Tuesday, August 11, 2015

a visit to the Russian city of Yakutsk

If you thought it was cold where you are at the moment then a visit to the Russian city of Yakutsk might just change your mind. In a typical January, the coldest month, the 'high' is usually -40F (-40C), and there are 3 hours of daylight per day.

A statue of Ivan Kraft, one of the first governors of Yakutia. The republic of Yakutia, of which Yakustk is the capital, has less than 1 million inhabitants, but an area of 1,190,555 square miles, making it slightly smaller than India. As a comparison, India has a population of 1.2 billion.

A woman stands in Yakutsk city centre, where freezing fog usually limits visibility to 30 feet (10m) in winter. Despite the area's terrible winters, in June, July and August temperatures over 85 F (30C) are not rare.

The world's coldest temperature outside of Antarctica occurred in the basin of the Yana River to the northeast of Yakutsk. The lowest temperature recorded in Yakutsk was −83.9F (−64.4C) and the highest was 101.1F (38.4C)

A woman walks over an ice-encrusted bridge over the Lena river in Yakutsk

The area is rich in mineral wealth. Yakutsk is responsible for a fifth of the world's production of diamonds and 40% of Russia's gold is mined in the area. There are also reserves of gas and oil.

In winter the only ways to get to Yakutsk fom Moscow are to fly or to go on 'the road of bones', pictured. The road was bult by Stalin's prisoners, many of whom died. It is mainly used by truckers bringing provisions to remote villages in the area. The truckers leave their engines running when visiting the area, for up to two weeks at a time, as vehicles will not start again once turned off. A railway is planned, but so far only goes to Tommot, 250 miles away.

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