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Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan and after Almaty it is the largest city in the country with over 600,000 inhabitants. It is located in the Akmola Province in the central north of the country. The city has been the capital only since 1997, before that time Almaty hold that position. It makes it one of the newest capitals in the world and the name actually means 'capital city' in the Kazakh language. The surroundings of the capital are almost totally flat countryside, called the Kazakh steppe and has one of the coldest climates of all capitals in the world. The city had different names, from Akmolinsk in the early 19th century, to Tselinograd in 1961 and Akmola in 1991 when Kazakhstan became independent. Different stories arise why this city became the capital in 1997, naming it Astana, but all in all a more central position was desired for several reasons. The city is still developing fast, with more townplanning on its way during the next years or so.
In what can be considered a tribute to Kazakh music, the Contest of Kazakh song is held annually in September. Overseas performers from all over Poland, Uzbekistan and Germany compete to sing Kazakh songs in their native languages. The festival is a big event in Astana, with local choirs and children’s groups being called upon to accompany many of the contestants.
Astana is located in the northern part of the country, where steppe and semi-arid conditions prevale. The city has very little rain or snowfall during the year, generally between 100 and 150 mm of precipitation. Summers are hot, averaging 30 °C during the day from June to August but over 35 °C is possible. Nights are pleasantly cool, around 17 °C. Winters are bitterly cold, averaging between -10 °C and -15 °C but dropping as low as -35 °C on some nights.
Air Astana is the national airline of Kazakhstan and has flights to and from Astana International Airport (TSE). Delhi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hanover, Moscow and Shannon (Irleand) are served from here. A number of other airlines serve the airports, mainly to and from Asian countries, like the neighbouring Stan States.
Air Astana has frequent flights to and from Almaty.
Astana has at least a few daily trains to and from Almaty.
|Oasis Inn Hotel||B.Momyshuly Prospekt 12А||Hotel||-|
|Nomad Hostel Astana||Room 112, 10 Apartment Syganak Street||Hostel||-|
You can find internet cafés in most cities and larger towns. Wifi is widely available though, ranging from upmarket hotels to hostels, coffee bars, restaurants and in some cities and areas free general wifi. Sometimes you need to register or ask for a code, but even then it's hassle free.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Kazakhstan's international phone number is +7.
Currently GSM Kazakhstan/Kcell is the cellular operator rendering services of GSM-900/1800 and UMTS/WCDMA 2100 MH standard. Coverage is good around the main cities. Network providers include K-MOBILE and Kazakhtelecom. There are roaming agreements with Vodafone, Orange, O2 and T-Mobile.
If you are planning to stay for a while in the country, buy a local cell phone. Otherwise, if you are staying shorter but tend to use your own cell phone, buy a local SIM card. Using your own SIM card means high costs for calling, but more so for using the internet on your cell phone.
International calls can be made at a reduced rate from 8:00pm to 8:00am local time.
Kazpost is the national postal service in the country, with fairly reliable and good services, though it might take some time to reach its international destination. Post offices are open generally from 9:00am to 6:00pm, but some larger ones in the main cities keep longer opening times. If you want to send packages internationally, you'd better use companies like FedEx, UPS, TNT or DHL, as they are faster and competitively priced.
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Museums, places to go
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