Former capital (to 1998) of Kazakhstan, in the southeast of the country on the Almaatinka River, and capital of Almaty oblast; population (2004) 1,175,200. Its industries include engineering, printing, tobacco processing, textile manufacturing, and the production of leather goods. The city is at the centre of a large fruit-growing region, and food processing (meat packing, flour milling, wine bottling) is also a major source of employment in the city. Since Kazakhstan's independence in 1991, Almaty has experienced a boom as a commercial and financial centre.
History Almaty lies on the site of an ancient Silk Route settlement, which was sacked by the Mongols. The town was founded in 1854 as a military fortress and trading centre. Used as a place of exile by the Tsarist regime in the late 19th century, it was destroyed by earthquakes in 1887 and 1911, and was made the regional capital in 1928. The city underwent great expansion during World War II, as factories from west of the Urals were relocated here to safeguard them from Nazi invasion forces.
Kazakh nationalist riots against Soviet rule occurred in December 1986. In December 1991, the city hosted a meeting at which representatives of the Central Asian republics agreed to join the Commonwealth of Independent States, successor to the defunct Soviet Union.
Kazakhstan's capital was moved to Astana (formerly Akmola) in 1998.
Almaty is the home of Kazak Al-Farabi State University, founded in 1934, as well as of a number of other institutions of higher education specializing in agriculture, medicine, and teacher education. It is the terminus of the Turksib, a major southern branch of the Trans-Siberian Railway, completed in 1930.
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