This article provides an overview of Almaty for those keen to explore the possibility of living and working in the city. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
The largest city in Kazakhstan, Almaty is the scientific, cultural, historical, industrial and financial centre of the country. Located in southeastern Kazakhstan, it was the former capital of Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (1929–91) and of independent Kazakhstan (1991–97). It lies in the northern foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau at an elevation of 700–900 metres, where the Bolshaya and Malaya Almaatinka rivers emerge onto the plains.
Almaty is well known for its institutions of higher education, including Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (founded in 1934), and teacher-training, economics, polytechnic, agricultural and medical institutes. The city houses Kazakhstan’s Academy of Sciences and its many subordinate research institutes, numerous museums, an opera house, Russian, Kazakh and Uighur theatres as well as the Pushkin State Public Library. Almaty also has a botanical garden, zoo and several stadiums.
Considered one of the most beautiful cities in Kazakhstan, Almaty has wide tree-lined streets, numerous parks and orchards against a backdrop of mountains. Kazakhs and Russians constitute the largest proportions of the population, and the remainder comprise Ukrainians, Uighurs, Tatars and Germans.
Almaty is also known as the city of apple trees. Its mild climate encourages a wide range of apple trees to flourish and is the genetic home of many varieties of apples. Researchers and scientists from all around the world visit the Almaty area to learn about the origins of the domestic apple.
Kazakhstan’s economic growth accelerated to 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2022. The growth was observed in the real sector as well as the exports and service sector. Positive trends were also reported in the transport and warehousing, construction, trade, water supply, manufacturing, information and communications, mining, and agriculture sectors. Almaty was one of the key regions where economic growth occurred. Almaty’s economic growth increased by 18 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
Almaty is the largest commercial and financial centre of Kazakhstan, where about a third of Kazakh businesses are registered. According to data released by Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Trade in February 2022, Almaty had the largest single share of retail trade of Kazakhstan. Trade is Almaty’s main economy, with retail trade exceeding 4.2 trillion billion tenge (US$9.8 billion) in 2021, a growth rate of 13.5 percent over 2020.
Almaty is home to the stock exchange and the largest banks in the country. The largest bank in Kazakhstan, Kazkommertsbank, is one of the largest in Central Asia. The country’s stock exchange is the largest in Central Asia and contributes to a large proportion of the Kazakhstan’s economy.
Nestled between Europe and Asia, Almaty is Kazakhstan’s largest city that is both literally and culturally rich. The city first came to global prominence as one of the many stops on The Silk Road, as merchants crossed countries and continents to trade. Almaty is known as the “Golden Triangle” in Kazakhstan for its trio of major natural attractions – the Kolsai Lakes, Charyn Canyon and Altyn-Emel National Park. Located near the massive Tian Shan Mountain range, Almaty is described as a “majestic city full of surprises, from charming scenic views to luxury shopping experiences.”
Almaty is reported to now extend about 20 km in all directions from its centre and is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities of Kazakhstan, with wide tree-lined streets, numerous parks and orchards, amid a backdrop of mountains.
Tourism is a key industry in Almaty and is a major source of foreign exchange earnings and employment for low-skilled workers. The main interest of foreign tourists is ecotourism – mountain hiking and river rafting in summer and skiing in winter.
According to third quarter 2021 figures released by Almaty’s Department of Tourism, the number of tourists totaled 842,900 (a 64.9 percent increase), of which 95, 700 were foreign tourists (a 8.2 percent increase) and 747,200 were domestic tourists (a 76.8 percent increase). The number of foreign tourists in Almaty was projected to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2022.
Singapore and Almaty
The Almaty-Singapore Business Forum was held in April 2017 to discuss the FutureChina Advanced Leaders Programme. It focused on opportunities brought about by China’s Belt and Road initiative. The Singapore delegation, led by Minister of State Koh Poh Koon, was in Almaty to understand the roles played by Kazakhstan and Almaty in China’s Silk Road Economic Belt development.
Singapore regards Kazakhstan as an important partner, not just in the Central Asia region but also as a potential gateway to China. An important part of the historical Silk Road trade between China and Europe, Almaty is the first stop outside China towards Europe.