Beginning on August 29, 1949, Soviet officials conducted aboveground nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk facility in Kazakhstan. More than one million people resided in villages in the Semipalatinsk oblast. In the next oblast, Karaganda, there were two million residents. Until 1963, all tests were above ground and created large, radioactive clouds that engulfed villages in the area, resulting in skyrocketing rates of cancer and other diseases. After 1963, the tests were conducted below ground.