Most important towns
According to official figures, there are 86 cities, 147 settlements and 7,323 aule (villages) in Kazakhstan. About 60% of the population live in cities. The main cities are:
Nur-Sultan = Astana (kas. Capital), since December 10th, 1997 capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan; in the north of the country on the River Ishim located (kas Jesil.); Founded in 1830 as the Russian Fort Akmolinsk, the city changed its name several times: 1961 Zelinograd (Russian Neulandstadt); 1992 Akmola, from May 1998 Astana (capital city), since March 20, 2019 in honor of the resigned President Nur-Sultan. Since the decision was made to make Astana the capital, completely new districts with representative buildings by international architects have emerged. The population rose from around 290,000 in 1997 to more than 1 million today, a huge challenge in terms of providing housing and integration. The climate is “Siberian” according to the geographical location, the winter of 2018 brought the residents of the city to their limits. Smog problems have also recently been reported. Despite many problems that can be discovered on closer inspection, which even led the president to make critical remarks in autumn 2019, there is no longer any doubt today, unlike in 1997, that this is the capital and a figurehead of the country is.
In the summer of 2017, Astana was also in the public eye as the venue for the Expo 2017. The event, which had many hopes for the country’s economic development, was dedicated to the topic of the green economy. The history of the construction of the Expo-Park was shaped by many problems (corruption scandals, financing problems, etc.). According to official information, almost 3.9 million people visited the site between June 10 and September 10, 2017. Germany had its own pavilion represented.
Almaty, located in the extreme southeast of the republic, is officially 1.9 million residents. the largest city in Kazakhstan. Founded in 1854 as the Russian Fort Wernyj, from 1929 it was Alma-Ata capital of the KasSSR, after independence it was renamed Almaty. Even if there are almost no buildings from the Tsarist and early Soviet times in the city today, a view from above shows the planned layout of the city very clearly. Not everyone likes the modernization of the city and is often carried outrelatively ruthlessly towards residents and nature. At the end of October 2019, the President commented Tokayev himself was critical of the conditions in his hometown. Since the capital was moved to Astana (now Nur-Sultan), Almaty has been the country’s financial capital, but the move of the National Bank to Nur-Sultan in summer 2020 is likely to shake this status. The climate is comparatively temperate. The city continues to be a magnet for Kazakhs as well as the foreign community, whose members also like to post their impressions on the web. In 2015, Almaty was ranked 100th (out of 140) in the EIU’s ranking of the world’s most livable cities.
Other cities of supraregional importance are:
Schimkent in the extreme south near the Uzbek border, with approx. 1 million residents. the third largest city in Kazakhstan, since June 2018 (next to Nur-Sultan and Almaty) city of “national importance”;
Atyrau in the far west, 45 km from the Caspian Sea, approx. 270,000 residents, the oil capital of the country;
Karaganda, fourth largest city with almost 500,000 residents, in the center of Kazakhstan, known for its coal and heavy industry.
The renaming of cities and villages in the first years of independence is still likely to cause confusion today, because the old Soviet, ie Russian, names are often used alongside the new, official, Kazakh names.
Given the size of the country, air traffic is also of great importance within Kazakhstan. This is shown by 23 airports, 14 of which are connected to international air traffic, but only the two largest, Almaty and Nur-Sultan, are actually at international level.
According to aristmarketing, the railway not only connects the cities of Kazakhstan, but is also important for the transit of goods (from Europe) to China and Uzbekistan and further south.
The railway has a long history, the first line from Orenburg to Tashkent through the steppe was built in the tsarist times, completed in 1905. Most of the lines, however, starting with industrialization, were built in Soviet times, the most famous and most important being the Turksib. At present, not only is modernization going on, but completely new sections of the route are being built to make Kazakhstan a hub for Eurasian rail freight traffic (Chorgos – Aktau and Usgen – Turkmen border). The length of the rail network is 14,500 km, around a third of which is electrified.
Kazakhstan has a road network of around 140,000 km in length. Only the very large traffic axes, especially the Nur-Sultan (Astana) -Almaty connection, correspond to the level known from Western Europe. However, there are various government programs to improve road conditions. At the moment, work is mainly on the project to expand the connection between Western Europe and Western China. After completion, there will be a 8,445 km long transport corridor from Saint Petersburg in Russia via Kazan, Orenburg through Kazakhstan to China.
In addition, goods are also shipped by water, a total of 3,900 km are navigable. There are water connections to Russia (and further to Western Europe), Azerbaijan and Iran via the ports on the Caspian Sea, and our own merchant fleet is currently being built.