KOSTANAI, KIRKLEES' TWIN TOWN IN KAZAKHSTAN
The town of Kostanai is in the north west of
Kazakhstan in the former Soviet Union. It is the administrative,
industrial and cultural centre of Kostanai Oblast (Region). Almaty,
the capital of Kazakhstan is 900 miles to the south east of Kostanai,
in the foothills of the mountains on the Chinese border. Kostanai
lies on the river Tobol. Kazak people were traditionally nomadic.
Land around Kostanai was settled for agriculture by Russian and
Ukrainian pioneers at the turn of the century. With the construction
of the railway in 1913 the role of the town as an important grain
trans-shipment point strengthened. Collective farms were developed
in the surrounding virgin steppeland in the 1950s. Now Kostanai
is at the centre of an important area for livestock and wheat
The town has a number of industries including
food processing, textiles, chemicals and a plant producing blocks
for the construction industry. There is a very large open-cast
ore mine at the nearby town of Rudni. Kostanai has a rail and
air link with Moscow and most other major towns in the former
Although the town was only founded in 1879,
it now has a population of nearly 270,000. There are people of
many different ethnic origins in Kostanai including Russian, Kazakh,
Ukrainian, Armenian, German and Korean.
Although the town is predominantly Russian,
it is becoming increasingly influenced by Kazak culture. Most
schools teach in Russian, but all schools teach Kazak language
and a few schools teach all subjects in Kazakh.
Kostanai has a University, Agricultural College
and College of Further Education. The Russian Orthodox Church
in Kostanai has been rebuilt and a former Mosque has re-opened.
There are also practising Baptists and Catholics in Kostanai.
The town consists mainly of four or five storey
buildings set out along wide streets. Most people live in blocks
of flats although there are some older single storey wooden houses.
Most people also have plots of land on the outskirts of the town
where they can grow fruit and vegetables, these are called dachas
after the summer houses built on the plots of land. Recently some
private modern houses with gardens have also been built on the
outskirts of Kostanai.
Kostanai has a theatre, a concert hall, several
cinemas, sporting facilities and a museum of local history.
The climate in Kostanai is extreme. It can be
as cold as (¸35oC) in Winter and as hot as (+35oC) in Summer.
Snow is on the ground until April. Some years there is insufficient
rainfall for the crops to mature.
The Town Administration (previously called the
Town Soviet, now called the Akimat), runs the public services
in the town including Education, Housing, Highways, Public Transport,
Medical Services, Welfare Services and Social Insurance, Water
Supplies, the Police and Libraries, Museums and Cultural Services.
The Head of Kostanai Town Administration or
Council is Nurgali Ashimov. His post is equivalent to that of
Chief Executive. Elections to Kostanai Town Council or Masluhat
were held in March 1994. Candidates represented a number of political
parties and organisations.
In July 1989 the Leaders of Kirklees Council
and Kostanai Town, signed the following declaration:
"We wish to jointly work for a more secure
and peaceful world, by increasing the understanding between our
two Countries, through the promotion of Education, Sporting, Cultural
and trade links between Kostanai and Kirklees".
Since then exchange visits have been arranged
involving school students, youth groups, teachers, journalists,
musicians, medical professionals and civic officials.