Almaty (uhl-muh-TEE, former Alma-Ata) is the former capital of Kazakhstan. It is the most populated city in Kazakhstan at present. Its population is almost two million people. Even though Astana (then Akmola) became the capital in 1995; Almaty is often called the Southern Capital. It can be rightfully called the most beautiful city in the country.

The history of Almaty is not very long. In comparison with other cities in Central Asia it is quite young. It was founded in 1854 by Russians in the valley of Almaty and was just a fort at first. Its name was Zailisky, then it was named Verny. In 1921 it became Alma-Ata and in 1929 it became the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1993 it became Almaty.

The city is located at the foot of Tien Shan Mountains at the altitude of 1500-2000 meters above sea level. Unfortunately, because the city is located in a valley, smog easily accumulates here. However, a little higher in the mountains the air is crystal clear and many people have dachas (a small garden or an orchard with a small hut or a house) there. A dacha is not only a source of various fruits and vegetables, it is also a place to relax and enjoy the fresh air.

The city has a lot of unique architectural sites. Among those are the bath-house Arasan, the Otrar Hotel, the Cathedral in the Park of the 28 Panfilov Soldiers, and many others. The architectural sites of Almaty are comparatively modern because of the destructive earthquakes that happened in Almaty in 1887 and 1910. A lot of buildings were destroyed at that time.

The climate of Almaty is quite mild. It is never as cold here as in the northern parts of the country and you can easily survive without a fur hat and a fur coat. However, because of higher humidity it may seem a little colder in winter than it is in fact.

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