Oymyakon, the Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth
Oymyakon is a small village located in the north-eastern Russian Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). It is commonly considered the coldest populated place on Earth. Situated in the heart of Siberia an area nicknamed "Stalin's Death Ring" (a former destination for political exiles), Oymyakon boasts an average winter temperature of -45C, with a one-time world record low of -71.2C. Ironically, Oymyakon means "non-freezing water", situated as it is to a nearby hot spring.
Before the 1920s and 30s, Oymyakon was a seasonal stop for reindeer herders. But the Soviet government, in its efforts to settle nomadic populations, claiming they were difficult to control and technologically and culturally backward, made the site a permanent settlement. Today, the village is home to some 500 people, and until recently had a single hotel with no hot water and outside toilet. While a flurry of snow in Western Europe can cause schools there to close for days, Oymyakon's solitary school shuts only when temperatures fall below –52C.
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