Karakol is a town with about 63,000 inhabitants at the eastern end of the Issyk-kul lake in Kyrgyzstan. It is the administrative capital of the province (oblast) of Issyk-kul. Established as a Russian military base in the 1860s, Karakol started to develop during the nineteenth century when scientists came to the area to explore the mountain region between China and Kyrgyzstan. Karakol is about 150 km from the contemporary Chinese border. During the 1880s, the city grew rapidly, mainly due to the migration of Chinese Muslims (Dungans) in flight from religious persecution in China. In 1888, when the Russian military geographer Nikolai Prschewalski died of typhus while preparing a scientific exploration of Tibet, the name of the town was changed from Karakol to Prschewalsk in his honor. A rumor has persisted that he was Stalin’s father, as he was a good-looking man who often stayed at one of the boarding houses managed by Stalin’s mother. After local protests, the name of the town was changed back to Karakol in 1921, to be renamed Prschewalsk in 1939. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was the original name Karakol restored.