AUTHORRowland, Richard H.
TITLERussia's Secret Cities
PERIODICAL TITLEPost-Soviet Geography and Economics
DATE PUBLISHED1996
VOLUME NUMBER37
ISSUE NUMBER7
PAGE NUMBERS426-462
ISSN1088-9388


This article analyzes the locational significance, economic function, population patterns, and modern problems of the previously secret or closed cities of the former Soviet Union. The secret cities, called closed administrative-territorial formations (CATF), first emerged in the 1940s and proliferated in the Cold War. CATFs possessed their own local governments, were encircled with barbed wire, and restricted their inhabitants' contact with the outside world. The author, geographer Richard Rowland, identifies 38 official CATFs, as well as additional closed cities. Of the known CATFs, 10 are widely known to have been nuclear cities. Rowland states that the other 28 were not dedicated explicitly to nuclear purposes. He gives particular attention to the nomenclature of the CATFs and how their names were derived from the name of a nearby urban center with a postal code appended (e.g., Arzamas-16, Chelyabinsk-65). Rowland also addresses the population data available on the cities for the 1990s, discussing how the nearly one million people who dwelt in the secret cities were counted in official population statistics. He concludes with a brief analysis of the problems facing those cities in the post-Cold War years, during which military spending cutbacks have forced many cities to reevaluate their primary economic functions. The article includes two maps and two tables, as well as an extensive bibliography and footnotes.


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