Kazakhstan (Қазақстан in Kazakh, Казахстан in Russian) is a country in the middle Asia. The capital of this country changed in 1998 from Almay in the south – which is the largest city – to Astana in the north.

Population of Kazakhstan is 16 million and 600 thousand people; its official languages are Kazakh and Russian and its currency is Tenge. Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country, and has a low population density.

Astana, the current capital of Kazakhstan, is a cold, windy city where the temperature reaches minus 40 in the winter.

Groups of nationalists in Russia and inside Kazakhstan claimed for reintegration of north of Kazakhstan with Russia and this was one of the Cossack president’s motives for transferring the capital to a city in the center of the country and near Russia which lead to transfer of a large number of Cossacks to this country and automatic elimination of this claim.

History:

The original inhabitants of the region known today as Kazakhstan were from the Iranian tribe of Eskeet, the Turkish people started to penetrate and migrate in to this region from the fifth century.

The Huns came to this region at the beginning of the eighth century before the Christ and in the following years the Qibchaq Turks who had come from the Altai Mountains settled near the Aral Sea and Qibchaq plain; the Cossacks are a branch of the Qibchaq Turks. In the 13th century, this region was occupied by Genghis Khan Imperial. After his death this empire was divided among his children and the present Kazakhstan was given to Chagatai, Genghis’ Son but the west and most of the northern regions were given to Ganghiz, Genghis’ grandchild. Due to the lengthy rule of Mongols on this region, Mongolian elements have penetrated into this region. The word Kazakhstan is made up of two parts of “Kazakh” and the Persian suffix “stan” which means the “land of Kazakhs”.

After the October revolution and formation of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan became one of their republics under the title of the Socialist Republic of Kazakhstan. With the collapse of Soviet, Kazakhstan claimed independence. Kazakhstan was the last soviet republic that claimed independence on 16th December 1991.

Politics:

Kazakhstan’s political system is presidential republic democrat. The president is the head of the country and the government. The government holds administrative power and the parliament hold the legal power.

Kazakhstan’s leader at the time of communism, Nazarbayev became president after Kazakhstan’s independence and still remains at this position.

At the moment this country’s president is Noor-al-Sultan Nazarbayev who was elected on 4th December 2005.

Geography:

Kazakhstan is neighbors with Russia in the north, China in the east, Kirghizstan in the south east, Uzbekistan in the south and Turkmenistan in the south west. The north east coast of the Caspian Sea is situated in this country.

Area of Kazakhstan is 2,717,300 km2 (more than three times Turkey or Pakistan and smaller than Argentina) and about 20% of the country is located in the Ural Mountains and geographically, part of it is in Europe. Of course, Kazakhstan is usually considered an Asian country.

Kazakhstan has an area of 2,700,000 km2 and it is the largest landlocked country in the world.

Kazakhstan is as large as the Western Europe and expands from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east. The northern borders of Kazakhstan are situated in the western part of the Plain of Siberia and the southern borders are in the Middle Asia.

Although this country’s great expanse has made it the ninth largest country in the world, most of its plains are deserts and steppe and the population density is only 6 people in each km2.

The Kazakh plain, with an area of 804,500 km2 makes up for one third of the country and is the largest dry steppe region in the world. Wide grasslands and sandy places are characteristics of this plain.

Kazakhstan’s important rivers and lakes include Aral Lake, Ili River, Irtysh River, Ishim River, Urals River, Syr Sea, Charyn River, Balkhash Lake and Zaysan Lake. Charin Valley, with 50-300 meters depth and 80 kilometers length passes over the rocky crimson plateau and continues along the Charyn River in the north of Tian Shan. The Bygach opening is an incidental opening which has been formed due to collision of an asteroid about 5 million years ago and has a diameter of 8 kilometer.

Kazakhstan climate is continental and it has hot summers and cold winters. Rainfall is relatively low and the lands are in an arid to mid-arid condition.

Kazakhstan’s main cities include Astana, Almaty, Karaganda, Shymkent, Atyrau and Askman. Kazakhstan’s largest cities are Almaty with about 1.5 million people, Astana and Karaganda with about 700 thousand people. Other than the cities mentioned, one can mention Aqtau, Pavlodar, Petropoulos and Oust Kamengursk.

People and Culture:

The population of Kazakhstan in 2005 was estimated at 15,100,500 people which show the low density of population in this country. The population which had reached more than 16 million people in 1989 decreased to 15 million in 2006 after Kazakhstan’s independence and much immigration to other countries.

Kazakhstan is a multinational country and the Cossacks constitute 63% of its inhabitants. 237% of the people of this country are Russian and the rest are Uzbek, Ukrainian, Uighur and others. The religion of 70% of people is Islam and the rest are Christians.

The multinational characteristic of Kazakhstan is reflected in the country’s art and culture. Kazakhstan’s cultural and artistic activities can be divided into two groups of traditional and western.

Traditional culture and art which is related to the inhabitants’ way of life, who are mostly Cossack and of course Korean and Uighur and the smaller tribes of this country; such as the poems, melodies, folklore dances and Cossack music which is performed with traditional instruments, like carpets and hand-woven fabrics and different handcrafts which have continued to exist and develop during centuries in this land. On the whole, music and dance have previously had and still have a special place in the Cossack culture.

The western group includes arts that have been brought to the region by the Russians from the beginning of the twentieth century like theater, classical music, ballet, opera, cinema, television and Russian literature.

Of course all these kinds of cultures and arts have not reached agreeability among the Cossacks. But as a result of the Bolshevik government policies of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has welcomed a large population of the Russians and non-Cossack tribes in the past decades such that the Cossacks have become a minority in their own land.

The presence of this large population with such various and diverse cultures lead to flowering of western art and culture in this country. The success of Cossacks and even the artistic works made in Kazakhstan or which are related to this country are a positive sign of this cultural diversity in international festivals.

There are also a group of Iranian Azerbaijani people in Kazakhstan who live in Markeh near the Kyrgyzstan Border. These people were from the nomads who traveled in Aras border and after the borders were closed in 1918 they were trapped and captured on the other side of the border. The Russian government resettled these people in Kazakhstan in fear of their probable revolt and they live there up to now. They still use Azerbaijani Turkish language.

Language:

Kazakh language which is the national language of the Kazakh people and this country is a language from the eastern sub-group of Turkish languages which is a branch of the Altai languages. Among the nearest languages to Kazakh is the language of the neighboring country, Kyrgyz. With regard to its history and wide presence The Russian languages has still kept its official status (in the Kazakhstan constitution the phrase “language of international correspondence” is used).

Ukrainian, Tatary, Kyrgyz, Uighur, Uzbek, Azerbaijani Turkish, Bashghiri, Persian Tajik, Korean, Turkmen, Armenian and Mongolian are only a number of the most important languages used by the largest ethnicities of this country.

Of course most of the Kazakhstan minor ethnicities consider Kazakh as another common language other than Russia. Teaching the English language as the international language has increased in the recent years,

Economy:

This country’s economy is to a large extent dependent on agriculture. Kazakhstan has the highest internal gross production and annual income among the new independent republics and is also an important member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

This country is very rich with regard to underground resources. From 1993 up to now more than 40 billion dollars has been spent in this station. Also it is estimated that Kazakhstan has the second largest Uranium, Chrome, Zinc and Lead reserve and third largest Manganese reserve and fourth largest coal, iron and gold reserve among the top ten countries of the world. Also it holds 11th rank in oil and natural gas reserves.

Industry:

Exploration and extraction of oil in western regions near the Caspian Sea, has placed this country among countries with high economic growth rate among the former Soviet Union republics.

Space Travelling:

Baikonur space station is situated in Kazakhstan and is the world’s oldest space station. Yuri Gagarin, the first astronaut travelled to space from this station. This station was built in Kazakhstan republic due to suitable geographical status during the former Soviet Union era. After the collapse of the Soviet, Russia rented this station from Kazakhstan until 2050.