AstanaAstana, estimated population 319,000 (1999, the city is very fast-growing), is the capital of Kazakhstan. The city is located in central Kazakhstan on the Ishim River. Leather-tanning is Astana's major industry. Astana forms a special economic zone.
The city was founded as a fortress called Akmolinsk in 1824. In 1961, it was renamed Tselinograd and made capital of the Soviet Virgin Lands Territory (Tselinny Kray). After Kazakhstan gained its independence, the city and the region were renamed Aqmola ("White Grave", 1991), and in 1994, it was designated as the future capital of the newly-independent country. After the capital was moved there from Almaty in 1997, the city was again renamed.
"Astana" means "the Capital". Today there are many construction works under way like embassy buildings, construction of representative riversides along Ishim River, infrastructure for transportation and communication etc..