Yakutsk, Russia – The World’s Coldest City

Winter view of Yakutsk, Russia.

Yakutsk city, located about 450 km south of the Arctic Circle, is the capital city of The Sakha Republic in Russia. According to the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 269,601; the figure is estimated to have grown to at least 300,000. Yakutsk serves as a port for the Lena River which is one of its major functions. It is served by two airports, the Yakutsk and the Magan Airport. The city also takes the boasts of being among the biggest suppliers of diamonds.

The Coldest City in the World

Yakutsk stands on stilts due to the shifting nature of permafrost which would make buildings collapse otherwise. It is also the largest city that sits on permafrost. This means that water and gas have to be delivered in giant over ground pipes that are very captivating to visitors.

The town has an annual mean temperature of -8.8º C, but during winter, the temperatures often go below -40º C. Summers albeit short are quite warm with temperatures exceeding +30 °C. The difference in seasonal temperature in Yakutsk is the greatest in the world. December and January are extremely cold recording mean temperatures of -40.4º C, and -41.5º C respectively. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −64.4 °C on 5th February 1891.


Most of Yakutsk is covered by snow forest referred to as taiga in Russian. The other part of the vegetation is forest-tundra, arctic semi-desert and tundra. A big part of the terrain is mountainous. Flora and fauna in Yakutsk have maintained its purity with no interference from manmade conditions.

The tundra region is covered with reindeer moss while the taiga region is home to spruce, pine, cedar, pine, birch trees among others. Several flowers are endemic to this region, e.g. the Lilium pensylvanicum.

The lands in Yakutia inhabits several breeds of deer, moos, bears, walrus among other animals. The rivers are rich with fish and other marine life forms. There are about 250 bird species in Yakutsk, being the only city with conducive habitats for the Siberian black crane and the gull.


Locals are very friendly in Yakutsk, looking out for visitors not to venture out in the cold unprotected. Yakutsk has captured the interests of outsiders mainly for wearing the title of coldest city in the world with so much pride.

However, this is not the only interesting factor about the city. There is a lot to see in Yakutsk, starting with the beautiful countryside, and the cryogenic museums. Several museums exhibit the history of the country and its people, but of greatest interest to the tourists are the cryogenic museums that conserve items from the ice age. The centrepiece of this display is the head of a woolly mammoth which is transported to different museums in the region depending on the tourism seasons.


The city faces a lot of threats to the ecosystem from man-induced conditions. Logging has led to a lot of tree loss as companies clear entire sites instead of spreading the harvesting in different areas. There is also pollution of water, soil and air that is caused by the nickel smelting in the city of Norilsk. Tourist camps also produce a lot of liquid waste that harms the ecosystem. The taiga is at risk from oil drilling which requires clearing of land for the plant and the construction of roads that lead to the plants.


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