Astana, the Capital of Kazakhstan, lies in north-central Kazakhstan along the Ishim River at the junction of the Trans-Kazakhstan and South Siberian railways. It is an extraordinary city with fantastic modern architecture, reflecting the forward looking government which created this new city.
In contracts with the new buildings you find some attractive tree-lined streets. At present, Astana also serves as a transport hub in the very centre of the Republic. All roads leading from Siberia to Central Asia, from China to Europe meet here.
Kazakhstan is bordered by the Russian Federation, the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. For centuries, Kazakhstan's vast plains were home only to nomads and they are still virtually empty. Most settlements are concentrated in the southeast and the east of the Republic.
South Kazakhstan is a focus of Central Asian history and there are many famous monuments in the region. It is a scenically diverse region where the snow-capped peaks, lakes and glaciers of the Tian Shan range give way to steppe and desert. The desert is home to the Singing Barkhan - a sand dune 3.2km (2 miles) long, which, as it crumbles, produces a peculiar singing sound.
Almaty was until very recently the former capital of Kazakhstan and it enjoys a beautiful setting between mountains and plains. It is a city of modern architecture, cool fountains, parks and spectacular mountain views.