Infobox Settlement
official_name = Astana
native_name = Астана

imagesize = 250px
image_caption =


map_caption =

pushpin_label_position = bottom
pushpin_mapsize = 280
pushpin_map_caption = Location in Kazakhstan
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = Province
subdivision_name =‎ flag|Kazakhstan
subdivision_name1 = Akmola Province
established_title = Founded
established_date = 1830
government_type =
leader_title = Akim (mayor)
leader_name = Imangali Tasmagambetov
area_magnitude =
area_total_sq_mi= |area_total_km2=710.2
area_land_sq_mi= |area_land_km2=
area_water_sq_mi= |area_water_km2=
area_urban_sq_mi= |area_urban_km2=
area_metro_km2= |area_metro_sq_mi=
population_as_of = 1 Dec 2007
population_footnotes =
population_total = 600,200
population_urban =
population_metro =
population_density_sq_mi= |population_density_km2=841
timezone = BTT
utc_offset = +6
timezone_DST =
utc_offset_DST =
latd=51 |latm=10 |lats=0 |latNS=N
longd=71 |longm=26 |longs=0 |longEW=E
elevation_m=347 |elevation_ft=
elevation_footnotes =
postal_code_type = Postal code
postal_code = 010000 - 010015
area_code = +7 7172 [ [ CODE OF ACCESS] ]
blank_name = ISO 3166-2
blank_info = AST
blank1_name = License plate
blank1_info = Z
website =
footnotes =

Astana (Kazakh: Астана, _fa. آستانه; former names include "Akmola", "Akmolinsk", "Tselinograd", and "Aqmola"), is the capital and second largest city (behind Almaty) of Kazakhstan, with an officially estimated population (1 Dec. 2007) of 600,200 [ Astana city official site] ] . It is located in the north-central portion of Kazakhstan, within Akmola Province, although it is politically separate from the rest of the province, which has its own capital.

The current mayor of Astana is Imangali Tasmagambetov, formerly mayor of Almaty. He was appointed mayor on 4 April 2008.


The word "Astana" in Kazakh language literally means "Capital city". [ [ Astana - The new capital of Kazakhstan] ] In Kazakh and Russian, it is pronounced "As-ta-na", while in English and many other languages, the common pronunciation is "As-ta-na". [ [ Astana] ]

In June 2008, a parliamentary proposal was put forward to change the city's name to "Nursultan", in honor of the current president. The idea was rejected by the president himself, who said the decision of renaming the city will be for future generations. [ [ Don't name capital after me yet, says Kazakh president] AFP] Instead the birthday of president Nazarbayev, July 6, became the official holiday of the capital Astana. []


Early history

A unit of Siberian cossacks from Omsk founded a huge fortress on the upper Ishim in 1824, which later became the town of "Akmolinsk". During the early 20th Century, the town became a major railway junction, causing a major economic boom that lasted until the Russian Civil War.

The Gulags once spread over the Kazakhstan steppe like a thick wreath. Eleven camps housed hundreds of thousands of prisoners and their families. Outside Astana, there once stood the ALZHIR camp, a Russian acronym for the Akmolinskii Camp for Wives of Traitors of the Motherland, one of the most notorious in the Gulag archipelago, which was reserved for the wives of men considered "enemies of the people" by Joseph Stalin. [ [ Pope Pays Tribute to Victims of Soviet Atrocities] ]

In 1961, it was renamed "Tselinograd" and made capital of the Soviet Virgin Lands Territory (Tselinny Krai). The city was at the centre of the Virgin Lands Campaign led by Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s, in order to turn the state into a second grain producer for the Soviet Union. The high portion of Russian immigrants in this area, which later led to ethnic tension, can be traced to the influx of agricultural workers at this time. Additionally, many Russian-Germans were resettled here after being deported under Joseph Stalin at the beginning of World War II, when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

After Kazakhstan gained its independence in 1991, the city and the region were renamed "Aqmola". The name was often translated as "White Tombstone," but actually means "Holy Place" or 'Holy Shrine'. The "White Tombstone" literal translation was too appropriate for many visitors to escape notice in almost all guide books and travel accounts.

As Kazakhstan's new capital

In 1994, the city was designated as the future capital of the newly-independent country, and again renamed to the present "Astana" after the capital was officially moved from Almaty in 1997. Despite the isolated location of the new capital in the centre of the Kazakh Steppe and the forbidding climate in winter, Kazakhstan simply needed a more central location than its former location of Almaty, which lies on the far southeastern border with Kyrgyzstan.Fact|date=March 2008 Some speculate that it was a move to impose more control over the Russian-dominated north of the country. [ [ RFERL - Russia Seeks Support For Tough Line] ] Who|date=March 2008 Other reasons include the belief that the new city project is a strategic move to position the capital further from the borders with China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan,Fact|date=March 2008 or that Almaty was limited in its development by mountains,Fact|date=March 2008 or that President Nursultan Nazarbayev created a "Potemkin village", either to present an image of a modern, clean Kazakhstan to entice foreign investment.Fact|date=March 2008 Internal political concerns may have played a part:Fact|date=March 2008 Nazarbayev, like most of the Kazakh political establishment, belongs to the Great Horde (Kazakh, ulı jüz) in whose territory Almaty lies. The move to the traditional territory of the Middle Horde may have been a gesture to the Middle and Little Hordes' political sensibilities.Fact|date=March 2008

To some Kazakhs, the move remains controversial. Critics resent the massive expenditure of public funds to build the new government complexes, as well as the continuing cost of airfare and hotel expenses for the many government workers who still live in Almaty.Who|date=March 2008 The lucrative development contracts handed out to companies owned by President Nazarbayev's family members also remain highly suspect.Who|date=March 2008


By 2007, Astana’s population has more than doubled since the move, to over 600,000, and it is estimated to top 1 million by 2030. Migrant workers – legal and illegal – have been attracted from across Kazakhstan and neighboring states such as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and Astana is a magnet for young professionals seeking to build a career. This has changed the city’s demographics, bringing more ethnic Kazakhs to a city that formerly had a Slav majority. Astana’s ethnic Kazakh population has risen to some 60%, up from 17% in 1989. [ [ Kazakhstan’s Capital Holds A Lavish Anniversary Celebration] ]

In 1999, Astana had a population of 281,000. The ethnic mix was about 60% Kazakh and 30% Russian, Ukrainian, and German. [ [ Astana] ]

Many argue that a drive to attract ethnic Kazakhs northward was the key factor in shifting the capital, which was officially put down to lack of space for expansion in the former capital, Almaty, and its location in an earthquake zone. [ [ Kazakhstan’s Capital Holds A Lavish Anniversary Celebration] ]

As of city population count (carried out 5 Nov. - 5 Dec. 2007) preliminary results Astana has 700,000 inhabitants [ Astana city population count preliminary results (in Russian)] ] .


The city is located in central Kazakhstan on the Ishim River in a very flat, semi-desert steppe region which covers most of the country's territory. The elevation of Astana is at 347 meters above sea level. Astana is in a spacious steppe landscape, in the transient area between the north of Kazakhstan and the extremely thinly settled national center, because of the river Ishim. The older boroughs lie north of the river, whilst the new boroughs are located south of the Ishim.


Climatically Astana is the second coldest capital in the world (behind Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia), with temperatures of -35 to -40 °C common in the late autumn. The new city is also known to regularly freeze for around six months every year. Overall however, Astana has a continental climate, with exceptionally cold winters and moderately hot summers, arid and semiarid.

The average annual temperature in Astana is 1 degree Celsius. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of -16 °C. July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 20 °C.


Politics and government are the main economic activity in the capital, which also forms a Special Economic Zone. Since the move, Astana has seen one of the world's greatest building projects, as oil money has been spent on government buildings, a massive home for the president, a mosque, and numerous parks and monuments. The project is designed to not just make the town the centre of Kazakhstan, but of all Central Asia.

People and culture

Town planning

Astana can be divided largely into a few different areas. North of the railway line, which crosses Astana in an east-west direction, are industrial and poorer residential areas. Between the railway line and the river Ishim is the city center, where at present intense building activity is occurring. To the west and east are more elevated residential areas with parks and the new area of government administration to the south of the Ishim. Here many large building projects are underway; for example, the construction of a diplomat quarter, and a variety of different government buildings. By 2030, these quarters are to be completed. The original plans for the new Astana were drawn up by the late Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. Astana's current chief planner, Vladimir Laptev, wants to build a Berlin in a Eurasian style. He has stated that a purely administrative capital such as Canberra is not one of his goals.


The architectural quality of the new buildings is, by the standards of almost all critics, quite high.

In December 2006, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev unveiled plans to build Khan Shatyry, a "giant, transparent tent", over an area of the city. The tent will be 150 metres high, and was designed by British architect Norman Foster. [ [ Foster + Partners ] ] It is expected to take around a year to build. [ Giant tent to be built in Astana] BBC News Online] Foster has also designed two other buildings in the city.


Today there are many construction works under way, such as embassy buildings, representative riversides along the Ishim River, and some infrastructure for transportation and communication. In the centre of town, the Avenue of the Republic acts as the main hub of activity. It is bordered by many stores, coffee houses, restaurants, discotheques and even some casinos. Worth a visit are the:

*Modern governmental quarter
*Ishim banks
*Astana Central National Mosque
*Islamic Center
*Roman Catholic Cathedral
*Market hall
*Bayterek Tower


*Presidential center of culture
*Kabanbay Batyr mausoleum
*Ethic memorial complex “Map of Kazakhstan “Atameken””
*The S.Seifullin Museum
*Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan


*The Gorky Russian Drama Theatre
*The K.Kuanyshbaev Kazakh Theatre
*The K.Bajseitova National Opera and Ballet Theatre


*Monument Otan Korgaushylar
*Memorial to the victims of political repressions
*Memorial to Kazakhstan People Perished in Afghan War
*Central Square with fountain and sculpture composition
*Monument to Kenesary Khan

Architectural monuments

*Buzok town
*Church of Constantine and Yelena
*XIX c. buildings
*Green Mosque Fence


Astana is home to FC Astana, a football (soccer) team in the Kazakhstan Premier League, which won the national championship in 2000, 2001 and 2006. The city is also home to the Astana-Tigers basketball team who successfully took the 2004/2005 season title, as well as Barys Astana of the Kazakh Ice Hockey League. In addition, Team Astana is a professional cycling team that competes on the UCI ProTour. They participated in the 2007 Tour de France wearing blue national uniforms, but were excluded during the race after the conviction of Alexander Vinokourov for illegal doping practises, and have since been banned from the 2008 race. [ [ Tour de France organizers exclude Astana team; Alberto Contador may not defend title] ]


Astana International Airport was, like the plan for the whole new city, designed by the late Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa.The Astana Metro is a planned underground construction in Astana.

Astana Train Station is an important hub for northern Kazakhstan, served by trains to most major cities in Kazakhstan, including Talgo expresses to Almaty. International trains leave for Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbeklistan, most of them with a once a week frequency. Since the summer of 2008, the schedule systems show also a direct weekly train to Urumqi (in China's Xinjiang) as well. [ [ Train No. 053 Astana - Urumchi] ]

ister Cities

*flagicon|Russia Moscow, Russia
*flagicon|Turkey Izmir, Turkey
*flagicon|Jordan Amman, Jordan
*flagicon|Latvia Riga, Latvia
*flagicon|Poland Gdańsk, Poland
*flagicon|Poland Warsaw, Poland
*flagicon|Georgia Tbilisi, Georgia
*flagicon|South Korea Seoul, South Korea
*flagicon|United States Sharon, United States

ee also

*List of renamed cities in Kazakhstan
*Names of Asian cities in different languages


External links

* [ City of Astana] Official website
* [ Astana International Airport] (official site)
* [ Astana - New City]
* [ Astana Research Project] (German)
* [ Travel to Astana]

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