General information about Kazakhstan
LOCATION AND LANDSCAPE: Kazakhstan is located in the centre of the Eurasian continent. Its territory is as large as 2 million 724,9 thousand square kilometers and accordingly it occupies the ninth place in the world by its size. In the North and West the republic has common borders with Russia - 7 591 km (the longest continuous overland border in the world), in the East with China - 1 783 km, in the South with Kyrgyzstan - 1 242 km, with Uzbekistan - 2 351 km and with Turkmenistan - 426 km. The total length of overland borders - 13 200 km. Besides that, there are two midland seas in its territory – the Caspian and Aral. Kazakhstan is the largest country in the world that has no direct access to the World ocean.
A large part of the country’s territory consists of deserts - 44 % and semi-deserts - 14 %. Steppes cover 26 % of Kazakhstan’s territory, forests - 5,5 %. There are 8,5 thousand rivers In Kazakhstan. The Northeastern part of the Caspian sea’s water area is situated within the country’s territory. The Aral sea is shared between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. There are 48 000 big and small lakes in Kazakhstan. The largest of them are Aral sea, Balkhash, Zaisan and Alakol.
Due to the remoteness from oceans the country has an extreme continental climate. The average temperature in January is around −19 °C in the north and −2 °C in the south, the average temperature in July is around +19 °C in the north and +28 °C in the south. Summer is hot and dry, winter is cold and snowy.
Among the representatives of fauna saiga antelopes are especially distinguished, they are protected by the government. The attractions of the country - resort area of the lake Balkhash, in Almaty there are magnificent examples of modern architecture: wooden Orthodox church of the XIX century. Not far from Almaty there is a resort area Medeo with a magnificent sports complex.
POPULATION: Kazakhstan is a multi-ethnic country, home to people of over 100 nationalities. The population of Kazakhstan as of June 1, 2012 was 16 million 760 thousand people. According to the national census the ethnic structure of the Kazakhstan society by 2009 looks as follows: Kazakhs - 63,07 %, Russians - 23,70 %, Uzbeks - 2,85 %, Ukrainians - 2,08 %, Uygurs - 1,40 %, Tatars - 1,28 %, Germans - 1,11 %, Others - 4,51 %.
CAPITAL: Astana (formerly called Akmola) is the official capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan since December 10, 1997. It is located 1,300 km north of Almaty (the biggest Kazakhstan city and the former capital), and has the population of 322,400 people (2000 est.). Kazakhstan is administratively composed of 14 oblasts (regions), 84 cities, 160 rayons (districts), 241 urban type settlements, and 2,042 auls (villages).
GOVERNANCE: Independence and sovereignty was proclaimed in 1991. Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with strong presidency. The head of state is the President Nursultan Nazarbayev, first elected in 1991, then re-elected in 1995 and 1999. The head of the Government is Prime Minister Kassymzhomart Tokaev. The bicameral Parliament comprises the upper house (Senate) and the lower house (Majilis). The higher judicial bodies are the Supreme Court and Constitutional Council.
LANGUAGES: The official state language is Kazakh, a Turkic language closely related to Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Turkmen and Turkish. Russian is the language of inter-ethnic communication, widely spoken in urban areas, whereas people from rural regions tend to speak more Kazakh. English is used by international organizations and the foreign business community in Kazakhstan. Uygur, Korean and other ethnic minorities speak their national regional languages and dialects.
MONETARY UNIT: Tenge.
RELIGION: Kazakhstan is officially a secular state, but Sunni Islam is the major religion. The Russian Orthodox Church is the dominant Christian denomination. There are also Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish communities. The Kazakhs do not express their religious feelings fervently. Kazakhstan is on the periphery of the Muslim world and a meeting point of Russian, Chinese and Central Asian civilizations. Islam plays a minor role in state policy and there are no significant Islamic political organizations in the country. Islam 70.2%, Orthodoxy 23.9%, Atheism 2.8%, Other Christian 2.3%, Undeclared 0.5%, Others 0.3%.
ECONOMICS: The Republic of Kazakhstan is an industrial country with mining operations being one of the main sources of its economic growth. The country’s mineral raw material base consists of more than 5 000 deposits which expected value is estimated at tens of trillion US dollars. The country holds first place in the world with regard to explored reserves of zinc, tungsten and barite, second - silver, lead and chromites, third - copper and fluorite, fourth - molybdenum, sixth - gold.
Kazakhstan also has considerable reserves of oil and gas, which are concentrated in its western areas. Nowadays the country belongs to the group of the world’s leading oil-producing states with volumes amounting to more than 80 million tons of oil and gas condensate a year. According to plans the annual extraction will be increased to 120 million tons by 2020. At present Kazakhstan is in 9th place in the world with regard to confirmed reserves of oil. Besides that, the country is in 8th place by the reserves of coal and 2nd place by the reserves of uranium.
Traditionally great attention in the country is paid to development of the agricultural sector. Kazakhstan is among world’s top ten grain exporters and is one of the leaders in flour export. Farming is well-developed in the north - 70 % of arable lands are used for growing grain and technical crops - wheat, barley, millet. In the south of the country rice, cotton and tobacco are grown. Kazakhstan is also known for its gardens, vineyards and gourd plantations. Animal husbandry is the leading branch of the agriculture. The key areas of the animal husbandry are sheep breeding, horse breeding, camel breeding, cattle breeding and pig breeding. Poultry farming and fishery are also developed in the country.
Over the years of independence Kazakhstan attracted 150 billion US dollars of foreign investments that makes up about 70 % of the total amount of all investments attracted to the Central Asia. The country’s international reserves as of June 1, 2012 made up about 85 billion US dollars, of them more than 50 billion US dollars are related to the National fund.
As a leader in the Central Asia, the country makes a considerable contribution to strengthening of the region’s stability. The country has achieved big successes on the international scene. The evidence of this is Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship and conduct of this authoritative international organization’s Summit in December, 2010 in Astana. One of the country’s significant initiatives is the launch and development of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia – the Asian analogue of the OSCE. Kazakhstan’s creative activity during its chairmanship in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – the leading organization of the Islamic world – has generated a positive feedback.
The country is also a recognized leader in the global antinuclear movement. As a whole, nowadays Kazakhstan actively co-operates with various countries-partners within the framework of a variety of international organizations, such as CIS, SOC, EurAsEC and etc.
The stable growth of all branches of the economy, the international recognition, the political stability serve as a basis for prosperity of the Kazakhstani society. Kazakhstan is a country that aspires to the future, honors its cultural traditions and successfully realizes the huge creative potential in the modern highly-competitive world.