5. Eureka, Canada
This research base has no permanant inhabitants, but there is a rotation of 8 staff who work there at any one time. It’s been used as a weather station since its inception in 1947. It can’t be the most alluring place to work, with no sunlight from October to February and an annual average temperature of -1.8F. But at least you wouldn’t get rained on during those long winter months – there is no rain between October and May, causing the area to be a polar desert. Even so, there’s a lot of plant life as the temperatures are too low for the moisture in the air to evaporate. It’s even been described as “The Garden Spot of the Arctic”, with wildlife such as oxen, foxes and wolves roaming around, and the endless sunshine of the summer makes it an ideal habitat for nesting birds. A place of great contrasts.
4. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Certainly the most populated place on our list, the capital of Mongolia holds the dubious honors of being the coldest capital in the world and one of the most polluted. It’s also quite high up, being 1,310m above sea level, and home to 1,278,000 people. Apparently, it’s a great cultural center, with museums like the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, which is just as well because you’d hardly want to linger outside in temperatures of -16F like the ones you’d find there in January. Across the year, the average temperature is around -2.4F and the climate is like a subarctic one, thanks to icy winds. But I hear the people are friendly, so that’s something…
3. Eismitte, Greenland
It’s fair to say that the next few places on the list are largely devoid of museums of fine art. In fact, Eismitte (literally “Middle of the Ice” in German) is largely devoid of anything. It was the site of an expedition in the 30s which took temperature readings of between -85F and 27F and although we don’t have enough information to accurately gauge what the annual average would be, we can take a guess by splitting the difference between the average of the warmest month (July, 10F) and the coldest (February, -53F). That gives us a chilly average of -21.5F, which is definitely cold enough to get onto the list.
You can’t be too churlish about the lack of information – the figures we do have came at a horrendous cost. That 1930-1931 mission claimed the lives of Alfred Wegener and Rasmus Villumsen, while another member of the party had his toes amputated without anaesthetic. That’s enough reason to never want to go there and find out more…
2. North Ice, Greenland
Another place about which little is known, North Ice was the subject of a British expedition in the 1950s, where they successfully recorded the lowest temperature in North America, beating Snag’s record by 6 degrees (but as Snag is part of continental North America, it still gets to keep that title). An astounding -87F was recorded at North Ice on January 9th 1954 and, though it warrants its own page on tourism sites, it’s unlikely to be a top holiday destination any time soon.
1. Vostok, Antarctica
And of course, the number one spot has to go to Antarctica which, if inhabited and measured, would probably fill these kind of lists on its own. Vostok is a Russian weather monitoring station which holds the record for the lowest ever recorded temperature on Earth – minus 128.6F, on 21st July 1983 – although there are claims that it dipped to -132F in 1997. The warmest month there is January, with a mean average of -25.8F, but the mean averages for the winter months are consistently in the minus 80s. It’s also 3,488m above sea level which means there’s a distinct lack of oxygen and there’s almost no moisture either. All considered, it is one of the most dangerous, inhospitable and unpleasant places in the world. Surprisingly, there are no permanent inhabitants…