Karaganda (Kazakh: Қарағанды Russian: Караганда) is the capital of Karagandy Province in Kazakhstan. It is located at It is the fourth most populous city in Kazakhstan, behind Almaty, Astana and Shymkent, with a population of 446,200 (as of 1 January 2006). In the 1940s up to 70% of the city's inhabitants were ethnic Germans. Most of the ethnic Germans are descendants of Soviet Volga Germans who were collectively deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan on Stalin's order when Hitler invaded Poland. Until the 1950s many were interned in labor camps often only due to their heritage. The population of Karagandy fell by 14% from 1989-1999. One hundred thousand people have since emigrated to Germany.
The name "Karagandy" is derived from a "caragana" bushes (Caragana arborescens, Caragana frutex) which are abundant in the area. Karaganda is an industrial city, built to exploit nearby coal mines using the slave work of prisoners of labor camps. In the early 1990s, it was briefly considered as a candidate for the capital of the (then) recently independent Republic of Kazakhstan, but its bid was turned down in favor of Astana.
It is the birthplace of the late Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. It is also the home city of Kazakh World War II hero Nurken Abdirov. A statue in Abdirov's honor is located in the center of the city.
The original site of Karaganda is now labeled on city maps as the "Old Town," but almost nothing remains on that site. In exploiting the rich coal deposits next door, the Soviets undermined the entire city, and the town had to be abandoned completely and moved several miles to the south. (...) more…
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