Known as the "Pole of Cold," Oymyakon village in Russia, where temperature can hit as low as -71.2 Celsius is the coldest permanently inhabited settlement in the world. So if you thought winter was too cold this time in your city, think again!

It is so cold here that no fruits, vegetables or grains can grow, making reindeer and horse meat as the staple diet of the people here. Located around 750 metres above sea level, the length of a day here varies from 3 hours in December to 21 hours in the summer. With a distance of only a few hundred miles from the Arctic Circle, anyone foolhardy enough to go out in the cold unprotected will die from exposure in about a minute.

Mobiles don't work here, there are barely any old photographs of the area, because the cameras would stop working and film would break, ink in pens freeze up, glasses freeze on people's faces, metals stick to exposed skin, batteries lose power in a matter of hours, cars are kept running all day for fear of them not starting again if turned off and digging up graves is a three-day job. 

Even once a grave is dug, the ground freezes, thaws, and re-freezes, and is in a constant state of cracking and heaving. This means that it'll probably only be a matter of a few seasons before the coffin and the body are pushed back up above the ground. At one point, the villagers practiced a sort of Tibetan sky burial, leaving the bodies hung from trees for the wild animals, but the Russian government put an end to the practice.

The place is not just gloomy owing to the unbearable cold, it is also a reminder of a darker time in Russian history, as it sits in an area known as Stalin's Death Ring, where political prisoners were used to be exiled to die.

Ironically, Oymyakon derived from the even word 'kheium,' which means "unfrozen patch of water." This is still sweet home for 500 to 800 people, who live in this frozen village and its arctic location definitely yields some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

Sunset in Oymyakon
Sunset in Oymyakoncreativecommons/Maarten Takens

Apparently, biting cold is endearing to many, because tourism is an important source of income for the people of Oymyakon, and one of their major attractions is swimming in freezing water! The men, women, and children of the frigid Russian village swear that hopping into the icy water is what keeps them from getting sick. Those who have done it have said that it's not so much the cold water, but getting out into the freezing air is the biggest shock to a person's body.