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Chernobyl, Ukraine

April 24th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Chernobyl (Ukrainian: Чорнобиль (Chornobyl), Russian: Чернобыль) is an abandoned city in northern Ukraine, in the Kiev Oblast (province) near the border with Belarus ( 51°16′N, 30°13′E).

The city was abandoned in 1986 due to the Chernobyl disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which is located 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) north-northwest. The power plant had been named after the city, and was located in Chernobyl Raion (district), but the city and the plant were not directly connected. At the time of power plant construction a twin city of the plant, Prypiat was built for power plant workers.

Even though the city is basically uninhabited, a few people still live there. The occupied houses are not so distinguishable from the rest, and there are texts on them stating that the "Owner of this house lives here". Also, workers on watch and administrative personnel of the zone of alienation are stationed in the city on term basis. Before the accident, the city was inhabited by about 14,000 residents.

The city name comes from a combination of chornyi (чорний, black) and byllia (билля, grass blades or stalks); hence it literally means black grass or black stalks. The reason for this name is not known. Different explanations have appeared after the 1986 nuclear accident, which represent attempts to link the accident to prophecies in the Book of Revelation in the Christian New Testament. For these, see Chernobyl in the popular consciousness.

Chernobyl was a crown village of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century CE, in Kievan territory that is now a part of Ukraine. It was granted as a fiefdom to Filon Kmita, a captain of the royal cavalry, in 1566. The province containing Chernobyl was transferred to the Kingdom of Poland in 1569, and then annexed by the Russian Empire in 1793.

Prior to the 20th century Chernobyl was inhabited by Ruthenian and Polish peasants, and a large Jewish community. In World War I the village was occupied by Germans, and during the civil wars of 1917-20 it was occupied first by the Polish Army and then by the Red (i.e. Bolshevik) Cavalry. In 1921 Chernobyl became a part of the newly-formed Ukrainian SSR.

During the period 1929-33 Chernobyl suffered greatly from mass killings during Stalin's collectivization campaign, and in the Holodomor (famine) that followed. The Polish community of Chernobyl was deported to Kazakhstan in 1936, many dying of starvation along the way. The Jewish community was exterminated during the German occupation of 1941-44.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chernobyl became part of Ukraine, an independent nation.

On April 26, 1986, the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, exploded at 01:23 AM local time. All permanent residents of Chernobyl and Zone of alienation were evacuated because radiation levels in the area had become unsafe.

The Chernobyl City and its surrounding suburbs are now home to nuclear scientists, maintenance officials for the Chernobyl Power Plant, Liquidation Officials, doctors, physicists, and most of all, radiation physicists. Although Pripyat, a neighboring city to Chernobyl remains unmaintained, Chernobyl has been renovated and is now home to more than 2000 people, including visitors to the Zone of Alienation who stay at a local lodge in the Chernobyl suburbs.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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