Theme Week Kazakhstan – Aktau

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  6 minutes

Aktau Lighthouse at the Caspian Sea © AnastassiyaL/cc-by-sa-3.0

Aktau Lighthouse at the Caspian Sea © AnastassiyaL/cc-by-sa-3.0

Aktau is located on the east bank 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 city was known as Shevchenko. Its former name was given due to the eponymous Ukrainian poet’s period of exile in the area. It is located on the Mangyshlak Peninsula and is the capital of Mangystau Region. 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.

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 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. In 1958, uranium prospectors settled the site of modern Aktau, naming the settlement Melovoye after the bay on which it stood. After the development of the uranium deposits was started, the settlement was closed and renamed Guryev-20. In 1963, its closed status was lifted, town status was granted, and the name was changed to Aktau. 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 kilometers (62 mi) to the northwest. 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 easily identifiable to this day by surnames ending in ‘-enko’. 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.

Entrance to the city © Triante2009 Appartment block "Oaziz" © Vita86/cc-by-sa-3.0 Aktau Lighthouse © Shalomanov/cc-by-sa-3.0 Aktau Lighthouse at the Caspian Sea © AnastassiyaL/cc-by-sa-3.0 Mariott Renaissance Aktau © Chmeruk Vladislav/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Aktau Lighthouse at the Caspian Sea © AnastassiyaL/cc-by-sa-3.0
Aktau was once the site of a nuclear power station. The BN-350 FBR went online in 1973, and closed in 1999. In addition to producing plutonium, BN-350 was also used to provide power and for desalination to supply fresh water to the city. The long-term plans of the Government of Kazakhstan include the construction of a new nuclear power station to be built near the current one. 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.

Aktau has an international airport, a railway station, and a developed seaport. Buses and taxis are the principal means of public transport within the city. Kazakhstan has been increasing the importance of Aktau’s port with its changes in international export policy. It has been attempting to halt the transit of grain through the Black Sea and instead use routes over the Caspian or via Turkmenistan. Aktau’s port has been expanded (completion achieved summer 2015) to accommodate ever larger quantities and more diverse types of cargo. 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. The main attraction in the city remains the Caspian Sea with its long side walks and beaches. 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

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on LonelyPlanet.com – Aktau, Renaissance Aktau Hotel, Wikitravel Aktau and Wikipedia Aktau. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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