The coldest inhabited place on Earth is a town called Oymyakon, located deep in Siberia, Russia. The temperature gets down into negative double digits. Oymyakon translates to “unfrozen river” or “place where fish spend the winter.” The name is accurate since literally everything except the river in Oymyakon freezes.

The 500 residents of Oymyakon have a hard life with very few conveniences not only because of the extreme subarctic climate, but also because the town is remote - just a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle. Their cars require heated garages - if they are left outside, cars have to be left running all the time. Even if the town had coverage for cell phone reception, cell phones wouldn’t work in the extreme cold. Batteries don’t have a very long life; electronics are useless, ink pens freeze, milk and tea freezes, mercury thermometers freeze, and unused pipes freeze within 5 hours, so most people use outhouses. Children are required to stay in school unless the temperature drops below -61.6 F (-52C). Fortunately, all residential homes and businesses have central heating and backup generators. There are still some people who live in yurts.

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The ground is frozen and covered in snow throughout the year except for two months, which means no crops can be grown. Oymyakon residents have a diet mainly of frozen fish, horse, reindeer meat, and dairy products.

One of their most challenging issues is burying the dead. It takes several days to dig a grave and requires a bonfire to thaw the frozen ground.

It’s hard to imagine living in a place with average winter temperatures in the negative 50s and 60s and pitch-black darkness for up to 21 hours. The Oymyakon residents get a little bit of a break during the brief summer temperatures, which average 73F (23C) with daylight for 21 hours.

There is very little to do in Oymyakon, but that doesn’t stop tourists from visiting. There are some hot springs nearby, and local activities such as fishing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, sledding, and reindeer hunts.