DESTINATION KAZAKHSTAN 20-year development of the capital According to the Head of State: “The image of the capital – is the image of nation”. This is true. Since the time Astana was based, it has walked the path of development from a small town to the acknowledged capital of Kazakhstan. It is now a bright embodiment of balanced and long- term oriented politics of the President Nursultan Nazarbayev to ensure prosperity for our nation and the Republic. Asset Issekeshev, Akim of Astana Today the country’s administration and busi- nesses are centered in the capital. Large scale economic, scientific, industrial and social objec- tives are implemented here. Big projects in me- chanical engineering, construction industry, ag- ricultural processing are accomplished, sphere of services, engineering and social infrastruc- ture are expanded, thousands of working places are created. This year is special for us: our capital – Astana – celebrates its 20th year anniversary. Over the past 20 years, the gross regional prod- uct has grown 190 times, reaching 5.8 trillion tenge (in 1997 it was 25.7 billion tenge); this, in terms of per capita, is 2 times higher than the average republican figure. The annual volume of investments increased 36 t imes to 944.6 billion tenge while it was 25.8 billion tenge back in 1997. The key area for attracting investments is the free economic zone known as 'Astana - new city' with an area of more than 7,600 hectares, in which administrative and business centers and the Industrial Park are located. During the years of the SEZ functioning, the development of a new administrative and business center and the creation of an indus- trial framework attracted investments to the amount of 7.4 billion USD. In the past 20 years enormous growth has transpired in Astana: 33 8 world monitor industrial projects have been put into operation, 74 administrative projects established, residen- tial and socio-cultural establishments are being implemented, and 16,000 jobs were created. Incomes significantly increased throughout the population. Thus, the average monthly nomi- nal wage increased by 21.5 times, reaching 224,900 tenge per month. The share of the population with incomes below the subsistence minimum decreased 11-fold to 0.7%, whereas in 2001 it was 7.7%. The unemployment rate fell 2.8 times to 4.6%, while in 1997 it was at 12.6%. Dynamic rates of development have become a key factor in the attractiveness of the capital for citizens from all regions of Kazakhstan. In general, the population of the capital increased 3.4 times and exceeds 1 million people, when back in 1997 Astana boasted a population of 300,000. The number of people who moved to Astana is two times higher than the number of those who have left. Thus, the positive balance of mi- gration has developed at the level of 470,000 people. The birth rate has almost tripled from 10.8 to 30.2 conventional units. At the same time, the death rate of the population decreased more than two times from 10 to 4.4 conven- tional units.