Why Did Kazakhstan Move Its Capital?

Updated July 24, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

In Kazakhstan, the capital has been Astana since 1997. Before it was Almaty. Why did they switch capitals?

The Answer:

On June 10, 1998, Kazakhs celebrated the unveiling of their new capital, Astana, which means "capital." The city received an official name change in May 1998 from Aqmola, which meant "white grave." The country decided to move the national capital from Almaty to Astana in 1997. The move means the national capital is now in the geographical center of the country, rather than in its largest city.

Officially, the government of Kazakhstan said its reasons for moving the capital north to Astana from Almaty in the country's southeast corner were the area's susceptibility to earthquakes and its proximity to the Chinese border. President Nursultan Nazarbayev also hoped that the move will breathe some life into the economies of the northern regions and spread wealth more evenly around the country.

-The Editors

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