Wherever we live, there are times when we complain about how cold it is. Even in the hottest places on earth, those used to the temperatures might feel cold if it gets even a little bit cooler. For those who live in the coldest places on earth, however, there doesn’t seem to be any version of the opposite. Cities in Alaska, Russia, and even China have temperatures so low that they’re far beyond zero. Some of these places are even so cold that nobody can live there at all.
Oymyakon is a village in Russia and the coldest inhabited place on the planet. In fact, Oymyakon is so cold that it recently made the headlines. How did you ask? By breaking the device that was installed as a tourist attraction. Yes, tourist attraction. You can visit as well as live there if, for some reason, you wanted to. To be fair, the landscape around the Sakha Republic is beautiful, and if you can handle the temperature, it’s also very much worth the visit.
Fort Good Hope, Canada
Fort Good Hope forged its name in the fur trades of the 19th Century. The community, located on the banks of the Mackenzie River, has a population of under 600 people, most of whom are indigenous. Fort Good Hope is also really cold and only accessible via ice roads during the winter. However, it’s not just its status as being one of the coldest places on earth that should tempt you to visit. It also has one of the most show-stoppingly beautiful Gothic Revival churches in the world.
Easily the coldest state in the country, Alaska’s claim to fame is Sarah Palin’s testament that she can see Russia from her house. It makes sense, then, that the country could be so cold. There have been plenty of television shows made about Denali and other places like it. Denali, or Mount McKinley to locals, is the highest peak in North America. Its lowest temperature ever on record is a blistering -99.4°F. Brrrrr.
Vostok Station, Antarctica
This Russian research station in the heart of Antarctica has been in use since 1957. Vostok is at the Pole of Cold towards the lower quadrant of the country. Although nobody lives or even could live in Antarctica, every year there are roughly 1,000 to 5,000 people who live on and off in the science stations there including Vostok. The station reports a mean temperature that’s colder than any other science station on the planet. Yes, it’s covered in snow, and no, you can’t see penguins.
International Falls, Minnesota
Unless you’re a Minnesotan, you might be surprised to learn that there’s one place in the North Star State that’s as cold as anywhere Canada or Alaska has to offer. Despite bordering Lake Superior and being on the border with Canada, there are some spots in Minnesota that don’t get anywhere close to the coldest on earth. That’s not the case when it comes to International Falls, however. Even at less than half the coldness of Vostok, it’s one of the coldest places in the United States.
The village of Snag in Canada’s Yukon territory is bitterly cold throughout most of the year. It was settled during the Klondike Gold Rush, has been the location of a military airfield, and was once full of First Nation people. The lowest ever recorded temperature in Snag came in 1947 when it hit a low of −81.4 °F, plummeting below the figures able to be recorded by the Snag Aerodrome whose thermometer only went to -80°F.
As the northernmost city in the United States, it should go without saying that Alaska’s Barrow is far up there on the list of the world’s coldest places. It’s a city whose residents survive on the fare they get from the Arctic Ocean, and while it’s one of the coldest cities in the world, with the impending climate change, it’s quickly warming. However, there’s an average of 80.5 snowy days per year, and the lowest ever temperature was -56°F.
Harbin has a nickname that more than earns it a spot as one of the world’s coldest places. Known as the ‘Ice City,’ although Harbin has four seasons, its winters are cold and long. In fact, the snow season can, at times, last more than half a year. January 2018 saw record lows of -48.1°F. However, despite its long winters, Harbin is also the 8th most populous city in China. Although to look at it, that should come as no surprise.
Winnipeg in the Canadian province of Manitoba has witnessed some of the coldest and harshest weather conditions imaginable. Its winters are brutal, and although the city is home to more than 715,000 people, they don’t appear to be getting any warmer. One of the coldest temperatures on record for Winnipeg was in 1879 when Winnipeggers saw them plummet to -54°F.
Oymyakon has an adversary when it comes to the coldest inhabited places in Russia: Verkhoyansk. Verkhoyansk is so cold that its residents don’t need refrigerators or freezers to keep their food fresh. All they need is a shallow basement, and they’ll have food for days – years, even, if they’re lucky. However, it’s not all good for those who live there. Although cold tourism has brought money to the region, it’s a lot different for those who can’t escape the freezing temperatures; where not a single soul can step outside for longer than 15 minutes. Yeah. We’d say Verkhoyansk not only wins this one but the title of the coldest place on earth, to boot.