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Norilsk, Russia

With the discovery of massive deposits of nickel in the 1920s, slave labor camps to mine these reserves soon followed, and the city of Norilsk was born. Officially founded in 1935 as the Norilsk Combine, for decades the city was a key island in Stalin's industrial gulag archipelago. The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (or NKVD) was given responsibility for construction of Norilsk as a test of its ability to manage large projects that relied on prison labor. Today, with a population of approximately 135,000 people, Norilsk, which is located on the Taimyr Peninsula, is the world's second-largest city (after Murmansk) above the Arctic Circle.

Mining remains the primary industrial activity and source of employment in Norilsk, as the world's largest nickel deposits, almost all of ...

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