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Semey

From Academic Kids

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Landsat_semipalatinsk.jpg
NASA satellite photo of Semey

Semey (Семей, sometimes transliterated as Semij or Semei) is a city in north eastern Kazakhstan, near the border with Siberia. It was known as Semipalatinsk (Семипала́тинск) until 1994; like a number of Kazak cities, the name was changed in the period following Kazakhstan gaining independence in 1991. It is the capital of the Shyghys Qazaqstan oblysy (formerly called the Semipalatinsk oblast). It is located at Template:Coor dm, around 1000km north of Almaty, and 700km southeast of the Russian city of Omsk, along the Irtysh River.

The first settlement was in 1718 when the Russians built a fort beside the river Irtysh, near a ruined Buddhist monastery. The monastery's seven buildings lent the fort (and later the city) the name Semipalatinsk (Russian meaning Seven Chambered City). The fort suffered frequently from flooding caused by the snowmelt swelling the Irtysh, and in 1778 the fort relocated 18 km upstream to less flood-prone ground. The small city grew around the fort, largely servicing the river trade between the nomadic peoples of central asia and the growing Russian Empire.

In 1949 a site on the steppe 150km (100 miles) west of the city was chosen by the Soviet atomic bomb programme to be the location for its weapons testing. The USSR operated the Semipalatinsk Test Site from the first Soviet explosion in 1949 until 1989. 456 nuclear tests, including 340 underground and 116 atmospheric tests were conducted. Semey has reaped a grim harvest from the time of its atomic prosperity; nuclear fallout from the atmospheric tests (and uncontrolled exposure of the workers, most of whom lived in the city) has given Semey huge rates of cancer, childhood leukemia, and birth defects.

Modern Semey is a bustling university town with a population nearing 400,000. Its proximity to the border, and the large ex-patriate scientific community attached to the university and the STS labs, gives Semey a more Russian character than other Kazakh cities.

Famous residents

  • Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whose exile included five years military service as a corporal in the Seventh Line Battalion at the Semipalatinsk garrison, beginning in 1854.
  • Abai Kunanbaiuli, father of modern Kazakh poetry, received his Russian schooling at Semipalatinsk.
  • Boxer Wladimir Klitschko, who was born there in 1976.

The city has built a museum to commemorate Kunanbaev, and has both a museum of, and a street named after, Dostoyevsky.

Population

External link

kk:Семей ru:Семипалатинск uk:Семипалатинськ sl:Semipalatinsk

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