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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. 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 outside the oil, gas, and mining sectors; and strengthening relations with neighboring states and other foreign powers.


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


total: 2,717,300 sq km
land: 2,669,800 sq km
water: 47,500 sq km

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


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)


continental, cold winters and hot summers, arid and semiarid


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)

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

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


15,233,244 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 23% (male 1,792,685/female 1,717,294)
15-64 years: 68.8% (male 5,122,027/female 5,357,819)
65 years and over: 8.2% (male 438,541/female 804,878) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 28.8 years
male: 27.2 years
female: 30.5 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.33% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

16 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

9.42 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-3.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.55 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 28.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.88 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23.45 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 66.89 years
male: 61.56 years
female: 72.52 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.89 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.2% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

16,500 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 200 (2003 est.)


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)


Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%


Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the "language of interethnic communication") 95% (2001 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 99.1%
female: 97.7% (1999 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Kazakhstan
conventional short form: Kazakhstan
local long form: Qazaqstan Respublikasy
local short form: none
former: Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic

Government type:

republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch


Astana; note - the government moved from Almaty to Astana in December 1998

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


16 December 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 16 December (1991)


first post-independence constitution adopted 28 January 1993; new constitution adopted by national referendum 30 August 1995

Legal system:

based on civil law system


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (39 seats; 7 senators are appointed by the president; other members are elected by local government bodies, 2 from each of the 14 oblasts, the capital of Astana, and the city of Almaty, to serve six-year terms; note - formerly composed of 47 seats) and the Mazhilis (77 seats; 10 out of the 77 Mazhilis members are elected from the winning party's lists; 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 19 September and 3 October 2004 (next to be held in September 2009)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; candidates nominated by local councils; Mazhilis - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Otan 42, AIST 11, ASAR (All Together) 4, Aq Zhol (Bright Path) 1, Democratic Party 1 (party refused to take the seat due to criticism of the election and seat remained unoccupied), independent 18; note - most independent candidates are affiliated with parastatal enterprises and other pro-government institutions

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (44 members); Constitutional Council (7 members)

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 and also on a growing machine-building sector specializing in construction equipment, tractors, agricultural machinery, and some defense items. 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 - 9% or more per year in 2002-05 - thanks largely to its booming energy sector, but also to economic reform, good harvests, and foreign investment. The opening of the Caspian Consortium pipeline in 2001, from western Kazakhstan's Tengiz oilfield to the Black Sea, substantially raised export capacity. Kazakhstan also has begun work on an ambitious cooperative construction effort with China to build an oil pipeline that will 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 light industry. 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 2005 due to massive oil-related foreign-exchange inflows.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$133.2 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$42.75 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

9% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$8,800 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 7.8%
industry: 40.4%
services: 51.8% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

7.85 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 20%
industry: 30%
services: 50% (2002 est.)

Unemployment rate:

7.6% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

19% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 26.5% (2004 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

31.5 (2003)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

7.4% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

22% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $12.19 billion
expenditures: $12.44 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Public debt:

9.8% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

grain (mostly spring wheat), cotton; livestock


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:

10.7% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

60.33 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

52.55 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - exports:

6 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

2.45 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

1.3 million bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

221,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:

890,000 bbl/day (2003)

Oil - imports:

47,000 bbl/day (2003)

Oil - proved reserves:

26 billion bbl (1 January 2004)

Natural gas - production:

18.5 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

15.2 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - exports:

4.1 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

3 trillion cu m (1 January 2004)

Current account balance:

$3.343 billion (2005 est.)


$30.09 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

oil and oil products 58%, ferrous metals 24%, chemicals 5%, machinery 3%, grain, wool, meat, coal (2001)

Exports - partners:

Russia 15.1%, Bermuda 13.8%, Germany 11%, China 9.9%, France 6.6%, Italy 4.1% (2004)


$17.51 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment 41%, metal products 28%, foodstuffs 8% (2001)

Imports - partners:

Russia 34.6%, China 15.4%, Germany 8.2%, France 5.7%, Ukraine 4.6% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$11.13 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$32.7 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$74.2 million in US assistance programs, 1992-2000 (FY2004)

Currency (code):

tenge (KZT)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

2.5 million (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2,758,900 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: service is poor; equipment antiquated
domestic: intercity by landline and microwave radio relay; mobile cellular systems are available in most of Kazakhstan
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)

Television broadcast stations:

12 (plus nine repeaters) (1998)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

20,327 (2005)

Internet users:

400,000 (2005)


160 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 66
over 3,047 m: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 26
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 10 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 94
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 58 (2005)


4 (2005)


condensate 18 km; gas 10,370 km; oil 10,158 km; refined products 1,187 km (2004)


total: 13,700 km
broad gauge: 13,700 km 1.520-m gauge (3,700 km electrified) (2004)


total: 354,171 km
paved: 247,347 km
unpaved: 106,824 km (2003)


4,000 km (on the Ertis (Irtysh) (80%) and Syr Darya (Syrdariya) rivers) (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 5 ships (1000 GRT or over) 19,949 GRT/31,115 DWT
by type: cargo 2, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1
foreign-owned: 2 (Oman 2)
registered in other countries: 1 (Marshall Islands 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Aqtau (Shevchenko), Atyrau (Gur'yev), Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk), Pavlodar, Semey (Semipalatinsk)

Military branches:

Ground Forces, Air and Air Defense Forces, Naval Force, Republican Guard

Disputes - international:

in 2005, Kazakhstan agreed with Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to commence demarcating their boundaries; delimitation with Kyrgyzstan is complete; creation of a seabed boundary with Turkmenistan in the Caspian Sea remains unresolved; 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): 13,684 (Russia) (2005)

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