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History of Astana
Astana - the capital of Kazakhstan. Astana history

Astana city. Pictures of Astana
Akmola was made the capital of Kazakhstan on 10th December 1997 by decree of the President and the Parliament of Kazakhstan.

The international presentation of Astana as the new capital of Kazakhstan was held on 10th June 1998.

Today, the city covers more than 200 sq. km.

In 1999 Astana was awarded with the medal and title of City of Peace by UNESCO.

The first capital of Kazakhstan was Orenburg (now in the Russian Federation) in 1920, then was transferred to Kyzylorda in 1925.

The capital was moved from Almaty to Akmola for economic, ecological and geographical reasons. Almaty is too far from the actual geographic center of the country. The population in Almaty is close to 1.5 million with no further prospects for growth. In fact the city is fairly overbuilt, densely populated and has no spare areas for development. Transport is also a problem. Year in, year out the ecological condition of the "southern capital" deteriorates dramatically. It is one of the most polluted cities in Kazakhstan. Akmola was chosen as the best alternative, based on a nationwide study taking into account 32 parameters including socioeconomic indices, climate, landscape, seismic conditions, natural environment, engineering and transport infrastructure, construction facilities and work force.

The decisive advantages of Astana included its overall condition, land, central location, proximity to major economic centers and arteries, potential to increase its population to 400000, stable utility supplies, well-developed transport infrastructure and balanced natural environment.

Akmola's history starts in 1830 with the construction of the Akmola fortress in Karautkul to make it "the main town of the territory of the Siberian Kyrghyz on the Ishim River". The fairly advantageous position of the city was clear as early as 1863 in an abstract from the Geographic and Statistical Dictionary of the Russian Empire, St. Petersburg. It describes how picket roads and lines connected this geographic center to Kargaly in the East, Aktau fort in the South and through Atbasar to Kokchetau in the West.

Astana city. Pictures of Astana
According to other sources the Akmola steppes have always seen inter-cultural exchanges. In the middle of the first millennium BC, Herodotus mentioned a route through the Great Steppe (the later Great Silk Road) which ran through these steppes. Caravan routes developed prosperous trade and handicrafts in cities traditionally engaged in cattle breeding and farming. These were obviously cradles of civilization.

In the 19th c. Akmola was a substantial commercial and economic center in the steppe. It officially became a district city on 16th July 1863. An Akmolinsk region, headquartered in Omsk, was created on 21st October 1868 according to the Provisional Administrative Regulation in the Orenburg Steppe Region and the General Governorship of Western Siberia. At the time Omsk was the capital of the General Governorship of Western Siberia and Akmola region may have been so named because its center was intended to become Akmola. This is supported by the fact that, in 1879, major general Dubelt proposed to build a railway between Tyumen and Akmolinsk to the Ministry of Communications of Russia. In the course of the first 30 years of its existence, the population of Akmola numbered a trifle more than 2,000 people.

However, over the next 30 years the city's population increased by three times according to Volosts and Settlements of the Akmolinsk region, St. Petersburg 1893. Akmolinsk was an uyezd (district city) with a 6,428 strong population, 3 churches, 5 schools and colleges and 3 factories. This was the first stage of the development of the city. The second stage, that of the Virgin Lands, had a major impact on the destiny of the city.

In December 1960 the city had 100,000 souls and became the center of the Tselinny territory of northern Kazakhstan. Shortly after, in 1961, Akmolinsk became Tselinograd. In 1971, the Tselinny territory was abolished and Tselinograd became the center of the region. In 1992 the city took its former name - Akmola - again. There are several versions of the origin of this name. The first one is that the area of Akmola was named after a white colored limestone hill.

According to the Byzantine writer Prokopius, the Huns called mola a high barrow or fortress. Akmola was a major center for cattle fairs and famous for the abundance and variety of its milk products (koumyss, shubat, etc.). Hence its name, literally "ak mol" - white abundance.

Akmola translates into "white holy place". This is actually the final choice of the members of the Republican onomastic committee after a meticulous study of all available historical sources.

The Akmola region lies in the North of the central part of Kazakhstan with a territory of 96,800 sq km. Its topography is far from uniform and includes hillock areas and low mountains, plains and river valleys. In the North we find spurs of the Kokshetau highlands, in the South and Southeast Saryarka (Kazakh hummock topography) and plains in the Northeast.

Astana city. Pictures of Astana
The climate is a harsh continental type, becoming arid to the South. The average temperature ranges from -14/18 C in January to +20/24C in July. In winter it can be as cold as -40C whereas summers are quite hot (sometimes above +35C) with dust storms and dry hot winds. Summer lasts 194-202 days, winter 163-171 days and there are about 105-130 days above freezing. The annual precipitation is 200-300 mm.

The largest rivers are the Ishim and the Nura. Lakes include Tengh, Karasor, Korgalzhyn, Balyktykol and Kypshak. There are 55 species of mammals, 180 species of birds and 30 species of fish. Rare species (listed in the Red Book) include the Pamir argali (arkhars), Saker falcons, golden eagles, bustards, Demoiselle cranes, steppe eagles, Dalmatian pelicans, little bustards and flamingo. Korgalzhyn state preserve and a number of game reserves were set up to protect these endangered species. There are 66 plant species over 4,391.6 ha. According to the 1999 census, the Akmola population was 836,200 (319,000 in Akmola city) with a density of 7.5 per sq. km.

Akmola has several universities, including the L. Gumilyov Eurasian University and the A. Barayev Research Institute of Grain Farming, reputed throughout the international scientific community. There are also three museums, two drama theatres and branches of the Union of Writers and Artists of Kazakhstan, publishing over 40 newspapers and 2 literary magazines.

Akmola region is by right one of the Republic's granaries and a main center for agricultural machine building. In fact, it produces one fifth of all grain (one fourth being sold to the state) and one tenth of all cattle breeding products. Crops account for 3,423 ha. Meat and milk cattle breeding, pig breeding, sheep breeding, horse breeding and poultry farming are also well developed. The region has deposits of gold, uranium, bauxite, antimony, copper, lignite, caoline ores, quartz sands and other commercial minerals. Agriculture and processing of agricultural products are the traditional regional industries. The region encourages foreign investment and maintains mutually-advantageous relations with neighboring and other countries. Russia, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Tajikistan are major trade partners. The main exports to CIS countries are grain, meat, flour and milk products, while imports consist of fuel and power resources, chemicals, timber, lumber, paper, rolled stock of ferrous metals and consumer goods. Most important trade partners are the USA, China, France, Germany, Turkey and Austria. These countries receive uranium oxide, molybdenum and fertilizers and provide food products and agro-industrial machinery.

The Akmola region and north Kazakhstan have tremendous development prospects for mining, in particular with reserves of industrial diamonds, tin, zirconium, uranium and gold. The transfer of the country's capital to Akmola is sure to create synergies for neighboring industrially developed Karagandy, Pavlodar, East Kazakhstan and Kostanay regions. In addition it will boost local entrepreneurship and business through the creation of foreign companies' headquarters, branches of major banks and eventually their headquarters.

Astana city. Pictures of Astana
The country's administration moving to Akmola will create an influx of experts improving management, information, technical and technological expertise and trade. All this will promote business both in Akmola and its suburbs. The local market in the capital will become more diversified with a higher capacity and goods and services will grow. In short, Akmola will consolidate its international position for trading agricultural goods. Agriculture, stocks and shares, currencies, banking, insurance and transport, permanent fairs and exhibitions will see a sustained development and there are also good prospects for transport and trade facilities.

Akmola is to become an important cultural and scientific center for Kazakhstan. New infrastructure will be built including a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, new educational establishments, a national library, a national museum, a modern art gallery, a center for socioeconomic technologies, a business center, a children's park, an aqua park, as well as various cultural venues and healthcare establishments. Akmola's population is growing particularly due to the expansion of transport, communication and public utilities and services. It is only natural to expect a country-wide redistribution of manpower, particularly the highly qualified workforce. The new capital will eventually become the center of education, culture and public services currently concentrated in Almaty. According to preliminary estimates the population of Akmola may rise to 450,000 by 2005 and 550,000 by 2030.

To develop the economic potential of the region, attract foreign investors to Kazakhstan and encourage their participation in the economic development of the capital, Akmola was declared a special economic zone in 1997.

Firstly, Akmola is a customs-free zone. Any person or organization engaged in business activities within the city's territory can import goods duty and tax free.

Secondly, goods manufactured on the territory of the special economic zone are exempted from customs duties when exported.< p> Astana city. Pictures of Astana
And thirdly, a favorable taxation regime applies to the construction and maintenance of real estate.

Nearly 18 billion Tenge were invested in the fixed assets of Akmola city in 1997, including Turkish, Israeli, Italian and other foreign investments. Kazakhstani businessmen are no less active investors. They include firms such as Astana holding, Raimbek, Accept and Diamond. A special plan to rehabilitate and develop the economic potential of the new capital's region has been elaborated and is being implemented.

Local companies are seeing results through mastering new technologies and installing up-to-date production lines. Major industrial giants which, in their former obsolete condition, were below the new economic standards are being restructured and split up and new enterprises created to manufacture household appliances, provide spare parts and maintenance of agricultural equipment or self-contained power supply equipment operating on liquid fuel. A huge construction project for housing was also launched. In 1997, the volume of construction was worth 14 billion Tenge, six times the 1996 level. No less advanced is the program for developing telecommunications, aiming to provide as many as 30 handsets per 100 residents in Akmola by 2010.

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