Between 1949 and 1989 almost 500 atomic bombs were ignited for test purposes by the Soviets in the region of Semipalatinsk. That was the time of the Cold War: on both sides of the Iron Curtain feverish work was going on for the further development of the atomic bomb. The people in that region were for the most part subjected to these tests more or less without any protection. This was quite intentional, in fact, in order to explore the effects of a possible atomic war.
Today, the immense heat which made the steppe burn, is long gone, the Cold War is a matter of the past and Semipalatinsk is a town in the east of the State of Kazakhstan which became independent in 1991. What is left is a country, which is marked by sick people. The cancer rate is double that of comparable, non-contaminated areas.
The people in Semipalatinsk have been forced to integrate the effects of the atomic bomb into their everyday routine: Under a gigantic memorial for the victims of the atomic tests showing an atomic mushroom, newly-wed couples line up in ten-minute intervals for their wedding photograph, and nobody seems to mind.