Life in the World’s Coldest City

An ice covered house
Sights like this ice-covered house are not uncommon in Oymyakon, Russia, the coldest city in the world.

Did you know that December 21st is the winter solstice? Here in the Northern Hemisphere, that means it is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight all year. The winter season also brings cold weather. How cold does it get where you live? Probably nowhere near as cold as the city of Oymyakon, Russia.

Oymyakon holds the title of The Coldest City in the World. In the winter, temperatures are around -60o F. For comparison, water freezes at 32o F. That means Oymyakon gets 90o colder than an ice cube!

The community was founded by reindeer herders. The thermal spring [a source of naturally hot water] in the area made it a great place to stay. Today, the residents of Oymyakon have adjusted their lifestyles to live in their city.  Vegetarians might have a difficult time there because vegetables are hard to come by. The ground is permafrost [soil that is frozen all year]. People live off a diet of meat and fish.

Most homes in other parts of the world have pipes that carry water in and waste out. Because of Oymyakon’s frozen soil, many homes there have outdoor plumbing. That means that they use outhouses and bring in buckets of water. Imagine having to bundle up to use the bathroom!

Sometimes very cold temperatures cause problems for machinery. If someone in Oymyakon left their car parked outside for too long, it might not start again! So, many people have heated garages. If they don’t, they might warm their car up with a fire, or just leave it running all the time.

All of this might sound strange to you, but to the residents of Oymyakon, it’s just a normal part of life.

What Do You Think? What are some other ways you think life would be different in the coldest city in the world? Where else would you expect to find people dealing with extreme climates?

Photo Credit: Amos Chapple/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images