Dating back to the 12th century, Almaty is the former capital and largest city in Kazakhstan. It was also once a stop along the Silk Road, but was destroyed. Indeed, the city didn’t have much luck, as though it was set up once again in the 15th century, the newly-constructed version was also destroyed. It was several centuries later, when the Russians set up here in the mid-19th century, that the city was finally able to stabilize. Russia saw Almaty’s geographical position as strategic for trade with India.

An early 20th-century railway system connecting the city to Siberia brought with it big business, and the city grew in economic and political significance until 1986, when it became the first city to experience unrest due to Gorbachev’s controversial policies. After years of conflict between protesters and police, it was in Almaty where the USSR was pronounced as having fallen. Though the city lost its status as Kazakhstan’s capital in 1998, it remains today the country’s commercial, social, and cultural hub.

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