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What Life is Like in The Coldest Town on Earth

Are you the kind of person who prefers the cold weather? Do you love the fresh chill that comes with winter and sends everyone indoors to sit around the fireplace? Wearing a sweater may be nice, but if you really want to test yourself, you should visit Oymyakon, Siberia: the coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth, with temperatures regularly reaching -62°C (-80°F). You'll need more than a sweater to stay warm there. 

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  • photo oymyakon coldest inhabited town on earth aerial view snow houses
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    Oymyakon, Siberia, is located only a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle, which is closer to the tiny town than any cities. With around 500 residents, the town has everything you would expect a small town to have: a school, shops, workplaces. The extreme temperatures, which once reached as low as -67.7 °C (-89.9 °F), don't stop people from going about their daily routines. 


  • photo girl in oymyakon frozen eyelashes winter snow
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    But that isn't to say that it isn't cold in Oymyakon. It's so cold there that your eyelashes freeze, boiling water freezes instantly outside, and thermometers stop working at f -62 °C (-80 °F). So how did people end up living in a place with such a hostile environment? 


  • photo oymyakon street frozen snow cold
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    In the 1920s, Oymyakon was a stopover for reindeer herders and a place where they could allow the reindeer to rest and drink at the thermal spring. These stopovers became so regular that a settlement gradually formed there (Oymyakon translates to "unfrozen water," which is not easy to find in environments like this). 


  • photo thermometer oymyakon broken Blue - 10 07 e nonioC xonoRA 如型% CAХА СИРЭ ЯКУТ 司司到 创刀
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    Since the 1920s, the town has developed into a small but functioning place. However, life in winter is a tad more difficult than it is in warmer places. Most houses have toilets that are outside, because indoor toilets often face problems like frozen plumbing. Residents have to leave their cars running, sometimes overnight, so the mechanics don't freeze up. And that's just the beginning of it. 


  • photo frozen house in oymyakon icicles
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    Frostbite is a very real possibility in Oymyakon, and touching anything with bare hands would peel your skin off (ouch!). Camera and phone batteries run out of power almost instantly in the cold temperatures, so taking photos is difficult. 


  • gif cars driving through oymyakon in winter hard to see ice snow
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    To survive in Oymyakon's severe winter temperatures, you have to have the right gear that is made specially for such temperatures. There are no showers, because there is no running water (it's all frozen), but there are steam rooms called banyas


  • gif woman entering house from outside snow freezing steam coming inside
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    The people of Oymyakon exist on a carnivorous diet of reindeer and horse meat, fish, very few spices, and lots of vodka. Ice cream is served at -15 °C (5 °F), but when the weather outside is -50 °C (-58 °F), ice cream is considered a warm treat!


  • photo frozen laundry hanging outside snow freezing oymyakon
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    Surprisingly, temperatures in Oymyakon reach around 20°C (68 °F) in summer months, with heatwaves reaching the thirties (which must be a nice change from the winter temperatures). Getting to Oymyakon isn't super easy, so just stick your head inside your freezer and imagine that it's a very, very warm day in Oymyakon. 

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