Happiest Cities

Almaty, Kazakhstan

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Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and the former capital, situated in the south-eastern part of the country, surrounded by the majestic Tien Shan Mountains. According to the latest official census conducted in 2021, the population of Almaty is approximately 2.2 million, making it the most populous city in Kazakhstan.

The city is known for its breathtaking natural scenery, with snow-capped peaks visible from almost any point in the city, as well as its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant economy. However, like any large city, there are both positive and negative aspects to living in Almaty that can affect the happiness of its inhabitants.

One of the most important factors influencing the happiness of Almaty residents is the quality of life in the city. The city is known for its relatively high standard of living, with modern amenities, good healthcare facilities, and high-quality education. However, the cost of living in Almaty can be quite high, with expensive housing and high transportation costs. The city is also known for its bustling street markets, vibrant nightlife, and diverse food scene, which are all factors that contribute to the overall quality of life in the city.

Another important factor affecting the happiness of Almaty inhabitants is air quality and pollution. While the city is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, it is also known for its high levels of air pollution, particularly during the winter months. This is partly due to the city's heavy reliance on coal for heating, as well as its location in a basin surrounded by mountains that can trap pollutants. While efforts have been made to improve air quality in recent years, there is still much work to be done in this area.

Employment opportunities and the overall state of the economy also play a significant role in the happiness of Almaty residents. The city is home to a number of large corporations, including oil and gas companies, as well as a thriving startup scene. However, unemployment rates in the city can be high, particularly among young people, and there is a significant wealth gap between the richest and poorest residents.

Traffic and commuting can also be major sources of stress for residents of Almaty. The city has a high number of cars per capita, and traffic congestion is a common problem, particularly during rush hour. This can lead to long commute times and frustration for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. Additionally, noise pollution from traffic, construction, and other sources can be a major source of stress for residents.

Access to housing is another important factor affecting the happiness of Almaty residents. While the city has a wide variety of housing options, ranging from modern apartments to traditional Kazakh yurts, housing costs can be quite high, particularly in desirable neighborhoods. This can make it difficult for some residents to find affordable housing, and can lead to overcrowding and substandard living conditions in some areas of the city.

Finally, weather can also play a significant role in the happiness of Almaty inhabitants. The city experiences a continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. While the summer months can be pleasant, with long, sunny days and warm temperatures, the winter months can be harsh, with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. This can make outdoor activities difficult or even dangerous, and can contribute to feelings of isolation and depression among residents.