Astana has been the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan since December 10, 1997. The area of the city is about 800 square kilometers.
The city is located on the steppe plain. Low terraces above flood-plain form the relief of the city area. The hydrographic system of the city is represented by the Ishim River and its insignificant right influxes passing through the territory of the city - Sarybulak and Akbulak. There are numerous fresh and salt lakes within a radius of 25-30 kilometers around Astana.
The climate is extremely continental with hot and dry summer and hard and long winter.
The backbone of the city economy is trade, transport and communications, and construction. By contribution to Kazakhstan's gross product of the trade sector, Astana takes the second place after Almaty among the regions and cities of the republican status.
Astana has a modern international airport, capable of passing all types of aircrafts. It is located at a 16 kilometer distance from the city.
The main remarkable sights of the city are:
- Bayterek monument, the main symbol of the city;
- Water-Green Boulevard, a leisure walking area with the Alley of Singing Fountains;
- Ak Orda, the residence of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- Khan Shatyr, shopping and leisure mall;
- Kazak Yeli monument;
- Independence Palace, a place designed for hosting diplomatic and other events of the international level;
- The Pyramid, Palace of Peace and Concord, designed for organization of summits and
conference for the representatives of traditional Kazakhstan and world religions.
- «Astana Opera» - the first theater of opera and ballet in Kazakhstan, which meets all the technical requirements for the creation of the opera;
- National University of the Arts - «Shabyt» Palace; - Presidential Center of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan; . Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- Ethno-memorial complex «Atameken»;
- Entertainment center «Duman» with an oceanarium.
There are 27 libraries, 8 national museums, 10 amusement parks, 6 state museums and 6 cinema theatres in Astana. Khazret Sultan and Nur Astana mosques are the largest religious buildings of Astana. There are also the Orthodox Cathedral, Roman Catholic Cathedral of Arch Eparchy and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Orthodox Convent in honor of the Icon ol Madonna.
The main sports stadium of Astana houses 30,000 seats, and the stadium named after Khadjimukan Munaitpassov houses 12,350 seats. There is also a roofed skating stadium for 8,773 seats, Alau Ice Stadium for 8,000 seats, Sary-Arka cycle track for 8,000 seats, and Kazakhstan sports palace with 5,532 seats and a standing room for about 1,000 persons.
Today Astana is quite a large city, with the square more than 200 square kilometers. In 1999 Astana by the decision of the UNESCO got the title of the City of the World. After acquisition of the status of Capital and organization of a special economic zone «Astana is a New City» many modern architectural and town-planning projects have been implemented in the city.