The Coldest Permanently Inhabited Place On Earth Is?

Maarten Takens/Flickr

Answer: Oymyakon, Russia

Just about everyone likes to complain about how cold it gets during the winter, but once you read about life in Oymyakon, Russia, you might find yourself more than thankful for the weather in your locale.

Oymyakon is the coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth (the town of Verkhoyansk, Russia is a very close second). The village of approximately 500 people is located in the northeastern Russian territory of the Sakha Republic and has average temperatures so chilly we won’t blame you if you read them in disbelief. The daily mean temperature of Oymyakon is 4.1 °F (-15.5 °C) and the chilliest month, January, has a daily mean temperature of -51.5 °F (-46.4 °C).

The coldest officially recorded temperature for Oymyakon (taken in 1933) is -89.9 °F (-67.7 °C), a staggering 121.9 degrees Fahrenheit (67.7 degrees Celsius) below freezing. In 1924, a temperature reading of -96.2 °F (-71.2 °C) was recorded and souvenirs from the village are still emblazoned with the temperature as a reminder of how truly cold it can get.

The extreme cold makes for some interesting adaptations. Citizens have problems starting their cars, so the only option left to them is to heat the engine blocks with an open flame blowtorch. The majority of their nutrients come from fish, animal meat, and dairy products since there is no local farming, and importing food to the remote village is difficult.

Although citizens of Oymyakon do suffer through eight months of sub-freezing temperatures—it’s typically at, or below 8 °F (13 °C) from October to April—they do get a summer respite from the cold. For a brief window in June, July, and August, the daily mean temperature rests between 50-60 °F (10-15 °C) with the occasional heatwave that brings it up as high as 94 °F (34.6 °C). Thanks to those rare heat waves, Oymyakon has one of the broadest temperature spreads of any human settlement. In a year with extreme winters and summers, it is possible to have a temperature range of 184.1 °F (102.3 °C) between the depths of winter and the heat of summer.

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