We have always been told there is nothing as certain as death - and well, maybe taxes. But some governments tried to break that eternal rule by prohibiting one of those. And as you can probably guess, I’m not talking about taxes.
Here are 5 places where dying is (or used to be) considered… a crime.
1. Sellia, Italy
This small village where only 596 people live in could pass as just another idyllic postcard landscape, lying beautifully on top of some of the many green hills of the Calabrian region of southern Italy.
Recently, however, something else has drawn attention to Sellia. According to a city law, from 2015 onward people who live there are banned from dying.
The city hall claimed the rule was intended to encourage people to take care of their health more prudently - which is a wise move considering over 60% of the small village population is over 65.
“This decree is no joke, we’re serious about it. Sellia, like many other places in southern Italy, has been facing depopulation,” stated the mayor, Davide Zicchinella.
2. Longyearbyen, Norway
The capital of the Svalbard Islands, located about 621 miles from the North Pole, is not an easy place to live in. Temperatures as low as -22º F are very common in the winter, during which the city faces months and months of an "eternal night."
As if that was not enough, Longyearbyen is also an inhospitable place for... the corpses. About 70 years ago burials were banned all over the island of Spitsbergen, where the town is located.
The main reason for that is the region’s low temperatures: Spitsbergen is practically a natural cryogenic chamber that preserves buried corpses even after decades.
So in order to prevent disasters like a (not so unlikely) avalanche of preserved bodies, death itself was banned from the island.
3. Itsukushima, Japan
Built in the 12th century, the Shinto shrine of Itsukushima is best known by tourists for its characteristic torii gate, which seems to float in the water during high tide.
But what many may not know is that, for religious reasons, people are not allowed to die there, since the place is considered sacred.
Not only that, people also aren’t allowed to be born there, and terminally ill people and pregnant women cannot even enter the sanctuary.
4. Biritiba Mirim, Brazil
In 2005, Biritiba Mirim, located 50 miles from São Paulo, had its city hall presenting a bill that prohibited residents from dying. The intention behind that was to draw attention to the terrible situation of the city's cemetery, which no longer had any space left to bury their dead.
The main reason for that was a conflict with the local environmental laws, which restricted construction in the place where a new cemetery was to be built.
Fortunately, Biritiba Mirim’s city hall was successful in its strategy and the city got a new graveyard in 2010.
5. Cugnaux, France
This small town in the south of France, where about 17 thousand people live in, faced a similar dilemma to the Brazilian one.
In 2007, the city's mayor decreed that people were forbidden to die there. His intention was also to pressure authorities to allow the construction of a new cemetery - since the former one had no space left for any more bodies.
In this case, the military was the one against the new graveyard. They claimed the location where it was supposed to be built was within the perimeter of a local ammunition depot, and so they could not allow it.
Cugnaux had to wait for 10 years until the new cemetery was finally open, in 2017.