Oymyakon - The Coldest Village On Our Planet

In January 2018, the temperature in Oymyakon, a village of roughly 500 inhabitants in the Yakutia Republic (Sakha) in Russia, plunged to a jaw-dropping -62°C, and the photographs of daily life and frozen vistas from this village became instant hits on social media platforms. Pictures of people with frostbite, with frozen eyelashes and hair, stacks of frozen fish ready for sale in the markets and people posing with thermometers showing such low temperatures from Oymyakon suddenly made this little remote village a global sensation.

But this is not the coldest temperature ever recorded at this village! In 1933, the village earned the title of the coldest place on earth when a temperature of -67.7 °C was recorded at its local weather station. It was the first time such a low temperature was recorded outside Antarctica.

Oymyakon in 2013 [Source: Maarten Takens]

This remote Siberian outpost was once a stopping-place for the reindeer herders during the early 1900s, and today the nearest major city, which is Yakutsk, is about 900 kms away. Oymyakon is situated really close to the Arctic Circle and the land here is in a permanently frozen state. During winter season the village plunges into darkness for up to 21 hours a day with temperature dropping below -50°C.

The Northern Pole of Cold

The Poles of Cold are the places in the southern and northern hemispheres where the lowest air temperatures have been recorded. In the northern hemisphere, Oymyakon along with the town of Verkhoyansk – both situated within the Yakutia Republic – are considered as the Poles of Cold.

The town of Verkhoyansk is situated about 629 Km from Oymyakon and has a population of about 1300. The lowest temperature ever at Verkhoyansk is -67.6°C, which was recorded in February 1892.

The food at Oymyakon

The inhabitants of Oymyakon subsists mainly on a diet of reindeer meat, soups, horse meat, frozen Arctic fish and even raw fish. Meat is the staple diet as it allows them to survive the fearsome, harsh weather conditions.

Carving stroganina with a Yakutian knife. [Source: ]

One of the favorite dish of the region is Stroganina, a dish made from raw, thin, long-sliced frozen fish. Traditionally this dish is prepared from the frozen freshwater whitefish, salmonids found in the Siberian Arctic waters and sturgeon.