The Russians are a hard people, the product of the kind of cold most people can only dream of at night and feel a shiver going down their spines. The brutal Russian Winter (sometimes called "General Winter" or "General Frost") shaped history as we know it. The sub-zero temperatures of the country have led to a unique infrastructure, shaped Russian culture, and even toppled foreign empires. If you think you’re prepared for the kind of cold you find in the depths of January in the worst regions of Siberia, we dare you to travel there and stand outside for ten seconds. Seriously, we’ll wait.
The Russian people have found a way to not only survive these terrible winters, but also use them to their advantage. No invasion of the country has ever succeeded, and attempts have led to the downfall of more than one superpower.
Some Places Only Get Two Hours Of Daylight
Parts of Russia extend above the Arctic Circle. During mid-winter, the entire day runs only from late morning to early in the afternoon. If you go even farther north, you reach an area where the sun won't shine for months. The lack of light may have an even more profound effect on people's mood and state of mind than the freezing cold temperatures.
Your Skin Will Freeze In About Ten Minutes
If you were curious what the average temperature is for Russian Winter, it isn't for the faint of heart. Normally, it reaches -40 degrees Celsius (which is the same temperature in Fahrenheit). To put this in perspective, you can get frostbite in 30 minutes at just -19 degrees Fahrenheit. At -60, exposed skin can freeze in as little as 10 minutes.
The Coldest Place Is Indeed Siberia
First off, to be fair, Siberia actually has very temperate summers. It also has some fantastic rainy seasons during the spring and fall. But when winter hits, it’s time to hunker down and brave the cold. The temperature can drop below -31 degrees Fahrenheit. But the coldest place in Russia is actually in a region of Siberia called Jakutia. The winter temperatures there reach below -58 degrees in January… so bundle up.
Russian Winter Led To The Fall Of Sweden As A Superpower
It may seem hard to believe, but Sweden was once a force to be reckoned with, an empire with superior military capabilities under the leadership of King Gustavus Adolphus. A big part of that was his foresight in adopting gunpowder weapons and mobile artillery. From 1618 to 1648, they expanded so far south they almost took Prague and Vienna. Everything seemed great, until King Charles XII of Sweden decided to invade Russia… and then winter set in. The Russians, of course, knew how to fight in the cold and during harsh blizzards.
In 1709, Europe had the coldest winter in 500 years. It was so bad, more than 2,000 Swedish soldiers died in a single night. The losses reduced the country from a superpower to just another European territory.