Little-Known City May Become World's Next Hot Spot
2017 world's fair has begun in Kazakhstan capital of Astana
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2017 9:35 AM CDT
World leaders gather for the opening ceremony of Expo 2017 at Nur Alem in Astana, Kazakhstan.   (Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – For many people, Kazakhstan is probably best known as the home of fictional newscaster Borat, who made a mockery of the former Soviet republic in the hit 2006 comedy film named after him. But while the country's capital, Astana, may not currently rank as one of the great travel destinations of Europe, with the Expo 2017 world's fair currently underway there—and two global luxury hotel chains set to open—that could all change. According to the Telegraph, Astana is already "regarded in niche travel circles for its captivating architecture," including the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, and the country's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, ordered the construction of a new entertainment center, a miniature golf course, and a river to coincide with the opening of the fair, which is touting the city's "future energy."

Since the Expo began on June 10, nearly 100,000 people have visited the Nur Alem pavilion, which is touted as the largest spherical building in the world, the Independent reports. The Kazakhstan government is hoping the event puts the country on the map for international tourism, which has not been a selling point for the world's largest landlocked country, tucked between Europe and Asia. Expo 2017 is also a historic occasion: It's not only the first world's fair held in Central Asia—it's also the first one held in a Muslim-majority country. The fair runs through Sept. 10. (Check out Kazakhstan's "singing" sand dune.)

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