A ruined building stands in a snowy landscape in Norilsk. In 1936, the Soviet Union started to build a metallurgical complex around the settlement of Norilsk. Much of the work was carried out by Gulag prisoners. Around half a million forced labourers were involved in the construction of the town, many of whom died.
The city of Norilsk, in the far north of Russia's Krasnoyarsk region, was founded in the 1920s and today has a population of just over 175,000. In its early years it served as the centre of Norillag (or the Norilsk Corrective Labour Camp) but was given town status in 1953 as the Gulag system was slowly winding down. Today the city is largely dependent on MMC Norilsk Nickel, the world's leading producer of Nickel and palladium and Norilsk's main employer. In 2001, the city was closed to all non-Russians, except for citizens of Belarus.