Astana, now known as Nursultan, is the capital city of Kazakhstan. It has a relatively short but interesting history. Here is an overview:
Early History: The area where Astana is located has a history dating back thousands of years. It was originally inhabited by nomadic tribes, and later became part of the Kazakh Khanate, which was a confederation of Kazakh tribes in the 15th century.
Russian Conquest: In the 19th century, the Russian Empire expanded into Central Asia, and what is now Kazakhstan became part of the Russian Empire. The region was known as "Akmolinsk" during this time.
Soviet Era: After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Kazakhstan became part of the Soviet Union. Akmolinsk was renamed "Tselinograd" in 1961, reflecting its role in the Virgin Lands Campaign, an ambitious Soviet agricultural program.
Independence and Capital Relocation: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan gained independence. Initially, Almaty was the capital. However, in 1997, President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the decision to move the capital to Akmolinsk (renaming it Astana, which means "capital" in Kazakh) for strategic and symbolic reasons. The new location was more central, which was considered advantageous for national unity and development.
Rapid Development: The decision to move the capital sparked a period of rapid development and construction in Astana. The city underwent a transformation, with modern infrastructure, futuristic architecture, and a distinctive skyline emerging in a relatively short period.
Renaming to Nursultan: In March 2019, shortly after Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned as President of Kazakhstan, the city of Astana was renamed Nursultan in his honor.
Role as the Capital: As the capital, Nursultan is not only the political center but also an important cultural and economic hub. It houses government institutions, international embassies, and major businesses. The city has also become a venue for various international events and summits.
Urban Planning and Architecture: Nursultan is known for its unique and futuristic architecture. Landmarks like the Bayterek Tower, the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, and the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation are among the notable structures in the city. The city's urban planning and architecture reflect Kazakhstan's aspirations for a modern and dynamic future.
Cultural Diversity: The city is home to a diverse population, with people from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures living and working there.
Ongoing Development: As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, Nursultan continues to grow and develop, with ongoing projects aimed at further enhancing the city's infrastructure and amenities.
Top Tourist Attractions
The Capital offers a range of attractions that showcase its unique blend of modernity and cultural heritage. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Nursultan, Kazakhstan:
- Bayterek Tower: This iconic landmark is synonymous with Nursultan. It's a futuristic structure with a golden sphere at the top, offering panoramic views of the city. Visitors can also place their hand on a golden print of Nursultan Nazarbayev, which is said to bring good luck.
- Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center: Shaped like a giant tent, this architectural marvel is one of the largest tent structures in the world. Inside, you'll find an array of shops, restaurants, a water park, and even a beach area with sand.
- Palace of Peace and Reconciliation: Also known as the Pyramid of Peace and Accord, this striking pyramid-shaped building is designed by the renowned British architect Norman Foster. It serves as a venue for religious, cultural, and political events promoting peace and understanding.
- Astana Opera: This impressive opera house is not only a venue for world-class performances but also an architectural gem. The building's design incorporates elements of Kazakh traditional culture.
- Nur-Astana Mosque: This grand mosque is one of the largest in Central Asia. It boasts stunning white marble architecture with intricate Islamic geometric patterns. Non-Muslim visitors are also welcome to explore its beauty.
- Atameken Ethnic Memorial Complex: This open-air museum offers a unique perspective on Kazakhstan's diverse cultural heritage. It features miniature replicas of important architectural and historical sites from all over the country.
- National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan: This museum provides a comprehensive overview of Kazakhstan's history, culture, and natural heritage. It houses a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits.
- Independence Square and Kazakh Eli Monument: This central square is a gathering place for public events and celebrations. The Kazakh Eli Monument, also known as the Monument of Independence, is an imposing structure that symbolizes the unity and independence of Kazakhstan.
- Duman Entertainment Center: This complex includes an oceanarium, a 3D cinema, a planetarium, and an indoor skating rink, making it a great destination for families and those interested in science and entertainment.
- Nursultan's Residence Ak Orda: This is the official residence of the President of Kazakhstan. While the interior is not open to the public, the impressive white building and its surrounding gardens are worth seeing from the outside.
- Hazrat Sultan Mosque: Another significant mosque in Nursultan, the Hazrat Sultan Mosque is known for its grand architecture and its status as the largest mosque in Central Asia.
These are just some of the highlights, and there are many more cultural, architectural, and recreational attractions to explore in Nursultan.
The Capital experiences a continental climate characterized by four distinct seasons. Here's an overview of the climate in Nursultan:
- Winter (December - February): Temperature: Winters in Nursultan are extremely cold, with temperatures often dropping well below freezing. Average high temperatures range from -10°C to -20°C (14°F to -4°F), while lows can plummet to -25°C to -35°C (-13°F to -31°F). Snowfall: Snow is abundant during the winter months, and the city is often covered in a blanket of snow.
- Spring (March - May): Temperature: Spring sees a gradual warming, but temperatures can still be quite chilly early in the season. Average highs range from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F), and lows range from -5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F). Precipitation: Precipitation levels start to increase in spring, with rain becoming more common as temperatures rise.
- Summer (June - August): Temperature: Summers in Nursultan are warm to hot, but not excessively so. Average high temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F), while lows hover around 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F). Rainfall: Summer is the wettest season in Nursultan, with occasional thunderstorms and rainfall.
- Autumn (September - November): Temperature: Autumn sees a gradual decrease in temperatures, with the early part of the season still relatively warm. Average highs range from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), and lows range from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F). Foliage: The city's surroundings can be quite picturesque in autumn as the leaves on the trees change colors.
Keep in mind that these are general climate patterns, and actual weather conditions can vary from year to year. It's always a good idea to check the weather forecast before traveling, especially during the winter months when extreme cold can pose challenges for outdoor activities.
The Capital is located in the northern part of Kazakhstan, in the Akmolinskaya oblast (region), at the heart of the Eurasian continent. Here are some key geographical features and aspects of Nursultan's location:
- Coordinates: Nursultan is situated at approximately 51.1282° N latitude and 71.4304° E longitude.
- Topography: The city is located on the northern steppe of Kazakhstan, which is characterized by vast, flat grasslands. The terrain around Nursultan is generally flat, with gentle slopes and no significant natural elevations in the immediate vicinity.
- Ishim River: The city is situated along the banks of the Ishim River (also known as Esil), which flows through Nursultan from south to north. The Ishim is a tributary of the Irtysh River, which eventually flows into the Arctic Ocean.
- Climate Influence: Nursultan's climate is influenced by its inland location, far from any major bodies of water. This results in a continental climate with distinct seasons characterized by cold winters and warm summers.
- Proximity to Russian Border: Nursultan is relatively close to the border with Russia, located approximately 260 kilometers (160 miles) southeast of the Russian city of Omsk.
- Strategic Central Location: Nursultan's central location in Kazakhstan was one of the factors considered when it was chosen as the capital. This central position was seen as advantageous for national unity and development.
- Transportation Hub: Due to its central location, Nursultan serves as a major transportation hub in Kazakhstan. It is well-connected by road, rail, and air to other parts of the country and the wider region.
- Urban Development and Planning: The city's development involved extensive urban planning, with wide boulevards, modern infrastructure, and a distinctive skyline. The urban layout is designed to accommodate the city's growing population and evolving functions as the capital.
- Surrounding Landscape: The immediate surroundings of Nursultan are characterized by open grasslands typical of the Central Asian steppe. The landscape is dotted with small rivers, lakes, and patches of vegetation.
- Potential for Agriculture: The flat, fertile land around Nursultan has historically been important for agriculture, particularly for the cultivation of wheat and other crops. This region played a significant role in the Virgin Lands Campaign during the Soviet era.
- Potential for Renewable Energy: The region around Nursultan has the potential for renewable energy development, particularly in the form of wind and solar power, due to its relatively open landscape and favorable conditions for such projects.