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Novosibirsk is a modern Russian city that proves that Siberia may be distant, but it is certainly not desolate. With nearly 1.5 million people, the city has about the same number of inhabitants as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States, or Montreal in Canada.

However, this is one of Russia’s fastest growing cities. At one time, it held the world record for highest growth rate. Although established in 1903 as a railhead on the Transsiberian Railroad (named then “Novonikolaevsk” for Tsar Nicolas II), by 1970 it held more than a million inhabitants, earning itself the nickname of “Chicago of Siberia.”

In your visit today, you’ll notice that the city is, in fact, a major scientific center - even Microsoft maintains a technology center here. The huge “Akademgorodok,” or university city, draws both culture and technology to this area of the world, adding to the boom.