If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

Precursor to the changing of the capital in Kazakhstan: back to history

Precursor to the changing of the capital in Kazakhstan: back to history - e-history.kz
The idea to transfer and construct the new capital came to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan back in 1992.
The plan to change the capital in Kazakhstan was hard to realize due to the weak economic condition in the country. In 1992, after a year of being elected the President RK N. Nazarbayev visited Akmola. He felt being at home: peace and joy, perhaps as many residents of that city. He was standing on the bridge across the river Ishym and thought that a river gives a special significance to a town. For example, Atyrau is standing on the Ural, Kyzylorda — on the Syrdarya, Kostanai — on the Tobol and Pavlodar — on the Irtysh. In addition, there is a bunch of the world’s capital cities founded on rivers: Moscow on the Moskva, St. Petersburg on the Neva, Paris on the Seine and London on the Thames. Moreover, Akmola is the centre of Kazakhstan and all Eurasia. 

There is a detailed account of how our young capital was built and developed in N. Nazarbayev’s book “The Heart of Eurasia”, and there he intended to describe how the decision on the transfer of the new capital was taken. 


At the new stage of the capital’s development, Akmola was meant to be not only the significant city, but also the economy metropolis of Eurasia. 

The factors which influenced the President’s decision to transfer the capital were mainly geographical. The country’s leadership considered that it was virtually impossible because the turn of development had started only in the times of the Soviet Union having historical background back in the mid 1st century BC. It was the time, as the Father of history Herodotus wrote, when so called Steppe Way was going across the Akmola steppe which was a place of habitation for various ethnic groups. 

And in 1998 archeologists discovered the medieval urban settlement, Bozok — the capital of the Kipchak khanate, which was located 5 kilometers from Astana. The caravan passing that land early in the 16th century connected Siberia and Central Asia. During the Second World War or the Great patriotic war Akmola was a strategically meaningful region as both the economic and military transport centre. One cavalry and three infantry divisions were assembled here. It also served the location for evacuation of the people from the front line, furthermore, many injured soldiers were taken care of in its hospitals. 

Also, the railways were built in the city, thus it was feasible to create a certain network with the Union. 


In 50-60s heavy and light industries were established in Akmola. Different institutes among which were teaching, medical construction, agricultural, construction engineering institutes and vocational training colleges were set up. 

In 1961 Akmolinsk was renamed Tselinograd (tselina — virgin land, grad — city) and the centre of the republic’s virgin lands. In those times Nikita Khrishchev heading the Soviet Union was discussing the transfer of the capital to Tselinograd. 

Thus, it can be seen from above that the decision to transfer the capital was hard and time-consuming, but there were certain geographical, historical, and economic grounds for it. 

Resource: “The Kazakhstan Way”, Nursultan Nazarbayev, 2008