Mirny, Eastern Siberia
Winter temperatures in Mirny, a town just below the Arctic Circle, average –40 Celsius.
The town was founded in 1955 when geologists came to exploit the area’s substantial mineral wealth. Consequently, Mirny’s defining feature is a 1 1/2 km wide, 500 m deep hole, which is the now-abandoned diamond mine.
The town is strictly off limits to outsiders without a special permit and the authorities regard any foreigners with considerable suspicion.