In Pictures

Abandoned 'ghost village' in China becomes overgrown

Shengshan island in China's eastern Zhejiang province is home to Houtouwan, an abandoned village that has become overgrown with thick green vegetation.

Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP

Agence France-Presse photojournalist Johannes Eisele went to Houtouwan to capture these extraordinary aerial photos.

Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP
Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP

The tiny island was once home to a bustling fishing village with more than 2,000 fishermen and their families housed in more than 500 homes.

Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP
Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP

The remoteness of the island meant that the standards of education and quality of food deliveries suffered.

Residents started to leave the island in the early 1990s in search of a better life.

Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP

By 1994 almost everyone had left, and only a few villagers remain today.

Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP

Over the years lush vegetation reclaimed the buildings, making the isolated island a popular tourist destination.

Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP
Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP
Abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island Image copyright AFP

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