The modern city was founded in 1854 when the Russians established the military fortification of Zailiyskoye (renamed Verny in 1855) on the site of the ancient settlement of Almaty, which had been destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century. Cossacks, peasant settlers from European Russia, and Tatar merchants soon established themselves in the vicinity, and in 1867 the fortification became the town of Verny and the administrative centre of newly created Semirechye province of the governorate-general of Turkistan. By 1906 the population had grown to 27,000, two-thirds of whom were Russians and Ukrainians. Soviet rule was established in 1918.
In 1921 the city was renamed Alma-Ata, for its Kazakh name, Almaty (literally “Father of Apples”), alluding to the many apple trees in the locality. The transfer of the Kazakh capital from Kzyl-Orda (Kazakh: Qyzylorda) to Alma-Ata in 1927. From 1927 to 1936 Alma-Ata was the capital of the Kazakh ASSR; from 1936 to 1991 - the capital of the Kazakh SSR; from 1991 to 1997 - the first capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 1997, the capital was moved to Akmola (from May 6, 1998 - Astana, from March 23, 2019 - Nur-Sultan), and a new status was assigned to Alma-Ata - the "Southern Capital of Kazakhstan".
Despite the loss of political and administrative functions, Alma-Ata continues to be the cultural, financial and economic center of the country. In addition, until 2017 it was the only millionaire city in Kazakhstan; Astana became the second such city.
Alma-Ata is located in the extreme south-east of Kazakhstan, at the foot of the Zailiysky Alatau mountains and has a peculiar, rather mild climate regime with a difficult environmental situation.