The Coldest City in the World

With average temperatures below -50°F, it’s also home to 20% of the world’s diamonds

Sajjad Choudhury
4 min readJul 27, 2022


A lone figure stands on a street corner in Yakutsk, Siberia
A lone figure stands on a street corner in Yakutsk, Siberia. Photographer Steeve Iuncker was able to photograph for only 15 minutes at a time in the subzero temperatures before his camera froze and the film risked cracking — Image Source: National Geographic / Photographer: STEEVE IUNCKER, AGENCE VU/REDUX

IImagine living in a place so cold that spending just ten minutes outdoors could freeze your eyelashes. A place so cold that even running isn’t possible due to the sheer fatigue you’d feel. How would you cope? Could you live in an environment where stepping out could mean certain death? Well, for 280,000 people, their daily life revolves around exactly that.

Deep in the heart of Siberia and shrouded in a blanket of fog lies Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world.

What Is It Like Living in the Coldest City?

Although summers can be quite warm, reaching highs of 77°F (25°C) in July, the season is very short, and it's the brutal winters that people are accustomed to in this unforgiving city.

The lowest recorded temperature in Yakutsk is -83.9° F (-64.4°C), and for anyone looking to venture outside, not wearing adequate clothing can mean certain death. Locals wear a minimum of three layers before they even consider going out.

But it’s not just the cold that people need to be wary of. It’s also the fatigue.

When making a journey, many Yakutians stop at their neighbour’s house, where they take off a layer of clothing, sip on a hot drink for a few minutes and continue onwards. The reason?

The frigid temperatures make walking so unbearable that they’re forced to make pit stops just to recover. This wouldn’t be an issue when getting in taxis but for those who commute on foot, being unprepared is no joke. It’s a matter of life and death.

Then there’s the eerie mist. Amos Chapple, a photographer from New Zealand who once visited the city, summed it up well:

‘The mist from people’s breath, from car exhaust and from factory emissions, it never goes away, it never dissipates,’ he says. ‘It just hangs there. So very, very misty, all through the day and night’

But for a place so gloomy, dark and cold, why bother living there at all?

The only reason people live in Yakutsk is for its hidden wealth buried deep underground. Although the region of…



Sajjad Choudhury

Product Operations Lead @ Onfido | I create relationship wellbeing content, digital products and run an IG page. Check it out -