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What's the capital of Kazakhstan?

Today the capital of Kazakhstan is Astana.

During its history Kazakhstan had more than one capital. Let's start our list from the latest to the first.

Astana literally means Capital in Kazakh language. It's the word primarily borrowed from Persian, meaning a place where the court is seated (capital city). It is the second largest city in Kazakhstan, after Almaty. It is located in north-central part of Kazakhstan, just under 1000 km (600 m) north from the last capital.


Bayterek - Astana Tower


1997 was a lucky year for Astana. December the 10th of that year it became the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Then it was called Akmola, the name that the city had got with the collapse of the USSR.

The city carried the name until May the 6th 1998. That's when Akmola got a new name of Astana. June 10, 1998 it was internationally presented as the new capital of the new Kazakhstan.

And now within a very short time it has got a very new face lift. From an ordinary soviet looking city it is turning into a modern XXI century city.


Baiterek Tower in Astana


What was the capital of Kazakhstan
before Astana, i.e. before 1997?

Alma-Ata became the capital of Kazakhstan after the construction of the Turksib railway that connected Central Asia with Siberia. It was the capital of Kazakhstan for 68 years from 1929-1997 throughout Kazakhstan's soviet and a bit of its new history during independence.

Then called Alma-Ata had started as the capital of the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Kazakh ASSR). In 1936 it became the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (Kazakh SSR). Since the end of the Soviet era the name of the city changed to Almaty and it stayed as the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan until December 1997.

Although it had lost its status as the capital more than 10 years ago now, it still is a major financial and cultural centre. It is situated in the south-east of the country, only about 300 km away from Kyrgyzstan and Chinese borders.

View over Almaty (former Kazakhstan capital) from Kok-Tobe

Courtesy of Susan S.

What was the Kazakhstan capital before Almaty

1925 was a very important year in Kazakhstan history. It is the year when Kyrgyz ASSR (Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, present-day Kazakhstan) was renamed Kazakh ASSR (Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic).

The city of Akmechet was renamed Qyzylorda (Kyzyl Orda) and chosen as the capital of the new Kazakh ASSR. It is sitituated on the route of Syr Daria River, the river that starts in Tyan Shan Mountains and flows into the Aral Sea.


View The Kazakhstan Capitals in a larger map

The first Kazakhstan Capital

In 1920 Orenburg became the capital of the Kyrgyz ASSR (Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, present-day Kazakhstan) within Russia. When that Kyrgyz ASSR was renamed Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925, Orenburg joined Russia. That's when Kyzyl-Orda became the new capital.






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