History of Astana
The idea of creation of the new capital of Kazakhstan belongs to the Head of State Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The decision to transfer the capital from Almaty to Akmola was accepted by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan on July 6, 1994. The official transfer of the capital was conducted on December 10, 1997. By the Presidential Decree dated May 6, 1998, Akmola was renamed to Astana. International presentation of the new capital was held on June 10, 1998. In 1999, Astana gained the title of the “City for Peace” by the decision of UNESCO. Since 2000, the main city of Kazakhstan is a member of the International Assembly of Capitals and Major Cities.
Astana is the northernmost capital city in Asia. Currently, Astana territory exceeds 722 square kilometers; its population is about 853 thousand people. The city has three districts: “Almaty”, “Saryarka” and “Yessil”.
Astana is located in the center of Kazakhstan in the area of arid steppes, the subzone of arid fescue-feather grass steppes. The city territory is low floodplain terraces. Yessil River is the main water artery of the capital. The climate is sharply continental: cold and long winters, hot and moderately dry summers.
The great location in the center of the Eurasian continent makes Astana an economically beneficial transport, communication and logistics center, a kind of a transit bridge between Europe and Asia.
Transfer of the capital gave a powerful impetus to the economic development of Astana. High rates of growth of the city economy attract many investors. The share of Astana in the national volume of attracted investment is 10%, the share of GRP in the national economy is 10.2%.
The basis of the capital’s economy is manufacturing, transport, communications, trade and construction.
Industrial production is mainly focused on the production of construction materials, food products and mechanical engineering. Astana holds the leading position in Kazakhstan in the field of metal goods, ready-mix concrete and concrete construction products manufacturing.
The largest enterprises of the city include Tselinograd Railway Car Repair Plant, Tsesna-Astyk Group Corporation, Talgo Passenger Car Assembly Plant, Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering Helicopter Assembly Plant and others.
The city has become one of the largest business centers in Kazakhstan. Entrepreneurship is rapidly developing in Astana. Today there are more than 128 000 small and medium-sized businesses in the city. The average monthly salary of the residents of Astana accounts for 154 000 tenge.
Astana is among the leading cities of the country in terms of the volume of construction. After the city has become the capital of Kazakhstan, 10 million square meters of housing facilities have been built. Hundreds of companies from Kazakhstan and abroad have taken part in the construction of Astana.
The architectural concept of Astana was based on the idea of Nursultan Nazarbayev implying that a special Eurasian style of Astana should harmoniously combine the cultural traditions of both the East and the West. A well-known Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa became the author of the capital’s Master Plan.
Baiterek Monument has become the main symbol of the new capital and its original landmark. Other unique buildings of the capital are the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation designed by the renowned British architect Norman Foster and constructed in the form of a pyramid, Khan Shatyr Shopping and Entertainment Center, which is the highest marquee-shaped building in the world, and Duman Aquarium, the most distant one from the sea in the world; there is also Astana Opera and Ballet Theatre, the largest mosque in Central Asia Hazrat Sultan, the Virgin Mary Assumption Cathedral; Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Archdiocese of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Beit Rachel - Chabad Lubavitch Synagogue, as well as “Kazakhstan” Central Concert Hall, Kazakh Yeli Monument, the Museum of Modern Art and the Presidential Cultural Center.
The construction of Abu Dhabi Plaza 88-storey skyscraper, the highest one in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, has been scheduled for 2016.
The new sports facilities of Astana include the 30 000-seat closed Astana-Arena Stadium and a unique 10 000-seat Sary-Arka National Cycling Track acknowledged as the best cycling facility in the world in 2011. Another major sports facility is Alau Ice Palace, which meets the highest international standards.
The capital of Kazakhstan has become the center of attraction for students from across the country. The country’s leading universities are located there: Nazarbayev University, L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Kazakh National University of Arts, Seyfullin Kazakh Agro-Technical University, as well as Kazakhstani branch of M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Astana Medical University and others.
unique Green Belt is being created around Astana; the city is turning into a
green oasis in the center of the vast steppe territory.
Today Astana has become the center of the Eurasian Space, hosting numerous international forums, congresses and large-scale international events. The Congress of the Leaders of the World and Traditional Religions, Astana Economic Forum and other significant international events are held regularly in the capital. Astana has hosted the historical OSCE Summit, as well as SCO and OIC anniversary summits. In early 2011, the capital hosted the participants and guests of the 7th Asian Winter Games. In 2017, Astana will host EXPO-2017 International Specialized Exhibition.
Within a short period of time, the new capital, established upon the will of the First President of Kazakhstan, has gained the status of the nation-wide concept, has become the symbol of independence and global success of the young state.
In his keynote speech dedicated to Astana’s 10th anniversary, Nursultan Nazarbayev has clearly and vividly defined the philosophy for the development of the new capital city:
“This is not just a capital city born in the ancient land of Sary-Arka. It is the cradle of the country’s future. The history of Astana and fates of the people of Kazakhstan are inseparable from each other. Astana embodies power, dynamical development and stability of our country. Astana has become a bright, strong, prospering city that unites all the Kazakhstanis, and paves its path into the future. Our capital is the heart of our Homeland, the symbol of people’s confidence in their strength and great mission. Nowadays, representatives of more than one hundred ethnicities live in Astana, as well as in the whole of Kazakhstan. Friendship of peoples, mutual understanding and solidarity are the very basis, on which Astana and new Kazakhstan are being built”.