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Coldest Place on Earth

Geography | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

Oymyakon : The World’s Coldest Place

Where is the coldest place in the world?

If you think that there could be no place colder than Kashmir or Laddakh, then a visit to the Russian village of Oymyakon will certainly change your mind. Oymyakon, a small village in Russia, holds the claim to fame as being the coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth. Oymyakon is also known as the ‘Pole of Cold’.

Coldest temperature ever recorded

The coldest ever temperature recorded in Oymyakon was -71.2C. Ironically, the name Oymyakon means “non-freezing water.”  It was named after a nearby hot spring. The Oymyakon village, which is today home to more than five hundred people, was earlier just a temporary stopover point for reindeer herders who used to visit the thermal spring with their animals to rest and recoup. Gradually, these herders developed a fondness for this place and started getting settled here.

Average temperatures in Oymyakon

The ground in and around Oymyakon is permanently frozen. Average temperatures in Oymyakon range from -50°F in December to +50°F in August.

Daylight in winter lasts just for 2-3 hours, while in summer it can magnanimously extend up to 21 hours.

There are no hotels in Oymyakon, but the generous and affable residents are always eager to host guests. In fact, the Oymyakons love visitors; the mayor is always willing to give every guest of the city a certificate commemorating their visit to the “Pole of the Cold”.

What it’s like to live in the coldest place on Earth?

The principle industry is centered on fur trading and ice fishing and the locals work as reindeer-breeders, hunters and ice-fisherman.

Owing to the harsh environmental conditions, Oymyakon is still pretty under developed as far as modern amenities are concerned. There is only one school in the entire village and it was only in 2008 that it received its first indoor toilet. Mobile phone service is not available, and even if it was, phones would not have possibly functioned in such low temperatures. In the event of a power failure, the town shuts down in about five hours and the pipes freeze and crack.

No commercial farming takes place in Oymyakon and there is only a single shop to cater for the needs of the residents. Locals only have a short summer period to stock the hay for the animals and firewood for heating houses. The villagers mostly have to depend on reindeer meat and horse meat for their food requirements.

Difficulties

The residents of Oymyakon have to brave a lot of daily troubles like the freezing of ink in their pens and dead batteries. The residents cannot wear glasses outside as they will instantly freeze to one’s face. They have to keep their cars running all day because they fear that they would not be able to start them again if they turned them off. A funeral can take more than two days as digging graves is a herculean task. The ground has to be first thawed with hot coals on order to be dug deep enough.

Measures

The villagers wear fur coats, fur hats and fur boots made of reindeer skin and Arctic foxes. They have to cover themselves with a pile of sweaters, jackets and foot wraps, making them almost look twice their size.

But, as they say, people do get accustomed to the surroundings in which they live, even the little children of Oymyakon community have the physical endurance in them ever since their birth to boldly face the harshness of the climate there. The Oymyakon’s school only shuts if temperatures fall below -52C. Whoa! How many of you have it in you to go and study there?

For more interesting Geography articles and videos, visit: http://mocomi.com/learn/geography/

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