What are the Hottest and Coldest Inhabited Places in the World?

By: Christopher C. Burt , 10:07 PM GMT on May 01, 2013

What are the Hottest and Coldest Inhabited Places in the World?

Most weather-minded people know that Death Valley, California and Vostok, Antarctica have measured the highest and lowest extreme temperatures on earth but what about the warmest and coldest inhabited places so far as average annual temperatures are concerned? Ace temperature detective Maximiliano Herrera has just finished researching this. Here are his findings.

Hottest inhabited place in the world

Although it has been widely reported that Dallol in the Danakil Depression of Ethiopia has the highest average annual temperature on earth with a figure of 34.5°C (94.1°F) the figure was derived from only seven years of data (1960-1966) by a mining company that was prospecting in the depression during those years. Actually, there were many missing months of record during those seven years and the total number of months with complete data was just 58. The location has never been permanently inhabited and there has been little or no weather data for the site since the 1960s. Nevertheless, from a climatological viewpoint the Danakil Depression probably is the hottest place on earth (in terms of average annual temperature). But for inhabited locations it would appear that Mecca (or Makah), Saudi Arabia is the warmest inhabited location on earth. Its average annual temperature is 30.7°C (87.3°F).







Mecca has a population of approximately 2.4 million which swells to 5 or more million during the Islamic Hajj to Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba. Photo by Adiput.

There are a few other contenders such as Berbera, Somaliland which had an average annual temperature of 29.7°C (85.5°F) for the POR of 1908-1950 but with a fractured record since then, or Djibouti with a 30.0°C (86.0°F) average between 1901-1954, and Massawa, Eritrea also with an 29.7°C (85.5°F). All three sites are located in the sweltering Horn of Africa and it is possible that they are now hotter then they were during those earlier POR’s.

For the southern hemisphere finding the hottest location is a bit trickier. It would appear that Wyndham, West Australia takes the prize with an average annual temperature of 29.4°C (84.9°F). However, its climate record is complicated with three different sites having data records: Wyndham Port (site no longer in use), Wyndham City (where the 29.4°C figure comes from), and Wyndham Aero which is quite a bit cooler than the city site with an average of 28.9°C (84.0°F). In 1946 the town once went for 333 consecutive days above 32°C (90°F).







Wyndham, being a coastal town, has considerable microclimate variability. Blair Trewin of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology states that the Wyndham City site lies in an area that is protected from the cool onshore winds but susceptible to hot air pooling over the town from the interior. Its population is stated as just 669 souls. A view from Bastion Lookout which overlooks the coastline near Wyndham. Photo by Hamilton Stone.

Other sites in the southern hemisphere which may also possibly be the hottest include Surabaya, Indonesia with its relatively new downtown site averaging 28.6°C (83.5°F). Garissa, Kenya has a recent 30-year POR with an average of 28.5°C (83.3°F) and several sites on the Pacific Ocean Islands of Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu average 28.2°C(82.8°F). In South America it would appear that Teresina, Brazil, with an average of 27.4°C (81.3°F) is that continent’s warmest location south of the equator. Since one must always assume a small margin of error in such statistics, it is hard to definitively claim that any one of the above sites are, in fact, the hottest inhabited location in the southern hemisphere.

Coldest inhabited place in the world

It would appear that the small Inuit village of Gris Fiord in Canada’s Nunavut Province, located some 1,150 kl (720 miles) north of the Arctic Circle is the coldest permanently inhabited location on earth with an annual average temperature of -16.5°C (2.3°F). Of course, there are many year-round staffed research stations in Antarctica, Greenland, and Canada that are much colder, but these cannot be considered indigenously inhabited like Gris Fiord.







Gris Fiord has a permanent population of at least 130 rugged individuals. It is one of the most northerly inhabited places in the world. Photographer not identified.

The coldest site in Canada is the research station of Eureka with an average annual temperature of -19.7°C (-3.5°F).

In the southern hemisphere the coldest inhabited location is Esperanza on the very northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Although originally established as a whaling station and then research base, the town now hosts a school, post office, and a permanent population of around 55. So it may be considered the only ‘real’ town in Antarctica. Its average annual temperature is -5.3°C (22.5°F), not all that bad when compared to Gris Fiord!







The town of Esperanza (also known as Base Esperanza) comprises about 55 structures including a school and post office. It is located at 63° 24’S and 56° 59’ W. Photographer not identified.

The coldest low elevation location in the world is Gill, Antarctica with an average annual temperature of -28.0°C (-18.4°F).

KUDOS:All the above information is researched and graciously provided by Maximiliano Herrera.

Written up by:

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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15. WunderAlertBot
8:46 AM GMT on May 04, 2013
weatherhistorian has created a new entry.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
14. MartinMg
6:12 AM GMT on May 04, 2013
Today i learnt that there are shools in antarctica :O
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
13. JustSouthofEquator
3:31 AM GMT on May 04, 2013
It's definitely hot here in Jakarta, oppressively so during the month of March-April-May when the sun angle is directly overhead.

According to Wikipedia which cites the Danish Meteorological Institute, average humidity here is 81%

For Singapore, Wikipedia cites National Environmental Agency. Average humidity is 84.2%.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
12. weatherdogg
9:01 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
As an aside, I wonder which inhabited place has the highest average annual dewpoint. I was thinking Jakarta, Singapore or another town in SE Asia would be right up there. I think the African coastal communities in the tropics for the most part have too pronounced a dry season to compete.
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11. maxcrc
5:11 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Note number 3: Eureka is the COLDEST STATION AT LOW ELEVATION IN THE WHOLE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, without any doubt, with -19.7C of yearly average temperature, followed by Hall Land in Greenland with -19.6C.
Since Eureka is warming up faster than Hall Land, it's well possible that in the next 1980-2010 averages, Hall Land will become the title holder.
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10. maxcrc
5:09 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Disclaimer 2:
Teresina 60-90 average of 27.4C is NOT the highest in South America below the equator, in fact the highest average is that of Picos with 27.5C
What I said is due to the ABNORMAL heating of that area in the past 15-20 years , Teresina has become the warmest town ,its average temperature has increased by about 1C and it's currently at a level of 28.5C, due to the deforestation,change of the use of soil, several droughts and urban heat effect.
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9. maxcrc
3:54 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting bappit:
Just being nit picky ... yep. It certainly is non-researcher inhabited. Not so sure about indigenous exactly.

"Of course, there are many year-round staffed research stations in Antarctica, Greenland, and Canada that are much colder, but these cannot be considered indigenously inhabited like Gris Fiord."

These are such extreme environments. It is hard to imagine being there. Gris Fiord reminds me of the early European settlements in North America. People lived there just to be able to claim the land belonged to their government. And so they did live there.



There was a relocation plan back to 1953
From Wikipedia
"The settlement (and Resolute) was created by the Canadian government in 1953, partly to assert sovereignty in the High Arctic during the Cold War. Eight Inuit families from Inukjuak, Quebec (on the Ungava Peninsula) were relocated after being promised homes and game to hunt, but the relocated people discovered no buildings and very little familiar wildlife.[7] They were told that they would be returned home after a year if they wished, but this offer was later withdrawn as it would damage Canada's claims to sovereignty in the area and the Inuit were forced to stay. Eventually, the Inuit learned the local beluga whale migration routes and were able to survive in the area, hunting over a range of 18,000 km2 (6,900 sq mi) each year.[8]
In 1993, the Canadian government held hearings to investigate the relocation program. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples issued a report entitled The High Arctic Relocation: A Report on the 1953-55 Relocation, recommending a settlement.[9] The government paid $10 million CAD to the survivors and their families, and gave a formal apology in 2008".

If we look at Resolute, which would come second with -16.4C yearly average temperture (just 1 decimal "warmer" than Grise Fiord), it is said that before the relocation plan in 1953 there had been in the past traces of past indigenous populations.
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8. bappit
2:13 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Just being nit picky ... yep. It certainly is non-researcher inhabited. Not so sure about indigenous exactly.

"Of course, there are many year-round staffed research stations in Antarctica, Greenland, and Canada that are much colder, but these cannot be considered indigenously inhabited like Gris Fiord."

These are such extreme environments. It is hard to imagine being there. Gris Fiord reminds me of the early European settlements in North America. People lived there just to be able to claim the land belonged to their government. And so they did live there.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. maxcrc
11:38 AM GMT on May 02, 2013
Disclaimer:
"The coldest low elevation location in the world is Gill, Antarctica with an average annual temperature of -28.0°C (-18.4°F). This figure may be surpassed in the years to come as the Russians establish communities on the northern coast of and islands off Siberia to prepare for what will soon become a busy sea traffic route."

I never say such ridiculousness, Russian Arctic stations are not even minimally close to the average yearly temperatures of Eureka, Alert, Cape Morris Jesup, none of them in fact reach -15C , so let alone they could beat an Antarctic average of -28C !
This is completely mad and absurd ,it would be like saying New York City can beat the world record of the highest temperature of the Death Valley.
The only possible competition with new inhabited villages in Arctic Russia would be with the coldestn inhabited place in Northern Hemisphere (Grise Fiord),but they would lose anyway ,in fact the Russian coldest uninhabited station (Cape Celyuskin ) is less cold than Grise Fiord and even less cold than Oymyakon , the coldest inhabited place in Russia.

Maximiliano Herrera
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
6:43 AM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting bappit:
Hmmmm, seems it isn't really an indigeneous settlement either. From Canadian Geographic Magazine:

"When Inuit arrived on the southern shore of Ellesmere Island some 50 years ago, it was colder and farther north than any of them had ever been. They called it Ausuittuq, %u201Cthe place that never melts.%u201D %u201CNever%u201D proved to be a very short time.

"The creation of Grise Fiord and Resolute, on southern Cornwallis Island, established at the same time, was a social experiment perpetrated on a handful of ill-prepared families from northern Quebec and northern Baffin Island in what many believe was an attempt by the federal government to assert its ownership of the Arctic islands within what it considered its northern boundaries. Most of the relocated Inuit had never experienced 24-hour darkness or seen a muskox before. The first few years were extremely difficult. Some families eventually returned home. Others made a life here despite being tethered to the air supply and government assistance common to almost any remote fly-in community."

From Grise Fiord's own website:

"In historic times, no Inuit lived in Grise Fiord, although Inuit passed through in the mid-1800s as part of another great migration, this time from northern Baffin Island to Greenland, which led by Qillaq (later called Qitdlarssuaq).

In 1922, the RCMP established a post at Craig Harbour, 55 kilometres west of Grise Fiord. In 1953 the federal government resettled eight Inuit families from Inukjuak, formerly known as Port Harrison, in northern Quebec, and from Pond Inlet to Lindstrom Peninsula, not far from today's community, to reinforce Canada's claim to the High Arctic. This relocation remains a highly controversial one. In 1956, the RCMP post moved from Craig Harbour to Grise Fiord. When a school and houses were built here in the early 1960s, families also moved to today's community."


Interesting back story, but if people (not just scientific researchers who come and go) live in a place for 50 years and establish families and a community (like Esperanza in Antarctica) then I would say it may be classified as a permanently inhabited place.
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5. bappit
4:24 AM GMT on May 02, 2013
Hmmmm, seems it isn't really an indigeneous settlement either. From Canadian Geographic Magazine:

"When Inuit arrived on the southern shore of Ellesmere Island some 50 years ago, it was colder and farther north than any of them had ever been. They called it Ausuittuq, %u201Cthe place that never melts.%u201D %u201CNever%u201D proved to be a very short time.

"The creation of Grise Fiord and Resolute, on southern Cornwallis Island, established at the same time, was a social experiment perpetrated on a handful of ill-prepared families from northern Quebec and northern Baffin Island in what many believe was an attempt by the federal government to assert its ownership of the Arctic islands within what it considered its northern boundaries. Most of the relocated Inuit had never experienced 24-hour darkness or seen a muskox before. The first few years were extremely difficult. Some families eventually returned home. Others made a life here despite being tethered to the air supply and government assistance common to almost any remote fly-in community."

From Grise Fiord's own website:

"In historic times, no Inuit lived in Grise Fiord, although Inuit passed through in the mid-1800s as part of another great migration, this time from northern Baffin Island to Greenland, which led by Qillaq (later called Qitdlarssuaq).

In 1922, the RCMP established a post at Craig Harbour, 55 kilometres west of Grise Fiord. In 1953 the federal government resettled eight Inuit families from Inukjuak, formerly known as Port Harrison, in northern Quebec, and from Pond Inlet to Lindstrom Peninsula, not far from today's community, to reinforce Canada's claim to the High Arctic. This relocation remains a highly controversial one. In 1956, the RCMP post moved from Craig Harbour to Grise Fiord. When a school and houses were built here in the early 1960s, families also moved to today's community."
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
4:04 AM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting tjd10:
Thanks for the update! Not like this matters, but the map showing the location of Grise Fiord is actually wrong. The village is located on Ellsmere Island, directly north. Not sure why wikipedia shows it in a different location.


Thanks for this. Wow, does this mean Wikipedia is fallible ;-)?
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3. tjd10
1:35 AM GMT on May 02, 2013
Thanks for the update! Not like this matters, but the map showing the location of Grise Fiord is actually wrong. The village is located on Ellsmere Island, directly north. Not sure why wikipedia shows it in a different location.
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2. bappit
12:44 AM GMT on May 02, 2013
Strange places to live. The picture of Esperanza kind of looks like a miniaturized movie set for a cheap science fiction movie. The land is so barren.
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1. barbamz
10:14 PM GMT on May 01, 2013
Annual average temperature of -16.5°C (2.3°F) in Gris Ford? That's really gruesome!
Thanks for all these informations. I will have to consider it when deciding where to spend the next vacations, lol.
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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.