Life Is Tough in the World’s Coldest Village


The villagers of the coldest inhabited place on Earth adjust to unique challenges presented by day-to-day living.

Welcome to Oymyakon, a remote Siberian village known as the coldest permanently inhabited settlement in the world. Located just a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle and reaching record lows of –71.2°C (–96.16°F), one is forced to ponder not only why, but also how the villagers of this extreme location manage to survive.

Due to the extreme subarctic climate, the roughly 500 residents of Oymyakon are mostly unable to grow any crops, so their diet basically consists of reindeer and horse meat. Unlike their luckier counterparts more to the south, the children of Oymyakon have to go to school regardless of the weather conditions unless the temperature falls below –52°C (–61.6°F). If you were to go outside naked in that kind of weather, it would take approximately one minute for you to freeze to death.

Besides the obvious issues of remoteness, the cold itself forces this village to be a simple place with few conveniences. Pen ink freezes, anything less than fur fails at keeping the chill off, and electronics are all but useless. Cars are hard to start with frozen axle grease and fuel tanks, unused pipes can freeze within 5 hours, batteries lose life at an alarming speed. Here’s what driving under such conditions looks like:

Image credits: _yakutia

Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges facing these rugged people existing within “Stalin’s Death Ring” is the burial of their dead. With the ground in a state of permafrost, it takes several days to dig a grave, a strenuous task of lighting a bonfire for a few hours, then pushing the coals aside to dig a few inches, then starting another fire, and so on and so forth, until the hole is big enough to hold a coffin.

Below are some more fascinating photos and facts of life in Oymyakon.

Image credit: Isaiasmalta

The temperature is -62°C (-80°F) but people still go to work

Image credit: alfi__ya

It’s so cold outside, icicles form on your eyelashes. But wearing glasses outdoors could cause them to stick to the wearer’s face

Image credits: anastasiagav

There’s now way further down on this thermometer

Image credits: __mnana__

Street vendors have no need to refrigerate their fish

Image credit: Vera Salnitskaya

Walking along the world’s coldest market

The frozen surroundings of Oymyakom

Image credit: Maarten Takens

Photographers try using the cold in creative ways: “I really did take pictures of the ballerina outside in minus 41°C, and it’s not photoshopped”

Image credit: chugunovpetrs

Locals are used to working outside in the extreme weather conditions

Image credit: khakhsaat_djulus

These Chinese tourists visiting Oymyakon are as extreme as the local weather

Video credit: pototskayaelena

The village of Oymyakom in the frozen Taiga

Image credit: Maarten Takens

The extreme weather was too much even for the new electronic thermometer. It broke after reaching -62°C (-80°F)

Image credit: sivtseva9452

The cold makes the whole village look like a winter wonderland

Image credits: ion_ionsky

Icicles look like beautiful crystals in a mine tunnel

Image credit: sakhamin

These beautiful icy lashes are set to become the newest beauty trend

Image credits: anastasiagav

In 1924, a temperature of –71.2°C (–96.16°F) was recorded in the village, acknowledged as the lowest ever in the Northern Hemisphere. Not sure the locals noticed it…

Sources: 1, 2

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