Aktau or Aqtau (Kazakh: Aqtau, Ақтау (listen), Russian: Актау) is a city in Kazakhstan, located on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. Its current name means 'white mountain' in Kazakh, which may be due to its cliffs that overlook the Caspian. From 1964 to 1991, the city was known as Shevchenko. Its former name was given due to the eponymous Ukrainian poet's period of exile in the area.[5] It is located on the Mangyshlak Peninsula and is the capital of the Mangystau Region.

Aktau
Aqtau, Ақтау (Kazakh)
City
From top left to down right: Skyline of Aktau, the Rocky shore of the Caspian Sea, The Lighthouse, Main Street leading to the Port with the Caspian Sea in the background.
Flag of Aktau
Official seal of Aktau
Aktau is located in Kazakhstan
Aktau
Aktau
Location in Kazakhstan
Aktau is located in Asia
Aktau
Aktau
Aktau (Asia)
Coordinates: 43°39′09″N 51°09′27″E / 43.65250°N 51.15750°E / 43.65250; 51.15750
CountryKazakhstan
RegionMangystau Region
Founded1958
Government
 • Akim (mayor)Ulugbek Tnaliyev[1]
Area
 • Total77 km2 (30 sq mi)
Elevation
−8 m (−26 ft)
Population
 (2023)[2]
 • Total270,886
 • Density3,500/km2 (9,100/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+5 (UTC+5)
Postal code
130000
Area code+7 7292
Vehicle registration12, R
HDI (2019)0.804[3]
high · 4
GDP (nominal)2022
 • TotalIncrease $9,6 billion
(KZT 4 401 192,9 million)[4]
 • Per capitaIncrease $12,799
(KZT 5 817,8 thousand)
Websiteaktau.gov.kz

Aktau is known for its unique block address system. Almost no streets in Aktau have names; instead, addresses generally consist of three numbers: the district number (also known as micro-region/micro-district/block), the building number, and the apartment number. This is because Aktau was originally planned as a camp for the workers of the oil industry.[6]

History edit

The territory of what is now Aktau was once inhabited by ancient tribes of Scythians. Archeological finds in the area include old settlements and utensils. The current territory of Mangystau Region hosted a spur route of the northern silk road, which resulted in the founding of several Sufi shrines in Aktau's vicinity. However, the area had very little population prior to Soviet times and no cities of any relevancy, almost certainly due to the scarcity of fresh water.

Soviet period edit

In 1958, uranium prospectors settled the site of modern Aktau, naming the settlement Melovoye after the bay on which it stood.[7] After the development of the uranium deposits was started, the settlement was closed and renamed Guryev-20.[7] In 1963, its closed status was lifted, town status was granted,[citation needed] and the name was changed to Aktau.[8] However, in 1964 it was given yet another name, Shevchenko, to honor the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko who spent 1850–1857 in political exile in Novopetrovskoye, about 100 km (62 mi) to the northwest.[8] This Ukrainian name for the city may have been granted due to the large number of Ukrainian workers who settled in the city. Their descendants are often easily identifiable to this day with many having surnames ending in '-enko'.

Post-independence period edit

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan gaining independence, the name Aktau was restored in 1991, but the city's airport still retains SCO as its IATA code.[8]

Aktau city project edit

 
Entrance to the city

On September 11, 2007, President Nursultan Nazarbayev started the Aktau city project in order to develop tourism and attract investment.[9] A totally new city was to have been built to the north-west of the current city with 4 million square meters of new residential and business buildings. The architecture style would have been derived from UAE's construction experience under the patronage of Sheikh Abdullah ibn Zaid Al Nahayan. In August 2013, the project was called off.[10]

2017 time capsule opening edit

In 1967, the people of Aktau erected a time capsule to send a message to future generations of the Mangyshlak Peninsula, including names of people who helped to build the town in the desert. The letter was put in a metallic cylinder in a triangular marble urn. It was opened in November 2017.[6] The capsule is located in District 2, opposite the 'Kazakhstan Trade Center.'

A ceremony to open the capsule was arranged and people traveled from far and wide to attend. This was subsequently postponed and then cancelled when it became known that capsule was, in fact, missing. Previously the capsule had been buried in another part of the town but building works in that location caused it to be relocated to the District 2 location. The capsule did not make the move. An official from the time of the creation of the capsule who had been involved in the drafting of a message to be included within the capsule was able to remember word for word the message that was written which by all accounts contained a theme of hope for the future.

Climate edit

Aktau
Climate chart (explanation)
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
 
 
11
 
 
2
−3
 
 
11
 
 
4
−3
 
 
14
 
 
9
2
 
 
14
 
 
16
9
 
 
15
 
 
21
14
 
 
10
 
 
27
19
 
 
5
 
 
30
21
 
 
4
 
 
30
21
 
 
6
 
 
24
15
 
 
10
 
 
18
9
 
 
14
 
 
10
3
 
 
15
 
 
4
−2
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: http://www.pogodaiklimat.ru/climate/38111.htm
Imperial conversion
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
0.4
 
 
36
26
 
 
0.4
 
 
39
27
 
 
0.6
 
 
48
35
 
 
0.6
 
 
61
47
 
 
0.6
 
 
70
57
 
 
0.4
 
 
80
67
 
 
0.2
 
 
86
71
 
 
0.2
 
 
85
70
 
 
0.2
 
 
76
60
 
 
0.4
 
 
64
49
 
 
0.6
 
 
49
37
 
 
0.6
 
 
40
29
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Aktau experiences a cold desert climate (Köppen BWk), with warm to hot dry summers and cold winters, with a mean January temperature of −0.5 °C (31.1 °F), and a mean July temperature of +25.55 °C (77.99 °F). It is notable that most of the city of Aktau lies below sea level in the Caspian Depression and is proximate to the lowest point in Kazakhstan and the former Soviet Union at Karagiye.

 
Oasis Apartment Complex
Climate data for Aktau (1991–2020, extremes 1960–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.0
(60.8)
21.6
(70.9)
25.1
(77.2)
31.3
(88.3)
39.5
(103.1)
43.1
(109.6)
43.0
(109.4)
44.1
(111.4)
39.2
(102.6)
32.8
(91.0)
22.5
(72.5)
17.7
(63.9)
44.1
(111.4)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 2.0
(35.6)
4.1
(39.4)
10.3
(50.5)
16.9
(62.4)
23.5
(74.3)
28.9
(84.0)
31.9
(89.4)
30.9
(87.6)
25.2
(77.4)
17.8
(64.0)
9.3
(48.7)
3.9
(39.0)
17.1
(62.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.0
(30.2)
0.2
(32.4)
6.1
(43.0)
12.4
(54.3)
18.8
(65.8)
24.0
(75.2)
26.4
(79.5)
25.6
(78.1)
19.9
(67.8)
12.9
(55.2)
5.3
(41.5)
0.5
(32.9)
12.6
(54.7)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −3.6
(25.5)
−3.0
(26.6)
2.7
(36.9)
8.9
(48.0)
15.1
(59.2)
19.9
(67.8)
21.9
(71.4)
21.3
(70.3)
15.3
(59.5)
8.8
(47.8)
2.0
(35.6)
−2.3
(27.9)
8.9
(48.0)
Record low °C (°F) −24.0
(−11.2)
−24.0
(−11.2)
−17.2
(1.0)
−4.4
(24.1)
3.2
(37.8)
6.7
(44.1)
10.0
(50.0)
10.0
(50.0)
0.0
(32.0)
−7.0
(19.4)
−16.0
(3.2)
−18.0
(−0.4)
−24.0
(−11.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 12
(0.5)
11
(0.4)
13
(0.5)
17
(0.7)
12
(0.5)
9
(0.4)
9
(0.4)
8
(0.3)
5
(0.2)
10
(0.4)
15
(0.6)
18
(0.7)
138
(5.4)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 4.5 3.1 3.2 2.7 2.2 1.5 1.5 1.1 1.5 2.4 4.2 4.6 32.5
Source 1: Pogoda.ru.net[11]
Source 2: NOAA [12]
Panorama of Aktau at night
 
View of the seaside

Economy edit

Industry edit

Major industry of the city remains hydrocarbon production as one of the biggest producing regions of the country. In addition to its strategic location as the main seaport, Aktau attracted the biggest players of the oil service industry:

Former nuclear power plant edit

Aktau was once the site of a nuclear power station. The BN-350 fast reactor went online in 1973, and was shut down in 1999. The long-term plans of the Government of Kazakhstan include the construction of a new nuclear power station to be built near the site. In addition to producing plutonium, BN-350 was used to provide power and for desalination to supply fresh water to the city. The current station is not considered powerful enough to supply the fresh water and energy needed at this time, and blackouts are a common occurrence.[14]

Culture edit

Tourism edit

Aktau's beaches are a major tourist attraction, and are most commonly visited from late May to late August, amid warmer weather.[15] During this time, the water temperature of the Caspian Sea is typically around 18 °C (64 °F).[15] Aktau has both rocky hills and sandy beaches along the seashore.[citation needed] Tourists come mainly from other parts of Kazakhstan.[citation needed] Major hotels in Aktau include the Aktau Hotel, the Renaissance Aktau, the Caspian Riviera Grand Palace, the Grand Hotel Victory, Grand Nur Plaza, and the Holiday Inn Aktau.[15] In 2021, it was announced that three rare species of palms with resistance to freezing are being grown as part of an experiment in the Aktau region. The experiment is being performed by the city's Mangystau Experimental Botanical Garden [ru].[16]

 
View of the steppe surrounding Aktau

Other sights include:

  • World War II Eternal Flame Memorial in a shape reminiscent of a traditional yurt
  • MiG Monument at the Victory Mall
  • Regional Studies and History Museum
  • The Drama Theatre
  • Yntymak Square
  • Monuments of Famous people of the past: Kashagan, Zhalau Mynbayev and Taras Shevchenko

Sports edit

Aktau is the home of football club FC Caspiy. The club's home ground is Zhastar Stadium which has a capacity of 5,000. In 2019, they finished 2nd place in the Kazakhstan First Division and gained outright promotion to the Kazakhstan Premier League, the top division of football in Kazakhstan.

Religion edit

The Mosque of Chahbagota is notable for having the portrayal of man's palm represented on the walls of this mosque with lotus flowers[17] , an oddity given that Islam has prohibited the depiction of humans or portions of their bodies.

Transportation edit

 
Aktau International Airport

Air edit

Aktau has an international airport that was built in 1996.[18]

Sea edit

Aktau is home to Port Aktau [ru; kk], an international seaport.[19] Since the early 2000s,[20] Kazakhstan's government has been implementing policies aimed at attracting investors and customers to the port. It has been attempting to halt the transit of grain through the Black Sea and instead use routes over the Caspian or via Turkmenistan. In 2015, Port Aktau was expanded to accommodate ever larger quantities and more diverse types of cargo.[21] The intent is for cargo to transit by ship over the Caspian Sea and then by rail through Azerbaijan and Georgia for delivery in Turkey and beyond. This new route was made possible by the opening of a railway connecting Georgia and Turkey in 2014.[22] Government authorities announced plans to expand the port further in late 2022, stating it will "improve capacity by more than 500 percent" by 2025.[20] The port has received increased interest from international companies looking for routes to bypass Russia, following the outbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[20]

Rail edit

The nearest train station is Mangystau station [ru], in the suburb of Mangystau, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) away from Aktau's city center.[15] The rail station is connected to the city center via shuttlebus.[15] Trip from Aktau to Astana will take around 2 days, and to Almaty around 3 days.[citation needed]

Road edit

Aktau has a bus network,[23] and is also serviced by taxis.[15]

Twin towns and sister cities edit

Aktau is twinned with:

References edit

Citations
  1. ^ "New mayor of Aqtau city named". inform.kz. September 20, 2023.
  2. ^ Об изменении численности населения Мангистауской области в разрезе городов и районов с 1 января 2023 года до 1 сентября 2023 года [On changes in the population of the Mangystau Region by city and district from January 1, 2023 to September 1, 2023] (in Russian). Committee on Statistics of Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Retrieved October 15, 2023.
  3. ^ "Sub-national HDI – Area Database – Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Archived from the original on September 23, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  4. ^ DOSM. "Department of Statistics Kazakhstan". stat.gov.kz. Archived from the original on January 2, 2024. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  5. ^ "Aktau city, Kazakhstan facts, history, attractions, photos". About Kazakhstan. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Aktau: Years, people, memories". Ogni. October 13, 2011. Archived from the original on June 18, 2018. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Пионеры Запада (in Russian). Np.kz. February 28, 2003. Archived from the original on March 24, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Pospelov, p. 25
  9. ^ "Ambitious Aktau-City project scrapped". Ақ Жайық (in Russian). Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  10. ^ Lada.KZ. "Айдарбаев: Актау-сити не будет". lada.kz. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  11. ^ "Weather and Climate- The Climate of Aktau" (in Russian). Weather and Climate (Погода и климат).
  12. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Climate Normals for 1991–2020". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved August 2, 2023.
  13. ^ "Tenaris to build new facility". Tenaris. July 9, 2014.
  14. ^ "Securing the Bomb: Securing Nuclear Warheads and Materials: BN-350 Spent Fuel Security". March 8, 2008. Archived from the original on March 8, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Leandoer, Frol (November 9, 2017). "Aktau – city by the sea". The Astana Times. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  16. ^ November 2021, in Society on 28 (November 28, 2021). "Daring Experiment: Rare Species of Palms Grown in Aktau". The Astana Times. Retrieved December 8, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ "Aktau". Archived from the original on April 15, 2021. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  18. ^ "About Us". Aktau International Airport. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  19. ^ "About the port". www.portaktau.kz. Port Aktau. Archived from the original on November 21, 2023. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  20. ^ a b c Alejandro Sánchez, Wilder (May 9, 2023). "Kazakhstan's Ports: A Vital Node of the Middle Corridor". The Diplomat. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  21. ^ "Expansion of Aktau seaport goes according to schedule: Kazakhstan Temir Zholy". Tengri News. June 25, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  22. ^ "Kazakhstan to Leave Black Sea Grain Route". The Gazette of Central Asia. Satrapia. August 8, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  23. ^ Korablev, Sergey (November 19, 2023). Два новых автобусных маршрута запустили в Актау [Two new bus routes launched in Aktau]. www.lada.kz (in Russian). Archived from the original on November 21, 2023. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  24. ^ "Goroda Pobratimyi". Aktau.gov. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
Sources
  • Е. М. Поспелов (Ye. M. Pospelov). "Имена городов: вчера и сегодня (1917–1992). Топонимический словарь." (City Names: Yesterday and Today (1917–1992). Toponymic Dictionary." Москва, "Русские словари", 1993.

External links edit