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. The Kazakh steppeland, north of the Tien Shan Mountains, south of Russian Siberia, west of the Caspian Sea, and east of China, has been inhabited since the Stone Age.It is a land rich in natural resources, with recent oil discoveries putting it among the world leaders in potential oil reserves.The final theory holds that the Kazakh government wanted to repatriate the north with Kazakhs.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.There are three main theories as to why the move was made.
The historic Aral Sea is on Kazakhstan's southern border with Uzbekistan.The newly independent Republic of Kazakhstan ranks ninth in the world in geographic size (roughly the size of Western Europe) and is the largest country in the world without an ocean port.The Kazakhs, a Turkic people ethnically tied to the Uighur (We-goor) people of western China and similar in appearance to Mongolians, emerged in 1991 from over sixty years of life behind the Iron Curtain.The area north and west of this is the vast Kazakh steppe.
Life on the steppe is harsh, with extreme temperatures and intense winds.
A census taken just after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 indicated a population of more than 17 million.