Taraz (Kazakh: / Taraz), is a city and a center of the Jambyl Province in Kazakhstan. It is located in the south of Kazakhstan, near the border with Kyrgyzstan, on the Talas River (Taraz River). It has a population of 330,100 (1999 census), up 9% from 1989, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, after Astana and Türkistan. Taraz was formerly known as Jambyl or Zhambyl (Kazakh: / Jambl, until 1997), Dzhambul (Russian: , until 1993), Mirzoyan (Russian: , until 1938), Aulie-Ata (Russian: -, Kazakh: - / Äwlïe-Ata, Chagatai: , Persian: , until 1936) and Talas (, until 1856), Numerous archaeological finds and monuments in the foothills of Karatau and in Talas-Assin oasis show the antiquity of settlements in the Talas River valley, supporting Taraz' claim to being the most ancient city in Kazakhstan. The history of the city is composed of several historical periods, interrupted by destruction and depopulation. The first reference historically recorded city linked with Taraz and the basis for the claim of 2000 year old history is the fortress of Zhizhi that briefly existed at the site of modern day Taraz in the first century BC. A city known as "Taraz" or "Talas" is then recorded in 568 CE and is known to exist until its destruction in 1209. The third historical period begins with the establishment of Aulie-Ata (later renamed Dzhambul and eventually Taraz again) on the same site and lasts till today.