Astana until 1998, Tselinograd, has been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, and is the country's second largest city (after Almaty, the former capital) with an officially estimated population of 775,800 as of 21 June 2012. It is located in the north portion of Kazakhstan, within Akmola Province, though administrated separately from the province as a federal city area.
After Kazakhstan became independent in 1990, the city and the region were renamed "Akmola", literally meaning "White Temple". In 1995, the city was designated as the future capital of the newly-independent country, and the capital was officially moved from Almaty on December 10, 1997. The new name, Astana, was bestowed in 1998.