Today’s Almaty is the Kazakhstan's largest metropolis, scientific and educational, cultural and historical, economic and financial, banking and industrial center of the country.
Almaty is located in the south-east of Kazakhstan, at the foot of the northern of Tien Shan ridge - Zaili Alatau.
In 1997, by decree of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the country's capital was moved from Almaty to Astana. The Law on the special status of Almaty was passed the following year, on July 1, 1998. The city is a major transportation hub in Kazakhstan; it has food processing, light and heavy industry enterprises operating on its territory. The special status is also granted to Almaty because the headquarters of the largest Kazakh banks and subsidiaries of multinational financial institutions and companies are located in it.
Modern Almaty is a world-renowned sports center. Almaty won the international recognition thanks to such prestigious events as “Asian Games 2011”, World Boxing Championships, stages of World Cup in judo and ski jumping, a stage of world “Grand Prix-2013” in volleyball and professional cycling race “Tour of Almaty”
Almaty will host the World Winter Universiada of 2017. By the opening of the Universiada, the city will have a sports village, new ice palace and many other modern facilities built in its territory.
The climate in the city is sharply continental, with considerable fluctuations in temperature not only in different seasons but also between day and night. From a height of 500 meters the city climate is closer to the steppe and semi-deserts, coming close to the hot Kaskelen Moyunkuins. In the southern areas, at an altitude of 1520-1750 meters above sea level, in the Medeu Tract and the Kamenski Plateau, you can feel the breath of “Arctic mountains”.
Average annual wind speed is twice as little as in Moscow. Average temperature of July is the same as on the islands of Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Kalimantan (Borneo), or Java. Average temperature of January can be compared with that in the north of Norway.
The period of sunshine is long, up to 1596 hours a year; there are up to 151 frost-free days. The air temperature fluctuates at different heights: at the ascent of over 1400 meters above sea level, the average annual air temperature drops by 0.66° every 100 meters.
Rich and diverse is the animal and vegetable kingdom of the Trans-Ili Alatau. The Almaty precincts are part of the Ili-Alatau National Park in the territory of which nature reserves and wildlife are arranged. They are the habitat of many rare birds and animals listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. Among them is the snow leopard, now embellishing the emblem of Almaty.
At the foothills of the mountains grain, melon and gourd, and tobacco plantations and vineyards are interchanged by orchards and berry fields. It was here where famous “aport” Almaty apple breed was first cultivated. Once this very apple became not only the city’s symbol but also gave it its name ("alma" is the Kazakh for "apple").
Higher in the foothills grow wild apples, hawthorn and apricots. In the mid-mountains, deciduous trees and shrubs give place to the shapely Tien Shan firs. Still higher, the mountains are covered with sub-alpine and alpine meadows, splendid summer pastures ("jailau") turning into mountain tundra and finally into the kingdom of rocks and eternal ice.
Gardens and parks, public gardens and boulevards occupy over 8 hectares of the city territory. Among the green tracts, you can see exotic plants brought from North America, Crimea, Caucasus, Siberia, and Russian Far East. The environs of Almaty can boast rare representatives of the local endemic flora, such as juno, anemone, hawthorn, and oxitropis, etc.