Why on earth do people live in the coldest city on the planet?

Diamonds....and prison camps.

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Welcome to Yakutsk.

It's the capital of the Sakha Republic State in Russia.

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It's one of the biggest cities in Siberia.

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And at only 280 miles south of the Arctic Circle and with record lows, it's the official coldest major city in the world.

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Yakutsk has been around in one form or another since the 13th century.

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Originally it was a fort built to protect the mix of Yakut and Siberian populations that banded together to hide from the then rising Mongolian Empire.

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Later, when imperial Russia took over, Yakutsk became the capital city for the local ruling war-prince.

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Even then, it wasn't a particularly large settlement until the 1880's—when gold and other valuable minerals were found nearby.

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Extensive digging for those resulted in an even greater and more lucrative discovery: diamonds.

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The area around Yakutsk is full of them.

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The region is responsible for a full fifth of the world's production of diamonds.

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Stalin increased the city size further by tacking on several local prison work-camps to expand the diamond-mining force at his disposal.

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Many of the modern inhabitants are descended from a combination of the two waves of diamond miners: the earlier willing volunteers and those Stalin condemned to the mines.

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As an economic center of interest to the Russian government, it's one of the most accessible places in Russia.

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It's a terminus point for the railway and highway.  

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They've recently added in an airport to make travel to Yakutsk more appealing to visitors and ease travel for the constant stream of incoming and outgoing diamond businessmen.

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The airport can't actually operate during most of the year. It's entirely iced in.

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It's gone as low as -83.9 degrees Fahrenheit (-64.4 degrees Celsius). Which is insane.

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The winters are crazy long as well. It's winter almost the whole year in Yakutsk.

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During the height of the cold, most people try to avoid going outdoors at all.

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It's so cold that most of the whole place is built on ancient permafrost.

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Most of the soil there hasn't been defrosted in several millennia. It's that cold there.

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Construction of anything is a nightmare—it's too difficult to dig into the ground to put in foundations.

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Structures are either oddly temporary.

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Or built haphazardly on top of concrete piles.

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They've actually set up a special research institute nearby to look into the construction problem of permafrost.

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Oddly, despite the crazy cold and long winter, when summer hits—it's actually pretty warm. It's oddly most comparable to Los Angeles summer.

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Except without the beach. Yakutsk is hundreds of miles from the coast.

The nearby river is apparently quite lovely during summer though. It's a local tourist destination.

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But mostly the people in Yakutsk are the people who have always been in Yakutsk—those born and raised to deal with extreme conditions of their beloved city.