Astana, capital of Kazakhstan (Астана)
Astana (Kazakh and Russian: Астана; former names include Akmola, Akmolinsk, Tselinograd and Aqmola), is the capital and second largest city (after Almaty) of Kazakhstan, with an officially estimated population of 600,200.
After Kazakhstan gained its independence in 1991, the city and the region were renamed "Aqmola". The name was often translated as "White Tombstone", but actually means "Holy Place" or "Holy Shrine". The "White Tombstone" literal translation was too appropriate for many visitors to escape notice in almost all guide books and travel accounts.
In 1994, the city was designated as the future capital of the newly-independent country, and again renamed to the present "Astana" after the capital was officially moved from Almaty in 1997.
Astana is the capital and business center of Kazakhstan. Astana city (former Tselinograd, also spelled Celinograd, until 1961 Akmolinsk) lies along the Ishim River at the junction of the Trans-Kazakhstan and South Siberian railways.
A unit of Siberian cossacks from Omsk founded a huge fortress on the upper Ishim in 1824, which later became the town of "Akmolinsk". During the early 20th Century, the town became a major railway junction, causing a major economic boom that lasted until the Russian Civil War.
The word Astana in Kazakh literally means Capital. In Kazakh and Russian, it is pronounced "As-ta-na",
Much of the city is very new as the country moved the capital to Astana from the historic capital city of Almaty.