Қазақстан Республикасы
Qazaqstan Respublïkası
Республика Казахстан
Respublika Kazakhstan
Republic of Kazakhstan
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Flag of Kazakhstan
FlagCoat of arms
My Kazakhstan
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Location of Kazakhstan
Largest cityAlmaty
Official languagesKazakh (state language), Russian
 - PresidentNursultan Nazarbayev
 - Prime MinisterKarim Masimov
Independencefrom the Soviet Union 
 - 1st Khanate1361 as White Horde 
 - 2nd Khanate1428 as Uzbek Horde 
 - 3rd Khanate1465 as Kazakh Khanate 
 - DeclaredDecember 16, 1991 
 - FinalizedDecember 25, 1991 
 - Water (%)1.7
 - January 2006 estimate15,217,711 National Statistics Agency of Kazakhstan (62nd)
 - 1999 census14,953,100 
GDP (PPP)2007  estimate
 - Total$145.5 billion  (56th)
 - Per capita$9,594 (66th)
Gini? (2003)33.9 (medium
HDI (2004) 0.774 (medium) (79th)
CurrencyTenge (KZT)
Time zoneWest/East (UTC+5/+6)
 - Summer (DST)not observed (UTC+5/+6)
Internet TLD.kz
Calling code+7
Kazakhstan, also spelled Kazakstan (Kazakh: Қазақстан, Qazaqstan, IPA: [qɑzɑqˈstɑn]; Russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstán, IPA: [kazəxˈstan]), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a country that stretches over a vast expanse of northern and central Eurasia. Ranked the ninth largest country in the world, it has a territory of 2,727,300 km² (greater than Western Europe). It is bordered by Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and China. The country also borders on a significant part of Caspian sea.

Although it is vast in size, much of the land consists of semi-desert (steppe) terrain. In terms of population, Kazakhstan ranks 62nd in the world, with a population density of less than 6 people per square kilometre (15 per sq. mi.). The total population has declined somewhat since independence, dropping from 16,464,464 in 1989 to 15,300,000 in 2006. [1] This is due to the emigration of Russians and Volga Germans, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan, once the Kazakh SSR, is now a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.


Main article: History of Kazakhstan

Kazakh Khanate

Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Stone Age: the region's climate and terrain are best suited for nomads practising pastoralism. Historians believe that humans first domesticated the horse in the region's vast steppes. While ancient cities Taraz (Aulie-Ata) and Hazrat-e Turkestan had long served as important way-stations along the Silk Road connecting East and West, real political consolidation only began with the Mongol invasion of the early thirteenth century AD. Under the Mongol Empire, administrative districts were established, and these eventually came under the emergent Kazakh Khanate (Ak Horde).

Throughout this period traditional nomadic life and a livestock-based economy continued to dominate the steppe. In the fifteenth century, a distinct Kazakh identity began to emerge among the Turkic tribes, a process which was consolidated by the mid-sixteenth century with the appearance of a distinctive Kazakh language, culture, and economy. Nevertheless, the region was the focus of ever-increasing disputes between the native Kazakh emirs and the neighboring Persian-speaking peoples to the south. By the early seventeen century, the Kazakh Khanate was struggling with the impact of tribal rivalries, which has effectively divided the population into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) Hordes (jüz). Political disunion, tribal rivalries, and the diminishing importance of overland trade routes between East and West weakened the Kazakh Khanate.

Other challenges to Kazakh hegemony over the region came from the Oirats and Dzungars, Mongol peoples who attempted to reassert control over the territory. A Dzungar invasion (1723–1730) was crushed so completely by Abul Khair Khan and the Little Horde that the event became known as the "Great Disaster." The Kazakhs won major victories over the Dzungar at the Bulanty River (1726) and at the Battle of Anrakay in 1729.

Russian Empire

In the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire began to expand, and spread into Central Asia. The "Great Game" period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 a second less intensive phase followed. The tsars 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 in the so-called "Great Game" between it and the United Kingdom. Russia enforced the Russian language in all schools and governmental organizations. Russian efforts to impose its system aroused the resentment of the Kazakh people, and by the 1860s, most Kazakhs resisted Russia's annexation largely because of the disruption it wrought upon the traditional nomadic lifestyle and livestock-based economy. The Kazakh national movement, which began in the late 1800s, sought to preserve the native language and identity.

From the 1890s onwards ever-larger numbers of Slavic settlers 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 from Orenburg to Tashkent was completed in 1906, and the movement was overseen and encouraged by a specially created Migration Department (Переселенческое Управление) in St. Petersburg.

The competition for land and water which 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 and Cossack villages, killing indiscriminately. The Russians' revenge was merciless. A military force drove 300,000 Kazakhs to flee into the mountains or to China. When approximately 80,000 of them returned the next year, many of them were slaughtered by Tsarist forces. During the 1921-22 famine, another million Kazakhs died from starvation.

Soviet Union

Although there was a brief period of autonomy during the tumultuous period following the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Kazakhs eventually succumbed to Soviet rule. In 1920, the area of present-day Kazakhstan became an autonomous republic within Russia.

Soviet repression of the traditional elite, along with forced collectivization in late 1920s–1930s, brought mass hunger and led to unrest. Between 1926 and 1939, the Kazakh population declined by 22%, due to starvation, violence and out-migration. Soviet rule, however, took hold, and a communist apparatus steadily worked to fully integrate Kazakhstan into the Soviet system. In 1936 Kazakhstan became a Soviet republic.

Kazakhstan experienced population inflows of millions exiled from other parts of the Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s; many of the deportation victims were deported to Siberia or Kazakhstan merely due to their ethnic heritage or beliefs, and were in many cases interned in some of the biggest Soviet labor camps. (See also: Population transfer in the Soviet Union, Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union.) The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) 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, the USSR's main nuclear weapon test site was founded near the city of Semey.

The period of World War II marked an increase in industrialization and increased mineral extraction in support of the war effort. At the time of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's death, however, Kazakhstan still had an overwhelmingly agricultural-based economy. In 1953, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev 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, along with later modernizations under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, accelerated the development of the agricultural sector, which remains the source of livelihood for a large percentage of Kazakhstan's population.

Growing tensions within Soviet society led to a demand for political and economic reforms, which came to a head in the 1980s. In December 1986, mass demonstrations by young ethnic Kazakhs, later called Jeltoksan riot, took place in Almaty to protest the replacement of the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR Dinmukhamed Konayev with Gennady Kolbin 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's policy of glasnost.


Caught up in the groundswell of Soviet republics seeking greater autonomy, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty as a republic within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in October 1990. Following the August 1991 abortive coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991. It was last of the Soviet republics to declare independence.

The years following independence have been marked by significant reforms to the Soviet-style economy and political monopoly on power. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and was eventually elected President in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward developing a market economy. The country has enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves.

But, democracy has not improved much since 1991. "In June 2007, Kazakhstan's parliament passed a law granting President Nursultan Nazarbayev lifetime powers and privileges, including access to future presidents, immunity from criminal prosecution, and influence over domestic and foreign policy. Critics say he has become a de facto "president for life."[2][3] Over the course of his ten years in power, Nazarbayev has repeatedly censored the press through arbitrary use of "slander" laws[4], blocked access to opposition web sites (9 November 1999), banned the Wahhabi religious sect (5 September 1998), drawn criticism from Amnesty International for excessive executions following specious trials (March 21 1996) and harsh prison conditions (13 August 1996), and refused demands that the governors of Kazakhstan's 14 oblasts be elected, rather than appointed by the president (April 7 2000)."


Political system

Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic. The president is the head of state. The president also is the commander in chief of the armed forces and may veto legislation that has been passed by the Parliament. 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 Masimov has served as the Prime Minister since 10 January 2007.

Kazakhstan has a bicameral Parliament, made up of the lower house (the Majilis) and upper house (the Senate). Single mandate districts popularly elect 67 seats in the Majilis; there also are ten members elected by party-list vote rather than by single mandate districts. The Senate has 39 members. Two senators are selected by each of the elected assemblies (Maslikhats) of Kazakhstan's 16 principal administrative divisions (14 regions, or oblasts, plus the cities of Astana and Almaty). The president appoints the remaining seven senators. Majilis deputies and the government both have the right of legislative initiative, though the government proposes most legislation considered by the Parliament.


Elections to the Majilis in September 2004 yielded a lower house dominated by the pro-government Otan party, 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 and human rights 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 reported that observers from the People's Republic of China, responsible in overseeing 25 polling stations in Astana, found that voting in those polls was conducted in a "transparent and fair" manner. [1] Furthermore, Western governments were muted in their criticism of the election.

On August 17, 2007, elections to the lower house of parliament were held with the ruling Nur-Otan coalition winning every seat with 88% of the vote. Opposition parties made accusations of serious irregularities in the election.[5][6]

Kazakh Intelligence Services

Kazakhstan's National Security Committee (KNB) was established on 13 June 1992. It includes the Service of Internal Security, Military Counterintelligence, Border Guard, several Commando units, and Foreign Intelligence (Barlau). The latter is considered by many as the most important part of KNB. Its director is Major General Omirtai Bitimov.

Provinces and raions

Kazakhstan is divided into 14 provinces (облыстар) and two municipal districts (қалалар)*: Almaty (Taldykorgan), Almaty*, Akmola (Kokshetau), Aktobe, Astana*, Atyrau, West Kazakhstan Province (Oral), Mangystau Province (Aktau), South Kazakhstan Province (Shymkent), Pavlodar, Karaganda, Kostanay, Kyzylorda, East Kazakhstan Province (Oskemen), North Kazakhstan Province (Petropavl), Zhambyl Province (Taraz).

Note: Provinces have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses); in 1995 the Governments of Kazakhstan and Russia entered into an agreement whereby Russia would lease for a period of twenty years an area of 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 sq. mi); enclosing the Baikonur Cosmodrome and the city of Baikonur. Recently, the lease of Baikonur facilities was extended through 2050.[7]

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

The provinces are subdivided into raions.


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Map of Kazakhstan
With an area of 2.7 million square kilometers (1.05 million sq. mi), Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country in the world and the largest landlocked country in the world. It is equivalent to the size of Western Europe. It shares borders of 6,846 kilometers (4,254 mi) with Russia, 2,203 kilometers (1,369 mi) with Uzbekistan, 1,533 kilometers (953 mi) with the People's Republic of China, 1,051 kilometers (653 mi) with Kyrgyzstan, and 379 kilometers (235 mi) with Turkmenistan. Major cities include Astana (capital since December 1997), Almaty (the former capital), Karaganda, Shymkent (Chimkent), Semey (Semipalatinsk) and Turkestan.

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Syrdarya river in Kyzylorda province.
The terrain extends west to east from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains and north to south from the plains of Western Siberia to the oases and deserts of Central Asia. The Kazakh Steppe(plain), with an area of around 804,500 square kilometres (310,600 sq. mi), occupies one-third of the country and is the world's largest dry steppe region. The steppe is characterized by large areas of grasslands and sandy regions. Important rivers and lakes include: the Aral Sea, Ili River, Irtysh River, Ishim River, Ural River, Charyn River and gorge, Lake Balkhash, and Lake Zaysan.

The climate is humid continental, with hot summers and colder winters. Precipitation varies between arid and semi-arid conditions.

The Charyn Canyon is 150-300 metres deep and 80 kilometres long, cutting through the red sandstone plateau and stretching along the Charyn River gorge in northern Tien Shan 'Heavenly Mountains' (200 km east of Almaty) at . The steep canyon slopes, columns and arches rise to heights of 150-300 m. The inaccessibility of the canyon provided a safe haven for a rare ash tree that survived the Ice Age and is nowadays also grown in some other areas.


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Main square in the new capital Astana (built 1998).
Main article: Economy of Kazakhstan


The government of Kazakhstan plans to double its Gross domestic product (GDP) by 2008 and triple by 2015 compared to 2000. The GDP growth was stable in the last five years, and was higher than 9%. GDP growth in 2005 was 9.2%, and 9.4% in 2004. Kazakhstan's economy grew by 9.2% in 2003, buoyed by high world crude oil prices. GDP grew 9.5% in 2002; it grew 13.2% in 2001, up from 9.8% in 2000.

External opinion generally considers Kazakhstan's monetary policy to be well-managed. Its principal challenges in 2002 were to manage strong foreign currency inflows without sparking inflation. In 2003 inflation did not remain under control, registering at 6.8% instead of the forecast level of 5.3%-6.0%. In 2002 inflation was 6.6%, compared to 6.4% in 2001. In 2000 Kazakhstan became the first former Soviet republic to repay all of its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 7 years ahead of schedule. In March 2002, the U.S. Department of Commerce graduated Kazakhstan to market economy status under U.S. trade law. The 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 to receive an investment-grade credit rating from a major international credit rating agency. As of late December 2003, Kazakhstan's gross foreign debt was about $22.9 billion. Total governmental debt was $4.2 billion. This amounts to 14% of the GDP. There has been a noticeable reduction in the ratio of debt to GDP observed in past years; 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%.

The upturn in economic growth, combined with the results of earlier tax and financial sector reforms, dramatically improved government finances 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 in an effort to consolidate these gains. On November 29 2003 the Law on Changes to Tax Code was adopted, which reduced tax rates. The value added tax fell from 16% to 15%, the social tax from 21% to 20%, and the personal income tax from 30% to 20%. (On July 7, 2006 the personal income tax 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 is the leading economic sector. Production of crude oil and natural gas condensate in Kazakhstan amounted to 51.2 million tons in 2003, which was 8.6% more than 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 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. Industry analysts believe that planned expansion of oil production, coupled with the development of new fields, will enable the country to produce as much as 3 million barrels (477,000 m³) per day by 2015, lifting Kazakhstan into the ranks of the world's top 10 oil-producing nations. Kazakhstan's 2003 oil exports were valued at more than $7 billion, representing 65% of overall exports and 24% of the GDP. Major oil and gas fields and their recoverable oil reserves are Tengiz with 7 billion barrels (1.1 km³); Karachaganak with 8 billion barrels (1.3 km³) and 1,350 km³ of natural gas); and Kashagan with 7 to 9 billion barrels (1.1 to 1.4 km³).

Kazakhstan instituted an ambitious pension 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 republic. The State Accumulating Pension Fund, the only state-owned fund, could be privatized as early as 2006. The country's unified financial regulatory agency oversees and regulates the pension funds. The pension funds' growing demand 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, including Government of Kazakhstan Eurobonds. The Kazakhstani banking system is developing rapidly. The banking system's capitalization now exceeds $1 billion. The National Bank has introduced deposit insurance in its campaign to strengthen the banking sector. Several major foreign banks have branches in Kazakhstan, including ABN AMRO, Citibank, and HSBC.


Agriculture accounted for 13.6% of Kazakhstan's GDP in 2003. Grain (Kazakhstan is the sixth-largest producer in the world) and livestock are the most important agricultural commodities. Agricultural land occupies more than 846,000 square kilometres (327,000 sq. mi). The available agricultural land consists of 205,000 square kilometres (79,000 sq. mi) of arable land and 611,000 square kilometres (236,000 sq. mi) of pasture and hay land. Chief livestock products are dairy products, leather, meat, and wool. The country's major crops include wheat, barley, cotton, and rice. Wheat exports, a major source of hard currency, 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 is produced in the mountains to the east of Almaty.

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Wild Malus sieversii apple in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is thought to be part of the original home of the apple, particularly the wild ancestor of Malus domestica is Malus sieversii. 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 Alma-Ata, or 'father of the apples'. This tree is still found wild in the mountains of Central Asia in southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Xinjiang, China.

Natural resources

Kazakhstan has an abundant supply of accessible mineral and fossil fuel resources. Development of petroleum, natural gas, 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[8], Kazakhstan has the second largest uranium, chromium, lead, and zinc reserves, the third largest manganese reserves, the fifth largest copper reserves, and ranks in the top ten for coal, iron, and gold. It is also an exporter of diamonds and potassium.

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 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 within the country, situated in Atyrau, Pavlodar, and Shymkent. These are not capable of processing the total crude output so much of it is exported to Russia.

Foreign relations

Kazakhstan has stable relationships with all of its neighbors. Kazakhstan is also a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It is an active participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Partnership for Peace program. Kazakhstan is also a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Economic Cooperation Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization along with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The nations of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan established the Eurasian Economic Community in 2000 to re-energize earlier efforts at harmonizing trade tariffs and the creation of a free trade zone under a customs union.

Since independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has pursued what is known as the multidimensional foreign policy (многовекторная внешняя политика), seeking equally good relations with two large neighbors, Russia and China, and the United States and the West generally. 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 possesses the most major Soviet cosmodrome, where the first man was launched in space as well as Soviet space shuttle Buran and the well-known space station Mir. Russia currently leases approximately 6,000 km² (2,300 mi²) of territory enclosing the Baikonur Cosmodrome space launch site in south central Kazakhstan.

On June 18, 2006, Kazakhstan became a space-faring nation in its own right when it launched its first commercial satellite, KazSat 1, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Russian-built booster rocket. [2]

In September 2006, President Nazarbayev visited the United States, where he met President George W. Bush at the Oval Office and several key members of the U.S. Administration and Congress. While in Washington, President Nazarbayev unveiled the Monument of Independence of Kazakhstan and addressed a large gathering of the political and business elite on Kazakhstan's approach to nuclear nonproliferation.



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Mosque in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan; Kazakhs predominately follow Sunni Islam.

The population is estimated to be 63% ethnic Kazakhs and 23% ethnic Russian, with a rich array of other groups represented, including Tatars, Uzbeks, Bashkirs, Uyghurs and Ukrainians. Some minorities such as Russian Germans (esp.Volga Germans), Ukrainians and Russian political opponents of the regime had been deported to Kazakhstan in the 1930s and 1940s by Stalin. Some of the bigger Soviet labor camps existed in Kazakhstan. Significant Russian immigration also connected with Virgin Lands Campaign and Soviet space program during Khrushchev era. There is also a small but active Jewish community. Before 1991 there were one million Volga Germans in Kazakhstan; 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. The main religious groups are Muslim (mainly Sunni) 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, and other 7%. [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kz.html#People]

Kazakhstan is a bilingual country: the Kazakh language, 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.

The 1990s were marked by the emigration of many of the country's Europeans, a process that began in the 1970s; this was a major factor in giving the autochthonous Kazakhs a majority along with higher Kazakh birthrates and ethnic Kazakh immigration from the People's Republic of China, Mongolia, and Russia. In the early twenty first century, Kazakhstan has become one of the leading nations in international adoptions.

Table: Ethnic Composition of Kazakhstan (census data)[9] [10] [11]

Nationality 1897 % 1911 % 1926 % 1939 % 1959 % 1970 % 1979 % 1989 % 1999 % 2006 %
* For 1897 and 1911 "Russians" include all Slavs.


Dzhalilov, Z. (2006). Islam and Society in Modern Kazakhstan. Almaty: Daik-Press, pp.185. 

Religious Organizations % , as of 2003
Russian Orthodox Church7.8
Roman Catholic Church2.9
Evangelical Christians, Baptists12.3
Seventh Day Adventists3.3
Jehovah’s Witnesses4.2
Newly founded11.1
The country has historically hosted a wide variety of ethnic groups with varying religions. Tolerance to other societies has become a part of the Kazakh culture. Foundation of an Independent republic, following the disintegration of the USSR, has launched a great deal of changes in every aspect of people’s lives. Religiosity of the population, as an essential part of any cultural identity, has undergone dynamic transformations as well. After decades of suppressed culture, the people were feeling a great need for exhibiting their ethnical identity – in part through the religion. Quantitative research shows that for the first years after the establishment of the new laws, waiving any restrictions on religious beliefs and proclaiming full freedom of confessions, the country experienced a huge spike in religious activity of its citizens. Hundreds of Mosques, Synagogues’, Churches, and the likes were built in a matter of years. All represented religions benefited from increased number of members and facilities. Many confessions that were absent before independence made their way into the country, appealing to hundreds of people. The government supported this activity, and has done its best to provide equality among all religious organizations and their followers. In late 1990’s, however, a slight decline in religiosity occurred. Radical religious organizations, despite a popular belief, are of little danger to the national security. The few organizations that were uncovered are being investigated thoroughly by the proper committee. Therefore, Kazakhstan has a very diverse, stable, and safe religious background – a truly exceptional occurrence.

Kazakhs and Kazakhstanis (terminology)

For many years, Russians often outnumbered the Kazakhs in many parts of the area known today as Kazakhstan. Even now, Russians and people of other ethnic origins play an important role in the economy and government and consider the country their home.

The Russian term казахстанец (Kazakhstani) was coined to describe all inhabitants of Kazakhstan, including non-Kazakhs.[12] The word "Kazakh" is generally used to refer to people of actual Kazakh descent (including those living in China, Afghanistan, and other Central Asian countries).

The ethnonym Kazakh is derived from an ancient Turkic word "independent, a free spirit". It is the result of Kazakhs' nomadic horseback culture and is related to the term "cossack". The Avestan/Old Persian (See Indo-European languages) word "stan" means "land" or "place of".


Education is universal and mandatory through to the secondary level and the adult literacy rate is 99.5%. Education consists of three main educational phases: primary education (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 schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, linguistic and technical gymnasiums, have been founded. Secondary professional education is offered in special professional or technical schools, lyceums or colleges and vocational schools.

At present, there are universities, academies, and institutes, conservatories, higher schools and higher colleges. There are three main levels: basic higher education that provides the fundamentals of the chosen field of study and leads to the award of the Bachelor's degree; specialized higher education after which students are awarded the Specialist's Diploma; and scientific-pedagogical higher education which leads to the Master's Degree. Postgraduate education leads to the Kandidat Nauk (Candidate of Sciences) and the Doctor of Sciences. 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.


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Riders in traditional dress demonstrate Kazakhstan's equestrian culture by playing a kissing game, Kyz Kuu ("Chase the Girl"), one of a number of traditional games played on horseback [3].
Main article: Culture of Kazakhstan
See also:
Before the Russian conquest, the Kazaks had a well-articulated culture based on their nomadic pastoral economy. Although Islam was introduced to most of the Kazaks in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the religion was not fully assimilated until much later. As a result, it coexisted with earlier elements of Tengriism. Traditional Kazak 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 Kazak culture.

Because animal husbandry was central to the Kazaks' traditional lifestyle, most of their nomadic practices and customs relate in some way to livestock. 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.

Kazakhstan has a large modern music following, evident in its participation in the western style- pop idol. Asiatic versions of the guitar prevail as popular musical instruments. One of the greatest performances of the Kazak pop idol involved a "freestyljo" remix using this Asiatic instrument. Kazaks are known for their love of music, dance and festival in general.

Public holidays

Date English name Local name
January 1New Year's DayЖаңа жыл / Новый Го?
January 7Eastern Orthodox ChristmasРождество Христов?Not an official state holiday, but a day-off.
Last day of HajjQurban Ait*Құрбан ай?
March 8International Women's DayХалықаралық әйелдер күні / Международный женский ден?
March 22Nauryz MeyramiНаурыз мейрам?Traditionally a springtime holiday marking the beginning of a new year, sometimes as late as April 21.
May 1Kazakhstan People’s Unity DayҚазақстан халқының бірлігі мерекесі / Праздник единства народа Казахстан?
May 9World War II Victory DayЖеңіс күні / День Побед?A holiday in the former Soviet Union carried over to present-day Kazakhstan and other former republics.
August 30Constitution DayҚазақстан Республикасының Конституциясы күні / День Конституции Республики Казахста?
October 25Republic DayРеспублика күні / День Республик?
December 16Independence DayТәуелсіздік куні / День независимост?
* Eid al-Adha, the Islamic Feast of the Sacrifice.

See also


  • Kazakhs by Martha Brill Olcott
  • Epicenter of Peace by Nursultan Nazarbayev
  • Kazakhstan: Coming of Age by Michael Furgus and Janar Jandosova
  • Kazakhstan: Power and the Elite Sally Cummings
  • Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise Martha Brill Olcott
  • Lonely Planet Guide: Central Asia by Paul Clammer, Michael Kohn and Bradley Mayhew
  • The Lost Heart of Asia by Colin Thubron
  • Once in Kazakhstan : The Snow Leopard Emerges Keith Rosten
  • Post-Soviet Chaos: Violence and Dispossession in Kazakhstan by Joma Nazpary
  • The Russian Colonization of Kazakhstan by George Demko
  • Uneasy Alliance: Relations Between Russia and Kazakhstan in the Post-Soviet Era, 1992-1997 by Mikhail Alexandrov
  • Journey into Kazakhstan: The True Face of the Nazabayev Regime Alexandra George
  • Law and Custom in the Steppe by Virginia Martin
  • Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East by Ted Rall


1. ^ [4]
2. ^ World War 3 web site.
3. ^ Central Asia-Caucasus Institute briefing, July 5 2000.
4. ^ RFE Newsline, April 12 1996.
5. ^ [5]
6. ^ [6]
7. ^ [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/kz.html CIA World Factbook: Kazakhstan].
8. ^ Mineral Wealth.
9. ^ Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/ [7]
10. ^ Alexandrov, Mikhail. Uneasy Alliance: Relations Between Russia and Kazakhstan in the Post-Soviet Era, 1992-1997. Greenwood Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0313309656
11. ^ Agency on Statistics of the Republic of Kazakhstan - "Demographic situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2006"/ [8] (in Russian)
12. ^ Surucu, Cengiz (December 2002). "Modernity, Nationalism, Resistance: Identity Politics in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan". Central Asian Survey: 385-402. 

External links

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For the Radiohead song, see "The National Anthem".
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a country's government as the official
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My Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Менің Қазақстаным) is the current national anthem of Kazakhstan, adopted on January 7 2006.
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capital (also called capital city or political capital — although the latter phrase has a second meaning based on an alternative sense of "capital") is the center of government.
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Location in Kazakhstan
Country ‎ The Republic of Kazakhstan
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Location in Kazakhstan
Country ‎ The Republic of Kazakhstan
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An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in the countries, states, and other territories. It is typically the language used in a nation's legislative bodies, though the law in many nations requires that government documents be produced in other
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Kazakh (also Qazaq and variants[1], natively Qazaq tili, Қазақ тілі,
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Writing system: Cyrillic (Russian variant)  
Official status
Official language of:  Abkhazia (Georgia)
 Commonwealth of Independent States (working)
 Crimea (de facto; Ukraine)
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A demonym or gentilic is a word that denotes the members of a people or the inhabitants of a place. In English, the name of a people's language is often the same as this word, e.g., the "French" (language or people).
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Kazakhs (also spelled Kazaks, Qazaqs; Kazakh: Қазақтар [qɑzɑqtɑr
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government is a body that has the power to make and the authority to enforce rules and laws within a civil, corporate, religious, academic, or other organization or group.[1]
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republic, for all other uses see: republic (disambiguation)

List of forms of government
  • Anarchism
  • Aristocracy
  • Authoritarianism
  • Autocracy
  • Communist state
  • Democracy
Direct democracy

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This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of

  • President
  • Nursultan Nazarbayev
  • Prime Minister
  • Karim Masimov

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Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev (Kazakh: Нұрсұлтан Әбішұлы Назарбаев [Nûrsûltan Äbîshûlâ Nazarbayev]; Russian:
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This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of

  • President
  • Nursultan Nazarbayev
  • Prime Minister
  • Karim Masimov

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Karim Kajymqanuly Massimov (Kazakh: Мәсімов, Кәрім Қажымқанұлы
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Independence is the self-government of a nation, country, or state by its residents and population, or some portion thereof, generally exercising sovereignty.

The term independence is used in contrast to subjugation,
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Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (abbreviated USSR, Russian: ; tr.
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1361 in other calendars
Gregorian calendar 1361
Ab urbe condita 2114
Armenian calendar 810
Bah' calendar -483 – -482
Buddhist calendar 1905
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The White Horde (Kazakh: Ақ Орда/Aq Orda, Tatar: Ак Урда/Aq Urda, Turkish:Ak Ordu/Orda
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14th century - 15th century - 16th century
1390s  1400s  1410s  - 1420s -  1430s  1440s  1450s
1425 1426 1427 - 1428 - 1429 1430 1431

Subjects:     Archaeology - Architecture -
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14th century - 15th century - 16th century
1430s  1440s  1450s  - 1460s -  1470s  1480s  1490s
1462 1463 1464 - 1465 - 1466 1467 1468

Subjects:     Archaeology - Architecture -
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Kazakh Khanate (Kazakh: Қазақ хандығы, Russian: Казахское ханство) was a Kazakh state that existed in
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December 16 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.


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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1960s  1970s  1980s  - 1990s -  2000s  2010s  2020s
1988 1989 1990 - 1991 - 1992 1993 1994

Year 1991 (MCMXCI
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December 25 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.


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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1960s  1970s  1980s  - 1990s -  2000s  2010s  2020s
1988 1989 1990 - 1991 - 1992 1993 1994

Year 1991 (MCMXCI
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Water is a common chemical substance that is essential to all known forms of life.[1] In typical usage, water refers only to its liquid form or state, but the substance also has a solid state, ice, and a gaseous state, water vapor.
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In mathematics, a percentage is a way of expressing a number as a fraction of 100 (per cent meaning "per hundred"). It is often denoted using the percent sign, "%". For example, 45 % (read as "forty-five percent") is equal to 45 / 100, or 0.45.
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population is the collection of people or organisms of a particular species living in a given geographic area or mortality, and migration, though the field encompasses many dimensions of population change including the family (marriage and divorce), public health, work and the
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