What It’s Like Living in the Coldest Places on Earth

January 17, 2018, 10:10 PM UTC

As yet another cold weather system dumps snow on states across the East Coast, it may be some solace to take a look at some of the very coldest places on the planet.

Record-breaking temperatures linger in the Southern United States, though the chill and snowfall have yet to beat the sub-zero records set last year in many northern states.

But it’s all relative. These are some of the snowiest cities, the coldest village, and the most frigid place on the planet.

The Coldest Village in the World

The village of Oymyakon in Russia’s Yakutia region is the coldest permanently occupied human settlement in the world.

The community of some 500 people located a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle received this title in 1933 when temperatures plummeted to minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the winter, temperatures average minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit and 21 hours of the day are spent in darkness.

And while most people in the colder regions of the U.S. weigh the value of springing for remote start to heat their cars before they go outside, Oymyakon residents have to keep their cars running all the time so they batteries don’t die. Their diets often consist of raw or frozen meat and alcoholism is a rampant problem.

The all-time coldest temperature there, minus 98 degrees Fahrenheit, was recorded in 2013.

But despite the extreme conditions, fish markets remain open, people ride bikes and even go swimming.

The nearest major city, Yakutsk, is also frigid.

Nearly 300,000 people live in the capital of the Sakha Republic of Russia where the all-time record low was minus 83 degrees Fahrenheit set in 1891.

A local woman enters Preobrazhensky Cathedral in a swirl of freezing mist in Yakutsk. Russia, which is considered to be the coldest city in the world.Amos Chapple—REX/Shutterstock
Amos Chapple—REX/Shutterstock

Other Extremely Cold Cities

Yellowknife was named the coldest Canadian city in 2014.


Located about 320 miles from the Arctic Circle, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories is home to more than 20,000 people.

The city was founded in 1934 as a mining town. Today it’s a prime spot to see the aurora borealis for travelers who can stand temperatures that get down to 26 degrees Fahrenheit below zero in January.


The coldest temperature ever recorded in Yellowknife was minus 60 degrees in 1947.

Winnipeg residents also battle extreme winter conditions. The capital city of the Canadian province of Manitoba is home to more than 715,000 people. Typical low temperatures in January range between minus 5 and minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though sometimes it gets much colder — temperatures dipped to minus 49 F in 1966 and minus 54 F in 1879, making Winnipeg one of the coldest cities in North America.

If the cold weather is a draw, then Harbin, China, often called the “ice city,” is a fitting destination to find some likeminded neighbors.

The capital of China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province is home to more than 10 million people. The city embraces the extreme winter weather each year by hosting the Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival.

Temperatures get down to minus 12 degrees Fahrenheit during a typical January day, but temperatures as low as minus 44 F have been recorded there.

The Coldest Uninhabited Place on Earth

The absolute coldest place on Earth is in Antarctica, where Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center used satellites to measure the lowest recorded temperature ever at minus-133.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humans could survive in those kinds of temperatures, but only for about three minutes. A windchill of just minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit can cause frostbite in about five minutes.

“Humans really have no place there,” one of the researchers said.