City under republic jurisdiction
|Federal subject||Sakha Republic|
|City status since||1643|
|• Body||Okrug Council|
|• Head||Evgeny Grigoriev|
|• Total||122 km2 (47 sq mi)|
|Elevation||95 m (312 ft)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||68th in 2010|
|• Subordinated to||city of republic significance of Yakutsk|
|• Capital of||Sakha Republic|
|• Capital of||city of republic significance of Yakutsk|
|• Urban okrug||Yakutsk Urban Okrug|
|• Capital of||Yakutsk Urban Okrug|
|Time zone||UTC+9 (MSK+6 )|
|Dialing code(s)||+7 4112|
|City Day||Second Sunday of September|
Yakutsk, with an average temperature of −8.8 °C (16.2 °F), is the coldest large city in the world. Yakutsk is also the largest city located in continuous permafrost. Yakutsk is located in the Central Yakutian Lowland and is a major port on the Lena River. It is served by the Yakutsk Airport as well as the smaller Magan Airport.
The city founded in 1632 by the Cossacks and was originally called either the Lensky prison or the Yakutsk prison. The first version of the toponym came from the hydronym "Lena", the second, from "Yakutia", eventually became the main one in use. In 1708 it received the status of the city of Yakutsk.
The Yakuts, also known as the Sakha people, migrated to the area during the 13th and 14th centuries from other parts of Siberia. When they arrived they mixed with other indigenous Siberians in the area. The Russian settlement of Yakutsk was founded in 1632 as an ostrog (fortress) by Pyotr Beketov. In 1639, it became the center of a voyevodstvo. The Voivode of Yakutsk soon became the most important Russian official in the region and directed expansion to the east and south.
With an extremely continental subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfd), Yakutsk has the coldest winter temperatures for any major city on Earth. Average monthly temperatures in Yakutsk range from +19.5 °C (67.1 °F) in July to −38.6 °C (−37.5 °F) in January. Yakutsk is the largest city built on continuous permafrost, and many houses there are built on concrete piles.
The lowest temperatures ever recorded on the planet outside Antarctica (and possibly some parts of inner Greenland for which detailed climate records are not available) have occurred in the basin of the Yana River to the northeast of Yakutsk, making it the coldest major city in the world. Although winters are extremely cold and long - Yakutsk has never recorded a temperature above freezing between 10 November and 14 March inclusive – summers are warm, peak travel and occasionally hot (though short), with daily maximum temperatures exceeding +30 °C (86 °F), making the seasonal temperature differences for the region the greatest in the world at 102 °C (184 °F). The lowest temperature recorded in Yakutsk was −64.4 °C (−83.9 °F) on 5 February 1891 and the highest temperatures +38.4 °C (101.1 °F) on 17 July 2011 and +38.3 °C (100.9 °F) on 15 July 1942. The hottest month in records going back to 1834 has been July 1894, with a mean of +23.2 °C (73.8 °F), and the coldest, January 1900, which averaged −51.4 °C (−60.5 °F). Yakutsk is possibly the largest city in the world with an average winter temperature of below −20 °C (−4 °F) degrees.
Yakutsk has an inland location, being almost 1,000 km (620 mi) from the Pacific Ocean, which coupled with the high latitude means exposure to severe winters and also lack of temperature moderation. July temperatures soar to an above-normal average for this latitude, with the average being several degrees hotter than more southerly Far East cities such as Vladivostok or Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. The July daytime temperatures are even hotter than some maritime subtropical areas. The warm summers ensure that Yakutsk, despite its freezing winters, is far south of the tree line. In winter, Yakutsk instead is between 35 °C (63 °F) and 40 °C (72 °F) colder than the mildest cities on similar latitudes in Scandinavia.
The climate is quite dry, with most of the annual precipitation occurring in the warmest months, due to the intense Siberian High forming around the very cold continental air during the winter. However, summer precipitation is not heavy since the moist southeasterly winds from the Pacific Ocean lose their moisture over the coastal mountains well before reaching the Lena valley.
|Climate data for Yakutsk, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1891–present|
|Record high °C (°F)||−11.5
|Average high °C (°F)||−35.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−38.6
|Average low °C (°F)||−41.5
|Record low °C (°F)||−63.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||9
|Average rainy days||0||0||0.1||3||14||16||15||15||16||4||0.1||0||83|
|Average snowy days||28||28||17||10||5||0.3||0.03||0||4||25||28||27||172|
|Average relative humidity (%)||76||76||70||60||54||57||62||67||72||78||78||76||69|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||19||97||234||274||303||333||347||273||174||106||59||12||2,231|
|Source 1: Погода и Климат March record:|
|Source 2: NOAA (sun, 1961–1990)|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2021)
Tourism plays a smaller role as an economic sector. With the Lena River navigable in the summer, there are boat cruises offered, including upriver to the Lena Pillars, and downriver tours which visit spectacular scenery in the lower reaches and the Lena Delta.
There are several theaters in Yakutsk: the State Russian Drama Theater, named after A. S. Pushkin; the Sakha Theater, named after P. A. Oiyunsky; the Suorun Omoloon Young Spectator's Theater; and the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, named after D. K. Sivtsev.
The annual Ysyakh summer festival takes place the last weekend in June. The traditional Yakut summer solstice festivities include a celebration of the revival and renewal of the nature, fertility and beginning of a new year. It is accompanied by national Yakut rituals and ceremonies, folk dancing, horse racing, Yakut ethnic music and singing, national cuisine, and competitions in traditional Yakut sports.
There is a local punk scene in Yakutsk, with many bands.
The city has an increasingly vibrant film industry that has been gaining international recognition over recent years for its unique style and the way its filmmakers portray the region and its people. The regional film industry has come to be nicknamed "Sakhawood".
Ethnic composition (2010):
Administrative and municipal status
Yakutsk is the capital of the Sakha Republic. As an inhabited locality, Yakutsk is classified as a city under republic jurisdiction. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is, together with the settlement of Zhatay and eleven rural localities, incorporated as the city of republic significance of Yakutsk—an administrative unit with a status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, Yakutsk and the eleven rural localities are incorporated as Yakutsk Urban Okrug. The settlement of Zhatay is not a part of Yakutsk Urban Okrug and is independently incorporated as Zhatay Urban Okrug.
|Towns Cities||Population||Male||Female||Inhabited localities in jurisdiction|
|City of Yakutsk
|285,023||135,085 (47.4%)||149,938 (52.6%)|
|Urban settlements||Population||Male||Female||Inhabited localities in jurisdiction|
|Zhatay Urban Okrug
|9,504||4,624 (48.7%)||4,880 (51.3%)|
|Rural settlements||Population||Male||Female||Rural localities in jurisdiction*|
|4,031||2,050 (50.9%)||1,981 (49.1%)|
|6,610||3,238 (49.0%)||3,372 (51.0%)|
Yakutsk is a destination of the Lena Highway. The city's connection to that highway is only usable by ferry in the summer, or in the dead of winter, by driving directly over the frozen Lena River, since Yakutsk lies entirely on its western bank, and there is no bridge anywhere in the Sakha Republic that crosses the Lena. The river is impassable for long periods of the year when it contains loose ice, when the ice cover is not thick enough to support traffic, or when the water level is too high and the river is turbulent with spring flooding. The highway ends on the eastern bank of Lena in Nizhny Bestyakh (Нижний Бестях), an urban-type settlement of some four thousand people. Yakutsk is connected with Magadan by the Kolyma Highway.
A highway bridge over the Lena in the Okrug had been scheduled to be built by the year 2020. However, as of 2018, no decision to actually build the bridge has been taken. The bridge had originally been planned to be a dual-use railroad and highway bridge so the Amur Yakutsk Mainline, the North–South railroad being extended from the south, could connect the city with the East–West Baikal Amur Mainline. The railroad reached the settlement of Nizhny Bestyakh, on the opposite bank of the Lena from Yakutsk, in November 2011.
The new river bridge would be over 3 km (1.9 mi) long and would be constructed 40 km (25 mi) upriver at Tabaga, where the river narrows and does not create a wide flooded area in spring. In the dead of winter, the frozen Lena River makes for a passable highway for ice truckers using its channel to deliver provisions to far-flung outposts. Yakutsk is also connected to other parts of Russia by Yakutsk Airport.
Construction of a road bridge over the River Lena to Yakutsk was approved by president Vladimir Putin on 9 November 2019. Cost of the 3.2 km (2.0 mi) bridge and its 10.9 km (6.8 mi) of approaches was estimated at 63.7 billion Rubles (83 billion rubles including VAT [НДС]), of which a grant of 54.2 billion Rubles was to be provided, with the remainder to be sourced from investors. The bridge was to be toll-free for cars, with a toll for trucks.
The 2019 completion of a new rail line to the eastern bank of the Lena permitted the start of passenger rail services between Yakutsk and the rest of Russia.
Education and research
M.K.Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University is situated in the city. There is also a branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which contains, among other things, the Institute of Cosmophysical Research, which runs the Yakutsk Extensive Air Shower installation (one of the largest cosmic-ray detector arrays in the world), and the Melnikov Permafrost Institute, founded in 1960 with the aim of solving the serious and costly problems associated with construction of buildings on frozen soil. In 2020, with global heating thawing the ground, the institute is measuring the rate at which the permafrost is thawing, which affects the city as well as the climate.
Twin towns – sister cities
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- Yakutsk travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Official website of Yakutsk (in Russian)
- Sakha Life Information Agency (in Russian)
- Lena Pillars at Natural Heritage Protection Fund
- Flickr photos tagged Yakutsk
- The State Yakutia United Museum of History and Culture of the People of the North at Google Cultural Institute