Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

Overview
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country
Transcontinental country
This is a list of countries spanning more than one continent, known as transcontinental states. While there are many countries with non-contiguous overseas territories fitting this definition, only a limited number of countries have territory spanning an overland continental...

 in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of 2727300 square kilometres (1,053,016.4 sq mi) is greater than Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. It is neighbored clockwise from the north by Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, and also borders on a significant part of the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

.
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Encyclopedia
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country
Transcontinental country
This is a list of countries spanning more than one continent, known as transcontinental states. While there are many countries with non-contiguous overseas territories fitting this definition, only a limited number of countries have territory spanning an overland continental...

 in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of 2727300 square kilometres (1,053,016.4 sq mi) is greater than Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. It is neighbored clockwise from the north by Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, and also borders on a significant part of the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

. Although Kazakhstan does not share a border with Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, its most easterly point is only 38 kilometres (23.6 mi) from Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

's western tip. The capital was moved in 1998 from Almaty
Almaty
Almaty , also known by its former names Verny and Alma-Ata , is the former capital of Kazakhstan and the nation's largest city, with a population of 1,348,500...

 (formerly Alma-Ata), Kazakhstan's largest city, to Astana
Astana
Astana , formerly known as Akmola , Tselinograd and Akmolinsk , is the capital and second largest city of Kazakhstan, with an officially estimated population of 708,794 as of 1 August 2010...

.

Kazakhstan is one of the six independent Turkic states. Kazakhstan is one of the active members of the Turkic Council
Turkic Council
The Turkic Council is an international organization comprising Turkic countries. It was founded on 3 October 2009 in Nakhchivan. The General Secretariat is in İstanbul, Turkey. The member countries are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. The remaining two Turkic states, Turkmenistan and...

 and the TÜRKSOY
Joint Administration of Turkic Arts and Culture
The Joint Administration of Turkic Arts and Culture is an international cultural organization of countries with Turkic populations, speaking languages belonging to the Turkic language family....

 community which is currently being directed by the former Minister of Culture of Kazakhstan.

Vast in size, the terrain of Kazakhstan ranges from flatlands, steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

s, taiga
Taiga
Taiga , also known as the boreal forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests.Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States and is known as the Northwoods...

s, rock-canyon
Canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

s, hills, deltas, and snow-capped mountains to deserts. With 16.6 million people (2011 estimate) Kazakhstan has the 62nd largest population in the world, though its population density is less than 6 people per square kilometre (15 per sq. mi.).

For most of its history, the territory of modern-day Kazakhstan has been inhabited by nomadic tribes. By the 16th century, the Kazakhs
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

 emerged as a distinct group, divided into three Jüz
Jüz
A jüz is one of the three main territorial divisions in the Kypchak Plain area that covers much of the contemporary Kazakhstan. Variably, a jüz is believed to be a confederation or alliance of Kazakh nomads...

. The Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 began advancing into the Kazakh steppe
Kazakh Steppe
The Kazakh Steppe or Kirghiz Steppe ecoregion, of the Palearctic Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome, is a vast region of open grassland in northern Kazakhstan and adjacent portions of Russia, extending to the east of the Pontic steppe and to the west of the Emin Valley steppe,...

 in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century all of Kazakhstan was part of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, and subsequent civil war
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganized several times before becoming the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936, a part of the USSR. During the 20th century, Kazakhstan was the site of major Soviet projects, including Khrushchev's
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 Virgin Lands campaign, the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

, and the Semipalatinsk "Polygon"
Semipalatinsk Test Site
The Semipalatinsk Test Site was the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons. It is located on the steppe in northeast Kazakhstan , south of the valley of the Irtysh River...

, the USSR's primary nuclear weapon testing site.

Kazakhstan declared itself an independent country on December 16, 1991, the last Soviet republic to do so. Its communist-era leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev has served as the President of Kazakhstan since the nation received its independence in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union...

, became the country's new president. Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a balanced foreign policy
Foreign relations of Kazakhstan
Foreign relations of Kazakhstan are primarily based on economic and political security. The Nazarbayev administration has tried to balance relations with Russia and the United States by sending petroleum and natural gas to its northern neighbor at artificially low prices while assisting the U.S. in...

 and worked to develop its economy
Economy of Kazakhstan
The economy of Kazakhstan is the largest economy in Central Asia. It possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves as well as minerals and metals. It also has considerable agricultural potential with its vast steppe lands accommodating both livestock and grain production, as well as developed space...

, especially its hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

 industry. While the country's economic outlook is improving, President Nazarbayev maintains strict control over the country's politics
Politics of Kazakhstan
The politics of Kazakhstan takes place in the framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of Kazakhstan is head of state and nominates the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government...

. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan's international prestige is building. It is now considered to be the dominant state in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. The country is a member of many international organizations, including the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council , a NATO institution, is a multilateral forum created to improve relations between NATO and non-NATO countries in Europe and those parts of Asia on the European periphery. The member states meet to cooperate and consult on a range of political and security issues...

, the Commonwealth of Independent States
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Kazakhstan is one of six post-Soviet states who have implemented an Individual Partnership Action Plan
Individual Partnership Action Plan
Individual Partnership Action Plans, or IPAPs, are plans developed between NATO and different countries, that state the objectives and the communication framework for dialogue and cooperation between both parties...

 with NATO. In 2010, Kazakhstan chaired the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections...

.

Kazakhstan is ethnically and culturally diverse, in part due to mass deportations of many ethnic groups to the country during Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's rule. Kazakhstan has a population of 16.6 million, with 131 ethnicities, including Kazakh
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

, Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

, Uyghur, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Tatar, and German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

. Around 63% percent are Kazakhs.

Kazakhstan allows freedom of religion
Freedom of religion in Kazakhstan
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the various religious communities worship largely without government interference. Local officials attempt on occasion to limit the practice of religion by some nontraditional groups; however, higher-level officials or courts occasionally...

, and many different beliefs are represented in the country. Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 is the religion of more than 70% of the population, and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 makes up most of the remainder. The Kazakh language is the state language, while Russian is also officially used as an "equal" language (to Kazakh) in Kazakhstan's public institutions.

According to Newsweek magazine the country holds the 61st position in the "The world's best countries" list. This summary index consists of following ranks: education – 14, health – 82, quality of life – 45, economic dynamism – 43, political environment – 81. The best rank is the first.

According to World Economic Forum in Global Competitiveness Report on 2010–2011 year Kazakhstan holds the 72nd position.

Etymology


The term Kazakhstani was coined to describe all citizens of Kazakhstan, including non-Kazakhs
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

. The word "Kazakh" is generally used to refer to people of ethnic Kazakh descent (including those living in China, Afghanistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and other countries).

The ethnonym "Kazakh" is derived from an ancient Turkic word meaning "independent, a free spirit". It is the result of Kazakhs
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

' nomadic horseback culture. The Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 (See Indo-Iranian languages
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

) suffix "-stan
-stan
The suffix -stan is Persian for "place of", a cognate to Pashto -tun and to Indo-Aryan -sthāna , a Sanskrit suffix with a similar meaning...

"
means "land" or "place of", so "Kazakhstan" is "land of the Kazakhs".

Kazakh Khanate


Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age: the region's climate and terrain are best suited for nomads practicing pastoralism
Pastoralism
Pastoralism or pastoral farming is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep. It may have a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and...

. Archaeologists believe that humans first domesticated the horse
Domestication of the horse
There are a number of hypotheses on many of the key issues regarding the domestication of the horse. Although horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art as early as 30,000 BCE, these were truly wild horses and were probably hunted for meat. How and when horses became domesticated is disputed...

 in the region's vast steppes.

Central Asia proper was originally inhabited by Indo-Iranians. The best known of those groups was the nomadic Scythians. The Turkic people began encroaching on the Iranians starting at least in the 5th century AD, possibly before. They became the dominant ethnic component of Central Asia. While ancient cities Taraz
Taraz
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...

 (Aulie-Ata) and Hazrat-e Turkestan
Hazrat-e Turkestan
-References:*Hill, John E. Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.*Hulsewé, A. F. P. and Loewe, M. A. N. 1979...

 had long served as important way-stations along the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 connecting East and West, real political consolidation only began with the Mongol invasion of the early 13th century. Under the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

, administrative districts were established, and these eventually came under the emergent Kazakh Khanate
Kazakh Khanate
Kazakh Khanate was a Kazakh state that existed in 1456-1847, located roughly on the territory of present-day Republic of Kazakhstan.-History:...

 (Kazakhstan).
Throughout this period, traditionally nomadic life and a livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

-based economy continued to dominate the steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

. In the 15th century, a distinct Kazakh
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

 identity began to emerge among the Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 tribes, a process which was consolidated by the mid-16th century with the appearance of a distinctive Kazakh language
Kazakh language
Kazakh is a Turkic language which belongs to the Kipchak branch of the Turkic languages, closely related to Nogai and Karakalpak....

, culture, and economy.

Nevertheless, the region was the focus of ever-increasing disputes between the native Kazakh emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

s and the neighbouring Persian-speaking peoples
Persian-speaking peoples
The Persian-speaking peoples constitute one of the largest Indo-European linguistic groups in the world. Populations are principally concentrated in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, and western Chinese province of Xinjiang....

 to the south. By the early 17th century, the Kazakh Khanate was struggling with the impact of tribal rivalries, which had effectively divided the population into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) Hordes
Jüz
A jüz is one of the three main territorial divisions in the Kypchak Plain area that covers much of the contemporary Kazakhstan. Variably, a jüz is believed to be a confederation or alliance of Kazakh nomads...

 (jüz). Political disunion, tribal rivalries, and the diminishing importance of overland trade routes between East and West weakened the Kazakh Khanate.

During the 17th century Kazakhs fought Oirats
Oirats
Oirats are the westernmost group of the Mongols who unified several tribes origin whose ancestral home is in the Altai region of western Mongolia. Although the Oirats originated in the eastern parts of Central Asia, the most prominent group today is located in the Republic of Kalmykia, a federal...

, a federation of western Mongol tribes, including Dzungars. The beginning of the 18th century marked the zenith of the Kazakh Khanate. During this period the Little Horde participated in the 1723–1730 war against the Dzungars, following their "Great Disaster" invasion
Invasion
An invasion is a military offensive consisting of all, or large parts of the armed forces of one geopolitical entity aggressively entering territory controlled by another such entity, generally with the objective of either conquering, liberating or re-establishing control or authority over a...

 of Kazakh territories. The Dzungars seized the pastures of the defeated Kazakhs, taking many captives, and slaughtering entire clans. Under the leadership of Abul Khair Khan
Abul Khair Khan
Abul Khair Khan was leader of the Kazakh Little jüz in present-day western Kazakhstan. During this period, the Little jüz participated in the 1723-1730 war against the Dzungars, following their "Great Disaster" invasion of Kazakh territories...

, the Kazakhs won major victories over the Dzungar at the Bulanty River in 1726, and at the Battle of Anrakay in 1729. Ablai Khan participated in the most significant battles against the Dzungars from the 1720s to the 1750s, for which he was declared a "batyr" ("hero") by the people. Kazakhs were also victims of constant raids carried out by the Volga Kalmyks
Kalmyk people
Kalmyk people is the name given to the Oirats, western Mongols in Russia, whose descendants migrated from Dzhungaria in 1607. Today they form a majority in the autonomous Republic of Kalmykia on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. Kalmykia is Europe's only Buddhist government...

.

Russian Empire


In the 19th century, the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 began to expand into Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. The "Great Game" period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. The tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

s effectively ruled over most of the territory belonging to what is now the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Russian Empire introduced a system of administration and built military garrisons and barracks in its effort to establish a presence in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 in the so-called "Great Game" between it and the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. The first Russian outpost, Orsk
Orsk
Orsk is the second largest city in Orenburg Oblast, Russia, located on the steppe about southeast of the southern tip of the Ural Mountains. The city straddles the Ural River. Since this river is considered a boundary between Europe and Asia, Orsk can be said to lie in two continents. It is...

, was built in 1735. Russia enforced the Russian language in all schools and governmental organizations. Russian efforts to impose its system aroused the resentment by the Kazakh people, and by the 1860s, most Kazakhs resisted Russia's annexation largely because of the influence it wrought upon the traditional nomadic lifestyle and livestock-based economy, and the associated hunger that was rapidly wiping out some Kazakh tribes. The Kazakh national movement, which began in the late 19th century, sought to preserve the native language and identity by resisting the attempts of the Russian Empire to assimilate and stifle them.

From the 1890s onwards, ever-larger numbers of settlers from the Russian Empire began colonising the territory of present-day Kazakhstan, in particular the province of Semirechye. The number of settlers rose still further once the Trans-Aral Railway
Trans-Aral Railway
The broad gauge Trans-Aral Railway was built in 1906 connecting Orenburg and Tashkent, then both in the Russian Empire. For the first part of the 20th century it was the only railway-connection between European Russia and Central Asia.There were plans to construct the Orenburg-Tashkent line as...

 from Orenburg
Orenburg
Orenburg is a city on the Ural River and the administrative center of Orenburg Oblast, Russia. It lies southeast of Moscow, very close to the border with Kazakhstan. Population: 546,987 ; 549,361 ; Highest point: 154.4 m...

 to Tashkent
Tashkent
Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and of the Tashkent Province. The officially registered population of the city in 2008 was about 2.2 million. Unofficial sources estimate the actual population may be as much as 4.45 million.-Early Islamic History:...

 was completed in 1906, and the movement was overseen and encouraged by a specially created Migration Department (Переселенческое Управление) in St. Petersburg. During the 19th century about 400,000 Russians immigrated to Kazakhstan, and about one million Slavs, Germans, Jews, and others immigrated to the region during the first third of the 20th century. Vasile Balabanov was the administrator responsible for the resettlement during much of this time.

The competition for land and water that ensued between the Kazakhs and the newcomers caused great resentment against colonial rule during the final years of Tsarist Russia, with the most serious uprising, the Central Asian Revolt, occurring in 1916. The Kazakhs attacked Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 and Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 settlers and military garrisons. The revolt resulted in a series of clashes and in brutal massacres committed by both sides. Both sides resisted the communist government until late 1919.

Kazakh SSR


Although there was a brief period of autonomy (Alash Autonomy
Alash Autonomy
Alash Autonomy was a state that existed between December 13, 1917 and August 26, 1920, located roughly on the territory of present day Republic of Kazakhstan. The capital city was Semey ....

) during the tumultuous period following the collapse of the Russian Empire, many uprisings were brutally suppressed, and the Kazakhs eventually succumbed to Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 rule. In 1920, the area of present-day Kazakhstan became an autonomous republic within the Soviet Union.

Soviet repression of the traditional elite, along with forced collectivization in the late 1920s–1930s, brought mass hunger
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 and led to unrest (see also: Soviet famine of 1932–1933). Between 1926 and 1939, the Kazakh population declined by 22% due to starvation and mass emigration. Estimates today suggest that the population of Kazakhstan would be closer to 20 million if there had been no starvation or migration of Kazakhs. During the 1930s, many renowned Kazakh writers, thinkers, poets, politicians and historians were slaughtered on Stalin's orders, both as part of the repression and as a methodical pattern of suppressing Kazakh identity and culture. Soviet rule took hold, and a Communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 apparatus steadily worked to fully integrate Kazakhstan into the Soviet system. In 1936 Kazakhstan became a Soviet republic
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

. Kazakhstan experienced population inflows of millions exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

d from other parts of the Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s; many of the deportation
Deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 victims were deported to Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 or Kazakhstan merely due to their ethnic heritage or beliefs, and were in many cases interned in some of the biggest Soviet labour camps
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

, including ALZHIR camp outside Astana, which was reserved for the wives of men considered "enemies of the people" (see also: Population transfer in the Soviet Union
Population transfer in the Soviet Union
Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, often classified as "enemies of workers," deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite...

, Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union
Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union
Forced settlements in the Soviet Union took several forms. Though the most notorious was the Gulag labor camp system of penal labor, resettling of entire categories of population was another method of political repression implemented by the Soviet Union. At the same time, involuntary settlement...

).
The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic contributed five national divisions to the Soviet Union's World War II effort. In 1947, two years after the end of the war, the Semipalatinsk Test Site
Semipalatinsk Test Site
The Semipalatinsk Test Site was the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons. It is located on the steppe in northeast Kazakhstan , south of the valley of the Irtysh River...

, the USSR's main nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 test site
Nuclear testing
Nuclear weapons tests are experiments carried out to determine the effectiveness, yield and explosive capability of nuclear weapons. Throughout the twentieth century, most nations that have developed nuclear weapons have tested them...

, was founded near the city of Semey
Semey
Semey , formerly known as Semipalatinsk and Alash-kala , is a city in Kazakhstan, in the northeastern province of East Kazakhstan, near the border with Siberia, around north of Almaty, and southeast of the Russian city of Omsk, along the Irtysh River.-History:The first settlement was in 1718,...

.

World War II marked an increase in industrialisation
Industrialisation
Industrialization is the process of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one...

 and increased mineral extraction in support of the war effort. At the time of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's death, however, Kazakhstan still had an overwhelmingly agricultural-based economy. In 1953, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 initiated the ambitious "Virgin Lands" program to turn the traditional pasture lands of Kazakhstan into a major grain-producing region for the Soviet Union. The Virgin Lands policy brought mixed results. However, along with later modernizations under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

, it accelerated the development of the agricultural sector, which remains the source of livelihood for a large percentage of Kazakhstan's population. By 1959, Kazakhs
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

 made up 30% of the population. Ethnic Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 accounted for 43%.

Growing tensions within Soviet society led to a demand for political and economic reforms, which came to a head in the 1980s. A factor that contributed to this immensely was Lavrentii Beria's decision to test a nuclear bomb on the territory of Kazakh SSR in Semey
Semey
Semey , formerly known as Semipalatinsk and Alash-kala , is a city in Kazakhstan, in the northeastern province of East Kazakhstan, near the border with Siberia, around north of Almaty, and southeast of the Russian city of Omsk, along the Irtysh River.-History:The first settlement was in 1718,...

 in 1949. This had a catastrophic ecological and biological effect that was felt generations later, and Kazakh anger toward the Soviet system escalated.

In December 1986, mass demonstrations by young ethnic Kazakhs, later called Jeltoqsan
Jeltoqsan
The Jeltoqsan or "December" of 1986 were riots that took place in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan in response to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's dismissal of Dinmukhamed Konayev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and an ethnic Kazakh, and the subsequent appointment of Gennady...

 riot, took place in Almaty to protest the replacement of the First Secretary
General Secretary
The office of general secretary is staffed by the chief officer of:*The General Secretariat for Macedonia and Thrace, a government agency for the Greek regions of Macedonia and Thrace...

 of the Communist Party
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

 of the Kazakh SSR Dinmukhamed Konayev with Gennady Kolbin
Gennady Kolbin
Gennady Kolbin was the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakh SSR from December 16, 1986 to June 22, 1989.Kolbin had not worked in the Kazakh SSR prior to his appointment...

 from the Russian SFSR. Governmental troops suppressed the unrest, several people were killed and many demonstrators were jailed. In the waning days of Soviet rule, discontent continued to grow and find expression under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

's policy of glasnost
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

.

Independence


Caught up in the groundswell of Soviet republics seeking greater autonomy, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 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
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

, Kazakhstan declared independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 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
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 on power. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev has served as the President of Kazakhstan since the nation received its independence in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union...

, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
Communist Party of Kazakhstan
The Communist Party of Kazakhstan is a political party in Kazakhstan. -Origin:The Communist Party of Kazakhstan was founded 1936 when Kazakhstan was granted a Union Republic status within the Soviet Union...

 and was eventually elected President in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward developing a market economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

. The country has enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil
Oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

, gas
Gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

, and mineral reserves.

Political system


Kazakhstan is officially a presidential republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. The first and only president is Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev has served as the President of Kazakhstan since the nation received its independence in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union...

. The president is also the commander in chief of the armed forces and may veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 legislation that has been passed by the Parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

. The prime minister chairs the Cabinet of Ministers and serves as Kazakhstan's head of government. There are three deputy prime ministers and 16 ministers in the Cabinet. Karim Massimov
Karim Massimov
Karim Qajymqanuly Massimov has served as Prime Minister in the Government of Kazakhstan since 10 January 2007.Massimov is fluent in Kazakh, Russian, Chinese, English, and Arabic. He studied in China and worked in Hong Kong where he headed Kazakhstan's trading operations. At the same time, he is...

 has served as the Prime Minister since January 10, 2007.

Kazakhstan has a bicameral Parliament composed of the lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

 (the Majilis
Majilis
The Majilis is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Kazakhstan, known as the Parlamenti, in the Government of Kazakhstan. The upper house of Parliament is the Senate of Kazakhstan. There are 77 seats, 67 in single seat constituencies and 10 by proportional representation, in the Majilis...

) and upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

 (the Senate
Senate of Kazakhstan
The Senate of Kazakhastan is the upper house of two chambers in Kazakhstan's legislature, known as the Parliament . The Senate has 47 members, 40 of whom are elected for six-year terms in double-seat constituencies by the local assemblies, half renewed every two years; and 7 presidential...

). Single mandate districts popularly elect 107 seats in the Majilis; there also are 10 members elected by party-list vote rather than by single mandate districts. The Senate has 47 members. Two senators are selected by each of the elected assemblies (Maslikhats) of Kazakhstan's 16 principal administrative divisions (14 provinces, plus the cities of Astana and Almaty). The president appoints the remaining 7 senators. Majilis deputies and the government both have the right of legislative initiative, though the government proposes most legislation considered by the Parliament.

Elections



Elections to the Majilis in September 2004 yielded a lower house dominated by the pro-government Otan Party
Nur-Otan
Nur Otan is the largest political party in Kazakhstan with over 762,000 members. Since 2007 it is headed by President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev Nazarbayev's predecessor in the party was Bakhytzhan Zhumagulov.The party's predecessor, Otan was originally established on February 12, 1999...

, headed by President Nazarbayev. Two other parties considered sympathetic to the president, including the agrarian-industrial bloc AIST and the Asar Party, founded by President Nazarbayev's daughter, won most of the remaining seats. Opposition parties, which were officially registered and competed in the elections, won a single seat during elections that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said fell short of international standards.

In 1999, Kazakhstan applied for observer status at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. The official response of the Assembly was that Kazakhstan could apply for full membership, because it is partially located in Europe, but that they would not be granted any status whatsoever at the Council until their democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 and human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 records improved.

On December 4, 2005, Nursultan Nazarbayev was reelected in a landslide victory. The electoral commission announced that he had won over 90% of the vote. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concluded the election did not meet international standards despite some improvements in the administration of the election. Xinhua News Agency
Xinhua News Agency
The Xinhua News Agency is the official press agency of the government of the People's Republic of China and the biggest center for collecting information and press conferences in the PRC. It is the largest news agency in the PRC, ahead of the China News Service...

 reported that observers from China, responsible in overseeing 25 polling stations in Astana, found that voting in those polls was conducted in a "transparent and fair" manner.

On August 17, 2007, elections to the lower house of parliament were held and a coalition led by the ruling Nur-Otan
Nur-Otan
Nur Otan is the largest political party in Kazakhstan with over 762,000 members. Since 2007 it is headed by President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev Nazarbayev's predecessor in the party was Bakhytzhan Zhumagulov.The party's predecessor, Otan was originally established on February 12, 1999...

 Party, which included Asar Party, Civil Party of Kazakhstan and Agrarian Party
Agrarian Party of Kazakhstan
The Agrarian Party of Kazakhstan is a political party in Kazakhstan.At the last legislative elections, 19 September and 3 October 2004, the party was part of the Agrarian and Industrial Union of Workers Block, that won 7.1 % of the popular vote and 11 out of 77 seats....

, won every seat with 88% of the vote. None of the opposition parties have reached the benchmark 7% level of the seats. This has led some in the local media to question the competence and charisma of the opposition party leaders. Opposition parties made accusations of serious irregularities in the election.

In April 2011, Nursultan Nazarbayev was reelected to a five-year term as Kazakhstan’s President. In 2010 President Nazarbayev rejected a call from constituents to hold a referendum to keep him in office until 2020 and, instead, insisted on an election to be held in April 2011. President Nazarbayev received 95.54 percent of the vote with 89.9 percent of registered voters participating. Many observers lauded the substantial progress toward Kazakhstan’s democracy. Nazarbayev outlined the progress Kazakhstan has experienced in an OP-ED in the Washington Post in March 2011.

Foreign relations


Kazakhstan has stable relationships with all of its neighbors. Kazakhstan is also a member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council , a NATO institution, is a multilateral forum created to improve relations between NATO and non-NATO countries in Europe and those parts of Asia on the European periphery. The member states meet to cooperate and consult on a range of political and security issues...

 and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It is an active participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Partnership for Peace
Partnership for Peace
Partnership for Peace is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation program aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union; 22 States are members...

 program.

On April 11, 2010, Presidents Nazarbayev and Obama met at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., and discussed strengthening the strategic partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan and pledged to intensify bilateral cooperation to promote nuclear safety and non-proliferation, regional stability in Central Asia, economic prosperity, and universal values.

In April 2011, President Obama called President Nazarbayev and discussed many cooperative efforts regarding nuclear security, including securing nuclear material from the BN-350 reactor, and reviewed progress on meeting goals that the two presidents established during their bilateral meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in 2010. President Obama also thanked President Nazarbayev for his support to foster security and prosperity in Afghanistan. In a letter to President Nazarbayev dated August 16, 2011, President Obama praised Kazakhstan as “a longtime world leader in nuclear security,”

Kazakhstan is also a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

, the Economic Cooperation Organization
Economic Cooperation Organization
The Economic Cooperation Organization is an intergovernmental organization involving seven Asian and three Eurasian nations, part of the South-central Asian Union. It provides a platform to discuss ways to improve development and promote trade, and investment opportunities. The ECO is an ad hoc...

 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Shanghai Cooperation Organization
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO , is an intergovernmental mutual-security organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan...

. The nations of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

 established the Eurasian Economic Community
Eurasian Economic Community
The Eurasian Economic Community originated from the Commonwealth of Independent States customs union between Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan on 29 March 1996...

 in 2000 to re-energize earlier efforts at harmonizing trade tariffs and the creation of a free trade zone under a customs union. On December 1, 2007, it was revealed that Kazakhstan had been chosen to chair OSCE
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections...

 for the year 2010.

Since independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has pursued what is known as the "multivector foreign policy" , seeking equally good relations with two large neighbors, Russia and China, and the United States and the West in general. The policy has yielded results in the oil and gas sector, where companies from the U.S., Russia, China, and Europe are present at all major fields, and in the multidimensional directions of oil export pipelines out of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan also enjoys strong, and rapidly developing, political and economic ties with Turkey. Kazakhstan formed a customs union with Russia and Belarus which will be transformed into a common economic space soon.

Russia currently leases approximately 6,000 km² (2,300 mi²) of territory enclosing the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

 space launch site in south central Kazakhstan, where the first man was launched into space as well as Soviet space shuttle Buran and the well-known space station Mir
Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

.

Military


Most of Kazakhstan's military was inherited from the Soviet Armed Forces
Soviet Armed Forces
The Soviet Armed Forces, also called the Armed Forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Armed Forces of the Soviet Union refers to the armed forces of the Russian SFSR , and Soviet Union from their beginnings in the...

' Turkestan Military District
Turkestan Military District
The Turkestan Military District was a military district of both the Imperial Russian Army and the Soviet Armed Forces, with its headquarters at Tashkent. The District was first created during the 1874 Russian military reform when by order of Minister D.A. Milyutinym the territory of Russia was...

. These units became the core of Kazakhstan's new military which acquired all the units of the 40th Army
40th Army (Soviet Union)
The 40th Army of the Soviet Union's Red Army was an army-level command active from 1941 to 1945 and then again from 1979 to circa 1990.It was first formed, after Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, had commenced, from elements of the 26th and 37th Armies under the command...

 (the former 32nd Army) and part of the 17th Army Corps, including 6 land force divisions, storage bases, the 14th and 35th air-landing brigades, 2 rocket brigades, 2 artillery regiments and a large amount of equipment which had been withdrawn from over the Urals after the signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
The original Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was negotiated and concluded during the last years of the Cold War and established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry...

. The largest expansion of the Kazakhstan Army has been focused on armored units in recent years. Since 1990, armored units have expanded from 500 to 1,613 in 2005.

The Kazakh air force is composed mostly of Soviet-era planes, including 41 MiG-29s, 44 MiG-31s, 37 Su-24s and 60 Su-27s. A small naval force is also maintained on the Caspian Sea.

Kazakhstan sent 49 military engineers to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 to assist the US post-invasion mission in Iraq.

Kazakhstan's National Security Committee
National Security Committee
The National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan is an intelligence agency in Kazakhstan. It was founded on 13 July 1992.-History:...

 (KNB) was established on June 13, 1992. It includes the Service of Internal Security, Military Counterintelligence, Border Guard, several Commando units, and Foreign Intelligence (Barlau). The latter is considered as the most important part of KNB. Its director is Nurtai Abykayev
Nurtai Abykayev
Nurtai Abykayevich Abykayev is the current Chairman of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan. Previously he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation and before this chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan...

.

August 2011 marked the ninth year of the joint tactical-peacekeeping exercise "Steppe Eagle" hosted by the Kazakhstan government. Steppe Eagle focuses on building coalitions and gives participating nations the opportunity to work together.

Geography



With an area of 2700000 square kilometres (1,042,475.8 sq mi), Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country and the largest landlocked country in the world. It is equivalent to the size of Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. In the Soviet Union period, Kazakhstan lost some of its territory to China's Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 and some to Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan. It shares borders of 6846 kilometres (4,253.9 mi) with Russia, 2203 kilometres (1,368.9 mi) with Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, 1533 kilometres (952.6 mi) with China, 1051 kilometres (653.1 mi) with Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

, and 379 kilometres (235.5 mi) with Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

. Major cities include Astana, Almaty, Karagandy, Shymkent
Shymkent
Shymkent , formerly known as Chimkent , is the capital city of South Kazakhstan Province, the most populated region in Kazakhstan. It is the third most populous city in Kazakhstan behind Almaty and Astana with a population of 629,600 . A major railroad junction on the Turkestan-Siberia Railway, the...

, Atyrau
Atyrau
Atyrau , known as Guryev until 1991, is a city in Kazakhstan, and the capital of Atyrau Province. It is located at the mouth of the Ural River, 2700 kilometers west of Almaty and 350 kilometers east of the Russian city of Astrakhan. Other transliterations include Aterau, Atirau, Atyraw, Atyraou,...

 and Oskemen
Oskemen
Oskemen and Ust-Kamennaya , is the capital of the East Kazakhstan Province. It is served by the Ust-Kamenogorsk Airport.-History:...

. It lies between latitudes 40°
40th parallel north
The 40th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 40 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 56° N
56th parallel north
The 56th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 56 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 46°
46th meridian east
The meridian 46° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 88° E
88th meridian east
The meridian 88° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. While located primarily in Asia, a small portion of Kazakhstan is also located west of the Urals in Eastern Europe.


The terrain extends west to east from the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 to the Altay Mountains
Altay Mountains
The Altai Mountains are a mountain range in East-Central Asia, where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together, and where the rivers Irtysh and Ob have their sources. The Altai Mountains are known as the original locus of the speakers of Turkic as well as other members of the proposed...

 and north to south from the plains of Western Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 to the oases and deserts of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. The Kazakh Steppe
Kazakh Steppe
The Kazakh Steppe or Kirghiz Steppe ecoregion, of the Palearctic Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome, is a vast region of open grassland in northern Kazakhstan and adjacent portions of Russia, extending to the east of the Pontic steppe and to the west of the Emin Valley steppe,...

 (plain), with an area of around 804500 square kilometres (310,619.2 sq mi), occupies one-third of the country and is the world's largest dry steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 region. The steppe is characterized by large areas of grassland
Grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

s and sandy regions. Important rivers and lakes include: the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
The Aral Sea was a lake that lay between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south...

, Ili River
Ili River
thumb|right|300px|Map of the Lake Balkhash drainage basin showing the Ili River and its tributariesThe Ili River is a river in northwestern China and southeastern Kazakhstan .It is long, of which is in Kazakhstan...

, Irtysh River, Ishim River
Ishim River
Ishim River is a river running through Kazakhstan and Russia. Its length is 2,450 km , average discharge is 56,3 m³/s . It is a left tributary of the Irtysh River. The Ishim River is partly navigable in its lower reaches. The upper course of the Ishim passes through Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan...

, Ural River
Ural River
The Ural or Jayıq/Zhayyq , known as Yaik before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan. It arises in the southern Ural Mountains and ends at the Caspian Sea. Its total length is 1,511 mi making it the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube...

, Syr Darya
Syr Darya
The Syr Darya , also transliterated Syrdarya or Sirdaryo, is a river in Central Asia, sometimes known as the Jaxartes or Yaxartes from its Ancient Greek name . The Greek name is derived from Old Persian, Yakhsha Arta , a reference to the color of the river's water...

, Charyn River and gorge, Lake Balkhash
Lake Balkhash
Lake Balkhash is one of the largest lakes in Asia and 12th largest continental lake in the world. It is located in southeastern Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, and belongs to an endorheic basin shared by Kazakhstan and China, with a small part in Kyrgyzstan. The basin drains into the lake via seven...

 and Lake Zaysan
Lake Zaysan
Lake Zaysan is a freshwater lake, ca. 1,810 km² , in eastern Kazakhstan, in a hollow between the Altai and Tarbagatai Mountains. It is the largest lake in the East Kazakhstan Province....

.

The climate is continental
Continental climate
Continental climate is a climate characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby...

, with warm summers and colder winters. Precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 varies between arid and semi-arid conditions.

The Charyn Canyon
Charyn Canyon
Charyn Canyon is an 80 km canyon in Kazakhstan on the Charyn River, 200 km east of Almaty, close to the Chinese border. It is part of the Charyn National Park, which is established 23 February 2004 and located within the territory of the Uyghur and Kegen Districts of the Almaty Province.It...

 is 150–300 metres deep and 80 kilometres (49.7 mi) long, cutting through the red sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 plateau and stretching along the Charyn River gorge in northern Tian Shan
Tian Shan
The Tian Shan , also spelled Tien Shan, is a large mountain system located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak , ....

 ("Heavenly Mountains", 200 km east of Almaty) at 43°21′1.16"N 79°4′49.28"E. The steep canyon slopes, column
Column
A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

s and arch
Arch
An arch is a structure that spans a space and supports a load. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.-Technical aspects:The...

es rise to heights of 150–300 metres. The inaccessibility of the canyon provided a safe haven for a rare ash tree
Ash tree
Fraxinus is a genus flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45-65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The tree's common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name...

 that survived the Ice Age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 and is now also grown in some other areas. Bigach crater
Bigach crater
Bigach is an impact crater in Kazakhstan.It is 8 km in diameter and the age is estimated to be 5 ± 3 million years . The crater is exposed at the surface....

 is a Pliocene
Pliocene
The Pliocene Epoch is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.332 million to 2.588 million years before present. It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch...

 or Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 impact crater
Impact crater
In the broadest sense, the term impact crater can be applied to any depression, natural or manmade, resulting from the high velocity impact of a projectile with a larger body...

, 8|km in diameter and estimated at 5 ±3 million years old at 48°30′N 82°00′E.

Administrative divisions



Kazakhstan is divided into 14 provinces
Provinces of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is divided into 14 provinces . The provinces are further subdivided into districts .Notes:* Almaty and Astana cities have the status of State importance and do not relate to any province....

 . The provinces are subdivided into districts
Districts of Kazakhstan
|The provinces of Kazakhstan are divided into 170 districts . The districts are listed below, by province:-Akmola:*Akkol District*Arshaly District*Astrakhan District*Atbasar District*Bulandy District*Burabay District |The provinces of Kazakhstan are divided into 170 districts (pl. ,audandar). The...

 .

Almaty and Astana cities have the status of State importance and do not relate to any province. Baikonur
Baikonur
Baikonur , formerly known as Leninsk, is a city in Kyzylorda Province of Kazakhstan, rented and administered by the Russian Federation. It was constructed to service the Baikonur Cosmodrome and was officially renamed Baikonur by Russian president Boris Yeltsin on December 20, 1995.The shape of the...

 city has a special status because it is currently being leased to Russia with Baikonur cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

 until 2050.

Each province is headed by an Akim (provincial governor) appointed by the president. Municipal Akims are appointed by province Akims. The Government of Kazakhstan transferred its capital from Almaty to Astana on December 10, 1997.

Economy



Buoyed by high world crude oil prices, GDP growth figures were in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 9.8%, 13.5%, 9.8%, 9.3%, 9.6%, 9.7%, 10.7%, 8.9% and 3.2% respectively. Other major exports of Kazakhstan include wheat, textiles, and livestock. Kazakhstan predicted that it would become a leading exporter of uranium by 2010, which has indeed come true.

GDP in 2010 has grown on 1.1% Inflation. 2005 – 7.6%, 2006 – 8.6%, 2007 – 18.8%, 2008 – 9.5%, 2009 – 6.2%.

Since 2002, Kazakhstan has sought to manage strong inflows of foreign currency without sparking inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

. Inflation has not been under strict control, however, registering 6.6% in 2002, 6.8% in 2003, and 6.4% in 2004.

In 2000, Kazakhstan became the first former Soviet republic to repay all of its debt to the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 (IMF), 7 years ahead of schedule. In March 2002, the U.S. Department of Commerce granted Kazakhstan market economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

 status under U.S. trade law
Trade Act of 2002
The Trade Act of 2002 granted the President of the United States the authority to negotiate trade deals with other countries and gives Congress the approval to only vote up or down on the agreement, not to amend it. This authority is sometimes called fast track authority, since it is thought to...

. This change in status recognized substantive market economy reforms in the areas of currency convertibility, wage rate determination, openness to foreign investment, and government control over the means of production and allocation of resources.

In September 2002, Kazakhstan became the first country in the CIS
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

 to receive an investment grade credit rating
Credit rating
A credit rating evaluates the credit worthiness of an issuer of specific types of debt, specifically, debt issued by a business enterprise such as a corporation or a government. It is an evaluation made by a credit rating agency of the debt issuers likelihood of default. Credit ratings are...

 from a major international credit rating agency
Credit rating agency
A Credit rating agency is a company that assigns credit ratings for issuers of certain types of debt obligations as well as the debt instruments themselves...

. As of late December 2003, Kazakhstan's gross foreign debt was about $22.9 billion. Total governmental debt was $4.2 billion, 14% of GDP. There has been a noticeable reduction in the ratio of debt to GDP. The ratio of total governmental debt to GDP in 2000 was 21.7%; in 2001, it was 17.5%, and in 2002, it was 15.4%.



Economic growth
Economic growth
In economics, economic growth is defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand...

, combined with earlier tax
Tax reform
Tax reform is the process of changing the way taxes are collected or managed by the government.Tax reformers have different goals. Some seek to reduce the level of taxation of all people by the government. Some seek to make the tax system more progressive or less progressive. Some seek to simplify...

 and financial sector reforms, has dramatically improved government finance from the 1999 budget deficit level of 3.5% of GDP to a deficit of 1.2% of GDP in 2003. Government revenues grew from 19.8% of GDP in 1999 to 22.6% of GDP in 2001, but decreased to 16.2% of GDP in 2003. In 2000, Kazakhstan adopted a new tax code
Tax code
In the UK, every person paid under the PAYE scheme is allocated a tax code by HM Revenue and Customs. This is usually in the form of a number followed by a letter suffix, though other 'non-standard' codes are also used. This code describes to employers how much tax to deduct from an employee. The...

 in an effort to consolidate these gains.

On November 29, 2003, the Law on Changes to Tax Code which reduced tax rates
Tax rates around the world
Comparison of tax rates around the world is difficult and somewhat subjective. Tax laws in most countries are extremely complex, and tax burden falls differently on different groups in each country and sub-national unit. The graph below gives an indication by rank of some raw...

 was adopted. The value added tax
Value added tax
A value added tax or value-added tax is a form of consumption tax. From the perspective of the buyer, it is a tax on the purchase price. From that of the seller, it is a tax only on the "value added" to a product, material or service, from an accounting point of view, by this stage of its...

 fell from 16% to 15%, the social tax, from 21% to 20%, and the personal income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

, from 30% to 20%. On July 7, 2006, the personal income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

 was reduced even further to a flat rate of 5% for personal income in the form of dividends and 10% for other personal income. Kazakhstan furthered its reforms by adopting a new land code on June 20, 2003, and a new customs code on April 5, 2003.

Energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 is the leading economic sector. Production of crude oil and natural gas condensate
Natural gas condensate
Natural-gas condensate is a low-density mixture of hydrocarbon liquids that are present as gaseous components in the raw natural gas produced from many natural gas fields....

 from the oil and gas basins of Kazakhstan amounted to 51.2 million ton
Ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

s in 2003, up 8.6% from the production in 2002. Kazakhstan raised oil and gas condensate exports to 44.3 million tons in 2003, 13% higher than in 2002. Gas production in Kazakhstan in 2003 amounted to 13.9 billion cubic meters (491 billion cu. ft), up 22.7% compared to 2002, including natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 production of 7.3 billion cubic meters (258 billion cu. ft).

Kazakhstan holds about 4 billion tons of proven recoverable oil reserves and 2,000 cubic kilometers (480 cu mi) of gas. According to industry analysts, expansion of oil production and the development of new fields
Oil field
An oil field is a region with an abundance of oil wells extracting petroleum from below ground. Because the oil reservoirs typically extend over a large area, possibly several hundred kilometres across, full exploitation entails multiple wells scattered across the area...

 will enable the country to produce as much as 3 Moilbbl per day by 2015, and Kazakhstan would be among the top 10 oil-producing nations in the world. Kazakhstan's oil exports in 2003 were valued at more than $7 billion, representing 65% of overall exports and 24% of the GDP. Major oil and gas fields and recoverable oil reserves
Oil reserves
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is...

 are Tengiz
Tengiz Field
Tengiz field is an oil and gas field located in northwestern Kazakhstan's low-lying wetlands along the northeast shores of the Caspian Sea...

 with 7 Goilbbl; Karachaganak
Karachaganak Field
Karachaganak Field is a gas condensate field in Kazakhstan. It is located about 150 km east from the city of Oral in the northwest of Kazakhstan. The field was once a massive Permian and Carboniferous reef complex covering an area . At its largest point the reservoir contains a gas column ...

 with 8 Goilbbl and 1,350 km³ of natural gas); and Kashagan
Kashagan Field
Kashagan Field is an offshore oil field located in Kazakhstan. The field is situated in the northern part of the Caspian Sea close to the Kazakhstan city of Atyrau. The field was discovered in 2000 and was one of the larger discoveries in that decade, it is estimated that the Kashagan Field has...

 with 7 to 9 Goilbbl.

Kazakhstan instituted an ambitious pension
Pension
In general, a pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is paid in regular installments, while the latter is paid in one lump sum.The terms retirement...

 reform program in 1998. As of January 1, 2005, the pension assets were about $4.1 billion. There are 16 saving pension funds in the country. The State Accumulating Pension Fund, the only state-owned fund, was privatized
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 in 2006. The country's unified financial regulatory agency oversees and regulates the pension funds. The growing demand of the pension funds for quality investment outlets triggered rapid development of the debt securities market. Pension fund capital is being invested almost exclusively in corporate and government bonds
Bond (finance)
In finance, a bond is a debt security, in which the authorized issuer owes the holders a debt and, depending on the terms of the bond, is obliged to pay interest to use and/or to repay the principal at a later date, termed maturity...

, including government of Kazakhstan Eurobonds.

The banking system of Kazakhstan is developing rapidly and the system's capitalization now exceeds $1 billion. The National Bank
National Bank of Kazakhstan
-History:The National Bank was formed on April 13, 1993 with the reorganisation of the of the Soviet era Kazakh Republican bank to become the central bank of Kazakhstan.-External links:...

 has introduced deposit insurance in its campaign to strengthen the banking sector. Several major foreign banks have branches in Kazakhstan, including RBS
Royal Bank of Scotland
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is a British banking and insurance holding company in which the UK Government holds an 84% stake. This stake is held and managed through UK Financial Investments Limited, whose voting rights are limited to 75% in order for the bank to retain its listing on the...

, Citibank
Citibank
Citibank, a major international bank, is the consumer banking arm of financial services giant Citigroup. Citibank was founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York, later First National City Bank of New York...

, and HSBC
HSBC
HSBC Holdings plc is a global banking and financial services company headquartered in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom. it is the world's second-largest banking and financial services group and second-largest public company according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine...

. Kookmin and UniCredit
UniCredit
UniCredit SpA is an Italy-based, pan-European banking organization, with aprox 40 million customers and operations in 22 countries.- Geography :...

 have both recently entered the Kazakhstan's financial services market through acquisitions and stake
Equity (finance)
In accounting and finance, equity is the residual claim or interest of the most junior class of investors in assets, after all liabilities are paid. If liability exceeds assets, negative equity exists...

-building.

Despite the strength of Kazakhstan's economy for most of the first decade of the 21st century, the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 has exposed some central weaknesses in the country's economy. The year on year growth of Kazakhstan's GDP dropped 19.81% in 2008. Four of the major banks were rescued by the government at the end of 2008 and real estate prices have sharply dropped.

Agriculture



Agriculture
Agriculture in Kazakhstan
Agriculture in Kazakhstan remains a small scale sector of Kazakhstan's economy. Agriculture's contribution to the GDP is under 10% - it was recorded as 6.7%, and as occupying only 20% of labor. At the same time, more than 70% of its land is occupied in crops and animal husbandry...

 accounted for 10.3% of Kazakhstan's GDP in 2005. Grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

 (Kazakhstan is the seventh-largest producer in the world) and livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 are the most important agricultural commodities. Agricultural land occupies more than 846000 square kilometres (326,642.4 sq mi). The available agricultural land consists of 205000 square kilometres (79,150.9 sq mi) of arable land and 611000 square kilometres (235,908.4 sq mi) of pasture
Pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

 and hay land.

Chief livestock products are dairy product
Dairy product
Dairy products are generally defined as foods produced from cow's or domestic buffalo's milk. They are usually high-energy-yielding food products. A production plant for such processing is called a dairy or a dairy factory. Raw milk for processing comes mainly from cows, and, to a lesser extent,...

s, leather
Leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

, meat
Meat
Meat is animal flesh that is used as food. Most often, this means the skeletal muscle and associated fat and other tissues, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as organs and offal...

, and wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

. The country's major crops include wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, and rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

. Wheat export
Export
The term export is derived from the conceptual meaning as to ship the goods and services out of the port of a country. The seller of such goods and services is referred to as an "exporter" who is based in the country of export whereas the overseas based buyer is referred to as an "importer"...

s, a major source of hard currency
Hard currency
Hard currency , in economics, refers to a globally traded currency that is expected to serve as a reliable and stable store of value...

, rank among the leading commodities in Kazakhstan's export trade. In 2003 Kazakhstan harvested 17.6 million tons of grain in gross, 2.8% higher compared to 2002. Kazakh agriculture still has many environmental problems from mismanagement during its years in the Soviet Union. Some Kazakh wine
Kazakh wine
Kazakh wine is wine made in the Central Asia country of Kazakhstan. The roots of the Kazakh wine industry can be traced to the 7th century AD when grapevines were brought to the region from neighboring Uzbekistan and China...

 is produced in the mountains to the east of Almaty.

Kazakhstan is thought to be one of the places that the apple
Apple
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

 originated, particularly the wild ancestor
Ancestor
An ancestor is a parent or the parent of an ancestor ....

 of Malus domestica, Malus sieversii
Malus sieversii
Malus sieversii is a wild apple native to the mountains of Central Asia in southern Kazakhstan, eastern Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Northern Afghanistan and Xinjiang, China. It has recently been shown to be the sole ancestor of most cultivars of the domesticated apple...

. It has no common name in English, but is known in Kazakhstan, where it is native, as 'alma'. In fact, the region where it is thought to originate is called Almaty, or 'rich with apple'. This tree is still found wild in the mountains of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 in southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

, Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

, and Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

, China.

Natural resources


Kazakhstan has an abundant supply of accessible mineral and fossil fuel resources. Development of petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

, natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

, and mineral extraction has attracted most of the over $40 billion in foreign investment in Kazakhstan since 1993 and accounts for some 57% of the nation's industrial output (or approximately 13% of gross domestic product). According to some estimates, Kazakhstan has the second largest uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

, chromium
Chromium
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

, lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, and zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

 reserves, the third largest manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

 reserves, the fifth largest copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 reserves, and ranks in the top ten for coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

, iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, and gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

. It is also an exporter of diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

s. Perhaps most significant for economic development, Kazakhstan also currently has the 11th largest proven reserves of both oil
Oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

 and natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

.

In total, there are 160 deposits with over 2.7 billion tons of petroleum. Oil explorations have shown that the deposits on the Caspian shore
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 are only a small part of a much larger deposit. It is said that 3.5 billion tons of oil and 2.5 trillion cubic meters of gas could be found in that area. Overall the estimate of Kazakhstan's oil deposits is 6.1 billion tons. However, there are only 3 refineries
Oil refinery
An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas...

 within the country, situated in Atyrau, Pavlodar
Pavlodar
Pavlodar is a city in northeastern Kazakhstan and the capital of Pavlodar Province. It is located 350 km northeast of the national capital Astana, and 400 km southeast of the Russian city of Omsk along the Irtysh River. , the city has a population of 331710...

, and Shymkent
Shymkent
Shymkent , formerly known as Chimkent , is the capital city of South Kazakhstan Province, the most populated region in Kazakhstan. It is the third most populous city in Kazakhstan behind Almaty and Astana with a population of 629,600 . A major railroad junction on the Turkestan-Siberia Railway, the...

. These are not capable of processing the total crude output so much of it is exported to Russia. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration
Energy Information Administration
The U.S. Energy Information Administration is the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. EIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and...

 Kazakhstan was producing approximately 1540000 barrels (244,840,434.3 l) of oil per day in 2009.

As Kazakhstan positions itself to take a place in the top 10 global oil producers, in 2011 the KAZENERGY Association will host the VI KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum in Astana, October 4-5. 2011. The Forum is an influential dialogue platform that unites the entire energy industry, bringing oil and gas companies together. The KAZENERGY Eurasian Forum is an annual event in the petroleum and energy industry of Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea region.

Transport


A new highway between Almaty and the border with China will reduce transit times from around six to three hours.

Demographics





The US Census Bureau International Database list the current population of Kazakhstan as 15,460,484, while United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 sources such as the UN Population Division give an estimate of 15,753,460. Official estimates put the population of Kazakhstan at 16.455 million as of February 2011, of which 46% is rural and 54% is urban.
The 2009 population estimate is 6.8% higher than the population reported in the last census from January 1999. The decline in population that began after 1989 has been arrested and possibly reversed. Men and women make up 48.3% and 51.7% of the population, respectively.

The ethnic Kazakhs
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

 represent 63.1% of the population and ethnic Russians
Russians in Kazakhstan
There has been a substantial population of Russians in Kazakhstan since the 19th century. Although their numbers have been reduced since the breakup of the Soviet Union, they remain prominent in Kazakh society today.-Early colonization:...

 23.7%, with a rich array of other groups represented, including Tatars
Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

 (1.3%), Ukrainians
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 (2.1%), Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

 (2.8%), Belarusians
Belarusians
Belarusians ; are an East Slavic ethnic group who populate the majority of the Republic of Belarus. Introduced to the world as a new state in the early 1990s, the Republic of Belarus brought with it the notion of a re-emerging Belarusian ethnicity, drawn upon the lines of the Old Belarusian...

, Uyghurs
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

 (1.4%), Azerbaijanis, Poles, and Lithuanians
Lithuanians
Lithuanians are the Baltic ethnic group native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,765,600 people. Another million or more make up the Lithuanian diaspora, largely found in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Russia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Their native language...

. Some minorities such as Germans (1.1%) (Germans who had previously settled in Russia
History of Germans in Russia and the Soviet Union
The German minority in Russia and the Soviet Union was created from several sources and in several waves. The 1914 census puts the number of Germans living in Russian Empire at 2,416,290. In 1989, the German population of the Soviet Union was roughly 2 million. In the 2002 Russian census, 597,212...

, especially Volga Germans), Ukrainians, Koreans, Chechens, Meskhetian Turks, and Russian political opponents of the regime had been deported
Population transfer in the Soviet Union
Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, often classified as "enemies of workers," deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite...

 to Kazakhstan in the 1930s and 1940s by Stalin; some of the bigger Soviet labour camps (Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

) existed in the country.

Significant Russian immigration also connected with Virgin Lands Campaign
Virgin Lands Campaign
The Virgin Lands Campaign was an initiative by Nikita Khrushchev to open up vast tracts of unseeded steppe in the northern Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and the Altay region of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, started in 1954....

 and Soviet space program
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

 during Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 era. In 1989, Kazakhs held a majority in only 7 of the 20 regions of the country. There is also a small but active Jewish community. Before 1991 there were one million Germans in Kazakhstan
Germans of Kazakhstan
The Germans of Kazakhstan are a minority in Kazakhstan, and make up a small percentage of the population. Today they live mostly in the northeastern part of the country between the cities of Astana and Oskemen, the majority being urban dwellers...

; most of them emigrated to Germany following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Most members of the smaller Pontian Greek minority have emigrated to Greece. In the late 1930s thousands of Koreans in the Soviet Union were deported
Deportation of Koreans in the Soviet Union
Deportation of Koreans in the Soviet Union, originally conceived in 1926, initiated in 1930, and carried through in 1937, was the first mass transfer of an entire nationality based on their ethnicity to be committed by the Soviet Union...

 to Central Asia. These people are now known as Koryo-saram
Koryo-saram
Koryo-saram is the name which ethnic Koreans in the post-Soviet states use to refer to themselves. Approximately 500,000 ethnic Koreans reside in the former Soviet Union, primarily in the now-independent states of Central Asia. There are also large Korean communities in southern Russia , the...

.

Kazakhstan is a bilingual country: the Kazakh language
Kazakh language
Kazakh is a Turkic language which belongs to the Kipchak branch of the Turkic languages, closely related to Nogai and Karakalpak....

, spoken by 64.4% of the population, has the status of the "state" language, while Russian, which is spoken by almost all Kazakhstanis, is declared the "official" language, and is used routinely in business. English gained its popularity among the youth since the collapse of USSR.

The 1990s were marked by the emigration of many of the country's Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 and Volga Germans, a process that began in the 1970s. This has made indigenous Kazakhs the largest ethnic group. Additional factors in the increase in the Kazakh population are higher birthrates and immigration of ethnic Kazakhs
Oralman
Oralman , or "returnee" is an official term used by Kazakhstani authorities to describe ethnic Kazakhs who have immigrated to Kazakhstan since its independence in 1991...

 from China, Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, and Russia.

In the early 21st century, Kazakhstan has become one of the leading nations in international adoption
International adoption
International adoption is a type of adoption in which an individual or couple becomes the legal and permanent parents of a child that is a national of a different country...

s. This has recently sparked some criticism in the Parliament of Kazakhstan, due to the concerns about safety and treatment of the children abroad and the questions regarding the low level of population in Kazakhstan.

Religion


According to the 2009 Census, 70.2% of the population is Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, 26.6% Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, 0.1% Buddhists
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, 0.2% others (mostly Jews
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

), and 2.8% non-believers, while 0.5% chose not to answer. According to its Constitution, Kazakhstan is a secular state.

Religious freedoms were guaranteed by Article 39 of Kazakhstan’s Constitution. Article 39 clearly states: “Human rights and freedoms shall not be restricted in any way.” Article 14 prohibits “discrimination on religious basis” and Article 19 insures that everyone has the “right to determine and indicate or not to indicate his/her ethnic, party and religious affiliation.” The Constitutional Council recently affirmed these rights by ruling that a proposed law limiting the rights of certain individuals to practice their religion was declared unconstitutional.

However, “The Law On Religious Activity and Religious Associations" came into effect after October 25, 2011. The new religion law now restricts religious freedom in Kazakhstan.
Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 is the largest religion in Kazakhstan followed by Russian Orthodox Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. After decades of religious suppression by the Soviet Union
Religion in the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion and its replacement with atheism. To that end, the communist regime confiscated religious property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in schools...

, the coming of independence witnessed a surge in expression of ethnic identity, partly through religion. The free practice of religious beliefs
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and the establishment of full freedom of religion led to an increase of religious activity. Hundreds of mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s, churches, synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s, and other religious structures were built in the span of a few years, with the number of religious associations rising from 670 in 1990 to 4,170 today.

The majority of Muslims are Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 following the Hanafi
Hanafi
The Hanafi school is one of the four Madhhab in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after the Persian scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit , a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani...

 school, including ethnic Kazakhs, who constitute about 60% the population, as well as by ethnic Uzbeks, Uighurs, and Tatars. Less than 1% are part of the Sunni Shafi`i school (primarily Chechens). There are a total of 2,300 mosques, all of them are affiliated with the "Spiritual Association of Muslims of Kazakhstan", headed by a supreme mufti
Mufti
A mufti is a Sunni Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law . In religious administrative terms, a mufti is roughly equivalent to a deacon to a Sunni population...

. The Eid al-Adha is recognized as a national holiday.

One fourth of the population is Russian Orthodox, including ethnic Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians. Other Christian groups include Roman Catholics and Protestants. There are a total of 258 Orthodox churches, 93 Catholic churches, and over 500 Protestant churches and prayer houses. The Russian Orthodox Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 is recognized as a national holiday in Kazakhstan. Other religious groups include Judaism, the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Buddhists, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to the 2009 Census data, there are very few Christians outside the Slavic and Germanic ethic groups:

Education


Education is universal and mandatory through to the secondary level
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 and the adult literacy rate is 99.5%. Education consists of three main educational phases: primary education
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 (forms 1–4), basic general education (forms 5–9) and senior level education (forms 10–11 or 12) divided into continued general education and professional education (primary education is preceded by one year of pre-school education). These three levels of education can be followed in one institution or in different ones (e.g. primary school, then secondary school). Recently, several secondary schools, specialized schools, magnet school
Magnet school
In education in the United States, magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curricula. "Magnet" refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal boundaries defined by authorities as school zones that feed into certain schools.There are magnet schools at the...

s, gymnasiums
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

, lyceums, linguistic and technical gymnasiums, have been founded. Secondary professional education is offered in special professional or technical school
Technical school
Technical school is a general term used for two-year college which provide mostly employment-preparation skills for trained labor, such as welding, culinary arts and office management.-Associations supporting technical schools:...

s, lyceum
Lyceum
The lyceum is a category of educational institution defined within the education system of many countries, mainly in Europe. The definition varies between countries; usually it is a type of secondary school.-History:...

s or college
College
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

s and vocational schools.

At present, there are universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

, academies
Academy
An academy is an institution of higher learning, research, or honorary membership.The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece. In the western world academia is the...

, and institute
Institute
An institute is a permanent organizational body created for a certain purpose. Often it is a research organization created to do research on specific topics...

s, conservatories, higher schools and higher colleges. There are three main levels: basic higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 that provides the fundamentals of the chosen field of study and leads to the award of the Bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

; specialized higher education after which students are awarded the Specialist's Diploma; and scientific-pedagogical higher education which leads to the Master's Degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

. Postgraduate education leads to the Kandidat nauk (Candidate of Sciences) and the Doctor of Sciences or Ph.D. With the adoption of the Laws on Education and on Higher Education, a private sector has been established and several private institutions have been licensed.

The Ministry of Education of Kazakhstan runs a highly successful Bolashak
Bolashak
The Bolashak Programme is a scholarship which is awarded to high-performing students from Kazakhstan to study overseas all-expenses paid, provided that they return to Kazakhstan to work for at least five years after graduation.Since its implementation in 1993, more than 6,000 students have been...

scholarship
Scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

, which is annually awarded to about five thousand applicants of Kazakhstan citizens. The scholarship funds their education and all living expenses abroad as well as transportation expenses once in a year from home to a university and back home. The choice of an institution of higher education and research as well as any corporation that provides both undergraduate and postgraduate education has no restrictions, if an applicant complies with the eligibility requirements of an institution abroad. Awarded student can study at any educational institutions such as prestigious University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

, Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

, University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

, Technical University Munich, Imperial College London
Imperial College London
Imperial College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, specialising in science, engineering, business and medicine...

, University of Tokyo
University of Tokyo
, abbreviated as , is a major research university located in Tokyo, Japan. The University has 10 faculties with a total of around 30,000 students, 2,100 of whom are foreign. Its five campuses are in Hongō, Komaba, Kashiwa, Shirokane and Nakano. It is considered to be the most prestigious university...

 and other universities. The terms of the program include mandatory return to Kazakhstan for at least five years of employment.

Culture


Before the Russian colonization, the Kazakhs had a highly developed culture based on their nomadic pastoral economy. Although Islam was introduced to most of the Kazakhs in the 15th century, the religion was not fully assimilated until much later. As a result, it coexisted with earlier elements of Tengriism
Tengriism
Tengriism is a Central Asian religion that incorporates elements of shamanism, animism, totemism and ancestor worship. Despite still being active in some minorities, it was, in old times, the major belief of Turkic peoples , Bulgars, Hungarians and Mongols...

.

Traditional Kazakh belief held that separate spirits inhabited and animated the earth, sky, water and fire, as well as domestic animals. To this day, particularly honored guests in rural settings are treated to a feast of freshly killed lamb. Such guests are sometimes asked to bless the lamb and to ask its spirit for permission to partake of its flesh. Besides lamb, many other traditional foods retain symbolic value in Kazakh culture.

In the national cuisine, livestock meat can be cooked in a variety of ways and is usually served with a wide assortment of traditional bread products. Refreshments often include black tea and traditional milk-derived drinks such as ayran
Ayran
Ayran or laban is a cold beverage of yogurt mixed with cold water and sometimes salt; it is popular in many Central Asian, Middle Eastern and South-eastern European countries....

, shubat and kymyz. A traditional Kazakh dinner involves a multitude of appetisers on the table, followed by a soup and one or two main courses such as pilaf
Pilaf
Pilaf is a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth . In some cases, the rice may also attain its brown color by being stirred with bits of cooked onion, as well as a large mix of spices...

 and beshbarmak
Beshbarmak
Beshbarmak is a popular dish in Kyrgyzstan. Its analogue in Kazakhstan is called yet or "".The term Beshbarmak means "five fingers", because the dish is eaten with one's hands. The boiled meat is usually diced with knives and often mixed with boiled noodles. It is usually served in a big round...

. They also drink their national beverage, which consists of fermented mare's milk.

Because livestock was central to the Kazakhs' traditional lifestyle, most of their nomadic practices and customs relate in some way to livestock. Kazakhs have historically been very passionate about horse-riding. Traditional curses and blessings invoked disease or fecundity among animals, and good manners required that a person ask first about the health of a man's livestock when greeting him and only afterward inquire about the human aspects of his life. Even today, many Kazakhs express interest in equestrianism and horse-racing.

Kazakhstan is home to a large number of prominent contributors to literature, science and philosophy: Abay Qunanbayuli, Mukhtar Auezov
Mukhtar Auezov
Mukhtar Omarkhanuli Auezov was a prominent Kazakh writer, known best for his work as a playwright.-Life:...

, Gabit Musirepov, Kanysh Satpayev
Kanysh Satpayev
Kanysh Imantayuli Satpayev is one of the founders of Soviet metallogeny, principal advocate and the first president of Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences.-Biography:...

, Mukhtar Shakhanov, Saken Seyfullin, Jambyl Jabayev, among many others.

Kazakhstan features a lively music culture, evident in massive popularity of SuperStar KZ
SuperStar KZ
SuperStar KZ was a reality television show based on the popular British show Pop Idol, which aired from 2003 to 2007 on the Kazhak television station Perviy Kanal Evrasia. The talent contest determined the best young singers in Kazakhstan by allowing viewers to vote by phone or SMS...

, a local offspring of Simon Fuller's Pop Idol
Pop Idol
Pop Idol is a British television series which debuted on ITV on 6 October 2001. The show was a talent contest to decide the best new young pop singer in the United Kingdom, based on viewer voting and participation. Two series were broadcast - one in 2001-02 and a second in 2003...

. Almaty is considered to be the musical capital of the Central Asia, recently enjoying concerts by well-known artists such as Deep Purple
Deep Purple
Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they are considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although some band members believe that their music cannot be categorised as belonging to any one genre...

, Tokio Hotel
Tokio Hotel
Tokio Hotel is a pop rock band from Germany, founded in 2001 by singer Bill Kaulitz, guitarist Tom Kaulitz, drummer Gustav Schäfer and bassist Georg Listing...

, Atomic Kitten
Atomic Kitten
Atomic Kitten were an English girl group from Liverpool, first established in 1997. Created by Andy McCluskey, the final line-up, and most commercially successful, consisted of Natasha Hamilton, Liz McClarnon, and Jenny Frost...

, Dima Bilan
Dima Bilan
' is a Russian actor and pop singer . Bilan represented Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 with "Never Let You Go", finishing second, and he won the contest in 2008 in Belgrade, with the song "Believe". He has had several Russian no. 1 hits....

, Loon
Loon
The loons or divers are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia...

, Craig David
Craig David
Craig Ashley David is an English singer and songwriter. He has released five studio albums: Born to Do It, Slicker Than Your Average, The Story Goes..., Trust Me, Signed Sealed Delivered and a Greatest Hits album...

, The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas are an American pop group , formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1995. The group includes rappers will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo, and singer Fergie. Since the release of their third album Elephunk in 2003, the group has sold an estimated 56 million records worldwide...

, Eros Ramazzotti
Eros Ramazzotti
Eros Luciano Walter Ramazzotti , known simply as Eros Ramazzotti, is an Italian singer and songwriter. Ramazzotti is enormously popular in Italy, and is well known in most non-English-speaking European countries and in the Spanish-speaking world, as he has released most of his albums in both...

, José Carreras
José Carreras
Josep Maria Carreras i Coll , better known as José Carreras , is a Spanish Catalan tenor particularly known for his performances in the operas of Verdi and Puccini...

, Ace of Base
Ace of Base
Ace of Base is a pop band based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Its original lineup consisted of Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg, and three siblings, Jonas "Joker" Berggren, Malin "Linn" Berggren and Jenny Berggren...

, Scorpions (band)
Scorpions (band)
Scorpions are a heavy metal/hard rock band from Hannover, Germany, formed in 1965 by guitarist Rudolf Schenker, who is the band's only constant member. They are known for their 1980s rock anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and many singles, such as "No One Like You", "Send Me an Angel", "Still...

, Timati
Timati
Timur Ildarovich Yunusov , better known by his stage name Timati , is an Russian rapper and actor.-Early life:Timur Ildarovich Yunusov was born on August 15, 1983 in Moscow, Soviet Union to an ethnically mixed family of Tatar father Ildar Yunusov and Jewish mother Simona Yunusova , he also has a...

, Tiësto
Tiësto
Tijs Michiel Verwest, , known as Tiësto , is a Dutch musician, DJ and record producer of electronic dance music. Although he has used many aliases in the past, he is best known for his work as DJ Tiësto...

, among others.
Tourism is becoming fasting growing industry in Kazakhstan and its is joining international tourism networking. In year 2010, Kazakhstan joined The Region Initiative (TRI) which is a Tri-regional Umbrella of Tourism related organisations. TRI is functioning as a link between three regions----South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Armenia, Bangladesh, India, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tajikistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Ukraine are now Partners and Kazakhstan is linked with other South Asian, Eastern European and Central Asian countries in tourism market.

Sports





Kazakhstan has developed itself as a formidable sports-force on the world arena in the following fields: boxing, chess, kickboxing, skiing, gymnastics, water-polo, cycling, martial arts, heavy-athletics, horse-riding, triathlon, track-hurdles, sambo, greco-roman wrestling and billiards. The following are all well-known Kazakhstani athletes and world-championship medalists: Bekzat Sattarkhanov
Bekzat Sattarkhanov
Bekzat Sattarkhanov was a Kazakh boxer who competed in the men's featherweight division at the 2000 Summer Olympics and won the gold medal....

, Vassiliy Jirov
Vassiliy Jirov
Vassiliy "The Tiger" Jirov is a professional Kazakh boxer and former IBF cruiserweight champion, currently fighting out of Las Vegas under Thell Torrence...

, Alexander Vinokourov
Alexander Vinokourov
Alexander Nikolaevich Vinokourov, also written Alexandre Vinokourov, is an ethnically Russian Kazakhstani professional road bicycle racer who currently competes with the UCI ProTeam Astana...

, Bulat Jumadilov
Bulat Jumadilov
Bulat Jumadilov is a Kazakh boxer who competed in the Men's Flyweight at the 2000 Summer Olympics and won the silver medal. Four years earlier at the 1996 Summer Olympics he also captured the silver medal...

, Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov
Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov
Mukhtarkhan Koblanbekovich Dildabekov is a Kazakh boxer, best known to win the silver medal in the Super Heavyweight division at the 2000 Summer Olympics.-Career:...

, Olga Shishigina
Olga Shishigina
Olga Shishigina is a retired Kazakh athlete who mainly competed in the 100 metres hurdles. She won an Olympic gold medal in 2000, and many on regional and continental level.She was banned between 1996 and 1998 for failing a drug test.-Personal bests:...

, Andrey Kashechkin
Andrey Kashechkin
Andrey Kashechkin is a Kazakhstani road racing cyclist, who rides for the UCI ProTour team .Kashechkin was born in Kyzyl-Orda, in the former Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic....

, Aliya Yussupova
Aliya Yussupova
Aliya Yussupova is an individual Rhythmic Gymnast of Kazakh ethnicity, who competes for Kazakhstan, coached by the Russian coach, Irina Viner.At the 2004 Athens Olympics she qualified for the finals in 5th...

, Dmitriy Karpov
Dmitriy Karpov
Dmitriy Karpov is an athlete from Kazakhstan who competes in decathlon and heptathlon...

, Darmen Sadvakasov
Darmen Sadvakasov
Darmen Sadvakasov is a Kazakhstani chess grandmaster. Sadvakasov received the International Master title in 1995 and the GM title in 1998 as a result of his victory in the World Junior Championship. He tied for first at Bali 2000 and the 2003 Samba Cup, and won first place outright at Copenhagen...

, Yeldos Ikhsangaliyev
Yeldos Ikhsangaliyev
Yeldos Ikhsangaliyev is a Kazakh judoka. He won a bronze medal in the Men's +100 kg Category at the 2006 Asian Games. He won a silver medal at the 2004 Asian Judo Championships and bronze medals at the 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005 Asian Judo Championships.- References :...

, Askhat Zhitkeyev
Askhat Zhitkeyev
Askhat Zhitkeyev is a Kazakh judoka. He won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 90-100 kg division and a bronze medal at the 2001 world judo championships in the -100 kg division. He won a bronze medal at the -100 kg category of the Asian Games.- References :...

, Maxim Rakov
Maxim Rakov
Maxim Rakov is a Kazakh judoka.He won the silver medal in the middleweight category of the 2006 Asian Games, having lost the final match to Hwang Hee-Tae of South Korea.He currently resides in Karaganda....

, Aidar Kabimollayev
Aidar Kabimollayev
Aidar Kabimollayev is a Kazakhstani judoka.He finished in joint fifth place in the lightweight division at the 2006 Asian Games, having lost to Shokir Muminov of Uzbekistan in the bronze medal match....

, Yermakhan Ibraimov
Yermakhan Ibraimov
Yermakhan Ibraimov is a Kazakh boxer who competed in the Light Middleweight at the 2000 Summer Olympics and won the gold medal. Four years earlier, at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, he captured the bronze medal...

, Vladimir Smirnov
Vladimir Smirnov (skier)
Vladimir Mikhaylovich Smirnov is an Kazakhstani former cross-country skier who raced from the mid-1980s until 1988 for the USSR and, later, for his native country...

, among others.
  • The 2011 Asian Winter Games were held in the country.

  • Football is the most popular sport in Kazakhstan. The Football Federation of Kazakhstan
    Football Federation of Kazakhstan
    The Football Federation of Kazakhstan is the governing body of football in Kazakhstan. It organizes the football league, the Kazakhstan Premier League, and the Kazakhstan national football team...

      is the sport's national governing body. The FFK organises the men's
    Kazakhstan national football team
    The Kazakhstan national football team represents Kazakhstan in international men's association football and is directed by Football Federation of Kazakhstan. They split from the Soviet Union national football team after independence in 1991 and joined the Asian Football Confederation's Central and...

    , women's
    Kazakhstan women's national football team
    Kazakhstan women's national football team represent Kazakhstan in international football.Kazakhstan made their debut in the Asian championships in 1995. Kazakhstan came second-to-last in their group. Two years later, Kazakhstan came last in the same championships...

     and Futsal
    Futsal
    Futsal is a variant of association football that is played on a smaller pitch and mainly played indoors. Its name is a portmanteau of the Portuguese futebol de salão and the Spanish fútbol de salón , which can be translated as "hall football" or "indoor football"...

     national teams.

  • Ice hockey
    Ice hockey
    Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

     – The Kazakhstani national ice hockey team has competed in ice hockey in the 1998 and 2006 Winter Olympics as well as in the 2006 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships. Kazakhstan has 7 teams. The teams are Kaztsink-Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk
    Kaztsink-Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk
    Kazzinc-Torpedo is a professional Kazakhstani ice hockey team that plays in the Kazakhstani Championship. They play their home games at Sport-Palast, located in Ust-Kamenogorsk.- Achievements :*Kazakhstani Championship:...

    , Kazakhmys Satpayev, Gornyak Rudnyi, Barys Astana
    Barys Astana
    Hockey Club Barys is a professional ice hockey team based in Astana, Kazakhstan. They compete in the Chernyshev Division of the Kontinental Hockey League.-History:...

    , Irtysh Pavlodar, Yenbek Almaty and Sary-Arka Qaragandy.
Top Kazakhstani ice hockey players include Nikolai Antropov and Evgeni Nabokov
Evgeni Nabokov
Evgeni Viktorovich Nabokov is a Russian professional ice hockey goaltender who is playing for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League .Nabokov was selected by San Jose in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft...

. Barys Astana
Barys Astana
Hockey Club Barys is a professional ice hockey team based in Astana, Kazakhstan. They compete in the Chernyshev Division of the Kontinental Hockey League.-History:...

 – a major professional ice hockey team playing in the Kontinental Hockey League
Kontinental Hockey League
The Kontinental Hockey League is an international professional ice hockey league in Eurasia founded in 2008. As of 2009, it is ranked as the strongest hockey league in Europe....

.

  • Athletics – 2010 was a breakthrough year for Kazakhstan's rising triple jump star Olga Rypakova
    Olga Rypakova
    Olga Rypakova is a Kazakhstani track and field athlete. Originally a heptathlete, she switched to focus on the long jump and began to compete in the triple jump after 2007...

    . After a fourth place finish at the Beijing Olympics in the triple jump with an Asian record of 15.11m, Rypakova had a relatively quiet 2009 outdoor season. However her wins in the long jump and triple jump at the Asian Indoor Games at the end of the year were a sign for what was to come in 2010. She began the year with gold at the World Indoor Championships held in Doha in the triple jump, with an Asian Indoor record of 15.14m. Outdoors, she finished second overall in the IAAF Diamond League, and improved her Asian triple jump record to 15.25m when winning the Continental Cup in Split, Croatia
    Croatia
    Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

    .

  • Cycling
    Cycling
    Cycling, also called bicycling or biking, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or for sport. Persons engaged in cycling are cyclists or bicyclists...

     – Kazakhstan's most famous cyclist is Alexander Vinokourov
    Alexander Vinokourov
    Alexander Nikolaevich Vinokourov, also written Alexandre Vinokourov, is an ethnically Russian Kazakhstani professional road bicycle racer who currently competes with the UCI ProTeam Astana...

    , although cycling is a popular activity throughout the country. Vinokourov had an impressive cycling record while riding for the Telekom/T-Mobile teams early in his career. He won the silver medal in road cycling in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and finished third overall in the 2003 Tour de France. After moving to the Liberty Seguros
    ONCE
    ONCE , or Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles , is a Spanish foundation founded on December 13, 1938 to raise funds to provide services for the blind and people with serious visual impairment....

     team, Vinokourov finished 5th in the 2005 Tour de France, while two other young Kazakhstanis, Andrej Kashechkin and Maksim Iglinskiy, finished 19th and 37th, respectively. In 2006 Vinokourov's team became known as after a drug doping scandal forced his team Liberty Seguros from the 2006 Tour de France
    2006 Tour de France
    The 2006 Tour de France was the 93rd Tour de France, taking place from July 1 to July 23, 2006. It was won by Óscar Pereiro following the disqualification of apparent winner Floyd Landis....

    . Vinokourov then helped form a new team, Astana, named for the capital of Kazakhstan and funded by a conglomeration of Kazakhstan businesses, which adopted the color of the Kazakh flag for its uniforms. That same year, Vinokourov and Kashechkin took first and third places in general classification in the 2006 Vuelta a España in Spain. In July 2007, Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping
    Blood doping
    Blood doping is the practice of boosting the number of red blood cells in the bloodstream in order to enhance athletic performance. Because such blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles, a higher concentration in the blood can improve an athlete’s aerobic capacity and...

     during the 2007 Tour de France
    2007 Tour de France
    The 2007 Tour de France, the 94th running of the race, took place from 7 July to 29 July 2007. The Tour began with a prologue in London, and ended with the traditional finish in Paris. Along the way, the route also passed through Belgium and Spain...

     and was disqualified from the race, although he was in the lead at the time. He was only banned for a year by the Kazakhstan cycling federation, but his suspension was increased to the internationally mandated two years by the UCI
    Union Cycliste Internationale
    Union Cycliste Internationale is the world governing body for sports cycling and oversees international competitive cycling events. The UCI is based in Aigle, Switzerland....

     (International Cycling Federation). In addition, Kashechkin was also found guilty of blood doping and was also suspended for two years, and Astana was subsequently banned from the 2008 Tour de France
    2008 Tour de France
    The 2008 Tour de France was the 95th Tour de France. The event took place from 5–27 July 2008. Starting in the French city of Brest, the tour entered Italy on the 15th stage and returned to France during the 16th, heading for Paris, its regular final destination, which was reached in the 21st stage...

    . At that time, Vinokourov announced his retirement. The Astana Cycling team proceeded under new management and continued to include Kazakhstan riders in the Grand Tours of cycling, although race leadership of the team passed to the Spaniard Alberto Contador
    Alberto Contador
    Alberto Contador Velasco is a Spanish professional road bicycle racer for UCI ProTeam . He was the winner of the 2007 Tour de France with the team. With the Astana team he has won the 2008 Giro d'Italia, the 2008 Vuelta a España, the 2009 Tour de France, the 2010 Tour de France and won 2011 Giro...

     and the Americans Lance Armstrong
    Lance Armstrong
    Lance Edward Armstrong is an American former professional road racing cyclist who won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times, after having survived testicular cancer. He is also the founder and chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer research and support...

     and Levi Leipheimer
    Levi Leipheimer
    Levi Leipheimer is an American professional road bicycle racer for UCI ProTour team . His major results are winning the 2007–2009 editions of the Tour of California, the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré and the 2005 Deutschland Tour, coming in second in the 2008 Vuelta a España, third in the 2001 Vuelta a...

    . However, in September 2008, Vinokourov announced his intention to unretire and to return to cycling in 2009, and he returned in August 2009. In 2010, Vinokourov rejoined Astana.

  • Boxing
    Boxing
    Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

     – Since its independence in 1991, Kazakhstan's boxers have won many medals. Due to that, Kazakhstan quickly went up in all-time medal table of Olympic Games in boxing, where the country jumped from the lowest starting rank to current 11th rank among all other countries. As of now, two Kazakh boxers (Bakhtiyar Artayev
    Bakhtiyar Artayev
    Bakhtiyar Karipullauly Artayev is a Kazakh boxer who won the only Gold medal for Kazakhstan in the men's welterweight division at the 2004 Summer Olympics. He was also the Winner of the Val Barker Trophy for the outstanding boxer of the 2004 Olympics Games...

    , Vassiliy Jirov
    Vassiliy Jirov
    Vassiliy "The Tiger" Jirov is a professional Kazakh boxer and former IBF cruiserweight champion, currently fighting out of Las Vegas under Thell Torrence...

    ) have earned Val Barker Trophy
    Val Barker Trophy
    The Val Barker Trophy, named for boxer Val Barker, is presented every four years to an Olympic boxing athlete who exemplifies style during competition.-Recipients:...

    , making Kazakhstan second from the top falling only 3 medals behind from USA. World IBF
    International Boxing Federation
    The International Boxing Federation or IBF is one of four major organizations recognized by IBHOF which sanction world championship boxing bouts, alongside the WBA, WBC and WBO.- History :...

    , WBO
    World Boxing Organization
    The World Boxing Organization is a sanctioning organization currently recognizing professional boxing world champions. The organization is recognized as one of the four major world championship groups by the IBHOF alongside the International Boxing Federation, the World Boxing Council and the...

     and IBO
    International Boxing Organization
    The International Boxing Organization is a for-profit organization that sanctions professional boxing matches and awards world and subordinate championships.- Origins :...

     heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko was born in Kazakhstan in 1976.

  • Equestrian
    Equestrianism
    Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

     sports are also popular in Kazakhstan. Since 1993, the Equestrian Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan has been organizing national and international events in show jumping, dressage, eventing and endurance.

  • Bandy
    Bandy
    Bandy is a team winter sport played on ice, in which skaters use sticks to direct a ball into the opposing team's goal.The rules of the game have many similarities to those of association football: the game is played on a rectangle of ice the same size as a football field. Each team has 11 players,...

     – The national team is among the best and has twice won the bronze medal at the Bandy World Championships
    Bandy World Championships
    The Bandy World Championships are a competition between bandy-playing nations. The tournament is administrated by the Federation of International Bandy....

    . In the WCS 2011
    Bandy World Championship 2011
    The 2011 Bandy World Championship was an edition of the top annual event in international bandy, held between January 23 and January 30, 2011, in Kazan, Russia. 11 countries participated in the 2010 championships: Finland, Kazakhstan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, the United States and Canada, Hungary,...

     they were an extra-time in the semifinal from reaching the final for the first time. It will be hosted by Kazakhstan in 2012. The team won the first bandy tournament at the Asian Winter Games
    Bandy at the 2011 Asian Winter Games
    Bandy at the 2011 Asian Winter Games was held at Medeo in Almaty, Kazakhstan.-Medal table: -Medalists:-Preliminaries:---------Final:...

    . During the Soviet time, Dynamo Alma-Ata won the national championships in 1977 and 1990.

Judo Kazakh Askhat Zhitkeyev won silver in 2008 olympics and Yeldos Smetov won 2010 junior world championships in -55kg category.

Public holidays

Date New Year's Day
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar used in ancient Rome...

Жаңа жыл / Новый Год
January 7 Eastern Orthodox Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

Рождество Христово from 2007 official holiday
Last day of Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

Qurban Ayt* Құрбан айт
March 8 International Women's Day
International Women's Day
International Women's Day , originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and...

Халықаралық әйелдер күні/Международный женский день
March 21–23 Nauryz Meyramy
Nowruz
Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year....

Наурыз мейрамы Which is originally the Persian new year
Nowruz
Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year....

, is traditionally a springtime holiday marking
the beginning of a new year sometimes as late as April 21.
May 1 Kazakhstan People's Unity Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

Қазақстан халқының бірлігі мерекесі
May 9 Great Patriotic War Against Fascism Victory Day
Victory Day (Eastern Europe)
Victory Day or 9 May marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War...

Жеңіс күні / День Победы A holiday in the former Soviet Union carried over
to present-day Kazakhstan and other former republics (Except Baltic Countries).
July 6 Capital City Day Астана күні Birthday of the First President
August 30 Constitution Day
Constitution Day
Constitution Day is a holiday to honor the constitution of a country. Constitution Day is often celebrated on the anniversary of the signing, promulgation or adoption of the constitution, or in some cases, to commemorate the change to constitutional monarchy:...

Қазақстан Республикасының Конституциясы күні
December 16–17 Independence Day
Independence Day
An Independence Day is an annual event commemorating the anniversary of a nation's assumption of independent statehood, usually after ceasing to be a colony or part of another nation or state, and more rarely after the end of a military occupation...

Тәуелсіздік күні / День независимости


See also



  • Demography of Central Asia
    Demography of Central Asia
    Central Asia is a diverse land with many ethnic groups, languages, religions and tribes. This article discusses all of the above, and includes the demographics of the nations of the five former Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, a group which has a...

  • LGBT rights in Kazakhstan
    LGBT rights in Kazakhstan
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Kazakhstan may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Kazakhstan, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal...

     (Gay rights)
  • Kaznet
    Kaznet
    The Internet in Kazakhstan is growing rapidly. Between 2001 and 2005, the number of Internet users increased from 200,000 to 1 million. By 2007, Kazakhstan reported Internet penetration levels of 8.5 percent, rising to 12.4 percent in 2008...

     – Internet in Kazakhstan
  • Kazpost
    Kazpost
    Kazpost is the national postal service of Kazakhstan.-Postal:Kazpost provides wide range of the following postal services including:• Transmission and delivery of letters, wrappers and parcels...

     – Postal & Forwarding services
  • Media of Kazakhstan
    Media of Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstani Media are relatively free by Central Asian standards. However, despite press freedom being enshrined in Kazakhstan's constitution, monitors report that privately owned and opposition media are routinely harassed and censored. In 2004 the International Federation of Journalists...

  • Railway stations in Kazakhstan
    Railway stations in Kazakhstan
    - Maps :* * - Existing :* Ganyushkino - near Russian border* Atyrau* Beyneu* Aqtau - port on Caspian Sea* Aqtober - near Russian border* Embi* Shalqar* Baikonur - spaceport* Qyzylorda* Tashkent, Uzbekistan* Shymkent* Zhambyl...

  • Telecommunications in Kazakhstan
  • Transport in Kazakhstan
    Transport in Kazakhstan
    For transport in the Soviet Union, see Transport in the Soviet Union.- Railways :total:15,300 km in common carrier service; does not include industrial linesbroad gauge:15,300 km of gauge...



External links


New Religion Law restricts religious freedom in Kazakhstan
The Region Initiative (TRI)


Government