This is the coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth

Footprints and house in Siberia
Footprints and house in Siberia

The Russian town of Oymyakon in eastern Siberia is home to 500 inhabitants who brave some of the planet's harshest conditions. The town is so close to the Arctic Circle that even the national tipple, Vodka, freezes if left outside.

The town is named after the Oymyakon River, which confusingly means 'unfrozen patch of water' and sees temperatures regularly fall to bone-chilling lows of -50C. A statue of a bull in the centre of town proudly records the coldest temperature of -71C in 1924.

Only Antartica has recorded lower temperatures making this outpost of humanity the coldest populated place in the Northern Hemisphere.

While it may look like the ideal winter wonderland, spare a thought for the residents who get as little as three hours of sunshine; and are forced to resort to more inventive ways to prevent life from becoming impossible.

Car engines instantly freeze unless they are kept running. Pipes supplying water remain almost permanently solid with ice, so locals use outdoor 'toilets' without the mod cons most Russians are accustom too. Even the moisture on your lips and eyelashes will turn to painful needles of ice within seconds of leaving the house.

Fresh food is a luxury and rarely eaten as the ground is near-impossible to farm - so the diet consists of preserved meats, like horse, reindeer and fish for most of the year.

Before you think twice about adding Oymyakon to your bucket list, it's not all about endurance. The town folk also know how to throw a party. Reindeer races, dog sledding and other merriment are just some of the activities that brightens up the darkest months. The Cold Pole Festival is a highlight of the year and draws tourists from across the globe.

But life in the deep freeze is changing for the people of this region, as extreme temperature swings from sub-zero conditions, which almost drops below the 1924 record, to balmy peaks of 38C (which was 64 degrees higher than the previous average) during the Siberian spring. As climate change takes its toll the question is how long can the people of this small town hold on to their unique way of life?