Karagandy (more commonly known by its Russian name Karaganda) is the fourth most populous city in Kazakhstan, behind Almaty (Alma-Ata), Astana and Shymkent. Population is around half a million people. The name "Karagandy" is derived from a "caragana" bushes (Caragana arborescens, Caragana frutex) which are abundant in the area. In the 1940s up to 70% of the city's inhabitants were ethnic Germans. Most of the ethnic Germans are descendants of Soviet Volga Germans who were collectively deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan on Stalin's order when Hitler invaded Poland. Until the 1950s, many were interned in labor camps, often merely because they were Germans. The population of Karaganda fell by 14% from 1989-1999; it was once Kazakhstan's second largest city after Almaty. One hundred thousand people have since emigrated to Germany.
Karagandy was often used as the punchline in a popular joke in the former Soviet Union. Karagandy is fairly isolated in a vast area of uninhabited steppe, and is thought by many to be "the middle of nowhere".