Astana is the capital city of Kazakhstan. It is located on the banks of Ishim River in the north portion of Kazakhstan, within the Akmola Region, though administrated separately from the region as a city with special status. The 2017 census reported a population of 1,006,574 within the city limits, making it the second-largest city in Kazakhstan, behind Almaty.
Founded in 1830 as a settlement of Akmoly (Kazakh: Aqmoly) or Akmolinsky prikaz (Russian: Акмолинский приказ), it served as a defensive fortification for the Siberian Cossacks. In 1832 the settlement was granted a town status and renamed Akmolinsk (Russian: Акмолинск). On 20 March 1961 the city was renamed Tselinograd (Russian: Целиноград) to mark the city's evolution as a cultural and administrative center of the Virgin Lands Campaign. In 1992 it was renamed Akmola (Kazakh: Aqmola), the modified original name meaning "a white grave". On 10 December 1997 Akmola replaced Almaty as the capital of Kazakhstan. On 6 May 1998 it was renamed Astana, which means "the capital city" in Kazakh.
Modern Astana is a planned city, like Brasília in Brazil, Canberra in Australia, Huambo in Angola, Milton Keynes, UK and Washington, D.C. in the United States. After Astana became the capital of Kazakhstan, the city cardinally changed its shape. The master plan of Astana was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. As the seat of the Government of Kazakhstan, Astana is the site of the Parliament House, the Supreme Court, the Ak Orda Presidential Palace and numerous government departments and agencies. It is home to many futuristic buildings, hotels and skyscrapers. Astana also has extensive healthcare, sports and education systems.