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Kazakhstan has officially renamed its capital city 'Nur-Sultan', in recognition of the country's First President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned on 19th March 2019 after almost 30 years as Kazakhstan's First President.
Previously known as Astana, the Kazakh word for capital, the change was proposed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, as one of his first measures following his appointment to the presidency on 20 March.
“We, representatives of the current and future generations, have to remember and honour the political heritage of Nursultan Nazarbayev and his historical legacy. We have to remember the great contribution of the Head of State to our nation and the international community, as well as his great name," said President Tokayev.
The proposed renaming was officially ratified by President Tokayev on 23 March.
First President Nazarbayev led Kazakhstan since its independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He issued in unprecedented levels of development and prosperity, with Kazakhstan's GDP increasing 15-fold and poverty falling 10-fold during this period.
First President Nazarbayev originally proposed that Kazakhstan's capital should be moved from Almaty to Astana in 1997. His own efforts contributed significantly to developing the city into a financial and logistics hub at the heart of Eurasia. This is undoubtedly one of his greatest political legacies.
During his address announcing his resignation, First President Nazarbayev noted that, “for the first time in the history of the country, we built our capital. Astana is a tangible personification of all our achievements and victories."
Nur-Sultan is now the second largest city in Kazakhstan, with over one million inhabitants. It is the highest ranking Central Asian city in the Global Financial Centres index, and has hosted the EXPO 2017 exhibition on 'Future Energy', a previous summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and numerous rounds of the Astana peace talks aimed at resolving the Syrian crisis.
Nur-Sultan has long been known as a hub for government, business and culture. Its striking modern architecture includes the 105 metre high Baiterek Tower and the Khan Shatyr - the world's largest tented structure, designed by British architect Norman Foster.
Like modern Kazakhstan, Nur-Sultan is a vibrant, cosmopolitan centre with a thriving business community, world class educational facilities, an extensive arts and cultural scene, and a global, multicultural community.It is fitting that President Tokayev chose to honour First President Nursultan Nazarbayev in this way.