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Astana (Астана; 1998–2019)
From top: Nur-Sultan downtown, Ishim River
Location of Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan
|Founded||1830 (as Akmola)|
|• Body||City Mäslihat|
|• Akim||Altaı Kölginov|
|• City proper||810.2 km2 (312.8 sq mi)|
|Elevation||347 m (1,138 ft)|
(1 March 2020)
|• City proper||1,136,008|
|Time zone||UTC+6 (ALMT)|
|Area code(s)||+7 7172|
|License plate||01, Z|
Nur-Sultan (//; Kazakh pronunciation: [nʊɾ sʊltɑn]; Kazakh: Нұр-Сұлтан, romanized: Nūr-Sūltan), formerly known as Akmolinsk (Russian: Акмолинск, romanized: Akmolinsk), Tselinograd, and Astana[a] (Kazakh pronunciation: [ɑstɑnɑ] (listen), Cyrillic: Астана), is the capital city of Kazakhstan. The city acquired its present name on March 23, 2019, following an unanimous vote in Kazakhstan's parliament. It was named after former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
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. A 2020 official estimate reported a population of 1,136,008 within the city limits, making it 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. And, in 2021, Nur-Sultan was selected as one of the top 10 tourist destinations in Kazakhstan. 
Modern Nur-Sultan 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, Nur-Sultan is the site of the Parliament House, the Supreme Court, the Ak Orda Presidential Palace and numerous government departments and agencies. It is home to a range of futuristic buildings, including many skyscrapers.
The settlement was founded in 1830 as Akmola or Akmolinsky prikaz (Russian: Акмолинский приказ "prikaz [office] of Akmoly"). This name was possibly given after a local landmark—Akmola literally means "white grave" or "holy city" in Kazakh—although this theory is not universally accepted. In 1832, it was granted town status and renamed Akmolinsk. On 10 December 1997, the city replaced Almaty as the capital of Kazakhstan. On 6 May 1998, it was renamed to Astana, which means "capital city" in Kazakh. On 20 March 2019, the capital was renamed from Astana to its current name Nur-Sultan in honor of the long-ruling Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, shortly after his resignation. Nur-Sultan (нұр-сұлтан) can be read literally as "radiant sultan" in the Kazakh language.
The city also has an alternative name, known as Tselinograd (Russian: Целиноград, lit. 'City of virgin lands'). The name has been in use since 1961 to mark the city's evolution as a cultural and administrative center of the Virgin Lands campaign.
The settlement of Akmoly was established on the Ishim River in 1830 as the seat of an okrug by a unit of the Siberian Cossacks headed by Fyodor Shubin. In 1832, the settlement was granted town status and named Akmolinsk. The fairly advantageous position of the town was clear as early as 1863 in an abstract from the Geographic and Statistical Dictionary of the Russian Empire. 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 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. During the rapid development of the Russian capitalist market, the huge Saryarka areas were actively exploited by the colonial administration. To draft regulation governing the Kazakh Steppe the Government of the Russian Empire formed Steppe Commission in 1865. On 21 October 1868, Tsar Alexander II signed a draft Regulation on governing Turgay, Ural, Akmolinsk and Semipalatinsk Oblasts. In 1869, Akmolinsk external district and department were cancelled, and Akmolinsk became the center 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.
Due to several determined advantages, Nur-Sultan was chosen: large urban areas, favorable geographical position, the proximity to the major economic centers of the region, considerable demographic capacity, good transportation facilities and a relatively favorable climate.
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 led by Nikita Khrushchev, 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 to 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.
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. On 16 July 1999, Astana was awarded the medal and title of the City of Peace by UNESCO. On 19 March 2019, president Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned, and on 23 March the city was renamed to Nur-Sultan. While it is officially called Nur-Sultan, many residents still call it Astana, because they were used to the name.
Nur-Sultan (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 kilometres (278.8 sq mi). The elevation of Nur-Sultan (Astana) is 347 metres (1,138 ft) above sea level. Nur-Sultan 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.
Nur-Sultan is the second-coldest national capital in the world after Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, a position formerly held by Canada's capital, Ottawa, until Nur-Sultan attained capital city status in 1997. Nur-Sultan has an extreme continental climate with warm summers (featuring occasional brief rain showers) and long, very cold, dry winters. Summer temperatures occasionally reach 35 °C (95 °F) while −30 to −35 °C (−22 to −31 °F) is not unusual between mid-December and early March. Typically, the city's river is frozen over between the second week of November and the beginning of April. Nur-Sultan has a well-deserved reputation among Kazakhs for its frequent high winds, the effects of which are felt particularly strongly on the fast-developing but relatively exposed Left Bank area of the city.
Overall, Nur-Sultan has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb). The average annual temperature in Nur-Sultan is 3.5 °C (38.3 °F). January is the coldest month with an average temperature of −14.2 °C (6.4 °F) and record lowest is in January 1893's cold wave reaching temperatures down to −51.6 °C (−60.9 °F). July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 20.8 °C (69.4 °F).
|Climate data for Nur-Sultan|
|Record high °C (°F)||3.4
|Average high °C (°F)||−9.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−14.2
|Average low °C (°F)||−18.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−51.6
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||16
|Average rainy days||2||2||5||9||15||13||15||13||12||10||7||3||106|
|Average snowy days||25||23||19||6||1||0.1||0||0||1||7||18||24||124|
|Average relative humidity (%)||78||77||79||64||54||53||59||57||59||68||80||79||67|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||103||147||192||238||301||336||336||294||230||136||100||94||2,507|
|Source 1: Pogoda.ru.net|
|Source 2: NOAA (sun, 1961–1990)|
Ethnic groups (2020):
Many argue that a drive to attract ethnic Kazakhs northward was the key factor in shifting the capital, which was officially put down to lack of space for expansion in the former capital, Almaty, and its location in an earthquake zone. Nur-Sultan would also be 'closer to the industrial center of Kazakhstan' than Almaty.
By 2007, Astana's population had more than doubled since becoming the capital, to over 600,000, and it topped 1 million in 2017. Migrant workers—legal and illegal—have been attracted from across Kazakhstan and neighbouring states such as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and Astana is a magnet for young professionals seeking to build a career. This has changed the city's demographics, bringing more ethnic Kazakhs to a city that formerly had a Slavic majority.
The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation was specially constructed in 2006 to host the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. It contains accommodations for different religions: Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and other faiths.
Nur-Sultan'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.
The Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) opened in July 2018 to become a hub for financial services in Central Asia.
The shift of the capital has given it a powerful boost to Nur-Sultan's economic development. The city's high economic growth rate has attracted numerous investors. In the 16 years since Nur-Sultan 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 Nur-Sultan – 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 center, a furniture factory, and production of military and civil engineering machinery. The new Nur-Sultan/Astana International Financial Centre opened in July 2018.
Nur-Sultan'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.
Nur-Sultan 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, Nur-Sultan 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. Nur-Sultan is among the top ten most attractive tourist cities in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Nur-Sultan has become a platform for high-profile diplomatic talks and summits on critical global issues. Nur-Sultan has hosted multiple rounds of talks between the Syrian Arab Republic government led by Bashar al-Assad and Syrian opposition. The 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is to be held there in 2020. Since 2003, Nur-Sultan has hosted the Congress on World and Traditional Religions, which is a diverse gathering of religious leaders to discuss religious harmony and ending terrorism and extremism.
Nur-Sultan (Astana) is subdivided into four districts. Almaty District was created on 6 May 1998 by presidential decree. The district's territory encompasses an area of 21,054 hectares (52,030 acres; 81.29 square miles) with a population of 375,938 people. The district has five villages. Yesil District, which is also called left bank of the city, was created on 5 August 2008 by presidential decree. The district's territory encompasses an area of 31,179 ha (77,040 acres; 120.38 sq mi) with a population of 119,929 people. Saryarka District was created on 6 May 1998 by presidential decree. The district's territory encompasses an area of 19,202 ha (47,450 acres; 74.14 sq mi) with a population of 339,286 people. Baykonyr District was created on 16 March 2018 by presidential decree. The district's territory encompasses an area of 18,129 ha (44,800 acres; 70.00 sq mi) with a population of 233 351 people.
In April 1998, the Government of Kazakhstan asked architects and urban planners of international renown to participate in a design competition for the new capital. On 6 October 1998, Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa was awarded the First Prize. Kurokawa's proposal aimed to preserve and redevelop the existing city, and create a new city at the south and the east sides of the Ishim River, enabling the Symbiosis of the History and the Future.
North of the railway line, which crosses Nur-Sultan in an east–west direction, are industrial and poorer residential areas. Between the railway line and the Ishim river is the city centre, where at present intense building activity is occurring. To the west and east are more elevated residential areas with parks and the new area of government administration to the south of the Ishim River. Here many large building projects are under way; for example, the construction of a diplomatic quarter, and government buildings. By 2030, these quarters are to be completed. Nur-Sultan's chief planner, Vladimir Laptev, wants to build a Berlin in a Eurasian style. He has stated that a purely administrative capital such as Canberra is not one of his goals.
The city has a variety of sports teams. The major association football team is the FC Astana of the Kazakhstan Premier League. Founded in 2009, the FC Astana won six league titles, three Kazakh Cups and five Kazakh Super Cups. Their home stadium is the Astana Arena, which also serves as a home for the Kazakhstan national football team and the FC Bayterek. The FC Bayterek is a member of the Kazakhstan First Division. They were founded in 2012, to develop youth football. The FC Astana-1964 is based in the Kazhymukan Munaitpasov Stadium and plays in the Astana Municipal Football League. The club's most successful years were 2000s, when they won 3 league titles.
Nur-Sultan (Astana) is home to several professional ice hockey teams. The Barys Astana, a founding member of the Kontinental Hockey League in 2008 and based in the Barys Arena. The Nomad Astana and HC Astana play in the Kazakhstan Hockey Championship. The Snezhnye Barsy of the Junior Hockey League is a junior team of the Barys Astana. Nur-Sultan (Astana) annually hosts the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan's Cup ice hockey tournament.
The Astana Pro Team, founded in 2007, participates in the UCI World Tour. The team is one of the most successful road cycling teams of recent years, winning several grand tours. The BC Astana of the VTB United League and the Kazakhstan Basketball League is the only professional basketball team in Nur-Sultan (Astana). It is the most successful basketball team in Kazakhstan with three Kazakhstan Basketball League titles and four Kazakhstan Basketball Cups. Its home arena is the Saryarka Velodrome, which is mainly used for track cycling events. The Saryarka Velodrome hosted the UCI Track Cycling World Cup stage in 2011. The Astana Presidential Sports Club was founded in 2012, to combine the main sports teams in Nur-Sultan (Astana). The organization is supported by Sovereign Wealth Fund Samruk-Kazyna. The 2011 Asian Winter Games were partly held in the capital. The Alau Ice Palace, hosted the 2015 World Sprint Speed Skating Championships. The President's Cup tennis tournament is annually held at the Daulet National Tennis Centre.
The martial art palace was opened on 6 July 2019. Sports facilities for five thousand spectators can take part in international competitions in boxing, wrestling, judo, weightlifting, and other Olympic and non-Olympic disciplines. The palace has a 25-meter pool, fitness and wrestling rooms, a football field, as well as a comfortable hotel. The object will be made available to the pupils of the sports school.
Nur-Sultan (Astana) has many universities and junior colleges. as of the 2013/2014[update] academic year, Nur-Sultan 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 Nur-Sultan 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 Nur-Sultan. The Kazakh Humanities and Law Institute is a law university founded by initiative of Ministry of Justice in 1994. The Nur-Sultan (Astana) Medical University was the only medical school in Nur-Sultan 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 Nur-Sultan with highly qualified professional specialists in the field of Arts.
Nur-Sultan 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 Nur-Sultan. The Haileybury Nur-Sultan school was established in 2011, as a branch of the Haileybury and Imperial Service College, an independent school in The United Kingdom. The Nur-Sultan 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. Nur-Sultan 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.
The city transport in Nur-Sultan consists of buses and taxis. Over 720,000 people use public transport daily. There are over 40 bus lines served by more than 1000 vehicles, with over 3000 people working in the public transport sector. Just like buses, share taxis have their own predefined routes and work on a shared basis. There are nine share taxi routes in total.
Trolleybus routes were opened in 1983. There were originally 3 routes, however, by 2006, only one route was left. In 2008, the only trolleybus fleet by the special state commission was declared unprofitable due to debts to the energy supply company and as a result, it was completely closed.
In 2011, the Akimat of Nur-Sultan established a company to implement a series of changes and programmes in the metropolis known as the "New transport system of Nur-Sultan". As part of these programmes, bus rapid transit (BRT) lines were opened. That same year, the construction of a light rail (LRT) was to begin. It was planned that the first stage of construction of a 16.4-kilometer line, which would've included nine stations, was planned to be completed by 1 December 2013. However, as of May 2020, construction has not started. In November 2013, President Nursultan Nazarbayev commended the construction of LRT because of the high cost. In exchange, there was a promise to launch high-speed buses. Despite the controversy, the construction of the LRT began in 2017 with the flyovers along to which the trains will pass. The opening is planned for the end of 2020.
The bicycle-sharing program AstanaBike has been operating in Nur-Sultan since 2014. In 2017, the system consisted of 40 stations with 1000 bicycles. The registration in the system for a season costs 5000 tenge ($28), plus a deposit for an RFID card ($5.50), the first half-hour of bike rental is free, the next hour is 100 tenge ($ 0.55). After more than 4 hours, the rent costs 1000 tenge.
Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport (IATA: NQZ, ICAO: UACC), located 17 kilometres (11 mi) south-east of the city center, is the main gateway for the city's domestic and international civilian air traffic. It is the second-busiest airport in Kazakhstan, with 2,960,181 passengers passing through it in 2014. The airport hosts 13 airlines operating regular passenger flights inside the country and internationally. Air Astana maintains its second-largest hub at the airport. An expected 50% increase in passenger traffic by 2017 has spurred the construction of a new terminal with an area of about 40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft).
Nur-Sultan is located in the centre of the country, serving as a well-positioned transport node for rail and automotive networks.
Astana railway station is the city's main railway station and serves approximately 7,000 people each day. A new railway station, Nurly Zhol was built during the Expo 2017 event with a customer capacity of 12,000. Tulpar Talgo is a daily express train to Almaty. Short-term plans include the construction of a new railway station in the industrial district; in the vicinity of CHPP-3 a new terminal will be erected for freight cars.
M-36 Chelyabinsk-Almaty and A-343 Astana-Petropavlovsk highways are routed through the city. The strategic geographical positioning of Astana allows the city to serve as a transport and reload centre for cargoes formed at adjacent stations in the area.
Since 2008, navigation on the Esil River has been organized within the city. The Akimat of the city in the framework of the implementation of the "Shipping Esil" program created a specialized enterprise GKKP "Esil-Astana". The first navigation was opened in 2008.
On 1 July 2010, at the 153rd General Assembly of Bureau International des Expositions held in Paris, representatives from then-Astana presented the city's bid to host the Specialised Expo 2017. The Kazakh concept for this exhibition relates to the impact of energy on society in the modern world. The theme of the Nur-Sultan (Astana) Expo was "Future Energy".
Expo 2017 opened to much fanfare on 10 June 2017, with heads of state from 17 different nations in attendance. It is the first world's fair to be held in Central Asia and its central pavilion, Nur Alem, is the largest spherical building in the world. The two-millionth visitor was registered on 7 August. More than 4 million people attended the event.
There are 27 libraries in Nur-Sultan, whose services in 2011 were used by 153 people for every thousand residents, 8 state museums, which were visited by 415,500 people in 2011 and which conducted 68,514 excursions, 10 recreation parks, in 2011 1492.2 thousand visitors were received and 99 events, 6 state museums and 6 cinemas were held.
Nur-Sultan also cooperates with:
The Smart Nur-Sultan 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 Nur-Sultan.
Nur-Sultan'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 Nur-Sultan. This hub was planned to integrate from 10 to 15 startup solutions into the infrastructure of Kazakhstan.
Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s strongman president of 30 years, resigned abruptly. He retains considerable influence; his daughter is the new chairman of the Senate and the constitution gives him lifetime immunity from prosecution. The capital, Astana, is to be renamed Nursultan after him.