In most cases, people like to snuggle under a blanket, next to a fire, with a warm cup of coffee, when the cold winters arrive. However, the climates of the top 12 coldest countries in the world are so extreme, that blankets, fires, and coffee are nowhere enough to keep the chill away.
Did You Know?
Although bizarre, science has a measurement for the maximum level of coldness. This temperature is measured at 0 degrees Kelvin (-273.15°C), which is the coldest that any type of matter can ever get. If attempts are made to go beyond this range, the atoms of matter completely disintegrate.
For most of us, warm, sunny days are a regular occurrence, and we hardly give the climate any thought in our day-to-day lives. Even when it snows, the experience is fun, more often than not.
However, as they say, too much of anything is bad. The same goes for ice, snow, and cold. For there are some places in the world that are so very cold and severe throughout the year, that even on the warmest summer days the climate is dull and freezing. Winters are absolutely unbearable, making daily activities a challenge, and putting human endurance to the test. Here is a list of 12 of the coldest countries in the world.
The Coldest Countries in The World
Most of the landmass of Greenland is covered in ice throughout the year. This means that, sunlight has a hard time in heating up the atmosphere of this country. While the average temperature across the land is -10°C, winters can easily go up to -65°C. Even during the warmest summer months, Greenland has a maximum temperature of around 8°C, which makes human influence on this wild, desolate land negligible. The British research station North Ice, in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet, faces even worse climate lows, up to -86°C.
Most summers of Kazakhstan are quite pleasant and warm, with average temperatures of around 30°C. But come winter, harsh and erratic rainfall, coupled with the hilly topography, make the climate so cold, that the summers seem like a distant dream. Average winter temperatures range between -20 and -30°C. Certain regions, such as the city of Astana, have extreme winters, which puts anyone who steps outdoors at a high degree of risk of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.
Located in Central Asia, between China and Russia, Mongolia is known for its vast grasslands, and its association with the conqueror Genghis Khan. Although this country is picturesque to look at, travelers often have a misconception about the climate here. The average temperature of Mongolia during the winters (October to April) is below 0°C, while the rest of the year is just a little above freezing point. This is because of Mongolia’s high altitude, at 4,900 feet above sea level, and its desert-like climates. The months of January and February are particularly severe, with temperatures going as low as -30°C; water all around freezes completely, and any precipitation is biting, to say the least.
Finland is the northernmost country in Europe, and its topography is unique in comparison to the other Nordic countries. Due to the Baltic sea and the Atlantic current, the country has an extremely cold climate for most of the year. The winters here last for four months, where the temperature can drop to -45°C, especially in the Lapland region which suffers strong biting winds. One can see frost for more than 130 days each year.
During the winters, the southern regions of Finland receive only 6 – 7 hours of sunlight in a day, while the northern regions have periods of continuous darkness, which can occasionally last for 2 months. Fortunately for the Finns, the summer months are tolerable.
Although most of the Chinese mainland has pleasant weather throughout the major part of the year, winters (October – February) can be really unbearable. Save a few regions in the southern part of the country, China receives heavy snowfall, and the humidity makes conditions even worse. The areas in north, west, and central China are subject to snow, permafrost, ice, and slush, which leads to temperatures ranging between -10°C and 3°C. Due to poor insulation and other heating infrastructure, the common man of China faces a lot of trouble during these months.
United States of America
The U.S. has some of the hottest places in the world, such as Death Valley. However, due to its vast size, it is also home to some of the coldest places on the planet. Northern U.S. states like Alaska are nearly always cold, with temperatures dipping to extremes of -62°C. In addition, these states receive immense quantities of snow each winter, wreaking havoc on all modes of transport, and turning the surroundings totally white. Thankfully, the southern states have nice, warm summers, and are spared from the worst of the winter season.
Compared to most other countries on this list, Estonia has a relatively warm climate. However, it experiences icy climate resulting from erratic rainfall, which causes massive drops in temperature, regardless of the time of the year. Winters are very severe here, especially in the southeastern regions, with temperatures ranging between -3 and -8°C, making daily life nearly impossible for the locals. Summers are relatively pleasant, at an average of 15°C.
Various cities of this country have different annual temperatures. However, the overall climate of Canada is very cold. The prairie regions can get particularly chilly, with day time temperatures as low as -15°C, and night temperatures dipping to -40°C. In fact, the city of Snag, in Yukon, has the lowest temperatures (up to -63°C), not just in Canada, but the whole of North America. The fact that Canada has a topography suitable for strong winds doesn’t help either. Cities such as Ottawa suffer from heavy snow in the winters, which forces commuters to switch to ice skates while going about their daily lives. Thankfully, the excellent infrastructure of the cities means that people do not suffer much.
The name ‘Iceland’ is very apt for this country. This is because, the average temperature of Iceland hardly ever goes above 0°C, and in the northern regions -10°C is the best you can hope for. The cold Arctic winds overcome the effects of volcanic activity and the warm Gulf Stream ocean current to maintain the frigid climate. Occasionally, winters can get really bad, with temperatures going down to -40°C, which is one of the major reasons for the low population of this small island nation.
The immense expanses of wild open spaces in Russia makes most of the country a very windy place. This, by itself, causes low temperature averages all across the country, throughout the year. It snows and rains for at least 8 months each year. Due to these factors, average winter temperatures are -27°C, while the summers can go up to 8°C. With such a bitter climate, it is no wonder that vodka and other types of alcohol are popular here. Car owners often leave their cars idling for hours together, as switching off the car in the cold outdoors creates the risk of the vehicle being unable to restart.
Russia is also home to the coldest village in the world – Oymyakon. Here, temperatures can dip to around -71°C. The place is so cold, that electronics such as mobile phones don’t even work, and homes have outside toilets due to the difficulty in creating underground plumbing. Water supply comes in tankers from outside the region, as all local water bodies are completely frozen. In fact, locals can take up to 3 days to dig a grave for a funeral, as the frozen hard soil has to be thawed with hot coal before digging can commence. Many other Russian cities and towns, such as Yakutsk and Verkhoyansk, also boast of mind-numbing frigid climes.
Compared to other entries in this list, Norway is definitely more pleasant due to the Gulf Stream and warm air currents. However, its close proximity to the Arctic circle gives the country a mostly cold climate through the year. June, July, and August are the best of times, as these summer months can raise temperatures to an average of 16°C. However, the rest of the year has a consistently chilly climate, with temperatures ranging between 8°C and -40°C. This, coupled with frequent heavy rains and gales, makes the winters an ordeal.
Although not technically a single country, the continent of Antarctica belongs to a large number of nations, under diplomatic treaties. As such, the entire land mass is the coldest place in the world. The continent gets little to no sunlight, which is why temperatures can dip to -93°C, with -83°C being the average. This makes it impossible for humans to make a sustainable life in this snowy desert. Explorers in this part of the world are at the risk of dying simply by being outdoors in this frozen version of hell.
These were some of the top coldest places on Earth. While most people will steer clear of these places and stick to ice skating rinks, those with an adventurous bone can make plans to get to these countries, and experience some of the most spectacular, yet alien sights and sounds that our planet has to offer.