The village of Oymyakon, in eastern Yakutia, northeast Russia, is rightfully called the "Pole of Cold." The coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere since the beginning of the 20th century was registered here when the thermostat swooped to -71.2 degrees Celsius (-96.16 degrees Fahrenheit).
Oymyakon has a population of 500 and is at approximately 750 meters above sea level. Average daylight lasts only three hours in December.
Sometimes, the temperature drops below 0°C (32°F) in late September and may remain below freezing until mid-May. It's quite normal for the temperature to remain below -50 °C (-58 °F) from December-February.
June and July are the only months where temperature has never dropped below 10°C (14°F).
Nevertheless, people actually live there. The town even boasts the usual haunts: schools, a post office, a bank and an airport runway (though it’s only open in the summer.)
The village of Tomtor, which lies in the heart of the Oymyakon valley, has schools, a post office, a bank and even an airport runway (even though it only functions during the summer).
"One loses all bearings when faced with the shroud of white that obscures everything in the Siberian city of Yakustk (also in Oymyakon valley) in mid-January. Only the traffic lights and gas pipelines overhanging the roads help you to find your way," says Maxim Shemetov, a Reuters photographer.
"Before venturing out, I put on two layers of thermal underwear, trousers, two sweaters, pants up to my waist and huge, cold-weather boots. I pull close the hood of my down jacket and fasten it so that only my eyes are exposed. At last, I slip on two pairs of gloves and head for the entrance hall — the airlock. Now only the ice-bound door separates me from the cold. I feel like an astronaut going into space," he adds.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Maxim Shemetov