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Skyline of Öskemen
Flag of Öskemen
Official seal of Öskemen
Öskemen is located in Kazakhstan
Location in Kazakhstan
Coordinates: 49°59′N 82°37′E / 49.983°N 82.617°E / 49.983; 82.617
Country Kazakhstan
Region East Kazakhstan Region
Founded 1720
Incorporated (city) 1868
 • Akim (mayor) Saparbayev Berdybek Mašbekovič
 • Total 540 km2 (210 sq mi)
Elevation 283 m (928 ft)
Population (2013)
 • Total 321,251
 • Density 590/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
Time zone ALMT (UTC+6)
Postal code 070000–070019
Area code(s) +7 7232
Vehicle registration F, 16
Website www.oskemen.kz

Oskemen (Kazakh: Өскемен/Öskemen) or Ust-Kamenogorsk (Russian: Усть-Каменого́рск) is the administrative center of East Kazakhstan Region of Kazakhstan. It is served by Oskemen Airport. Population: 303,720 (2009 Census results);[1] 310,950 (1999 Census results).[1]


The city was founded in 1720 at the confluence of the Irtysh and Ulba rivers as a fort and trading post named Ust-Kamennaya.[2] It was established according to the order of the Russian Emperor Peter the Great, who sent a military expedition headed by major Ivan Vasilievich Likharev in the search of Yarkenda gold. Likharev’s expedition directed up the Irtysh river to Zaysan Lake. There, at the confluence of the Ulba and the Irtysh rivers the new fortress was laid – the Ust-Kamennaya Fortress. The Ust-Kamennaya Fortress appeared on the map of the Russian Empire, the very southern end of the Irtysh line.[3] In 1868 the city became the capital of the Semipalatinsk Oblast. It was the site of Georgy Malenkov's 30-year internal exile, during which he managed a local hydroelectric plant.[4]

The city developed into a major mining and metallurgical center during the Soviet period. Mining of non-ferrous metals, especially uranium, beryllium, tantalum, copper, lead, silver and zinc remain important. It is a center for the construction industry producing manufactured housing and ferroconcrete articles. The post-war industrial history of the city is very closely intertwined with the Soviet nuclear bomb project, and the city was therefore kept closed to outsiders. One of the main industrial enterprises, the Ulba Metal Works (UMW) which produced and still produce uranium products, was kept entirely secret despite it employing thousands of workers. An explosion at the UMW's beryllium production line in 1990 led to the diffusion of a highly toxic beryllium-containing "cloud" over the city. The health effects of this incident are not entirely known, partly because the incident was kept secret by the Soviet authorities. Kazakhs who have visited the city state it is highly polluted which has led to alarmingly high cancer rates (as of 2014).


Under the name of the Ust-Kamenogorsk Lock, the highest lock in the world lies at Ablaketka where it allows river traffic to pass around a hydroelectric dam on the Irtysh river. It has a drop of more than 40m.[5]

Since the opening of the Three Gorges locks, the upper lock of that five-lock cascade is theoretically on a par with this lock, but its full drop will be used only in extreme cases, while the Ust-Kamenogorsk lock is designed for permanent use at this height.

A new car plant owned jointly by AvtoVAZ and Azia Avto, which will produce 120,000 cars a year, will be open in 2016.[6]

Higher education[edit]



Mosque in Oskemen
Russian Orthodox Church

There are 32 religious unions, presenting 15 religious confessions, including Muslim, Christian and non-traditional religions. There are 21 cultural buildings in the city: among them mosques and Orthodox Christian churches.[8]


The city has an international Oskemen Airport.

The most popular form of public transport is the tram, although its share in total traffic is less than the bus.

Intercity bus service is carried out on two bus stations. The most extensive network (more than 35 lines) is the oldest railway station, which is located at the Sports Palace on the avenue to them. Abay (street Novoshkolnaya). From this station, buses are not only in the field of human settlements and the Republic, but also in the cities of Russia, such as Krasnoyarsk. The route network of the second station, located on the street. Grange, covers only the area (17 lines).


Oskemen has a continental climate with intermittent precipitation. The coldest months are November through March. Record low temperatures range from −49 °C in January to 4 °C in July, and record highs range from 8 °C in January to 43 °C in July.


The city has three cinemas (although during the Soviet era, there were a lot more), three museums, a drama theater with Russian and Kazakh (since 2000), troupes, the Boris Alexandrov Sports Palace.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Oskemen is twinned with:

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Население Республики Казахстан" (in Russian). Департамент социальной и демографической статистики. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica on-line
  3. ^ "Информация о городе". www.oskemen.kz. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  4. ^ Monday, Jul. 22, 1957 (July 22, 1957). "RUSSIA: The Quick & the Dead". TIME. Retrieved August 1, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Latest". Waterways World. Retrieved August 1, 2010. 
  6. ^ http://tengrinews.kz/kazakhstan_news/120-tyisyach-kazahstanskih-avto-v-god-budut-proizvodit-v-ust-kamenogorske-245229/
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Domestic policy". www.oskemen.kz. April 19, 2001. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°59′N 82°37′E / 49.983°N 82.617°E / 49.983; 82.617