KZTG - Inside





Almaty, formerly known as Alma-Ata and Verniy, is the largest city in Kazakhstan, and was the country's capital until 1997. The current population numbers around 1.5 million. Despite losing its status as the capital to Astana, Almaty remains the major commercial and cultural centre of Kazakhstan. The city is located in the mountainous area of southern Kazakhstan.

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

In 1991 Almaty was the venue for the meeting at which the USSR was finally pronounced dead, when all five Central Asian republics, plus Azerbaijan, Armenia and Moldova, joined the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), founded by Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The name Almaty, close to that of the original Silk Road settlement, replaced Alma-Ata soon after.

Almaty generates approximately 20 per cent of Kazakhstan's GDP (or $36 billion in 2010). The city is also a key financial centre in Central Asia. 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.