The world has seen a number of new cities sprouting up over the past two decades. Dubai, Malaysia's Putrajaya and Myanmar's Nay Pyi Taw are among those often mentioned in news reports. However, none of them is as eccentric and out of this world as Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
Replacing the more earthquake-prone Almaty further south as the political centre of the Central Asian nation since 1997, seven years after the country broke off from the Soviet Union, Astana is now Kazakhstan's second-largest city.
Built from scratch on the empty steppe on the western bank of the Ishim River, the new capital also incorporates the existing urban area on the other side of the waterway. But of course, it's the new part of the city that represents Astana.
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