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Its territory covers 736 thousand square km. Its population is about 2 mln people. 4 oblasts are situated on the territory of Western Kazakhstan: Western Kazakh, Aktuybinsk, Atyrau and Mangystau. These oblast belong to different economic groups. Atyrau and Mangystau are big centres of oil and chemical industry; there are deposits of phosphorities here. In the Western-Kazakh are agriculture is devoted, mainly grain farming and pasturable sheep breeding. Quite recently the oblast has been given a powerful incentive in the development of industry. It is connected with the development of great Karachaganak gas condensate deposit. Heavy industry is developed in Aktyubinsk oblast – mining, chemical, machinery, oli. There is a chromium deposit in the oblast, which is exploited by the powerful company “Kazchrome”.
Cities and administrative centres of Western Kazakhstan have a very interesting historical past. The city of Uralsk used to be called Yaitzky town, it was founded in 1613. It saw ataman Stepan Razin’s Cossacks; in the XVIII century it was one of the centres of the revolt under Yemelyan Pugachev, after which it was renamed into Uralsk. During the Civil War legendary V.I.Chapaev fought here. Now the city is the administrative centre of Western-Kazakh oblast. The centre of Aktyubinsk oblast was founded in the XIX century as a fortress Aktyube. Gaining the status of a city it began to be called Aktyubinsk. After Kazakhstan had got its independence, the city was renamed into Aktobe. The administrative centre of Atyrau oblast is the city of Atyrau. The former name of it was Guriev. The city was founded by the Russian merchants Guriev. At first it was used as a fortification to protect sea-trading ways. Its streets remember ataman Razin’s Cossacks. The youngest city is Aktau, former Shevchenko. It appeared and grew due to the oil-extracting industry on the peninsula of Mangystau.
& Northern Kazakhstan
This region covers 440 thousand square km. About 2,6 mln. people live here. It includes Northern-Kazakh, Akmolinsk and Kostanai oblasts. The capital of Kazakhstan – Astana – is located in this area, with the population of more than 400 thousand people and the city has the status of republican submission.
The powerful stimulus in the growth of its economy and culture was the development of virgin lands in 1954. The region has vast arable lands, favourable to grow various agricultural crops. Tselonograd became the centre of this area, quickly growing town former known as Akmolinsk. Now it is Astana – the capital of Kazakhstan. These days the northern part of Kazakhstan is the main country’s supplier of grain, meat and milk. During the World War II powerful plants were evacuated from the European part of the USSR. This made the Northern-Kazakh oblast and its administrative centre Petropavlovsk one of the developed economical regions of Kazakhstan.
In the future North Kazakhstan promises to become a great industrial region. So Akmolinsk oblast possesses vast deposits of gold, uranium, diamonds, iron-ore. “Kazakhstan Aluminium” Company works in Kostanai oblast: iron-ore, dolomite, limestone are extracted in Rudny.
The cities of North Kazakhstan were founded in the XVIII-XIX centuries. Almost all of them used to be fortresses built by the Russians when the Russian Empire came to the borders of Kazakhstan. Petropavlovsk was called St.Peter’s fortress and began growing quickly after the High Decree on trade with steppe people was passed in 1759.
Kostanai got its status of a city in 1893. It was called Nickolaevsk for 2 years, and then it got back its old name. According to one of the legends there were two sisters named Kos and Tanai who were buried on the hill by the Tobol River.
Kokshetau is the centre of Akmolinsk oblast, former Cossack village. It got its name as the mountains were always surrounded by blue mist. In Kazakh Kokshetau means a blue mountain. This place is one of the most picturesque places in Kazakstan. The area is full of rivers, lakes with salt and fresh water. This allowa building health resorts and sanatoria here. Borovoe is one of the most famous resorts. An outstanding Birzhansal – folk singer and poet (akyn) Birzhan Kozhamkulov lived and worked here. Shokan Valikhanov, the first kazakh scientist, geographer, writer, enlightener worked there, too.
& Central Kazakhstan
Central Kazakhstan is represented by Karaganda oblast. It is the biggest oblast, covers 428 thousand square kilometres. The population is 1 mln 410 thousand people. The administrative centre is Karaganda city with the population 437 thousand people. Till recently it has been the second biggest city after Almaty. But due to migration it moved to the third place, giving place to the growing new capital Astana. Karaganda was founded on the place of the miner’s settlement and in 1932 became the centre.
There are big ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgical enterprises in Central Kazakhstan cities Temirtau and Balkash. The oblast has great deposits of coal and manganese. There are some difficulties, which the oblast faces today. As in many countries with changing economical situation the demand for coal has fallen down. As a result part of the enterprises in Temirtau and Karaganda stopped working. The Government allowed privatizing all big coal-mining enterprises. As a result of investments in industry many companies got back their power. Now the situation is stabilized. Among the investors are “Ispat-Karmet” and “Atasuruda” companies.
& Eastern Kazakhstan
There are two powerful industrial oblasts in the east of the country-Pavlodar and UK-Kamenogorsk. Their territory is 480 thousand square km. The population is 2 mln 240 thousand people. Pavlodar oblast is the centre of manufacturing industry (Pavlodar-Ekibastuz industrial centre). Part of the oblast enterprises after the recognization entered the number of powerful industrial companies. For example, Pavlodar aluminium plant became a branch of “Aluminium of Kazakhstan” company. The administrative centre Pavlodar is a big port on the Irtysh River. The neighbouring oblast – Eastern-Kazakh also has some enterprises of ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy. One of the working today is a copper centre on the basis of Irtysh copper plant “Ust-Kamanogorsk titanium-magnesium establishment”.The centre of the oblast is Ust-Kamenogorsk situated as Pavlodar on the Irtysh River and is a big river port.
Both cities were founded at the beginning of the XVIII century as Koryakovsk advanced post (Pavlodar) and Ust-Kamen fortress (Ust-Kamenogorsk). Agriculture is also developed in Pavlodar oblast, mostly grain growing, cattle breeding and poultry keeping.
& Southern Kazakhstan
The south includes 4 oblast: South-Kazakh, Kyzylorda, Zhambyl, Almaty. The total territory is 711 thousand square km. The population is 5128 thousand people. The third of the republic population live here. This region is characterized by manufacturing industry and agriculture. Kyzylorda oblast develops food and light industries. Rice is grown here. Sheep breeding and fishing industry are concentrated in this area. Zhambyl oblast is the centre of chemical, light and food industries, building industry is were developed too. Karatau possesses mining-chemical plant.
South-Kazakh oblast develops machinery engineering, manufacturing, light and food industries. The region is an agricultural one, too. Cotton growing and vegetable-growing are developed.
In Almaty oblast industry is represented by the enterprises of machinery engineering, light and food industries. Wel-known companies are “AkZhip” (spinning factory) and “Kargaly” (woolen factory).
There are deposits of mineral resources in the region. Kumkol is a big oil deposit in Kyzylorda oblast. Non-ferros mentalls ores were found in Almaty oblast. Zhambyl oblast is rich in copper and phosphorite reserves. The South of Kazakhstan is mostly interesting for historians and archaeologists. There used to be trading ways here connecting Kazakhstan with the East. One the oldest city in the south is Taraz, known from the V century. In the X-XII centuries it was the capital of Karakhanid State. After this the city changed its name not once. Till 1936 it was known as Aulie-Ata, then it was called MIrzoyan for 2 years, after it became Dzhambul. After getting the independence of Kazakhstan the city got its ancient name Taraz. Other well-known cities of the south are Shymkent and Turkestan. Shymkent was founded in the XII century. Shekin Akhmet Yassavi lived in Turkestan. In the XIV century invincible emir Timur known in Europe as Tamerlan built a great mausoleum above Akhmet Yassavi grave. Nowdays Turkestan is considered to be the second Moslem Meka. In the XV-XVII centuries the city was the capital of Kazakh khanate. The founders of Kazakh state – khans, Tevvekel, Dzhangir, Esim, Tauke and Abylai are buried here.
The city of Kyzylorda also changed its name several times. It was founded in 1820 as a fortress of Kokand khanate, known then as Ak-Mechet. In 1853 the fortress was seized by Russian troops under the general Perovsky command and thus renamed into fort Perovsky, later – into the city of Perovsk. After the revolution in 1925 it was called Kyzylorda. From 1925 to 1929 Kyzylorda was the capital of Kasakhstan.
Some Chinese and Arabic sources tell that on the territory of modern Almaty there were ancient Sacks settlements of the III-VI centuries B.C. Over here the archaeologists found the ruins of usuni settlements – early people lived in the first century A.D. In the VIII-X centuries A.D. the town of Almaty served as a stanitsa on the trading way from Europe to China. Then Chingis khan came and everything was over … In 1854 Russia spreading its economic and political interest to the south founded a military fortification Zailiyskoe there. Soon after it got the name of Vernoe and in 1867 it became a city. In 1921 Verny was renamed into Alma-Ata. And in 1929 Alma-Ata became the capital of Kazakhstan. When Kazakhstan gained its independence the city got its historical name Almaty.
The city is situated at 700-900 metres above the sea level and occupies the territory of about 300 square km. 1200 thousand people live here. As it is located in the seismic zone it felt Vernensk (1887) and Keminsk (1910) earthquakes and powerful mudflows by the Bolshaya (1977) and Malaya (1921? 1973) Almatinka Rivers. Becausr of the urbanization the city is often covered with smog.
Many unique buildings and constructions were erected in Almaty. Mountain ice sport centre “Medeu”, mountain-skiing centre “Chimulak”museums, and theatres are here, too. There is National Academy of Sciences, a number of universities and institutes in Almaty. As the capital was transferred to Astana, Almaty got a special status – a political, financial, scientific and social-cultural centre of the state.
Today Almaty is the main transport centre with two railway lines, five motorways; there is an international airport. The chief industry is machinery engineering and food one.
Thanks to its unique location – among emerald-blue snow-covered tops of Zailiysky Alatau Mountains – Almaty is really a pearl of Kazakhstan.
Akmolinsk steppes were always the territory of interethnic ties. Even Herodotus mentioned Great Silk way, which lay through these steppes in the middle of the first millennium B.C. Many caravan ways gave life to the cities with flourishing trade.
In the XIX century Akmola was a popular trading and economic steppe centre. Its history started in 1830 when the Russian Empire founded a fortress with this name by the Karaotkel River. From 1832 the fortress began to be called Akmolinsk and by the end of the XIX century it became a town with the population of about 6428 people. It had three churches, 5 schools and colleges and 3 factories.
The next step in the development of this city was cultivating virgin lands. By 1960 the city having the population 100 thousand people became the centre of the north region of Kazakhstan. It was renamed into Tselinograd and became a beautiful modern city with the population 250 thousand people. Many volunteers from the whole USSR came here to build the city and to live there. Many institutes, hospitals, museums, theatres were built here. The virgin area became an agricultural centre with the developed machinery engineering, cattle-breeding and poultry-keeping.
After Kazakhstan gained its independence the city got its former name – Akmola. But in 1988 when the capital was transferred from Almaty, the city got a symbolic name – Astana. The decision to transfer the capital depended on some economic, ecological and geographical factors. The main arguments in choosing the olace for the capital were the general condition of the city, territory, and well-developed transport system. Besides it stimulates the flourishing of the northern, central and eastern regions. Even development of the state economy will be reached.
For the last few years Astana has changed. It became a beautiful city of Kazakhstan. The city impresses especially. Grand buildings of the Government and Parliament Houses, other administrative establishments meet all modern requirements. Music College, Opera House, the central square are marked by magnificent architectural items. The Republic Avenue is wonderful at night. After a working day citizens and guests love walking alone the embankment of the Ishim River with attractions, parks and cafes working half the night.