The territory of Yakutia is equivalent in size to the territory of India and is larger than the territories of France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Sweden, UK, Finland and Greece put together. Almost 40% of Yakutia is located within the Arctic Circle. With an extreme arctic and subarctic climate Yakutia has recorded some of the lowest temperatures outside of Antarctica. Whilst the winters are long, dry, dark and extremely cold, the summers are short and hot making the seasonal temperature differences for the region among the greatest in the world. Almost all of Yakutia is located in a permafrost zone. The average thickness of the ice is 300 meters and at the Vilyuy River is 1500 meters thick, the thickest in the world. During the summer months the upper layer of soil thaws to a depth of 3.5 meters making construction extremely difficult. To counteract this most buildings are built on stilts. Yakutia has over 800,000 lakes and 700,000 rivers and streams including the great Lena River which is 4400km long and one of the ten greatest rivers on the planet. Yakutia borders with the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea in the north. For nine to ten months of the year the seas are covered with a 1.5-2 meter thick ice crust. Seventy two percent of Yakutia is covered with ‘taiga’, dense often impenetrable forests of Pine, Spruce, Larch, Cedar, Aspen and Birch trees. The rest is covered in the marshlands of the tundra and semi forest-tundra and in the extreme north the arctic semi-desert. Two thirds of the territory is mountainous with a typical alpine landscape. In the eastern part of Yakutia large mountain systems prevail with the Verkhoyansky range and the Chersky range in which Peak Pobeda, the highest mountain of Yakutia can be found, standing at 3147 meters.