Almaty, formerly known as Alma-Ata (Russian: Алма-Ата) and Verny (Russian: Верный Vernyy), is the largest city in Kazakhstan, with a population of 1,797,431 people, about 8% of the country's total population.It served as capital of the Kazakh state in its various forms from 1929 to 1997, under the influence of the then Soviet Union and its appointees. Alma-Ata was the host city for a 1978 international conference on Primary Health Care where the Alma Ata Declaration was adopted, marking a paradigm shift in global public health. In 1997, the government relocated the capital to Astana in the north of the country, which is about 12 hours away by train. Almaty continues as the major commercial and cultural centre of Kazakhstan, as well as its biggest population center. The city is located in the mountainous area of southern Kazakhstan in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau at an elevation of 700–900 m (2,300–3,000 feet), where the Large and Small Almatinka rivers run into the plain.