Oymyakon in Northeast Russia - The Coldest Permanently Inhabited Place on Earth

Located in Oymyakonsky District of the Russian Republic of Sakha, Oymyakon is regarded as the coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth. The coldest ever temperature recorded in Oymyakon is -71.2C. This is the lowest ever recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited place on Earth. It is a village of about 500 people located along the Indigirka River. Oymyakon is known as the 'Pole of Cold' with an average January temperature of -50C.

Oymyakon is located around 750 meters above sea level and the length of a day varies from 3 hours in December to 21 hours in the summer. The village of Oymyakon was a stopover for reindeer herders who used to water their flocks from the nearby spring during the 1920s and 1930s. But the place was made a permanent settlement by the Soviet government in its effort to settle nomadic populations. Since then Oymyakon is the coldest permanent settlement on Earth. Ironically, Oymyakon actually means 'non-freezing water' due to a nearby hot spring.

Life in Oymyakon is not easy, as you can expect in such a location. Most homes in Oymyakon still burn coal and wood for heat as they don't have much modern conveniences. Among the most horrible daily problems that come with living in the village include pen ink freezing, glasses freezing to people's faces and batteries losing power. People have to leave their cars running all day for fear of not being able to restart them. There is no mobile coverage in Oymyakon and even if there was any, it would have been unusable as most electronics stop working in freezing temperatures. There is only one shop in the village to provide its bare necessities.

There is a short summer season during which people can grow things, but for the most part people don't eat fruit or vegetables. The locals work as reindeer-breeders, hunters and ice-fisherman. People in Oymyakon eat reindeer meat and horse meat. However, the locals don't suffer from malnutrition. Doctors say the reason might be that their animals' milk contains a lot of micronutrients.

Burying dead bodies is another noteworthy problem in Oymyakon. It takes up to three days to bury dead bodies as the earth is required to be thawed sufficiently in order to dig it. Bonfire is lit for a couple of hours and hot coals are then pushed to the side to dig a hole of couple of inches. The process is repeated for several times until the hole is deep enough to bury the coffin.

Oymyakon is not much a place to travel, but that doesn’t stop travel companies from offering tours to the village in the middle of winter. Travel companies offer tourists the opportunity to visit the village and sample life in the freezing conditions. Tourists make the journey simply to experience what it’s like to be in a place that cold.

Photos via: Daily Mail, Yakutia Travel

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