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Musical Theme: Бүлдірген (a Kazakh folk song)
Located near the south eastern border of modern-day Kazakhstan, Almaty has hosted human settlements from as early as 1000 BC. Its early history was one of farms and tribal herdsman, and it wasn't until the Middle Ages that Almaty began to prosper and flourish as a city, when it became an integral part of the Silk Road trade route. For three centuries Almaty thrived as a center for agriculture and crafts, but in the 13th century much of the city was destroyed by Mongol raids. By the 15th century, Almaty and the surrounding region found itself in a state of decline.
It wasn't later until 1854 that Almaty began to recover and build anew into the modern city it is today. Imperial Russia constructed Fort Zailiyskoye on the ancient site, later renaming it Fort Verniy. A year later the soldiers started accepting peasants and tradesmen to the area and formed the town of Verniy, which housed the administrative center of the newly created Semirechye province of Turkistan. For a brief thirty years this version of Almaty prospered again, only to be destroyed in less than twelve minutes by a catastrophic earthquake in 1887.
In the early 20th century, the town's name was changed to Alma-Ata. With the construction of the Turkestan-Siberia Railroad the city regained some of its former importance as a trade depot. The capital of Kazakhstan was moved to Alma-Ata in 1936, with the idea of remaking the city into a kind of cultural Mecca. In 1993 Alma-Ata's name was changed yet again to Almaty (referencing the area's ample apple orchards).
In 1997 the government moved the country's capital to Astana - a city with far fewer threats of natural disasters. Despite this setback to its political importance and the constant threat of destruction from catastrophic mudflows, Almaty once again prospers as a cultural, financial, and industrial center.