History of Aktau

The territory of Aktau was once inhabited by ancient tribes of Scythians. Archeological finds in the area include old settlements and utensils. Aktau was founded in 1961 as a covert settlement, Guriyev-20, when development of uranium deposits was started. In 1963 the settlement was open and gained status of a city. From 1963 to 1991, the city was named Shevchenko to honor the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, who was once exiled to this then remote location because of his political views. The name Aktau was brought back in 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed and Kazakhstan gained independence