Kazakhstan’s capital Nursultan, formerly Astana. Photo credit:airastana.com
In Kazakhstan, the name of the capital city Astana has been officially changed, following a vote in the National Assembly today.
Parliament voted that Astana is now called “Nursultan”, named after the country’s 78-year-old former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned yesterday, having been Head of State since 1990.
Nursultan, located in the middle of the country, has one million inhabitants, and is the country’s second city and became the capital of 1998, after Almaty (formerly Alma-Ata), in the southeast, which had been the capital in the entire Soviet period, and from independence in 1991.
Founded in 1830 as a settlement of Akmoly or Akmolinsky prikaz, it served as a defensive fortification for the Siberian Cossackc. In 1832 the settlement was granted a town status and renamed Akmolinsk. In 1961 the city was renamed Tselinograd, to mark the city’s evolution as a cultural and administrative center of the Virgin Lands Campaign.
In 1992 it was renamed Akmola, the modified original name meaning “white grave”. In 1997 Akmola replaced Almaty as the capital of Kazakhstan.
In 1998 it was renamed Astana, which means “capital city” in Kazakh.