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Chernobyl (IPA: [tɕɪˈrnobɨlʲ]) or Chornobyl (Ukrainian: Чорнобиль, pronounced [tʃɔrˈnɔbɪlʲ]), is an abandoned city in northern Ukraine, in Kiev Oblast (Province), near the border with Belarus. The city used to be the administrative center of the Chernobyl Raion since 1932.

The city was evacuated in 1986 due to the Chernobyl disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) north-northwest. The power plant was within Chernobyl Raion (District), but the city was not the residence of the power plant workers. When the power plant was under construction, Prypiat, a city larger and closer to the power plant, had been built as home for the power plant workers. After the accident the Chernobyl Raion administration was transferred to the neighboring Ivankiv Raion.

Though the city today is mostly uninhabited, a small number of people reside in houses marked with signs stating that the "Owner of this house lives here". Workers on watch and administrative personnel of the Zone of Alienation are stationed in the city on a long term basis. Prior to its evacuation, the city was inhabited by about 14,000 residents.[1] The city of Slavutych was built specifically for the evacuated population of Chernobyl. Although it is still mostly uninhabited, rumors exist that the Ukraine government want to make Chernobyl a future tourist location.


Name origin

The city is named after the Ukrainian word for mugwort or wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris), which is чорнобиль "chornobyl". The word is a combination of the words chornyi (чорний, black) and byllia (билля, grass blades or stalks), hence it literally means black grass or black stalks. That may signify burnt grass, perhaps prior to cultivation.


Chernobyl first appeared in a charter of 1193, described as a hunting-lodge of Knyaz Rostislavich.[2][3] It was a crown village of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century. The village was granted as a fiefdom to Filon Kmita, a captain of the royal cavalry, in 1566. The province containing Chernobyl was transferred to the Kingdom of Poland in 1569, and then annexed by the Russian Empire in 1793.[4] Prior to the 20th century, Chernobyl was inhabited by Ukrainian and some Polish peasants, and a relatively large number of Jews.

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