Astana since 1997, the capital of Kazakhstan. The population is 708 794 (as of 1 August 2010). Astana in German means “capital”. Apparently this name was chosen because it is historically and politically unencumbered, sounds good and is appealing in its graphical representation – and not just in the state language, but in many languages of the world. In addition, the earlier name meant a Aqmola (1992-1998) in German, “white grave” – what was perceived as a bad fit. Other previous names were Akmolinsk (1830-1961) and Tselinograd (1961-1991). The official name to “Astana” was made on 6 May 1998.
Astana is located in a spacious steppe landscape in the transition zone between the Russian-dominated north of Kazakhstan and the extremely thinly settled national center on the River Ishim. The older neighborhoods are located north of the river, while the new districts especially south of the Ishim were created.
Astana can be geographically divided into different areas. North of the railway, which crosses Astana in an east-north-westerly direction, there are industry – and poorer neighborhoods. Between the railroad and the river Ishim is the inner city where there is currently a building boom. West and east of it is close to upscale residential area. South of the Ishim there are parks and the new government district.
Here also are many large construction projects in the works, such as the construction of an embassy district, a representative of various government buildings and waterfront. By 2030, these districts have been completed. Astana’s chief planner, Vladimir Laptev, wants a Berlin in Eurasian version built. Occasionally, a parallel to be Ankara drawn, which was after the founding of modern Turkey’s capital. A purely administrative capital such as Brasilia or Canberra is not the goal of city planners.