Caught up in the groundswell of Soviet republics seeking greater autonomy, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty as a republic within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in October 1990. Following the August 1991 aborted coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991. It was the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence.
The years following independence have been marked by significant reforms to the Soviet-style economy and political monopoly on power. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and was eventually elected President in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward developing a market economy.
The capital was moved in 1998 from Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, to Astana.
An agreement with NATO and Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia was signed on 31 January 2006—the Individual Partnership Action Plan. (Nations that have later joined, are Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.).