There is a thing, or more precisely a fact, the pride of which is characteristic of all Atyrau residents. I am speaking about the interesting location of the city on the two opposite banks of the Ural River which is usually considered the boundary between Europe and Asia . One of the bridges across the river, situated in the center of the city, even has special inscriptions ‘ Europe ’ and ‘ Asia ’ on each side. Actually, it feels rather nice and somewhat unusual to stand in the middle of the bridge looking in the dark waters of the Ural and understand that you are at the juncture of the two great parts of world. People of rich imagination, like me, are especially impressed by this.
The vicinity of the river, having positive moments like evening strolls along the quay and ice fishing, results in some negative things as well. Thus, for example, humid air is peculiar to the city, and people who arrived there for the first time from perhaps Central Kazakhstan known for its dry climate, get used for a long time to an unpleasant feeling when the air seems like wadding which sticks in the throat and does not let breathe easily. They say that it is over after some time you spend there. But what will not be over is hordes of gnats, midges and other swarming and stinging fraternity. Sometimes the efforts of the authorities to poison vermin (which look a bit frightening, like white smog on the quay blown from special equipment) will kill the citizens rather than gnats.
Atyrau is distinguishable for another interesting place that bears the name ‘American village’ among the residents. Officially this ‘village’ is called ‘Dostyk Residential Complex’. Here live employees of Tengizshevroil, the company on which today’s prosperity of the city is mostly based. It is often said that this islet of America on the bank of the Ural entirely equipped with everything American, reminds by its appearance a military fort rather than a residential complex.
While new Atyrau is growing large, the old city which first appeared on the ‘European’ bank of the Ural in 1640 is becoming smaller with every year. New building projects accomplish what was began at the Soviet time. The process of ruining old buildings cannot be turned backwards, and even the residents of Atyrau admit that the precious architectural monuments literally rack and ruin before their eyes. However, in the city where a lot of people arrive in order to earn their living no one is concerned with the evidence of the past. In fact, the thoughts of the majority of local inhabitants (both constant and temporary) are turned exclusively towards their future, full and successful future.
People from all parts of Kazakhstan are now working and living in Atyrau. Oil-gas industry is certainly predominant, but the representatives of other fields of activity will find their business here: road construction, health protection, security services, entertainment and many others, for everyone wants to have a piece of a big pie called ‘ West Kazakhstan ’.