Oymyakon | The coldest permanently inhabited village on earth

This is the village of Oymyakon. Located in the far east of Siberia, it is closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to the nearest city. As well as being one of the most remote settlements, the 500 or so residents of Oymyakon live in the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth.

Oymyakon coldest permanently inhabited village on earth
Traditional wooden houses (izba) and smoke from the chimneys in Oymyakon, Sakha Republic, Russia. (Getty Images)

The record dates back to 1924, when the thermometers measured a temperature of −96.2 °F (−71.2 °C). It is commemorated by a monument in the center of the village, in front of a statue of a concrete bull where the record was taken. While −96 °F is the lowest recorded, the average winter temperature is regularly around −58 °F (−50 °C).

This means that even at the best of times, winter in Oymyakon is incredibly challenging for the locals. Unused pipes can freeze in a matter of hours, so many of the village’s bathrooms are outhouses without plumbing. Cars, meanwhile, are incredibly difficult to start, with the fuel tanks susceptible to freezing and the batteries draining quickly.

Oymyakon coldest permanently inhabited village on earth
The monument to the coldest permanent inhabited settlement on earth. (Getty Images)

Oymyakon is located in the Sakha Republic of Russia, just south of the Indigirka River. The name ‘Oymyakon comes from the Russian for “water that doesn’t freeze”. It is ironic, of course, since during a winter in Oymyakon the water is almost always frozen.


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Daylight is also a precious commodity during winter in Oymyakon. At its longest, the night is 21 hours long and at the end of the winter, the Yakutians celebrate a “Cold Pole Festival” hosted by Chyskhaan, their Lord of Frost. The festival includes reindeer races, dog sledding and ice fishing. 

Oymyakon coldest permanently inhabited village on earth
A young boy sitting on a reindeer in Oymyakon. (Getty Images)

It is a two-day drive from Oymyakon to the nearest airport in Yakutsk, though adventure tours taking visitors around Siberia sometimes include the isolated village, given its impressive claim to fame.


Enjoy this article? Check out the video below on some more fascinating, frozen Great Big Stories.

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