The newly independent Republic of Kazakhstan ranks ninth in the world in geographic size (roughly the size of Western Europe) and is the largest country in the world without an ocean port.
There are also parts of Kazakhstan that are flat and barren, making it seem at times like a forsaken place.
Since Almaty is near the borders with China and Kyrgyzstan (which is a friend but too close to the Islamic insurgent movements of Tajikistan and Afghanistan), this theory maintains that the new, central location provides the government with a capital city well separated from its neighbors.
A second theory asserts that the capital was moved because Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev wanted to create a beautiful new capital with new roads, buildings, and an airport.
Five nations border current-day Kazakhstan: China to the east; Russia to the north; the Caspian Sea to the west; and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to the south.
A pair of beautiful mountain ranges, the Altay and the Tien Shan, with peaks nearly as high as 22,966 feet (7,000 meters), runs along Kazakhstan's southeastern border.
The area north and west of this is the vast Kazakh steppe.