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Zvezdograd (New Union)

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Zvezdograd
Звездоград
— Union City of the Soviet Union
Timeline: New Union

OTL equivalent: Portions of the Kyzylorda Region (Kazakhstan).
Religion
  main
 
Eastern Orthodoxy
  others Sunni Islam, Tengrism
Ethnic groups
  main
 
Kazakhs and Russians
  others Tatars, Ukrainians
Demonym Zvezdograder
Area ~5,000 km²
Population ~250,000 
Established 1966
Admission 1984
Time zone YEKT (UTC+4)
  summer YEKST (UTC+5)
Abbreviations ZG, SU-ZG

Zvezdograd (Russian: Звездоград, "Star City") is a union city of the Soviet Union which is completely surrounded by the republic of Kazakhstan. Located along the Syr Darya and the Tashkent Railway, the region was selected in the 1950s to host the Baikonur Cosmodrome and the needed infrastructure to operate the facility.

Formerly known as Leninsk (Ленинск), the city was closed to foreigners and most Soviet citizens. The closed status of the city came to an end during the 1990s, at which point it gained its current name. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Zvezdograd has seen major reconstruction and population growth as tourism has grown. Today the city has a population of around 250,000 residence, most of whom specialize either in tourism or the Soviet space agency. The city currently has a Russian majority and a sizable Kazakh minority.

Zvezdograd is completely enclaved around Kazakhstan, creating a circular border around the city with an area slightly larger than Rhode Island. Located within the Kazakh Desert, the city has a dry and humid climate which has been compared with areas like Nevada in the United States. It is because of the city's isolation and growing population that has caused some concerns over the security of the nearby Aral Sea and its slow recovery by neighboring Karakalpakstan and Kazakhstan.


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