Useful information for EXPO-2017 visitors
Location and climate
Geographically, Kazakhstan is a point of interest, as it is where Europe meets Asia. The country occupies the territory comparable to the area of the entire Western Europe. Its population size is the same as that of the Netherlands.
Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, which will host EXPO-2017 International Exhibition, spans over 801.54 km2. The city is located on the Ishim river. Within 25-30km, there are numerous fresh- and salt-water lakes. The climate is distinctly continental with hot and dry summers and long, cold winters. Average annual temperature is 3.1°C. In the summer, the temperature frequently rises above 40°C.
Kazakh national cuisine
The national cuisine of Kazakhstan was shaped by Central Asian food traditions. Guests invariably describe Kazakhs as hospitable and friendly hosts.
You should try the most popular traditional Kazakh snacks (most of them contain meat products) to enhance your local experience and get a better idea of the Kazakh national identity:
kazy – the most popular succulent dish made of horse meat;
beshbarmak – translated as “five fingers,” made of lamb, beef, or horse meat with rolled and boiled pieces of dough, occasionally dressed with herbs;
kabyrga – mutton flaps with a side of vegetables;
zhaia – dried or smoked horse meat fillet;
zhal – special hind nap horse meat cut smoked over juniper wood;
shuzhuk – intestines stuffed with salted diced meat boiled immediately before serving.
Kazakhstan also has its national beverages that are worth a taste: kumys and shubat. As for dessert, some traditional sweet foods include baursaki (small doughnuts), kurt (apricot-sized rolls made of dry cottage cheese), and irimshik (Kazakh semi-hard cheese).
Getting to Astana
Since Astana is a modern city with developed infrastructure, virtually all means of transportation known to man will get you here. An international airport is located just 16km outside the city limits. It services direct flights from Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Saint Petersburg, Omsk, Kazan, Novosibirsk, and Mineralnye Vody. Bus No. 10 connects the airport to the city, or you could take a taxi.
Astana is also a major railroad junction, so visitors who prefer traveling by railroad, especially those living close to the Kazakhstani border, can take a train. Moreover, two major highways (A-343 Astana-Petropavlovsk and M-36 Chelyabinsk – Almaty) run through Astana.
About the capital
Nowadays Astana is often referred to as the new wonder of the world, and for good reason. It all started in 1997, when the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev suggested that the capital be moved from Almaty to Astana (known as Tselinograd in the Soviet days). In 1998, the city was dubbed Astana, the Kazakh for “capital.” Many towns, as well as local and international construction companies and factories, partook in giving Astana a facelift. In July 1999, the city was awarded the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize. Modern architecture that incorporates the best traditions of European and Eastern cultures fully reflects the concept of the new capital as the national economic, political, and cultural center. Astana changed within a very short period of time and keeps developing dynamically.
- Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment center and the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, both designed by Norman Foster;
- Baiterek, which dominates the skyline, symbolizes renewal and epitomizes Astana and Kazakhstan;
- Ak Orda Presidential Palace, the residence of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- Nurzhol Boulevard, formerly known as the Green Water Boulevard, a pedestrian area and centerpiece of Astana’s architectural ensemble. It features numerous fountains, flower beds, and national sculptures;
- Duman entertainment center with its unique aquarium. The center also displays miniature replicas of famous places, such as the Great Wall of China, the Statue of Liberty, etc.
- Unique Astana Stadium built for the capital’s anniversary complies with all FIFA and UEFA standards;
- Alau Ice Palace generally perceived as Astana’s sports gateway due to its unique design and location;
- Nur-Astana Mosque and Beit Rachel Chabad Lubavich synagogue. Kazakhstan’s adherence to principles of religious tolerance, commitment to humanitarian and religious cooperation, and respect for the freedom of conscience and religion are reflected in these two outstanding religious structures;
- Museum of Modern Art. Its collection features over 3000 works by Kazakhstani, Russian, and CIS artists. Display items represent various art forms, techniques, and subjects.