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Shymkent is located in Kazakhstan
Location in Kazakhstan
Coordinates: 42°30′0″N 70°0′0″E / 42.5°N 70°E / 42.5; 70
Country  Kazakhstan
Province South Kazakhstan Province
Founded 12th century
 - Akim (mayor) Arman Zhetpisbayev
 - Metro 347,000 km2 (133,977.4 sq mi)
Elevation 506 m (1,660 ft)
Population (01.07.2008)
 - City 650,000
 - Metro 1,000,000
Time zone BTT (UTC+6)
Postal code 160000
Mountains on the outskirts of Shymkent
Ordabasy and MIG Memorial
View on shopping mall in Shymkent, called ЦУМ in the Russian/Soviet style.

Shymkent (Kazakh: Шымкент), also sometimes spelt Shimkent or (in the former Soviet style in the Russian language) Chimkent, is the capital city of South Kazakhstan Province, the most populated region in Kazakhstan. It is the third most populous city in Kazakhstan behind Almaty and Astana with a population of 650,200 as of 12 March 2009.[1] It has one of the largest greater-metropolitan-area populations in Kazakhstan. A major railroad junction on the Turkestan-Siberia Railway, the city is also a notable cultural centre, with an international airport. It is situated 690 km west of Almaty and 120 km to the north of Tashkent, Uzbekistan.



Shymkent was founded in the 12th century[2] as a caravanserai to protect the Silk Road town of Sayram, 10 km to the east. Shymkent grew as a market center for trade between nomads and the settled people. It was destroyed several times: by Genghis Khan, soldiers from the southern Khanates, and by nomad attacks. Once part of the Khanate of Kokand, it became part of the Emirate of Bukhara in 1810 and was then annexed by the Russian Empire in 1864. It was renamed Chernyaev in 1914 and renamed Shymkent in 1924. Following the Russian conquest, Shymkent was a city of trade between nomadic Turks and sedentary Turks, and was famous for its koumis[3].

During the delineation of the borders of the Soviet Union's Union Republics, Shymkent had a majority Uzbek population[4], but was assigned to Kazakhstan for political reasons. There was a gulag located near Shymkent, and many Russian-speaking people came to the area via imprisonment[5].

The name Shymkent of the city, City of Grass, comes from two words, shym meaning turf, and Kent meaning city. Shymkent (Kazakh) and Chimkent (Uzbek) have identical translations.

After Kazakhstan gained independence, the city was renamed Shymkent in 1993 as part of the government’s campaign to apply Kazakh names to cities. This created an ambiguity in the city's name in the Russian language. (The formal spelling of Шымкент (shymkent) as codified in Kazakhstan's Constitution goes against the Russian spelling rules of never having the letter ы follow the letter ш. As a result, the new name Шымкент (shymkent) is used only in Kazakhstan, while Russia and some other countries using Russian language keep using the original Uzbek spelling Чимкент (Chimkent).



Formerly dominated by lead mining, industrial growth began in the 1930s. A lead smelter was opened in Shymkent in 1938[8], and the city also has industries producing refined zinc, processed karakul pelts, textiles, foodstuffs, and pharmaceuticals. Also, the city has a medium size refinery. Refinery is owned and operated by PetroKazakhstan.


  • Ordabasy circle, site of Friday Mosque and MIG Memorial
  • Regional Studies & History Museum
  • Victory Park
  • Central Park
  • Museum of Repression
  • Afghan War Memorial
  • Arboretum
  • Nauryz/Navruz Holiday Celebrations over Spring Solstice
  • Al-Farabi Square


Sister cities


  1. ^| url = | title = Управление статистики Южно-Казахстанской области. «Демографическая ситуация» | accessdate = 10 July | accessyear = 2008 | language = ru
  2. ^ Peoples of central Asia. By Lawrence Krader. Published by Indiana University, 1971
  3. ^ Through Russian central Asia. By Stephen Graham. Published by The Macmillan Company, 1916
  4. ^ The new Central Asia: the creation of nations. By Olivier Roy. Published by I.B.Tauris, 2000. ISBN 1860642780
  5. ^ The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: an experiment in literary investigation. By Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, H. T. Willetts, Thomas P. Whitney. Published by Westview Press, 1997
  8. ^ The USSR. By John C. Dewdney. Published by Dawson, 1976

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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