Aerial view of Almaty. Almaty, formerly known as Alma-Ata and Verny, is the largest, most populated city in Kazakhstan. It served as capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and later independent Kazakhstan from 1929 to 1997. Almaty is still a major commercial and cultural center; it is located in the mountainous area of southern Kazakhstan near the border with Kyrgyzstan in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau. Almaty has a humid continental climate with hot summers and cold winters.