Almaty

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This article is about the city. For the province, see Almaty Province.
"Verniy" redirects here. For Soviet destroyer turned over from Japan, see Japanese destroyer Hibiki (1932).
Almaty
Алматы
City


Flag


Coat of arms
Almaty is located in Kazakhstan
Almaty
Almaty
Location in Kazakhstan
Coordinates: 43°16′39″N 76°53′45″E / 43.27750°N 76.89583°E / 43.27750; 76.89583Coordinates: 43°16′39″N 76°53′45″E / 43.27750°N 76.89583°E / 43.27750; 76.89583
Country Kazakhstan
Province Almaty
First settled 10–9th century BC
Founded 1854
Incorporated (city) 1867
Government
 • Akim (mayor) Bauyrzhan Baybek
Area
 • Total 682 km2 (263 sq mi)
Elevation 500–1,700 m (1,640–5,577 ft)
Population (2016-01-01)[1]
 • Total 1,703,481
 • Density 2,500/km2 (6,500/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+6 (UTC+6)
Postal code 050000–050063
Area code(s) +7 727[2]
ISO 3166-2 ALA
License plate 02 (A - on older plates)
Website http://www.almaty.kz/

Almaty /ˈælməti/ (Kazakh: Алматы, Almatı [ɑlmɑˈtə]; Russian: Алматы), formerly known as Alma-Ata /ˌælmə.əˈtɑː/ (Russian: Алма-Ата) and Verny (Russian: Верный/Verný), is the largest city in Kazakhstan, with a population of 1,703,481 people, containing 9% of the country's total population. Almaty is considered a World City with a "Beta -" classification according to GaWC.[3] It served as capital of the Kazakh state in its various forms from 1929 to 1997, under the influence of the then Soviet Union and its appointees.[4] Alma-Ata was the host city for a 1978 international conference on Primary Health Care where the Alma Ata Declaration was adopted, marking a paradigm shift in global public health. In 1997, the government relocated the capital to Astana in the north of the country.

Almaty continues as the major commercial and cultural centre of Kazakhstan, as well as its biggest population center. The city is in the mountainous area of southern Kazakhstan in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau at an elevation of 2,300–3,000 feet (700–900 m), where the Bolshaya and Malaya Almaatinka rivers run into the plain.[5]

Status[edit]

From 1929 to 1936, Almaty was the capital of Kazakh ASSR. From 1936 to 1991 it was the capital of Kazakh SSR. After Kazakhstan became independent in 1991, Almaty continued as the capital until 1997, when Astana was designated a return to the historic capital.

Almaty remains the largest, most developed, and most ethnically and culturally diverse city in Kazakhstan. Due to development by the Soviet Union and relocation of workers and industries from European areas of the Soviet Union during World War II, the city has a high proportion of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. The city is in the foothills of Trans-Ili Alatau (or Zailiysky Alatau) in the extreme south-east.

It has a relatively mild climate with warm summers and quite cold winters. Since the city is in a tectonically active area, it has an endemic risk of earthquakes. Although most do not cause any significant damage, Almaty has suffered some large destructive earthquakes.

In 1997 the capital was moved to Astana in the north-central part of the country. Since then Almaty has been referred to as the 'southern capital' of Kazakhstan.

Toponymy[edit]

The name Almaty has its roots in the medieval settlement Almatu, that existed near the present-day city.[citation needed] A disputed theory holds that the name is derived from the Kazakh word for 'apple' (алма), and is often translated as "full of apples". Originally it was Almatau which means Apple Mountain. The Russian version of the name was Alma-Ata (Kaz. Father of Apples), however, since independence Russian has tended to use the Kazakh Almaty.

There is great genetic diversity among the wild apples in the region surrounding Almaty; the region is thought to be the apple's ancestral home. The wild Malus sieversii is considered a likely candidate for the ancestor of the modern domestic apple.[6]

The city's name was written as آلماتی in Turkish and Persian written with the Perso-Arabic script.

History[edit]

Prehistoric Almaty[edit]

During 1000–900 BC in the Bronze Age, the first farmers and cattle-breeders established settlements in the territory of Almaty.[7] During the Saka period (from 700 BC to the beginning of the Common Era), these lands were occupied by the Saka and later Wusun tribes, who inhabited the territory north of the Tian Shan mountain range. Evidence of these times can be found in the numerous burial mounds (tumuli) and ancient settlements, especially the giant burial mounds of the Saka tsars. The most famous archaeological finds have been the "The Golden man", also known as "The Golden Warrior", from the Issyk Kurgan; the Zhalauly treasure, the Kargaly diadem, and the Zhetysu arts bronzes (boilers, lamps and altars). During the period of Saka and Wusun governance, Almaty became an early educational centre.[7]

Middle Ages[edit]

During the Middle Ages (8–10th centuries), a city culture developed in Almaty. There was a transition to a settled way of living, the development of farming and handicrafts, and the emergence of a number of towns and cities in the territory of Zhetysu.[citation needed] In the 10–14th centuries, settlements in the territory of the so-called "Greater Almaty" became part of the trade routes of the Silk Road, which reached from China to western Asia and Europe. At that time, Almaty became one of the trade, craft and agricultural centres on the Silk Road. It had an official mint. The city was first mentioned as Almatu in books from the 13th century.[citation needed]

15th–18th centuries[edit]

In the 15th–18th centuries, the city was in decline as trade activities were decreasing on this part of the Silk Road. European nations were conducting more trade by shipping. This period was one of crucial ethnic and political transformations. The Kazakh state and nation were founded here, close to Almaty.[citation needed]

The Dzungar invaded, dominating the Kazakh people for a period. The Kazakh fought to protect their land and preserve independence. In 1730 the Kazakh defeated the Dzungar in the Anyrakay mountains, 70 kilometres (43 miles) north-west of Almaty. During the eighteenth century, the city and region became part of the Khanate of Kokand. It became part of Russian Empire in 1840s.

Foundation of Verniy[edit]

Zenkov Cathedral, a 19th-century Russian Orthodox cathedral located in Panfilov Park, is the fourth tallest wooden building in the world.[8]

To defend its empire, Russia built Fort Verniy near the Zailiysky Alatau mountain range between the Bolshaya and Malenkaya Almatinka rivers. Construction began on 4 February 1854 and was nearly completed by the autumn of that year. The fort was a wooden palisade, shaped like a pentagon, with one side built along the Malaya Almatinka. Later, the wood fence was replaced with a brick wall with embrasures. The main facilities were erected around the large square for training and parading.[9]

In 1855 Kazakhs displaced from their nomadic territory appeared in Verniy. Since 1856, Verniy started accepting Russian peasants. They founded the Bolshaya Almatinskaya Stanitsa (Cossack village) near 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 merchants and craftsmen.[citation needed]

In 1867 Verniy Fort was developed as a town called Almatinsk; the town soon returned to the name Verniy.[citation needed]

According to the First City Plan, developed by administrators of the Russian Empire, the city perimeters were 2 kilometres (1 mile) on the south along Almatinka river, and 3 kilometres (2 miles) on the west. The new city area was divided into residential parts, and the latter into districts. Three categories of city buildings were defined. Category I and II buildings were of one or two-storied construction with a high semi-basement; they were erected around and in the centre of the city, others on the outskirts.[citation needed]

On 28 May 1887, at 4 a.m., an earthquake almost totally destroyed Verniy in 11–12 minutes.[citation needed] Brick buildings were damaged the most, as they broke apart because of lack of flexibility. As a result, people were afterwards inclined to build one-storied buildings made of wood or adobe.[citation needed]

By 1906, the population of the city had grown to 27,000, two-thirds of whom were Russians and Ukrainians.

 

The Central Mosque of Almaty

 

Panoramic night view of Almaty from Kok-Tobe
Trolleybus in Almaty city

The new General Plan of Almaty for 2030 was developed in 1998. It is intended to create ecologically safe, secure, and socially comfortable living conditions in the city. The main objective is to promote Almaty's image as a garden-city.

It proposes continued multi-storied and single-housing development, reorganization of industrial districts or territories, improving transport infrastructure, and expanding Almaty Metro. The first line of Almaty metro was launched on 1 December 2011, two weeks ahead of schedule. The extension of the line to Kalkaman was opened in 2015.

Al-Farabi Avenue.

The area of the city has been expanded during recent years with the annexation of the suburban settlements of Kalkaman, Kok Tube, Gorniy Gigant (Mountain Giant). Numerous apartment blocks, and office skyscrapers have transformed the face of the town, which has been built into the mountains.

However, the plan of developing Almaty has been threatened, after a mass shooting on police officers at the city in July 2016.

Climate[edit]

The climate in Almaty is a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfa) with hot summers and cold winters. It is characterized by the influence of mountain-valley circulation. This is especially evident in the northern part of the city, located directly in the transition zone of the mountain slopes to the plains.

Picture taken during a temperature inversion, showing smog trapped over Almaty

 

Seismic activity in the territory of Kazakhstan[edit]

Industrially developed and densely populated areas in the south and southeast of Kazakhstan are situated in the zones where the maximum magnitudes of expected earthquakes are from 6.0 to 8.3 (the intensity of I0=8–10).

The south seismic active zone of Kazakhstan is a part of the North Tian-Shan ridge system. The main city of Almaty is located near the Zailiski Alatau mountain base. In recorded history prior to the late 19th century, three catastrophic earthquakes are known to have taken place there. The following are the dates of occurrence and extracts from the historical chronicles of the times:

  • 1770, "...Belovodka village was buried";
  • 1807, "a horrible catastrophe took place in Almaty";
  • 1865, Strong earthquake

Within the past 125 years, three more strong destructive earthquakes occurred here, with centres not more than 20 – 130 kilometres (81 miles) from the current city location. Their magnitudes were 9 and 11 on the MSK scale – 64, and their centres were located within 100 kilometres (62 miles). Centres were located in a south and south–east directions:

  • (1887 y., K=17.14) Vernenskoe
  • (1889 y., K=19.12) Chilik,
  • (1911 y., K=18.76) Keminskoe

K – indicates the energy of the earthquake.

In each of these earthquakes, the city suffered wide destruction.[14]

The Territory of the Kyrgyz State adjoins North Tian-Shan.[15]

Demographics[edit]

Ethnic groups (2010):[16]

According to the USSR Census of 1989, the population of Almaty was 1,071,900; the Kazakhstan Census of 1999 reported 1,129,400.[17]

Economy[edit]

Almaty generates approximately 20 per cent of Kazakhstan's GDP (or $36 billion in 2010). The nation is the most powerful economically in Central Asia and Almaty is a key financial center. It is considered to be a Beta- Global City as of the 2012 GaWC study.[18]

One of the largest industries in Almaty is finance, and its financial exports make it a large contributor to Kazakhstan's balance of payments. Almaty is home to BTA Bank, which is the largest bank in Central Asia, Kazkommertsbank, and other major banks. The Kazakhstan Stock Exchange is based in Almaty.

Almaty is also developing as a regional financial and business centre (RFCA).[19]

Under construction is the 'Almaty Financial District and Esentai Park'. This was designed by T.J. Gottesdiener, who designed both 7 World Trade Center in New York City and Time Warner Center in Tokyo Midtown, respectively. Its goal is to become the largest business centre in Central Asia.[citation needed] Esentai Tower, a 37-floor building in the park, is the tallest mixed-use building in Kazakhstan, housing offices of companies such as Ernst & Young, HSBC and Credit Suisse. The first Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Kazakhstan opened in 2013 in Esentai Tower.[20]

Along with professional services, media companies are concentrated in Almaty. The media distribution industry has been growing rapidly since 2006. Major broadcasting channels KTK and NTK are based in Almaty, as are several national newspapers.

There are plans to construct a Western Europe-Western China highway, passing through Almaty. A new airport in Almaty expects to handle about 45 million tonnes of cargo each year. Air Astana is headquartered in the Air Astana Centre 1 in Almaty.[21] Prior to their dissolution, Air Kazakhstan[22] and Kazakhstan Airlines[23] were also headquartered in Almaty.

The economy of Almaty city and Almaty Region continues to grow, and is expected to increase at nearly 6 percent per year until 2020.[24] The city generates approximately 20 percent of the national GDP.[24] To mitigate the rapidly increasing electricity demand caused by this growth, the Kazakh authorities decided to upgrade the power system by building the new transmission line and modernizing the substations.[24] The Alma Transmission Project, supported by the World Bank, has helped achieve this goal.[24]

Sights[edit]

Kök Töbe[edit]

Kok Tobe Tower

An aerial tramway line connects downtown Almaty with a popular recreation area at the top of Kök Töbe (Kazakh: Көктөбе, which means 'Green Hill'), a mountain just to the southeast. The city television tower, Almaty Tower, is located on the hill. It has a variety of tourist attractions, such as amusement-park style rides and restaurants.

Fountains[edit]

According to the city's Department of Natural Resources and Resource Use Management,[25] as of 2007 the city has 125 fountains. Among them is the "Oriental Calendar" Fountain, whose 12 sculptural figures represent the 12 animals of the Kazakh 12-year animal cycle (similar to its Chinese counterpart).

Medeo[edit]

Medeo

The Medeo is an outdoor speed skating and bandy rink. It is located in a mountain valley (Medeu Valley, or the valley of Malaya Alma-Atinka River) on the south-eastern outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Medeu sits 1,691 metres above sea level, making it the highest skating rink in the world. It has 10.5 thousand square meters of ice and utilizes a sophisticated freezing and watering system to ensure the quality of the ice.

Shymbulak[edit]

Shymbulak is a ski resort near Almaty, located in the upper part of the Medeu Valley in the Zaiilisky Alatau mountain range, at the elevation of 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) above sea level. The resort area is about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Almaty city by the Medeo road. It is popular for its mild climate, large quantity of sunny days and great amount of snow through the winter (from November till May).

Big Almaty Lake[edit]

Big Almaty Lake is a natural lake located in Trans-Ili Alatau mountains on 2511 above the sea level near Almaty (15 km South from Almaty). As a majority of lakes in Trans-Ili Alatau, this lake accrued in result of earthquake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Almaty is twinned with:[41]

Country City
 Egypt Alexandria Logo2.png Alexandria
 Kyrgyzstan National emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg Bishkek
 Hungary Coat of arms of Hungary.svg Budapest
 South Korea Emblem of South Korea.svg Daegu
 Turkey Istanbul
 Russia Coat of Arms of Kazan (Tatarstan) (2004).png Kazan
 Belarus Coat of arms of Minsk.svg Minsk
 Somalia Coat of arms of Somalia.svg Mogadishu[42]
 Russia Coat of Arms of Moscow.svg Moscow
 France Armoiries république française.svg Rennes
 Latvia Coat of arms of Latvia.svg Riga
 Russia Coat of Arms of the Russian Federation.svg St. Petersburg
 Israel Emblem of Israel.svg Tel Aviv
 United States Flag of Tucson, Arizona.png Tucson[43]
 China Ürümqi
 Lithuania Coat of arms of Lithuania.svg Vilnius