Kazakhstan

Introduction Native Kazakhs, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century, were rarely united as a single nation. The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century, and Kazakhstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936. During the 1950s and 1960s agricultural "Virgin Lands" program, Soviet citizens were encouraged to help cultivate Kazakhstan's northern pastures. This influx of immigrants (mostly Russians, but also some other deported nationalities) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives. Independence in 1991 caused many of these newcomers to emigrate. Kazakhstan's economy is larger than those of all the other Central Asian states combined, largely due to the country's vast natural resources and a recent history of political stability. Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country's vast energy resources and exporting them to world markets; achieving a sustainable economic growth; diversifying the economy outside the oil, gas, and mining sectors; enhancing Kazakhstan's competitiveness; and strengthening relations with neighboring states and other foreign powers.
History

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-16th 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 17th 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.

During the 17th century Kazakhs fought Oirats, a federation of western Mongol tribes, among which the Dzungars were particularly aggressive.[7] 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 of Kazakh territories. Under leadership Abul Khair Khan the Kazakhs won major victories over the Dzungar at the Bulanty River (1726) and at the Battle of Anrakay in 1729.[8] Kazakhs were also a victims of constant raids carried out by the Volga Kalmyks.

Russian Empire

In the 19th 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. The first Russian outpost, Orsk, was built in 1735. Russia enforced the Russian language in all schools and governmental organizations. Russian efforts to impose its system aroused the extreme resentment by 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, and the associated hunger which was rapidly wiping out some Kazakh tribes. The Kazakh national movement, which began in the late 1800s, 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 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 (Alash Autonomy) during the tumultuous period following the collapse of the Russian Empire, many uprisings were brutally suppressed, and 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.[9] Between 1926 and 1939, the Kazakh population declined by 22%, due to starvation, violence and mass emigration. Today, the estimates suggest that the population of Kazakhstan would be closer to 20 million if there was no starvation or massacre 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 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 brought mixed results. However, along with later modernizations under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, 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 made up 30% of the population. Ethnic Russians 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 has contributed to this immensely was Lavrentii Beria's decision to test a nuclear bomb on the territory of Kazakh SSR in Semipalatinsk (also known as Semey) in 1949. This had a catastrophic ecological and biological effect which was felt generations later, and Kazakh anger toward the Soviet system has escalated. 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.

Independence

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 aborted coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence 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 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."[10][11] Over the course of his ten years in power, Nazarbayev has repeatedly censored the press through arbitrary use of "slander" laws,[12] 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 provinces be elected, rather than appointed by the president (April 7, 2000)."

Geography Location: Central Asia, northwest of China; a small portion west of the Ural River in eastern-most Europe
Geographic coordinates: 48 00 N, 68 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 2,717,300 sq km
land: 2,669,800 sq km
water: 47,500 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than four times the size of Texas
Land boundaries: total: 12,012 km
border countries: China 1,533 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,051 km, Russia 6,846 km, Turkmenistan 379 km, Uzbekistan 2,203 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked); note - Kazakhstan borders the Aral Sea, now split into two bodies of water (1,070 km), and the Caspian Sea (1,894 km)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: continental, cold winters and hot summers, arid and semiarid
Terrain: extends from the Volga to the Altai Mountains and from the plains in western Siberia to oases and desert in Central Asia
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Vpadina Kaundy -132 m
highest point: Khan Tangiri Shyngy (Pik Khan-Tengri) 6,995 m
Natural resources: major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, manganese, chrome ore, nickel, cobalt, copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, bauxite, gold, uranium
Land use: arable land: 8.28%
permanent crops: 0.05%
other: 91.67% (2005)
Irrigated land: 35,560 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 109.6 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 35 cu km/yr (2%/17%/82%)
per capita: 2,360 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: earthquakes in the south, mudslides around Almaty
Environment - current issues: radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with former defense industries and test ranges scattered throughout the country pose health risks for humans and animals; industrial pollution is severe in some cities; because the two main rivers which flowed into the Aral Sea have been diverted for irrigation, it is drying up and leaving behind a harmful layer of chemical pesticides and natural salts; these substances are then picked up by the wind and blown into noxious dust storms; pollution in the Caspian Sea; soil pollution from overuse of agricultural chemicals and salination from poor infrastructure and wasteful irrigation practices
Environment - international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: landlocked; Russia leases approximately 6,000 sq km of territory enclosing the Baykonur Cosmodrome; in January 2004, Kazakhstan and Russia extended the lease to 2050
Politics

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 provinces, 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.

On the December 1 of 2007, it was revealed that Kazakhstan has been chosen to chair OSCE for the year 2010.

Elections

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. [13] Furthermore, Western governments did not express much criticism.

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. None of the opposition parties have reached the benchmark 7% level of the seats. This has lead 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.[14][15]

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.

People Population: 15,340,533 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.1% (male 1,734,622/female 1,659,723)
15-64 years: 69.6% (male 5,219,983/female 5,463,468)
65 years and over: 8.2% (male 443,483/female 819,254) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.3 years
male: 27.8 years
female: 31.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.374% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 16.44 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 9.39 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -3.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.54 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 26.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 31.03 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 67.55 years
male: 62.24 years
female: 73.16 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.88 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 16,500 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Kazakhstani(s)
adjective: Kazakhstani
Ethnic groups: Kazakh (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uygur 1.4%, other 4.9% (1999 census)
Religions: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%
Languages: Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the "language of interethnic communication") 95% (2001 est.)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.5%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.3% (1999 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Kazakhstan
conventional short form: Kazakhstan
local long form: Qazaqstan Respublikasy
local short form: Qazaqstan
former: Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type: republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Capital: name: Astana
geographic coordinates: 51 10 N, 71 25 E
time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Kazakhstan is divided into three time zones
Administrative divisions: 14 provinces (oblystar, singular - oblys) and 3 cities* (qala, singular - qalasy); Almaty Oblysy, Almaty Qalasy*, Aqmola Oblysy (Astana), Aqtobe Oblysy, Astana Qalasy*, Atyrau Oblysy, Batys Qazaqstan Oblysy (Oral), Bayqongyr Qalasy*, Mangghystau Oblysy (Aqtau), Ongtustik Qazaqstan Oblysy (Shymkent), Pavlodar Oblysy, Qaraghandy Oblysy, Qostanay Oblysy, Qyzylorda Oblysy, Shyghys Qazaqstan Oblysy (Oskemen), Soltustik Qazaqstan Oblysy (Petropavlovsk), Zhambyl Oblysy (Taraz)
note: administrative divisions 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 20 years an area of 6,000 sq km enclosing the Baykonur space launch facilities and the city of Bayqongyr (Baykonur, formerly Leninsk); in 2004, a new agreement extended the lease to 2050
Independence: 16 December 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 16 December (1991)
Constitution: first post-independence constitution adopted 28 January 1993; new constitution adopted by national referendum 30 August 1995
Legal system: based on Islamic law and Roman law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV (chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 22 February 1990, elected president 1 December 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister Karim MASIMOV (since 10 January 2007); Deputy Prime Ministers Umirzak SHUKEYEV (since 27 August 2007) and Yerbol ORYNBAYEV (since 29 October 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (no term limits); election last held 4 December 2005 (next to be held in 2012); prime minister and first deputy prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV reelected president; percent of vote - Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV 91.1%, Zharmakhan A. TUYAKBAI 6.6%, Alikhan M. BAIMENOV 1.6%
note: President NAZARBAYEV arranged a referendum in 1995 that extended his term of office and expanded his presidential powers: only he can initiate constitutional amendments, appoint and dismiss the government, dissolve Parliament, call referenda at his discretion, and appoint administrative heads of regions and cities
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (47 seats; 7 members are appointed by the president; other members are elected by local assemblies; to serve six-year terms) and the Mazhilis (107 seats; 9 out of the 107 Mazhilis members are elected from the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, which represents the country's ethnic minorities; members are popularly elected to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - (indirect) last held December 2005; next to be held in 2011; Mazhilis - last held 18 August 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Mazhilis - percent of vote by party - Nur-Otan 88.1%, NSDP 4.6%, Ak Zhol 3.3%, Auyl 1.6%, Communist People's Party 1.3%, Patriots Party .8% Ruhaniyat .4%; seats by party - Nur-Otan 98; note - parties must achieve a threshold of 7% of the electorate to qualify for seats in the Mazhilis
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (44 members); Constitutional Council (7 members)
Political parties and leaders: Adilet (Justice) [Maksut NARIKBAYEV, Zeynulla ALSHIMBAYEV, Bakhytbek AKHMETZHAN, Yerkin ONGARBAYEV, Tolegan SYDYKOV] (formerly Democratic Party of Kazakhstan); Agrarian and Industrial Union of Workers Block or AIST (Agrarian Party and Civic Party); Ak Zhol Party (Bright Path) [Alikhan BAIMENOV]; Auyl (Village) [Gani KALIYEV]; Communist Party of Kazakhstan or KPK [Serikbolsyn ABDILDIN]; Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan [Vladislav KOSAREV]; National Social Democratic Party (NSDP)[Zharmakhan TUYAKBAY]; Nur-Otan [Bakhytzhan ZHUMAGULOV] (the Agrarian, Asar, and Civic parties merged with Otan); Patriots' Party [Gani KASYMOV]; Rukhaniyat (Spirituality) [Altynshash ZHAGANOVA]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Adil-Soz [Tamara KALEYEVA]; Almaty Helsinki Group [Ninel FOKINA]; Confederation of Free Trade Unions [Sergei BELKIN]; For a Just Kazakhstan [Bolat ABILOV]; For Fair Elections [Yevgeniy ZHOVTIS, Sabit ZHUSUPOV, Sergey DUVANOV, Ibrash NUSUPBAYEV]; Kazakhstan International Bureau on Human Rights [Yevgeniy ZHOVTIS, executive director]; Pan-National Social Democratic Party of Kazakhstan [Zharmakhan TUYAKBAI]; Pensioners Movement or Pokoleniye [Irina SAVOSTINA, chairwoman]; Republican Network of International Monitors [Dos KUSHIM]; Transparency International [Sergei ZLOTNIKOV]
International organization participation: ADB, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAPC, EBRD, ECO, FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, SCO, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Yerlan IDRISOV
chancery: 1401 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 232-5488
FAX: [1] (202) 232-5845
consulate(s): New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador John M. ORDWAY
embassy: Ak Bulak 4, Str. 23-22, Building #3, Astana 010010
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [7] (7172) 70-21-00
FAX: [7] (7172) 34-08-90
Flag description: sky blue background representing the endless sky and a gold sun with 32 rays above a soaring golden steppe eagle in the center; on the hoist side is a "national ornamentation" in gold
Culture

Before the Russian colonisation, the Kazakhs had a well-articulated culture based on their nomadic pastoral economy. Although Islam was introduced to most of the Kazakhs in the fifteenth century, the religion was not fully assimilated until much later. As a result, it coexisted with earlier elements of Tengriism. 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.

Traditional moral values of Kazakhs are respect of the elders and hospitality to strangers.

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, 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 and besbarmak.

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 affectionate 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: Abai Kunanbaiuli, Al-Farabi, Mukhtar Auezov, Gabit Musrepov, Kanysh Satpayev, Mukhtar Shahanov, Saken Seifullin, Zhambyl Zhabaev, among many others.

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, tri-athlon, track-hurdles, sambo, greco-roman wrestling, billiards. The following are all well-known Kazakhstani athletes and world-championship medalists: Bekzat Sattarkhanov, Vassili Zhirov, Alexander Vinokourov, Bulat Zhumadilov, Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov, Olga Shishigina, Andrey Kashechkin, Aliya Yusupova, Dmitriy Karpov, Darmen Sadvakasov, Yeldos Ikhsangaliyev, Aidar Kabimollayev, Yermakhan Ibraimov, Vladimir Smirnov, among others.

Kazakhstan features a lively music culture, evident in massive popularity of SuperStar KZ, a local offspring of Simon Fuller's American Idol. Almaty is considered to be the musical capital of the Central Asia, recently enjoying concerts by well-known artists such as Deep Purple, Tokyo Hotel, Atomic Kitten, Dima Bilan, Loon, Craig David, Black Eyed Peas, Eros Ramazzotti, Jose Carreras, Ace of Base among others.

During the recent years, Kazakhstan has experienced somewhat of a revival of the Kazakh language,[32] which is returning into mainstream usage both in media, law, business as well as the general society. This is widely approved by Kazakh people and the international organisations as a way of preserving the national identity and culture, but has in some cases caused anxiety among Russian-Kazakhstanis, Russia-sponsored special-interest groups in Kazakhstan and some high-ranking politicians in Russia.

The Parliament is considering the introduction of Latin based Kazakh alphabet to replace Cyrillic based. The reasons that are popularly cited are cultural considerations and the Turkic nature of the Kazakh language. Turkic languages such as Turkish and Uzbek use the Latin alphabet. However, the imposition of the Latin alphabet in Kazakhstan would involve massive costs of translation and replacement of the vast Kazakh literature.

Economy Economy - overview: Kazakhstan, the largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, excluding Russia, possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain. Kazakhstan's industrial sector rests on the extraction and processing of these natural resources. The breakup of the USSR in December 1991 and the collapse in demand for Kazakhstan's traditional heavy industry products resulted in a short-term contraction of the economy, with the steepest annual decline occurring in 1994. In 1995-97, the pace of the government program of economic reform and privatization quickened, resulting in a substantial shifting of assets into the private sector. Kazakhstan enjoyed double-digit growth in 2000-01 - 8% or more per year in 2002-07 - thanks largely to its booming energy sector, but also to economic reform, good harvests, and foreign investment. Inflation, however, jumped to more than 10% in 2007. In the energy sector, the opening of the Caspian Consortium pipeline in 2001, from western Kazakhstan's Tengiz oilfield to the Black Sea, substantially raised export capacity. In 2006 Kazakhstan completed the Atasu-Alashankou portion of an oil pipeline to China that is planned in future construction to extend from the country's Caspian coast eastward to the Chinese border. The country has embarked upon an industrial policy designed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the oil sector by developing its manufacturing potential. The policy aims to reduce the influence of foreign investment and foreign personnel. The government has engaged in several disputes with foreign oil companies over the terms of production agreements; tensions continue. Upward pressure on the local currency continued in 2007 due to massive oil-related foreign-exchange inflows. Aided by strong growth and foreign exchange earnings, Kazakhstan aspires to become a regional financial center and has created a banking system comparable to those in Central Europe.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $161.5 billion (2007)
GDP (official exchange rate): $102.5 billion (2007)
GDP - real growth rate: 8.7% (2007)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $10,400 (2007)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5.8%
industry: 39.4%
services: 54.8% (2007)
Labor force: 8.156 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 32.2%
industry: 18%
services: 49.8% (2005)
Unemployment rate: 7.3% (2007)
Population below poverty line: 13.8% (2007)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 26.5% (2004 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 30.4 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10.8% (2007)
Investment (gross fixed): 25.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $21.49 billion
expenditures: $22.31 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 7.7% of GDP (2007)
Agriculture - products: grain (mostly spring wheat), cotton; livestock
Industries: oil, coal, iron ore, manganese, chromite, lead, zinc, copper, titanium, bauxite, gold, silver, phosphates, sulfur, iron and steel; tractors and other agricultural machinery, electric motors, construction materials
Industrial production growth rate: 4.5% (2007)
Electricity - production: 76.34 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 84.3%
hydro: 15.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 76.43 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - exports: 3.7 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - imports: 4 billion kWh (2007)
Oil - production: 1.338 million bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 234,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 1 million bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - imports: 113,600 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 9 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 16.69 billion cu m (2007)
Natural gas - consumption: 8.4 billion cu m (2007)
Natural gas - exports: 10.2 billion cu m (2007)
Natural gas - imports: 3.9 billion cu m (2007)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 1.765 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $-4.643 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $44.88 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: oil and oil products 59%, ferrous metals 19%, chemicals 5%, machinery 3%, grain, wool, meat, coal (2001)
Exports - partners: Germany 12.4%, Russia 11.6%, China 10.9%, Italy 10.5%, France 7.6%, Romania 4.9% (2006)
Imports: $29.91 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, metal products, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: Russia 36.4%, China 19.3%, Germany 7.4% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $229.2 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $19.25 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $93.9 billion (30 September 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $39.3 billion (September 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $3.97 billion (September 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $10.52 billion (2005)
Currency (code): tenge (KZT)
Currency code: KZT
Exchange rates: tenge per US dollar - 122.55 (2007), 126.09 (2006), 132.88 (2005), 136.04 (2004), 149.58 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 2.928 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 7.83 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: inherited an outdated telecommunications network from the Soviet era requiring modernization
domestic: intercity by landline and microwave radio relay; number of fixed-line connections is gradually increasing and fixed-line teledensity is about 20 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular usage is increasing rapidly and subscriptions now exceed 50 per 100 persons
international: country code - 7; international traffic with other former Soviet republics and China carried by landline and microwave radio relay and with other countries by satellite and by the Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic cable; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat
Radio broadcast stations: AM 60, FM 17, shortwave 9 (1998)
Radios: 6.47 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 12 (plus 9 repeaters) (1998)
Televisions: 3.88 million (1997)
Internet country code: .kz
Internet hosts: 33,217 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 10 (with their own international channels) (2001)
Internet users: 1.247 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 97 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 65
over 3,047 m: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 27
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 8 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 32
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 12 (2007)
Heliports: 5 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 658 km; gas 11,082 km; oil 10,376 km; refined products 1,095 km (2007)
Railways: total: 13,700 km
broad gauge: 13,700 km 1.520-m gauge (3,700 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways: total: 90,018 km
paved: 84,104 km
unpaved: 5,914 km (2004)
Waterways: 4,000 km (on the Ertis ((Irtysh)) River (80%) and Syr Darya ((Syrdariya)) River) (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 5 ships (1000 GRT or over) 30,011 GRT/49,223 DWT
by type: petroleum tanker 4, refrigerated cargo 1 (2007)
Ports and terminals: Aqtau (Shevchenko), Atyrau (Gur'yev), Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk), Pavlodar, Semey (Semipalatinsk)
Military Military branches: Ground Forces, Naval Force, Air and Air Defense Forces, Republican Guard
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 2 years; minimum age for volunteers NA (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 3,758,255
females age 18-49: 3,822,845 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 2,473,529
females age 18-49: 3,168,048 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 173,129
females age 18-49: 168,697 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.9% (Ministry of Defense expenditures) (FY02)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: Kyrgyzstan has yet to ratify the 2001 boundary delimitation with Kazakhstan; field demarcation of the boundaries with Turkmenistan commenced in 2005, and with Uzbekistan in 2004; demarcation is scheduled to get underway with Russia in 2007; demarcation with China was completed in 2002; creation of a seabed boundary with Turkmenistan in the Caspian Sea remains under discussion; equidistant seabed treaties have been ratified with Azerbaijan and Russia in the Caspian Sea, but no resolution has been made on dividing the water column among any of the littoral states
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 5,000 (Russia) (2006)
Illicit drugs: significant illicit cultivation of cannabis for CIS markets, as well as limited cultivation of opium poppy and ephedra (for the drug ephedrine); limited government eradication of illicit crops; transit point for Southwest Asian narcotics bound for Russia and the rest of Europe; significant consumer of opiates