Astana (ästäˈnä) [key], formerly Aqmola or Akmola both: äkmôˈlə, city (2008 est. pop. 600,000), capital of Kazakhstan and Aqmola prov., in central Kazakhstan on the Ishim (Esil) River. Agricultural machinery and consumer goods are manufactured; there are also leather-tanning, food-processing, clothing and footwear, and building-materials industries. Astana is also an important rail junction. Several universities are there. The city was founded as a fortress in 1824. It was called Akmolinsk and was the capital of the former Akmolinsk region until 1961, when it was renamed Tselinograd. As capital of the Virgin Lands Territory (Tselinny Kray) agricultural project, the city experienced a tremendous growth in population. After Kazakhstan gained its independence, the city and the region were renamed (1991) Aqmola. In 1994, Aqmola was designated as the future capital of Kazakhstan, and after the capital was moved there in 1997 the city was again renamed (1998). The transfer to Astana has sparked a construction boom, most dramatically on the left bank of the Ishim where the new government offices are located. Among the city's new buildings are the pyramidal Palace of Peace (2006) and the central concert hall (2009).
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