Coldest Capital Cities

Is Ottawa the Coldest Capital City?

Snow-covered castle in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Antonio Saba / Getty Images)

The coldest capital city in the world is not in Canada or in Northern Europe but in Mongolia; it's Ulaan-baatar, with an average annual chilly temperature of 29.7°F and -1.3°C.

How to Determine the Coldest Cities

Southern capital cities just don't reach far enough south to get very cold. For instance, if you think about the southernmost capital in the world -- Wellington, New Zealand - images of ice and snow are probably far from your mind.

Thus, the answer had to lie in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

Searching for the annual mean of the daily (24 hour) temperature for each capital city in that area, one can find which cities are, in general, the coldest.

A List of the Coldest Cities

Interestingly, Ottawa, considered an extremely cold city in North America, had an average of "only" 41.9°F/5.5°C—meaning it wasn't even in the top five! It's number seven.

Also interesting is that the northernmost capital city in the world—Reykjavik, Iceland—is not number one; it falls in the list at number five.

Good data for the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, just doesn't exist, but it would appear from nearby climate data and other sources of information that Astana falls between number one (Ulaan-baatar) and number three (Moscow). Here's the list...

  1. Ulaan-Baatar (Mongolia) 29.7°F/-1.3°C
  2. Astana (Kazakhstan) unavailable
  1. Moscow (Russia) 39.4°F/4.1°C
  2. Helsinki (Finland) 40.1°F/4.5°C
  3. Reykjavik (Iceland) 40.3°F/4.6°C
  4. Tallin (Estonia) 40.6°F/4.8°C
  5. Ottawa (Canada) 41.9°F/5.5°C