Yakutsk is well-known to fans of the board game Risk as that funny country between Siberia and Kamchatka. It's also known as the coldest city in the world. The world's coldest temperature outside of Antarctica was recorded not far from Yakutsk in the basin of the Yana River. During the winter, average lows drop below freezing in September and don't climb back out until May. In January, the average high is minus 34 degrees F (minus 36.7 degrees C); the record low for the month is a bone-blasting minus 81.4 degrees F (minus 63 degrees C).
Many of its more than 200,000 residents carve out a living in the region's mining industry, and the city is home to numerous theaters, museums and even a zoo. In 2008, the area hit the news when a series of pipes burst in two nearby villages, forcing residents to huddle together for warmth around makeshift wood stoves. When truckers in this region make resupply runs to nearby villages, they don't turn off their engines for the duration of the two-week trip.