Located in the middle of the Qaraghandy coal basin Karaganda is probably best known for its gulag history.
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.