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It is located at the base of the Tien Shan Mountains in the far southeast near both China and Kyrgyzstan.
The move of the capital was very controversial among many in Kazakhstan.
Since Almaty is near the borders with China and Kyrgyzstan (which is a friend but too close to the Islamic insurgent movements of Tajikistan and Afghanistan), this theory maintains that the new, central location provides the government with a capital city well separated from its neighbors.
A second theory asserts that the capital was moved because Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev wanted to create a beautiful new capital with new roads, buildings, and an airport.
There are three main theories as to why the move was made.
The first theory contends that the move was for geopolitical, strategic reasons.
Moving the capital to the north would move jobs (mostly held by Kazakhs) and people there, changing the demographics and lessening the likelihood of the area revolting or of Russia trying to reclaim it. The population of Kazakhstan was estimated to be 16,824,825 in July 1999.Five nations border current-day Kazakhstan: China to the east; Russia to the north; the Caspian Sea to the west; and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to the south.A pair of beautiful mountain ranges, the Altay and the Tien Shan, with peaks nearly as high as 22,966 feet (7,000 meters), runs along Kazakhstan's southeastern border.Kazakhstan, which officially became a full Soviet socialist republic in 1936, was an important but often neglected place during Soviet times.
It was to Kazakhstan that Joseph Stalin exiled thousands of prisoners to some of his most brutal gulags.
Russians still make up 34.7 percent of the population, and other non-Kazakhs such as Ukrainians, Koreans, Turks, Chechnians, and Tatars, make up another 17 percent.