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Astana, Kazakhstan
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    (1830- )
    Capital city of Kazakhstan
    Area: 722 km²
    Population: 808,429 (November 1, 2013)
    Previously known as Akmola (1930-1961, 1991-1998) and Tselinograd (1961-1991)
    Took over Almaty's status as capital (December 10, 1997)
    With an average temperature of 3.5°C, it is the second coldest capital in the world after Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    It was the site of a gulag for the wives of political prisoners.
    Its infrastructure was horribly deteriorating before steps were taken to turn it to Kazakhstan's new capital.
    The government's decision to move the capital from Almaty to the city was criticized for several reasons, ranging from its climate and location in the middle of nowhere to the government's massive expenditure of public funds on the city's development.
    It experiences harsh summers and winters, with the average temperature ranging from -14/18°C in January to 20/24°C in July.
    A lot of its buildings have goofy nicknames to match their appearances, such as 'banana' for one and 'cigarette lighter' for another.
    Almaty's risk of seismic activity made this city an ideal choice for capital.
    Additionally, parts of northern Kazakhstan have Russian majorities, and moving the capital to this city was an effort to bring it more closely with the rest of the country.
    It attracts young professionals wanting to build up their careers.
    Its futuristic buildings can evoke a sense of confidence that one is in the future rather than the past.
    UNESCO awarded it with the medal and title of City of Peace. (1999)

Credit: Big Lenny

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