The city was founded in 1832 on the banks of the river Ishim in the natural boundary Karaotkel as Akmola fortress. On 16 July 1863, Akmola was officially announced a district city. In December 1960, the city became the center of Tselinny area, which included a group of northern regions of Kazakhstan. Until 1961 it was called Akmola, from 1961 to 1992 - Tselinograd, and from 1992 to 1998 - Akmola. The city received its present name Astana in 1998. It occupies the area of 710 km?.
Historically, the city has always been a major industrial center, but its rapid development began after the transfer of the capital here. In order to develop the city and establish its economy, a free economic zone “Astana is a new city” was created in Astana. Construction and construction industry are rapidly growing. According to the results of the contest on sketch-idea of a new capital, which had been won by an internationally recognized Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, the city development plan until 2030 was developed. Pursuant to it, reconstruction of old buildings and construction of new ones, formation of the capital as a single urban complex are carried out. A new center on the left bank is connected to the existing part of the city taking into account its structures and modern buildings. A complete new urban ensemble has already been formed on the left bank Yessil. It consists of the President's residence “Ak Orda”, buildings of Mazhilis and the Senate of the Parliament, the Government, the House of Ministries, the Supreme Court, foreign embassies, diplomatic town, many national companies, housing estates and others.
The city is divided into three districts: the district Almaty was founded on May 6, 1998, the area is 21.05 m?, the district Yessil was established on August 5, 2008, the area is 31.3 km?, the district Saryarka was founded on May 6, 1998 city, the area is 24.75 km?.
Today, the city industry is represented by more than 70 large enterprises and more than 70,000 small and medium-sized businesses.
A strong impulse to the development of the city was the implementation of the Government programme approved by the President Nursultan Nazarbayev in spring 2001 “Prosperity of Astana is the prosperity of Kazakhstan”. It intended to increase production volumes in industrial and construction sectors, not only in the capital, but also all over the republic due to a multiplier effect, expansion of inter-regional integration relations.