering using only self-made tools of any complexity achievable by a lone human with no external assistance. They may be assumed to come pre-prepared with all the necessary skills and training, and need not learn new skills in-situ. However, they will only have the minimum skills required, as per my previous point.

  • Regardless of any other physical abilities this person may need, they will have a level of health and fitness that will make persistence hunting a viable option.

  • I would like to minimise this individual's initial age. They may be assumed to have the necessary skills and mental discipline to survive in the selected location regardless of their age, so please treat age as a purely physical limitation rather than a mental and physical limitation.

  • Any wilderness on modern-day earth may be selected provided that it has no significant permanent human population.

What does this have to do with world building? Nothing in itself, other than the presence of this character who would otherwise not be there, but the location affects how the story may potentially develop. Answers to this question will serve as a starting point from which a different world will be built as the story is told. A person surviving by fishing in a tropical lagoon starts a story rather differently to one where this person survives by hunting and gathering in a temperate forest.

EDIT

What do I mean by "no significant permanent human population"? Pretty much that the person in question could go unobserved there by other humans (not that they may not observe other humans) for a period of at least one full year.

Also, areas with below-freezing temperatures are not off-limits as long as there is sufficient time and resources for an unprotected human to fashion the clothing necessary to survive such conditions. They may be considered to start with shorts and a T-shirt, but - especially considering their youth - may either wear out or outgrow these, and if necessary replace them with whatever they need and can make themselves.

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    $\begingroup$ Have you read or seen the Jungle Book or Tarzan for that matter. Feral children surviving in the wild have been known (documented) from about age 3, but I suspect this isn't what you want to know. Are you thinking more of the Agoge of the Spartans? $\endgroup$ – We are Monica. Sep 3 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ I'm guessing there can't be a Walmart in the vicinity? In other words, there are wilderness areas --- areas without human habitation & presence --- even within suburban regions. How remote are you looking for? Also how remote is too remote? Is Bouvet Is too deep in the wilderness? $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Sep 3 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ Well, if this is going to be the "real life Earth", the only option would be some tiny tropical island (like in a movie "Cast Away"), because pretty much all habitable places on Earth now have either permanent or temporary population. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 3 at 23:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Chickensarenotcows, actually, a feral child of sorts is just what I had in mind... as a sort of "Child is discovered living wild in place X, is taken into care to (place Y, depending on its proximity to X) and..." $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Sep 4 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ Not an individual, but you might want to check en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lykov_family. They lived 40 years in Siberia without contact. 3 of 4 children died upon contact with civilization. One daughter still lives, is now in a hospital and plans to return to her home. $\endgroup$ – Zizy Archer Sep 6 at 15:44

15 Answers 15

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Any Temperate Rainforest

enter image description here

As a previous answer says, Ireland would be a great place, but there are several other similar areas in the world: northern Spain, eastern Black Sea, East Asia, the Pacific Northwest, and southwest South America all have one thing in common: they are temperate rainforests.

Ample Food

Tropical rainforests, which many other people have mentioned, have one big problem:

enter image description here

You've mentioned that the person in question won't be attacked by animals, which can be a problem in the jungle, but there's a second animal problem with jungles. There is a distinct lack of prey appropriate to humans, with a large amount of prey that is definitely inappropriate for humans, either via poison or simply too much effort to catch.

Temperate rainforests lack this issue. Not only are poisonous animals rare, but game animals, such as deer, rabbits, game fowl, or tahr, depending on which area is chosen. Taking down an elk is one of the best meat sources a hunter can hope for, and you won't find those in the tropics.

Water, Water Everywhere

Not only is game common, but you'll notice that the vast majority of temperate rainforest on the planet is near a major water source. Nearly all of these areas have significant supplies of fish and/or seafood. Not only is the water a great source of food, it's a great source of, well, water.

Mild climates

You discount weather, but the majority of these areas have warm summers and cool winters, rarely venturing into "cold" or "hot" territory.

Other Considerations

Despite the mild climate, you'll still need shelter. Fortunately, temperate rainforests have excellent species of wood for use in structures.

You only mention hunting, but if your character needs to get into farming, these areas also happen to have some of the most agriculturally viable soils on the planet; getting food to grow in any of these areas is surprisingly easy.

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    $\begingroup$ Any temperate forest (rain sucks). And if you're like Richard Proenneke, the sole star of Alone in the Wilderness, all you need is an axe head, and eventually you'll have a house with a hinged door. The one thing he does find is an old tarp to help waterproof his otherwise completely built-off-the-land cabin, because as I said, rain sucks. Other than thirst and hunger, lack of shelter is the only other enemy besides loneliness. It could be +60f outside; if you're wet and it's windy, you can still die from hypothermia. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Sep 5 at 1:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Mazura Temperate forests also offer plenty of natural shelter. The trees act as windbreaks; so, even during a storm, there will not be much wind actually hitting you. Also, anywhere there are rivers, there are typically caves. If there are no caves, it is really easy to make a lean-to out of a fallen log, some branches, and a bunch of leafy stuff which are all things you can find pretty much wherever you go in a temperate forest. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Sep 5 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ I prefer a temperate rainforest over a temperate forest primarily because of food density, but nearly everything I said about the rainier version is also true of standard temperate forests. $\endgroup$ – Michael W. Sep 5 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ This was going to be my answer, or at least part of it. Well written up. $\endgroup$ – James Sep 5 at 18:39
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As a native I'm definitely biased here, but Ireland is actually a pretty good bet.

enter image description here

Especially towards the West, Ireland has actually seen a decline in rural population. You can genuinely walk for miles and see no signs of civilisation. I'm talking even the grass has no footprints.

Predators? Ha! St Patrick took care of our snakes, and our beloved English settlers long ago wiped out the major predators whilst leaving plenty of game like elk and hare.

The forests (especially near the mountains) are littered with flintstone. Littered. You'll have no problems making tools or shelter. All deciduous trees (like Rowan or Birch) can be used to create strong and sturdy structures if you need, or great firewood. The western Galway coasts are a little harsher (gale winds mostly) but the abundance of marble caves will cover you well.

enter image description here

If you're a Game Of Thrones junkie, you may recognise this little place. It's in Fermanagh, a two hour drive from the nearest city (which has a population of less than half a million people). On that note, King's Landing (Port Ballintoy) is on the north tip of the island, where only 300 people make up a 100 square mile area.

Weather is famous, but the jetstream means you have no shortage of rain whilst also not freezing to death.

So, why does no one live in these unsullied spots of paradise? Fun little bit of Irish culture. Most of this (and the last two) generations have moved to the three major cities (Cork, Dublin and Belfast) in search of better prospects and good steady work. We have world class universities and every Fortune500 company across these cities because of this odd intellectual exodus. People living on the outskirts tend to be people's ma and da or farmers- "culchies". They're kinda like our version of hillbilly's. They're not hugely active, so rarely leave the house. They're also generally old and wealthy or lifetime farmers, so they're not seeking any kind of economic growth. With little technological infrastructure, companies just aren't interested in setting up in the rural fringe, and employees aren't interested in saving a few bucks for a three hour drive, 9 to 5 (no transport links either).

What's resulted over the past 100 years is genuinely unspoiled mountain ranges, valleys, coasts and islands for miles to go. You can't use Google Street View on 60% of County Galway- try it for yourself.

It's one of those weird places on Earth that no one lives in, but is much more than liveable in.

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    $\begingroup$ I dare say somewhere in the rules it would be inappropriate for me to have upvoted this just because it says "Ireland", so it's a good job I didn't do it for that reason. :-) Note that the population of Ireland dropped from about 8 million to just 4 million largely as a result of the immediate effects of the Irish famine (1845-49 - about 1 million dead due to the famine itself) and the wave of emigration it generated for nearly one hundred years. The Irish population now is about 7 million (including Northern Ireland for consistency with the historical figures). $\endgroup$ – StephenG Sep 4 at 4:11
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    $\begingroup$ "and every Fortune500 company across these cities because of this odd intellectual exodus" -- actually because Ireland is the largest tax haven in the world $\endgroup$ – BurnsBA Sep 4 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ What is the food situation going to be like? Besides the travesty of not being able to pop into a pub... $\endgroup$ – user3067860 Sep 4 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @mcRobusta I don't think potatoes grow all year in Ireland, since I don't think they can survive a frost and it looks like pretty much everywhere in Ireland gets frost in winter? And then from planting to getting edible potatoes takes a while (citation: The Martian). (We're also assuming you are dropped with a load of potatoes to use as seed.) $\endgroup$ – user3067860 Sep 4 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ This was my first thought as well. Go read Fiche blian ag fás (Twenty Years a-Growing) by Maurice O'Sullivan. He describes life on the Blasket Islands off the west coast of Ireland in the early 19th century. It's a fascinating account of essentially "survival living in the wilderness" and even though he lives in part of a (tiny) community vs by himself, there are a lot of details that would easily transfer. Especially the details about food - from the sea, collecting wild bird eggs, and so on. $\endgroup$ – dwizum Sep 5 at 15:31
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I'd suggest Hawaii.

  • No large predators - biggest things are wild pigs, which generally avoid humans
  • Fresh water, both from rainfall and from mountain streams
  • Plenty of edible plants which grow year-round
  • Weather is warm, but not too hot - shorts and a t-shirt are fine, but cold isn't a problem if you do outgrow your clothes
  • There's a large enough wilderness area that one could pass unobserved for a long time

Given these, and given that you have "the necessary skills" already, you could survive at almost any age - there's not really anything that requires a large amount of physical strength. I'd say minimum would be something like a six-year-old who's gone wilderness subsistence camping in the past with their family.

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    $\begingroup$ I have to agree with this one. The population density on any island but Oahu is more than low enough to live your whole live without being noticed. And if you were trying to hide, you could actually hide quite well on any island. If we're talking modern times, there's plenty of delicious, introduced fruit and feral populations of ungulates in the wild areas in addition to all kinds of ocean fish, so no problem with food. The weather is quite mild and there are very few critter-carried diseases $\endgroup$ – Quasi_Stomach Sep 4 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ They're called beach bums. No experience required. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Sep 5 at 0:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Quasi_Stomach though, while the jungle areas may be lightly populated, the shore is not - I would not suggest fishing if you're trying to remain hidden. $\endgroup$ – Skyler Sep 5 at 15:37
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in my opinion tropical jungle/forest island with lagoon (its quite common not rare) prefferably big (high chance to be because of current global warming drown the smaller one).

  • you wont encounter winter you wont get frostbite or chance of death from the extreme cold (unless you are near a hill or mountain site of the island which is colder) so no need for thick clothes even no clothes, and use animal fat or spice to smeared your body can be suficient enough from bug bite/repellent and warming your body from the cold, also usually theres many growing type or variety of wild plants that can become a natural reppelent to certain insect such as mosquito (most of them also can give extra flavour for cooking) , either just being there or processed, like turn into incense or chop or squeeze till it give stronger smell or drop oil to smeared over body, also mosquito usually active at night, also since the comment mention malaria, not all mosquito bring malaria the type that give malaria only grow in dirty water so you can try to drain or keep out from such place and even as a child you still can survive, depend on your immune system, how quick you are treated with the natural herbs, and also coconut water can help increase the platelets, i myself have struck by malaria as a child so this is more on personal experience, although i dont know the other herb ingredient except coconut water, and even so, as my personal experience, you can cure yourself only from drinking coconut water alone regularly while let your immune system do their job, i was cure like this, also if you want cloth or a blanket or some small protection, or maybe a mosquito net for easier sleep, you can made it either from certain tree bark or banana tree fiber.
  • rain is quite often happen and is a blessing for water source if the location lack clean plain water but only until you already build some shelter to protect yourself from the rain and other elements such as from sea wind or night cold and theres plenty of resource to build from, you can even just dig a hole cover it with variation of leaves and stick or mud and clay as roof (prefferably dig in clay or hard soil area) and be done with it, and just can go to otherplace if it got filled by water (at least it can become a water well to collect rain water) if you want to be quick or a lazy type or not permanent shelter, here some video how to build underground house by using primitive hoe or wooden stick or rod stuck with sharp steel/iron (which i believe can be replace with sharp stone similar like stone axe) so not require an elaborate digging tool Dig To Build Secret Hidden Underground Tunnel House In Deep Jungle but its not require to be that big though, and even so, you can get water from the plant there like coconut, roots, vines, etc
  • abundance of stable food variety including wild spices, as long you know the safe local food or edibel parts (either animal including fish or plants), and how to safe cook it example like wild cassava root, considering there also a lot of poisonous or toxic type.
  • and you can just try to farm there, if you got tired for scavenging food most of this type of land usualy contain high fertile soil, or you can plant more coconut (coconut definitelly everywhere in tropical islands i can assure you) by dumping some coconut around prefferable in the sand or the shore no need to tilting the soil if you are lazy.
  • also have chance to get out of there by building boat or raft yourself from the resource there besides base on the answer of @EDL from my past question

The explorer Thor Heyerdahl built his vessel out of balsa and sailed from South America to Polynesia

enter image description here

even child in here can survive as long they dont encounter wild beast, and when i mean child, i mean 6-7 years old as @Skyler already mention.

the problem is health or disease, so you need to know local or herbal medicine but since you say the person is fit its not really a problem to your character (i mean in health) except disease (depend on the person immunity especially if the character is native or not, even so not all disease have traditional cure or require materials from other regions).

storm (i mean the hurricane or tornado type of storm) is not that common unless you are near philipine islands, i recommend pacific island (still have chance for storm and island drowning) and indonesia (both border with australia if you dont know the location) plenty of unnamed desert island even today and most of them is decent size or quite big since the small one mostly drown already because of global warming..., which still have plenty of the thing i has say, but this kind of place especially indonesia also usually near ring of fire so earthquake and volcano eruption (including underwater) and tsunami is a possibility, unless the island is around borneo island which safe from all of this except man made disaster such as smog from burning rainforest for palm oil plantation, and sorry cant provide exact location as been state its unnamed islands not even include in current world map and its many, most that already name or being known by outside specifically from indonesia is turn into tourist place, and the named one is numbers 16.056 total according to google alone and keep increasing.

ps:if people wondering why theres a lot of unnamed island the hint is the ring of fire

so after surfing around in google, i found the rough map regarding surveyed island around indonesia (the red dot)

enter image description here

and further information also its now 17.504 islands totals

and here location of volcano you may or may not want to live near there, since the island near it usually also fertile land.

enter image description here

also indonesia is quite big if compare to europe so the people rarely live in the desert island, and it mostly turn into tourist location.

enter image description here

and conclussion, i still recommend to take island (any red dot you like) near borneo islands (the big island in the middle, border with malaysia) especially west side it safe from all natural disaster i have mention so far except man made.

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Ironically enough I think your biggest problem is going to be finding actual wilderness on a modern day earth that is arable and amenable to habitation for what are obvious reasons; if it supports life, we've already inhabited it in large numbers and probably put concrete and warehouses over the most arable land, pushing the farms out to less hospitable areas in the process, but I digress.

If you take animals out of the equation, the two most obvious places are Africa and the Amazon.

As a child I got so used to seeing pictures of starving children in Africa on the TV that I just assumed that it was a desolate place. It turns out that this is very far from the truth; most of the time, Africa is a highly fertile and productive land with good climate and it grows food that humans can eat without any real intervention. Most of those famines I saw as a child were a consequence of population increase and a lack of cultural experience with storing away for lean times that comes with a climate in which there is always something to eat around you. Europeans for instance know all about storing away for the winter and saving for lean times because of how hard it is to actually grow crops in European winters.

In the modern world, famines in Africa still occur but not on the scale that we used to see and most of them are now related to conflict in one way or another, and the impact that has on modern farming techniques. The practical upshot of this is that all the really fertile lands where human foods would grow wild in Africa are now pretty much populated.

On the other hand, you also have the Amazon Rainforest. Lots of biodiversity and native groups are living in it already, pretty much untouched by most of human civilisation but that is changing. The problem is that again the land is fertile and once cleared makes great farming or pastural lands, so encroachment by modern farmers, loggers and others is reducing the amount of natural wilderness that one can find in that area.

Ultimately, you're writing a modern day jungle book, in a world where jungle is in increasingly rare supply. But these are probably the best two candidates for what you have in mind.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, only about 3% of the world has cities and around 37% is used for agriculture. learner.org/courses/envsci/unit/text.php?unit=7&secNum=2 and newgeography.com/content/001689-how-much-world-covered-cities Also, the burning of the Amazon is worse than the logging, currently, since it's killing wildlife and natives as well as displacing them. $\endgroup$ – computercarguy Sep 4 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ @computercarguy, if it has neither cities nor agriculture, that's a pretty good sign that it isn't an easy place to live. The 60% that isn't densely occupied is mostly things like tundra, mountains, desert, and ice caps. $\endgroup$ – Mark Sep 4 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark, the OP didn't say it had to be easy. Also, I was refuting TimBII's assertion that farms are pushed to "less hospitable places". That might be true for certain places, but not for most places, like the American Midwest, where there's by far much more farmland than city. $\endgroup$ – computercarguy Sep 4 at 22:38
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"Any wilderness on modern-day earth may be selected provided that it has no significant permanent human population."

That is an issue ...

Leaving existing population out, you'd want the temperate bands around the equator to avoid extreme cold.

You'd want coastal, or at least affected by coastal weather patterns to provide plenty of rain fall so no desert areas, etc.

No islands in the Caribbean or Pacific or Indian seas due to storms, etc. and simply not being large enough to sustain a person via foraging/hunting/fishing.

So think about the middle third of the world, running in a stripe with the equator at the center. Now remove desert areas, and islands. Plenty of good places left - both coasts of Florida, a good bit of Central and South America, the Gulf Coast of the US except Texas, parts of S. Cailifornia and N. Mexico but watch the desert issue, and that is just a little bit of the land mass left.

Unfortunately, when you add the "no human population" none of those areas qualify on modern earth, and any place that does is extremely un-inhabitable.

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    $\begingroup$ Peripheral island of "Johnston atoll". No people apart from occasional wildlife survey folks, Seabird sanctuary so eggs galore, or chicks. or birds. Capacity for food grown on JA. Plutonium levels now minimal :-). [[I and quite a few others tried to buy it :-) - but they ended up giving it to the wildlife service.]. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Sep 5 at 11:48
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If your protagonist is not going to be attacked by animals, go to a rainforrest.

By staying close to the Amazon river you have a practically infinite supply of fresh water all year round. Temperature is also constant throughout the year.

There are enough animals and plants to keep you fed. Shelter won't be a problem, you can find a cave or build your house by the river - plenty of plants of all kinds for that, indians have been doing it for millennia.

If you wish to grow your own food, just open a clearing in the forest. Most of the indians there are farmers, not hunters.

Last but not least, if you have a herbalism manual, you will be inside a living pharmaceutical lab. Need some medicine for whatever condition? There will be an animal or plant that will suit your needs. I know of a vine that people use for fishing because it stuns fish, leaves that reduce fever and pain, DMT containing plants, a fruit that is practically Red Bull in solid format, a plant whose leaves and fruit you can eat to alleviate anxiety and insomnia and a spider whose bite will give you three-days-long erections. Seriously!

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  • $\begingroup$ i wont recommend building shelter near river unless made of strong material or complex architectural building because flash flood is common in rainforest. $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Sep 4 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ @LiJun in the Amazon rain forrest flash floods only happen in the few hundred kilometers closest to the ocean. $\endgroup$ – Renan Sep 4 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ The plant for anxiety and insomnia is to get them or to cure them? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Sep 4 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch it's to alleviate them. I just edited to clarify. $\endgroup$ – Renan Sep 4 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ Amazon: Build something can float, or get a few dozen feet above (in the rain station is also known as flood station). In most part, it's a big plain terrain, unless you are very close to the Andes you will not find caverns.Malaria comes to mind. Jaguars really requires immense areas to hunt, like 40sq. miles and are not afraid of humans but usually don't prey on them (unless they are really hungry or protecting cubs) but there's plenty of alligators and snakes $\endgroup$ – jean Sep 4 at 20:47
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San Nicolas Island

San Nicolas Island is part of the Channel Islands of California. The weather is lovely year round (some rain but no extremes of temperature).

enter image description here
(By Lencer - own work, used:Google EarthUSA California location map.svg by User:NordNordWest for MinimapIdea: Californian Channelislands.jpg by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6444044)

People lived there for 10,000 years and did quite well. There's plenty of food and water and enough resources to make tools, shelter, and clothing.

When the native people to the island were forcibly evacuated 200 years ago, one young woman was left behind and lived there alone for 18 years. This is a quite famous story which was fictionalized in the popular middle-grade (children's) novel Island of the Blue Dolphins. In the book she starts off as a teen but it's unclear how old the real life woman was.

In the last 100 years or so, the island has not been treated well. The ecosystem was ravaged by sheep (removed in 1943) and cats (brought by the navy in the 1950's and now eradicated). If it is abandoned in your story then there may be tools and materials left behind your character can use.

There are multiple other islands that are part of the Channel Islands of the Los Angeles/Santa Barbara coast. Of the 8 islands, only one, Catalina, has a permanent population (it also has significant tourist trade).

Not only would some of the other islands also be good choices for you but, once your character has built a boat, s/he can travel among them. It would be very possible for other humans not to see your character for at least a year, but also possible to be found, depending on your plot requirements.

enter image description here
(By Toddclark, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6045926)

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  • $\begingroup$ These islands appear to be quite degraded from their natural state by former and current human occupation. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Sep 4 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild to a degree, yes, but they're still quite livable. I've visited Catalina Island several times and camped on a beach that required a boat ride from the main town and a hike over some hills. Nothing but an outhouse and a water spigot and no other people aside from a ranger that went by once a day. That was an official camping spot. Even on that populated island, you could have found places to live and hide and be fine. Pick a different island and you're unlikely to run into people. Some don't even allow tourism. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Sep 4 at 4:22
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    $\begingroup$ Could you really call any of them "wilderness" then, or are they more abandoned settled areas? That the place selected is truly wilderness is important . $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Sep 4 at 5:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild It's your question and if you want to reject my answer for any reason, that is your complete right. You said: "Any wilderness on modern-day earth may be selected provided that it has no significant permanent human population." With the exception of Catalina Island, none of the Channel Islands have a permanent population and are wilderness. They had native American populations that haven't been there for quite some time and all the islands were used in one way or another by the US military, but some just as lookouts and such. Tourism to many of the islands is restricted. (more) $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Sep 4 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ So you don't have a lot (or any) people there. Mostly they are wilderness (even parts of Catalina are) and there is enough there to survive with, the weather allows for survival even before there are shelters or better clothing, and it's easy enough to hide. But if you only want places that are more remote (you know like Ireland), then choose what you want. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Sep 4 at 14:43
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TL;DR: Just choose a wild area that has several kinds of easily gathered wild edibles, and put your main character in a spot that is naturally filled with them. Then surviving is as simple as grabbing whatever is currently growing on the vine or hopping by and anyone old enough to walk and put thing in their mouth is old enough to survive it.


Given your personal meaning behind "wilderness" - that is, "nobody will notice me for at least a year" - the actual, simple answer to your question as asked is "any spot that you can easily hide in which is near a good food source."

As long as the person tries to hide, which is likely if they are scared of people or if they had "stay away from strangers" instilled in them before they lost their parents, then it doesn't take much to stay out of sight. A stand of trees, a few bushes, a field of tall grass, or any combination of these or similar features.

Wal-Mart fits your criteria... no, really

There is a field right next to my local Wal-Mart that technically fits all your criteria. A fence at the edge of the parking lot has an overgrown field on the other side of it, including trees. It would be easy to live there indefinitely without being noticed. A person could take from the trash and dumpsters at night, or they could grab food from peoples' cars at the edge of the parking lot when the people are returning their shopping carts.

If the person is specifically hiding, they could go a year before being noticed. Especially if that spot of the parking lot is a blind spot for security cameras.

Near Agriculture

But I doubt you're looking for a dumpster-diving main character. So instead of a hiding spot near Wal-Mart, pick one near agricultural fields. I have in mind right now a perfect spot with thick trees and bushes that is literally a stone-throw away from an apple orchard, and the layout is such that nobody would notice someone coming out after hours. And apples are a fruit that can be stored for months. Some people bury bins full of apples to store them long term then dig them up when needed. You could insert any other food source in here as well. A feral child could be found because it is stealing too many eggs from the farm's chickens, for example.

With either the Wal-Mart dumpster-diving case or the nearby farm case, as long as the weather is mild enough or there is sufficient protection from the weather, a child old enough to walk and take things is old enough to fit your criteria. So 1 or 2 years old perhaps.

Wild Food

If you don't want the person relying on civilization, but rather want them relying entirely on wild, hunted or foraged edibles and what they can grow themselves, then your best bet is to drop them into an area with a variety of easily picked wild edible plants that are ready at different times. The tricky part here is minimizing large gaps between harvest times.

The best spot I know of from personal experience has lots of wild berries and a wild pear tree. The wild berries and pears are both smaller than cultivated varieties, and they don't taste nearly as good, but they are ok and definitely edible. The same area that has these also contains a few varieties of edible weeds, including a variety ready to eat in early spring, and a couple varieties of edible flowers. It also contains lots of mice, frogs, snakes, snails, bugs, all edible. If I just walk around a little bit I have lots of frogs jumping away from me out of the grass, and they are easy to catch. It also has the occasional rabbit, raccoon, or other small edible game, which I have caught. I actually bought the land in question partly because of the natural abundance, and I eat a lot of the wild food from it. It is in the north-eastern US.

If your main character is dropped into a plot of land like the one I found and bought, they don't even need much skill to survive on it, it's extremely easy. And you said your preferred main character is the younger the better, so they don't need to eat as much either. If your main character is willing to eat meat raw (not advisable, but definitely possible), then they could literally laze about and just pick something edible nearby whenever they want. If they are willing to eat everything edible there, then a child 2 or 3 years old could survive there.

So the most interesting answer to your question (ie: avoiding dumpster-diving and farms) is to just pick any place that can have a variety of wild edibles and then say the character is in a pocket of extra-rich abundance. It's certainly possible, I just gave you a specific instance. And I highly doubt that plot of land I mentioned is the best on the planet. There must be thousands of millions of other pockets of wild land that are even way better than the one I described.

The specific land I mentioned might sound too good to be true, but it does have drawbacks. Probably the biggest problem with that land is that it is infested with both poison ivy and poison sumac. This is extremely annoying for me, but it could be an interesting twist for your world setting in your story.

For your story, to make it even more believable that a child could find the food needed to survive, you could also include a stream flowing through the area that provides water, small fish, crayfish, and salamanders.

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  • $\begingroup$ Dumpster diving and raiding farmland certainly wasn't what I had in mind... but the rest of your answer is very interesting. Can you elaborate as to whether the area is actually wilderness or if it is neglected farmland? Can you narrow down the region you have in mind just a little? $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Sep 5 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ I like your walmart idea - that's probably a legitimate wilderness of its own. A large chain store that sells a lot of different things. Either living in a forgotten roofspace or boarded-off area, or some other cubby, Or go post apocolyptic and simply live inside a fully stocked but abandoned store. $\endgroup$ – Criggie Sep 5 at 4:45
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild I don't think it's neglected farmland, at least not commercial farmland. If it is, then it was from a very long (>100year) time ago. "Wild pears are usually harder than a witches heart so they will need to be cooked to softness to be a treat." (silysavg.com) And the pears on that tree are extremely tough; you could break a tooth on them, and the pears are tiny, so I think it is wild. And wild berries grow all over New York; I've seen many wild spots with wild berry patches for days all over the region on the edge of forests in multiple counties. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Sep 5 at 7:22
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Ok so this answer is going to be both very general and very specific.


The general part: The key components for any location are as follows

  • Access to fresh water
  • Access to food
  • Access to natural resources for everything else
  • Ideally all these resources are as close as possible

My recommendation to hit all these requirements the best way possible is similar to @Michael W.'s answer - temperate forests are the way to go.

The specific part: I'd set up in this area right here. This area is west of Seattle and borders Olympic national park.

So why here?

  • This location has two large freshwater lakes, providing easy access to fresh water and food in the form of fish.
  • Well forested, plenty of access to fuel for fires and resources for building shelters
  • The forest also provides plenty of access to game
  • The soil is plenty fertile for farming should your lone human make it to that point
  • The mountains are not terribly far away giving you access to plenty of stone, flint, and potentially iron ore if you want him to evolve his tech to that stage
  • Clay should be abundant around lakes and streams allowing for containers fairly easily.
  • Easy access to the ocean. Plenty of food to be had, not to mention salt from collected seawater/evaporation (humans need salt)

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you say what potentially useful flora and fauna exist here, and what the level of civilised human traffic through the area is likely to be? $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Sep 5 at 23:56
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Choose the Galapagos islands !

The animals there are easy to hunt, because they do not fear humans and wont run away. There are no predators on these islands, also no snakes or other potentially dangerous animals. Only four of the 13 islands are inhabited, the biggest of them, Isabela has only a small population an is mostly wilderness.

Temperatures are moderate year round, there is a dry season, but you should be able to find fresh water even in the dry time on the bigger islands. If you need a house you can build it out of wood and stone. You could make fibres for clothes out of agave which is common on the most islands.

Of course these islands are a nationalpark and if you try to farm, hunt and live there, the park rangers will catch you some day and you will have to spend some time in an ecuadorian prison cell. But of course, what your protagonist is intending to do is illegal in every part of our modern world..

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    $\begingroup$ "what your protagonist is intending to do is illegal in every part of our modern world" ??? $\endgroup$ – Whelkaholism Sep 4 at 12:17
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Probably any high tropics, continental or large island coastal area.

Warm year round, but not continually oppressive. The ocean is probably the easiest to exploit and most abundant source of readily available food.

Access to the interior with fresh water sources, animals of varying sizes providing an additional source of food. Also a variety of fruits, nuts and other forage. Building materials. High ground to escape coastal storms.

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I live on the West Coast of the US, and it's so mild (I'm in WA State) that I joke about not being able to live anywhere else. I'd go South from here for the BEST location, probably somewhere between Central Oregon and Northern California, far enough South but still in the path of the warm, wet Pineapple Express winds that make it wet and verdant all the time around here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineapple_Express If the character lives in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range there are lots of wild places. Lots of water, lots of edible mushrooms, berries, and nuts.

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Lower Elevations of the Tillamook State Forest, in Oregon. 364,000 acres of temperate rain-forest that you can easily hide and survive in for a long time. If you actively are trying to not be found, you are not going to be found in this forest. Lots of fresh water via rain, moderate temperature changes, varied edible flora and fauna.

Deep in Tillamook Forest

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There was a fellow lost in Tasmania who lived on mushrooms and dew. I don’t know how long he was lost, but it was long enough that when he finally found his way home, they were about to start his funeral.

Some hunters found him and showed him the way out. Prior to that, he had encountered no one.

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protected by James Sep 5 at 18:46

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