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Almaty ( ; formerly known as Alma-Ata, Verniy (Верный)) is the largest city in Kazakhstanmarker, with a population of 1,348,500 (as of 1 September 2008), which represents 9% of the population of the country.

It was the capital of Kazakhstan (and its predecessor, the Kazakh SSR) from 1929 to 1998. Despite losing its status as the capital to Astanamarker, Almaty remains the major commercial center of Kazakhstan.


The name "Almaty" derives from the Kazakh word for "apple" (алма), and thus is often translated as "full of apples". The older Soviet-eramarker Russian version of its name, Alma-Ata, originates from the saint's tomb, buried in an apple orchard, whence the name, "Saint of the Apple (orchard)" "Ata" standing for father in Kazakh and many other Turkic languages, also stands for a saint or a priest, as the term "padre" in the Romance languages. The old name for the new capital of Kazakhstan, Astanamarker was Akmolisk/Akmola--, "White Shrine/Mausoleum", a reference to another saint's burial ground.

In fact, in the region surrounding Almaty, there is a great genetic diversity among the wild apples; the region is thought to be the ancestral home of the apple, and the wild Malus sieversii, is considered a likely candidate for the ancestor of the modern domestic apple. The area is often visited by researchers and scientists from around the world in order to learn more about the complex systems of genetics, and also to discover the true beginnings of the domestic apple.


Prehistoric Almaty

During 1000-900 BCE in the Bronze Age the first farmers and cattle-breeders established settlements on the territory of Almaty.

During the Saka’s period (from 700 BCE to the beginning of the Common Era), these lands were chosen for residence by Saka tribes and later Uisun tribes inhabiting the territory north of the Tian Shanmarker mountain range. The evidences of these times are numerous burial tumuli and ancient settlements, especially giant burial mounds of Saka tsars. The most famous archaeological finds are the Golden man from the Issyk Kurgan, Zhalauly treasure, Kargaly diadem, Zhetysumarker arts bronze (boilers, lamps and alters). During the period of Saka and uisun governance, Almaty became the early education center.
Silver dirham coin minted in Almaty in 684 CE

Middle Ages

The next stage of Almaty evolution is attributed to the Middle Ages (8th–10th centuries) and is characterized by city culture development, transfer to a settled way of living, farming and handicraft development, and the emergence of a number of towns and cities in the territory of Zhetysumarker.

In 10th – 14th centuries, settlements in the territory of the so called "Big Almaty" became part of the trade routes of the Silk Road. At that time, Almaty became one of the trade, craft and agricultural centers on the Silk Road and possessed an official mint. The city was first mentioned as Almatu in books from the 13th century.

15th - 18th centuries

In 15th - 18th centuries, the city was on the way to degradation as trade activities were decreasing on this part of the Silk Road. Notwithstanding, this period was saturated with very important political events that had significant impact on the history of Almaty and Kazakhstan as a whole. It was a period of crucial ethnic and political transformations. The Kazakh state and nation were founded here, close to Almaty.

These lands also witnessed the tragic developments related to the Dzungar intervention and rigorous efforts of the Kazakh to protect their land and preserve independence. In 1730 the Kazakh defeated the Dzungar in the Anyrakay mountains, 70 km to north-west from Almaty. It was a critical moment of the Patriotic War between Kazakhs and Dzungars.

Foundation of Verniy

On 4 February 1854 the modern history of the city began with the strengthening of the Russian piedmont Fort Verniy nearby the Zailiysky Alatau mountain range between Bolshaya and Malaya Almatinka rivers. The construction of the Verniy Fort was almost finished by autumn 1854. It was a fenced pentagon and one of its sides was built along the Malaya Almatinka. Later, wood fence was replaced with the wall of brick with embrasures. Main facilities were erected around the big square for training and parading.

In 1855 the first displaced Kazakh appeared in Verniy. Since 1856, Verniy started accepting Russian peasants. They founded the Bolshaya Almatinskaya Stanitsa (Cossack village) nearby the fortification. The inflow of migrants was increasing and led to construction of the Malaya Almatinskaya Stanitsa and Tatarskaya (Tashkentskaya) sloboda. It was the place of settlement for Tatar mechants and craftsmen.

In 1867 the Verniy Fort was transformed into the town and called Almatinsk. However, the population did not like the new name of the town and soon the town was re-named as Verniy.

According to the First City Plan, the city perimeters were 2 km on the south along Almatinka river, and 3 km on the west. The new city area was divided into residential parts, and the latter – into districts. Three categories of the city buildings were distinguished. Buildings of the first and second categories were two-storied or, at least, one-storied constructions with the high semi-basement. Buildings of categories I and II were erected around and in the center of the city, others – on the outskirts.

On 28 May 1887, at 4 a.m., an earthquake almost totally destroyed Verniy in 11–12 minutes. Brick buildings were mostly damaged. As a result, people were inclined to build up one-storied construction made of wood or adobe.

20th century Almaty

Holiday Inn

Almaty from the Revolution of 1917 to World War II

The Central Mosque of Almaty.
In 1921, the joint solemn sitting was summoned for the participation of the representative of government regional and sub-regional institutions, professional trades, the Muslim people to make a decision to assign a new name to Verniy – Alma-Ata.

In 1926, the Council of Labour and Defence approved the construction of the Turkestan-Siberia Railwaymarker railway that was a crucial element of the republic reconstruction, specifically on the east and southeast of the republic. The Turkestan-Siberia Railwaymarker construction was also a decisive economic aspect that foreordained the destiny of Alma-Ata as a capital of Kazakh ASSR. In 1930 the construction of the highway and railway to the Alma-Ata station was completed.

On 2 March 1927, It was the initiative of the Central Executive Committee of the Kazakh Republic to transfer the capital from Kyzyl-Ordamarker to Alma-Ata. The VI Kazakhstani Congress approved this initiative.

On 29 April 1927, it was officially decided on the sitting of the Russian SFSR Committee to transfer the capital of the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic from Kyzyl-Ordamarker to Alma-Ata.

Besides, the Alma-Ata airport was opened in 1930 and people from the capital of Kazakhstan could fly now from Alma-Ata to Moscowmarker. Alma-Ata became the air gate to Kazakhstan. Transformation of the small town into the capital of the Republic was supplied by the large-scaled construction of new administrative and government facilities and housing.

Given the transfer of the capital of Kazakhstan to Alma-Ata, in 1936 the Architecture and Planning Bureau elaborated the General Plan aimed at re-creating Alma-Ata as the new cultural and comfortable capital of Kazakhstan. The Plan was based on the existing rectangular system of districts that would further be strengthened and reconstructed.

Almaty in World War II

During the World War II the city territory was changed to a large extent. To organize the home front and concentrate industrial and material resources, the residential stock was compressed to arrange accommodation for 26,000 persons evacuated. Alma-Ata hosted over 30 industrial facilities from the front areas, 8 evacuated hospitals, 15 institutes, universities and technical schools, around 20 cultural institutions, etc. Motion picture production companies from Leningradmarker, Kievmarker and Moscowmarker were also evacuated to Alma-Ata.

Owing to self-denying labour, over 52,000 Alma-Ata residents were awarded. 48 residents were granted with the title of the Soviet Union Hero. Three rifle divisions were raised in Alma-Ata , including the well-known 8th Panfilov’s division, along with 2 rifle battalions and 3 aviation regiments that were raised on the basis of the air club of Alma-Ata.

Almaty from 1945 to 2000

Furmanov street
From 1966 to 1971, 1,400,000 square meters of public and cooperative housing were put into operation. Annually, around 300,000 square meters of dwellings were under construction. It was the period of constructing earthquake-proof multi-storied buildings. Construction unification and type-design practice diversified architectural forms. At that time were constructed lots of schools, hospitals, cultural and entertainment facilities, including the Lenin’s Palace, Kazakhstan Hotelmarker, sport complex “Medeomarker”, etc.

The Medeu Dam, designed to protect the city of Almaty and the Medeo skating rink from catastrophic mudflows, was built in 1966 and reinforced a number of times in the 1960s and 1970s.

The supersonic transport Tupolev Tu-144 went into service on 26 December 1975, flying mail and freight between Moscow and Alma-Ata in preparation for passenger services, which commenced in November 1977. The Aeroflot flight on 1 June 1978 was the Tu-144's 55th and last scheduled passenger service.

Since 1981, the underground Almaty Metro construction project has been developed.

On 16 December 1986 Jeltoksan riot took place in response to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's dismissal of Dinmukhamed Kunayev.

In 1993 the government made a decision to rename Alma-Ata. The new name of the city is Almaty.

In 1997 the President of the Republic of Kazakhstanmarker Nursultan Nazarbayev approved the Decree to transfer the capital from Almaty to Astanamarker.

On 1 July 1998 was passed the Law concerning the special status of Almaty as a scientific, cultural, historical, financial and industrial center.

21st century Almaty

Hotel Kazakhstan
Dostyk Hotel

The new 2030 General Plan of Almaty was developed in 1998 and aims at forming ecologically safe, secure and socially comfortable living conditions. The main objective is to promote Almaty’s image as a garden-city. One of the components of the General Plan is to continue multi-storied and individual construction, reorganize industrial territories, improve transport infrastructure and launch Almaty Metro.


Ethnic groups (2003): According to the USSR Census of 1989, population of Almaty was 1,071,900; Kazakhstan Census of 1999 reported 1,129,400.

Weather data


Almaty business centre
Almaty is also developing as the regional financial and business centre - RFCA. Air Astana is headquartered in the Air Astana Centre 1 in Almaty.

Prior to its dissolution, Air Kazakhstan was headquartered in Almaty. Prior to its dissolution, Kazakhstan Airlines was headquartered in Almaty.


Kök Töbe

An aerial tramway line connects downtown Almaty with a popular recreation area the top of Kök Töbe ( , which means 'Green Hill'), a mountain just to the southeast. The city television tower, Alma-Ata Towermarker, is located on the hill, as well as a variety of amusement-park type attractions and touristy restaurants.


According to the city's Department of Natural Resources and Resource Use Management, as of 2007 the city has 125 fountain groups or isolated fountains. Among them is the "Oriental Calendar" Fountain, whose 12 sculpture figures represent the 12 animals of the Kazakh 12-year animal cycle (similar to its Chinese counterpart).

Universities of Almaty

Modern Almaty
Apple Town

for further details: List of universities in Kazakhstan

Olympic aspirations

Almaty was an official candidate to host the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014, but was eliminated from consideration after it failed to be included in the "short list" of candidate cities. Almaty won its bid to host the 2011 Winter Asian Games. The city is exploring possible future bids, such as the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, the city failed to submit a bid as an applicant city for the 2018 games.

See also

External links



Landsat satellite photo of Almaty
WiFi cafe - "Coffeedelia"
Children's world - A popular store with a wide variety of goods for children.


  1. — History of Almaty
  2. Ness, Immanuel. Encyclopedia of World Cities. M E Sharpe Reference, 1999. ISBN 0765680173. Page 19.
  4. Materials of the VI Kazakhstani Congress, Kyzyl-Orda, 1927
  5. "Astana - new capital", official from
  6. О некоторых итогах переписи населения Казахстана (About some results of the Kazakhstan population census)
  7. " Head Office." Air Astana. Retrieved on 8 October 2009.
  8. "World Airline Directory." Flight Global. 16-22 March 2004. 66.
  9. "World Airline Directory." Flight Global. 29 March-4 April 1995. 79.
  10. Фонтаны города Алматы (The Fountains of Almaty)
  11. 2014 Winter Olympic Games Bids

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