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It's a misconception that all ghost towns were once thriving cities. The traditional narrative of the ghost town, in wich cities are suddenly emptied by war, economic pressure, or an environmental catastrophe, now includes new varieties with bizarre political backstories.

Pyramiden, a remote coal mining city was built by Sweden in 1910 on Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago next to Greenland. The city, sold to the Soviet Union 17 years after its construction and shuttered in 1998, now stands preserved with its full basketball courts and schools completely empty. It has inspired at least one album by a member of Peter Bjorn and John. And Efterklang went so far as to record an album there.

In Angola, Kilamba New City is a massive real estate development built by a state-owned construction company from China, and paid for with oil exchanges. Currently, it's largely unoccupied, but has the capacity to house half a million residents and boasts 750 apartment buildings. 

Head to i09 for photos of more deserted places.