About this blog
This is my travel blog of my short trip to Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Almaty (which was called Alma-Ata prior to independence) was the capital of Kazakhstan until 1997, when it was moved to Astana. The city is however still the largest in Kazakhstan, and it remains the financial, cultural and educational center of the country. It is located in the South-East corner of Kazakhstan not far from the border to Kyrgyzstan and at the foot of the massive Tian Shan mountains. One can see the huge snow capped peaks from everywhere in the city.
The city itself is very modern, laid out in a grid with wide avenues and large buildings. It's a very green city with tree-lined streets and lots of parks. There are no old buildings, since an earthquake in 1887 completely destroyed the entire city.
It also is a surprisingly wealthy and expensive city. The prices for everything seem to be pretty similar to New York or Hong Kong. (I had the pleasure of doing quite a lot of clothes shopping here since Hainan Airlines lost my luggage in Beijing and only found it 5 days later.)
Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world (about the size of Western Europe), with only a population of about 16 million people. About 65% of the population are ethnically Kazakh, 25% Russian and a number of smaller ethnic groups, which are largely here as a result of Stalin's mass deportations. About two thirds of the population are muslims, and about one third Christian.
Kazakhstan has enjoyed very rapid economic growth in the last 10 years, and has become a major exporter of oil and natural gas.