Astana, Akmola Region, Kazakhstan

History : Middle Ages | Early years (1830–1918) | Soviet era (1918–1991) | Contemporary era (1991–present) | Geography : Topography | Metropolitan area | Economy | Education | Smart city initiative

🇰🇿 Astana, previously known as Akmolinsk, Tselinograd, Akmola, and most recently Nur-Sultan, is the capital city of Kazakhstan. The city lies on the banks of the Ishim River in the north-central part of Kazakhstan, within the Akmola Region, though administered as a city with special status separately from the rest of the region. It is the second-largest city in the country, after Almaty, which had been the capital until 1997. The city became the capital of Kazakhstan in 1997; since then it has grown and developed economically into one of the most modern cities in Central Asia. In 2021, the government selected Astana as one of the 10 priority destinations for tourist development.

Modern Astana is a planned city, following the process of other planned capitals. After it became the capital of Kazakhstan, the city dramatically changed its shape. The city's master-plan was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. As the seat of the government of Kazakhstan, Astana is the site of the Parliament House, Supreme Court, Ak Orda Presidential Palace and numerous government departments and agencies. It is home to a range of futuristic buildings, including many skyscrapers.


History: Middle Ages (8th to 18th centuries): Many centuries ago, the Bozok settlement was located on the territory of modern Astana. It was a military fortress of the Steppe section of the Great Silk Road. The etymology of the Turkic word "Boz" carries several meanings such as ‘untouched earth’, ‘virgin soil’ and ‘feather grass’. It was a large settlement of the 12-14th centuries. At present, Astana is expanding to the territory of ancient Bozok.


Early years (1830–1918) The settlement of Akmoly was established on the Ishim River in 1830 as the seat of an okrug. In 1832, the settlement was granted town status and named Akmolinsk. The fairly advantageous position of the town was clear as early as 1863. It describes how picket roads and lines[definition needed] connected this geographic centre to Kargaly in the East, Aktau fort in the South and through Atbasar to Kokshetau in the West. In 1838, at the height of the great national and liberation movement headed by Kenesary Khan, Akmolinsk fortress was burned. After the repression of the liberation movement, the fortress was rebuilt. On 16 July 1863, Akmolinsk was officially declared an uyezd town. In 1869, Akmolinsk external district and department were cancelled, and Akmolinsk became the centre of the newly established Akmolinsk Oblast. 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 Oblast. In 1893, Akmolinsk was an uyezd with a 6,428 strong population, 3 churches, 5 schools and colleges and 3 factories.


Soviet era (1918–1991) During World War II, Akmolinsk served as a route for the transport of engineering tools and equipment from evacuated plants in the Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR, and Russian SFSR located in the oblasts of the Kazakh SSR. Local industries were appointed to respond to war needs, assisting the country to provide the battle and home fronts with all materials needed. In the post-war years, Akmolinsk became a beacon of economic revival in the west of the Soviet Union ruined by the war. Additionally, many Russian-Germans were resettled here after being deported under Joseph Stalin's rule.

In 1954, Northern Kazakh SSR oblasts became a territory of the Virgin Lands Campaign, in order to turn the region into a second grain producer for the Soviet Union. In December 1960, Central Committee made a resolution to create the Tselinniy Krai, which comprised five regions of the Northern Kazakh SSR oblasts. Akmolinsk Oblast was ceased to exist as a separate administrative entity. Its districts were directly subordinated to the new krai administration, and Akmolinsk became the krai capital, as well as the administrative seat of the new Virgin Lands economic region. On 14 March 1961, Khrushchev suggested the city should have a name corresponding to its role in the Virgin Lands Campaign. On 20 March 1961, the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR renamed Akmolinsk Tselinograd. On 24 April 1961, the region was reconstituted as Tselinograd Oblast. In the 1960s, Tselinograd was completely transformed. In 1963, work on the first three new high-rise housing districts began. In addition, the city received a number of new monumental public buildings, including the Virgin Lands Palace, a Palace of Youth, a House of Soviets, a new airport, and several sports venues. In 1971, the Tselinniy Krai was abolished and Tselinograd became the centre of the oblast.


Contemporary era (1991–present) After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the consequent independence of Kazakhstan, the city's original name was restored in the modified form Akmola. On 6 July 1994, the Supreme Council of Kazakhstan adopted the decree "On the transfer of the capital of Kazakhstan". After the capital of Kazakhstan was moved to Akmola on 10 December 1997, the city was consequently renamed Astana in 1998. On 10 June 1998, Astana was presented as the capital internationally. Due to several determined advantages, Astana was chosen as the capital: large urban areas, favorable geographical position, proximity to the major economic centres of the region, considerable demographic capacity, good transportation facilities, and a relatively favorable climate. On 16 July 1999, Astana was awarded the medal and title of the City of Peace by UNESCO.

In March 2019, the Kazakhstani government renamed the city Nur-Sultan to honour the country's outgoing long-term authoritarian president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. In September 2022, after a number of controversies and unrest resulting in Nazarbayev's resignation from the Security Council of Kazakhstan, the name of the capital was changed back to Astana.


Geography Astana is almost 1,000 km (620 mi) from the country's largest city and former capital, Almaty. The nearest big cities are Karaganda (200 km [ mi]) and Omsk in Russia (450 km [ mi]).


Geography: Topography Astana is located in central Kazakhstan on the Ishim River in a very flat, semi-arid steppe region which covers most of the country's territory. It is at 51° 10' north latitude and 71° 26' east longitude. The city encompasses 722.0 square km (278.8 sq mi). The elevation of Astana is 347 metres (1,138 ft) above sea level. Astana is in a spacious steppe landscape, in the transitional area between the north of Kazakhstan and the extremely thinly settled national centre, because of the Ishim River. The older boroughs lie north of the river, whilst the new boroughs are located south of the Ishim.


Metropolitan area The metropolitan area centered upon Astana includes the Arshaly, Shortandy, Tselinograd and (partially) Akkol districts of Akmola Region.


Economy Astana's economy is based on trade, industrial production, transport, communication and construction. The city's industrial production is mainly focused on producing building materials, foodstuff and mechanical engineering.

Astana is the leader in the CIS region on Global Financial Centers Index rank in 2022.

The Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) opened in July 2018 to become a hub for financial services in Central Asia.

Astana is the headquarters of state-owned corporations such as Samruk-Kazyna, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, KazMunayGas, KazTransOil, Kazatomprom, KEGOC, Kazpost and Kazakhtelecom.

The shift of the capital has given it a powerful boost to Astana's economic development. The city's high economic growth rate has attracted numerous investors. In the 16 years since Astana became the capital, the volume of investments has increased by almost 30 times, the gross regional product has increased by 90 times, and industrial output has increased by 11 times. The city's Gross Regional Product makes up about 8.5 per cent of the republic's Gross domestic product.

The Astana – New City special economic zone was established in 2001 to help develop industry and increase the attractiveness of the city to investors. The SEZ plans to commission five projects worth 20 billion KZT (around $108 million) in the Industrial Park No. 1 in 2015. The projects include construction of a plant for production of diesel engines, a fast food complex, temporary storage warehouses and a business centre, a furniture factory, and production of military and civil engineering machinery. The new Astana International Financial Centre opened in July 2018.

Astana's administration is promoting the development of small and medium-sized businesses through the cooperation of the Sovereign Welfare Fund Samruk-Kazyna and National Economic Chamber. Support is provided by a special programme of crediting. As a result, the number of small and medium-sized businesses increased by 13.7% to over 96,000 compared to the previous year as of 1 July 2015. In addition, the number of people employed in small and medium-sized business increased by 17.8% to over 234,000 people as of 1 April 2015.

Astana was included in the list of top 21 intelligent communities of the world, according to the report released by the Intelligent Community Forum in October 2016. The rating list includes the cities, regions and communities which use digital instruments for the construction of local economy and society.

In 2018, Astana attracted more than three trillion tenge (US$7.91 billion) in foreign direct investment, a record amount for the city. The growth was achieved due to a large number of construction projects.

Tourism becomes one of the factors that drive economic growth in the city. Astana is among the top ten most attractive tourist cities in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).


Education Astana has many universities and junior colleges. as of the 2013/2014 academic year, Astana had a total enrollment of 53,561 students in its 14 higher educational institutions, a 10% increase from the prior year. The L.N.Gumilyov Eurasian National University is the biggest university in Astana with 16,558 students and 1,678 academic staff. It was founded as the result of merging the Akmola Civil Engineering Institute with the Akmola Pedagogical Institute on 23 May 1996. The oldest university in Astana is the S. Seifullin Kazakh Agro Technical University founded in 1957. Nazarbayev University is an autonomous research university founded in 2010 in partnership with some of the world's top universities. The Kazakh University of Economics, Finance and International Trade is an economic institution in Astana. The Kazakh Humanities and Law Institute is a law university founded by initiative of Ministry of Justice in 1994. The Astana Medical University was the only medical school in Astana until the opening of the School of Medecine at Nazarbayev University in 2014. The Kazakh National University of Arts is the premier music school and has provided Astana with highly qualified professional specialists in the field of Arts.

Astana schools enrolls about 103,000 students across 83 schools, including 71 state schools and 12 private schools. The Miras International School, established 1999, was the first private high school established in Astana. The Haileybury Astana school was established in 2011, as a branch of the Haileybury and Imperial Service College, an independent school in The United Kingdom. The Astana Kazakh-Turkish High Schools are run by the International KATEV foundation. There are Kazakh-Turkish High Boarding Schools for gifted boys and girls, separately and the Nurorda International School. Astana hosts two Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS), including the School of Physics and Mathematics and International Baccalaureate world school. The QSI International School of Astana is an international school that provides an American curriculum to its students. The school is a branch of the Quality Schools International that started in the Middle East.


Smart city initiative The Smart Astana project is an initiative developed by the then-Astana city administration that incorporates technology-driven solutions in various sectors, like hospitals, schools, the ticket booking system and street lighting. These projects run on an interconnected application, the Smart Astana.

Astana's smart city sector includes the annual Astana Innovations Challenge, designed to bring attention to the smart city concept. In addition, the world's first smart sustainable city acceleration hub is set to open in Astana. This hub was planned to integrate from 10 to 15 startup solutions into the infrastructure of Kazakhstan.

Almaty Time 
Almaty Time
Image: Adobe Stock Leonid Andronov #124714035

Astana is rated Sufficiency by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Sufficiency level cities are cities that have a sufficient degree of services so as not to be overly dependent on world cities.

Astana was ranked #768 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Astana has a population of over 1,136,008 people. Astana also forms part of the wider Akmola Region which has a combined population of over 1,921,716 people.

To set up a UBI Lab for Astana see: Twitter:

Twin Towns, Sister Cities Astana has links with:

🇯🇴 Amman, Jordan 🇹🇷 Ankara, Turkey 🇹🇲 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 🇦🇿 Baku, Azerbaijan 🇹🇭 Bangkok, Thailand 🇨🇳 Beijing, China 🇩🇪 Berlin, Germany 🇰🇬 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 🇷🇴 Bucharest, Romania 🇭🇺 Budapest, Hungary 🇪🇬 Cairo, Egypt 🇷🇺 Chelyabinsk, Russia 🇲🇩 Chișinău, Moldova 🇸🇾 Damascus, Syria 🇵🇱 Gdańsk, Poland 🇻🇳 Hanoi, Vietnam 🇵🇰 Islamabad, Pakistan 🇷🇺 Kazan, Russia 🇷🇺 Kurgan, Russia 🇷🇺 Kursk, Russia 🇺🇦 Kyiv, Ukraine 🇵🇭 Manila, Philippines 🇧🇾 Minsk, Belarus 🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia 🇫🇷 Nice, France 🇷🇺 Omsk, Russia 🇫🇮 Oulu, Finland 🇷🇺 Penza, Russia 🇲🇾 Putrajaya, Malaysia 🇱🇻 Riga, Latvia 🇷🇺 Saint Petersburg, Russia 🇷🇺 Saratov, Russia 🇰🇷 Seoul, South Korea 🇷🇺 Sverdlovsk, Russia 🇺🇿 Tashkent, Uzbekistan 🇬🇪 Tbilisi, Georgia 🇷🇺 Tomsk, Russia 🇷🇺 Ufa, Russia 🇲🇳 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 🇨🇳 Ürümqi, China 🇹🇷 Uşak, Turkey 🇱🇹 Vilnius, Lithuania 🇵🇱 Warsaw, Poland
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license | GaWC | Nomad

Antipodal to Astana is: -108.567,-51.178

Locations Near: Astana 71.433,51.1776

🇰🇿 Nur-Sultan 71.424,51.177 d: 0.6  

🇰🇿 Temirtau 72.95,50.05 d: 164.8  

🇰🇿 Karagandy 73.094,49.817 d: 191.6  

🇰🇿 Karaganda 73.116,49.838 d: 190.6  

🇰🇿 Kokshetau 69.383,53.283 d: 272.6  

🇰🇿 Ekibastuz 75.367,51.667 d: 278.1  

🇷🇺 Omsk 73.374,54.99 d: 443.2  

🇰🇿 Petropavl 69.137,54.873 d: 438.6  

🇷🇺 Ishim 69.5,56.117 d: 563.7  

🇰🇿 Pavlodar 76.95,52.3 d: 399.7  

Antipodal to: Astana -108.567,-51.178

🇨🇱 Coyhaique -72.067,-45.567 d: 17278  

🇨🇱 Port Montt -72.933,-41.467 d: 17108.3  

🇨🇱 Puerto Montt -72.933,-41.467 d: 17108.3  

🇨🇱 Osorno -73.133,-40.567 d: 17065  

🇨🇱 Valdivia -73.233,-39.8 d: 17021.6  

🇨🇱 Punta Arenas -70.91,-53.162 d: 17467.3  

🇨🇱 Temuco -72.667,-38.733 d: 16910.6  

🇨🇱 Coronel -73.217,-37.017 d: 16826.2  

🇨🇱 San Pedro de la Paz -73.1,-36.833 d: 16804.9  

🇨🇱 Talcahuano -73.117,-36.717 d: 16797.5  

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