The Top 5 Coldest Countries in the World (+ Cold Weather Tips)

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It’s a frigid winter day, with Chicago temperatures plunging well below freezing. I can only take solace in knowing that America is not one of the coldest countries in the world.

This cold snap serves as an annual reminder that Chicago winters can be utterly brutal.

Which brought me to wonder, which countries have it worse?

The Coldest Countries


snow capped town in Russia

Northern regions, especially Siberia, experience extremely cold temperatures.

Coldest Months: December to February

Highest and Lowest Temperatures: Vary widely across the country, but some regions, like Siberia, can experience highs around -40°F (-40°C) and lows reaching -90°F (-68°C).

How Residents Stay Warm: Residents in extremely cold regions often use central heating systems, wear insulated clothing, and practice layering. Additionally, traditional practices include using fur-lined clothing and fur hats.


view of lake and snowy mountains

Northern territories like Yukon and Northwest Territories are known for severe cold.

Coldest Months: December to February

Highest and Lowest Temperatures: Temperatures vary widely across the country. In the northern regions, temperatures can range from highs around -20°F (-29°C) to lows below -40°F (-40°C).

How Residents Stay Warm: Canadians employ a combination of central heating, well-insulated homes, and winter clothing, including parkas, boots, and layers. Outdoor activities like winter carnivals and sports are also popular.


lake and icy mountains in Greenland

An autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland has an Arctic climate.

Coldest Months: December to February

Highest and Lowest Temperatures: Coastal areas might experience highs around 10°F (-12°C) and lows around -20°F (-29°C), while the interior can be colder.

How Residents Stay Warm: Greenlanders use well-insulated homes, heated by oil or wood stoves. Traditional clothing made of animal skins, like sealskin, is still used, along with modern thermal wear.


idelandic village by the ocean

Despite its name, Iceland has a cold climate, especially during winter.

Coldest Months: January to March

Highest and Lowest Temperatures: Coastal areas generally have milder winters, with highs around 30°F (-1°C) and lows around 20°F (-7°C). Inland areas can experience colder temperatures.

How Residents Stay Warm: Icelandic residents rely on well-insulated homes, geothermal heating systems, and warm clothing, including layers and waterproof outerwear.


man with dogsled in Finland

Northern regions of Finland experience harsh winters with cold temperatures.

Coldest Months: January to February

Highest and Lowest Temperatures: Southern parts of Finland may have highs around 20°F (-6°C) and lows around 10°F (-12°C), while the north can experience colder temperatures.

How Residents Stay Warm: Finns use effective home insulation, central heating, and wear warm clothing, including thermal layers and insulated outerwear. Saunas are also a popular way to stay warm.

Safety Tips for Road Trips in Cold Weather

When traveling in cold weather destinations, it’s all about preparation!

  • Dress in layers and wear a warm coat, hat, gloves, and boots to protect yourself from the cold temperatures.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and winterized with antifreeze, winter windshield wipers, and tires appropriate for snow and ice.
  • Keep an emergency winter weather kit in your car containing items like a flashlight, jumper cables, shovel, de-icer, rock salt or sand, extra blankets, food and water.
  • Let others know your route and anticipated arrival time.
  • Bring your fully charged cell phone.
  • Drive cautiously as roads may be icy or snow-covered. Reduce speed and increase following distance from other vehicles.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel if the weather forecast calls for a major winter storm.
  • Stay attentive to local weather forecasts and winter storm warnings.

Following these tips can help keep you safe when traveling in cold winter weather.

Final Thoughts on the Coldest Countries

I suppose I should be grateful that Chicago does not deal with the deep freeze that exists in other countries. This makes the current cold snap feel a bit more bearable.

During these winter days, the wind whipped through the city streets leaving my face, hands, and toes numb. This is when I can appreciate working from home the most.

Schools and businesses are not yet closed due to the extreme cold. But many Chicago residents are hunkered down and hoping the furnace doesn’t give out. 

Stay warm, stay safe.

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