|Flag||Coat of Arms|
|Language||Kazakh, Russian (official)|
|Prime minister||Serik Akhmetov|
|Area||1,052,085 sq mi|
|GDP 2007||$161 billion|
|GDP per capita||$10,658|
Kazakhstan (Republic of Kazakhstan), is a country in central Asia. Its capital is Astana.
Kazakhstan is a former member of the USSR. It has an area of approximately 2.7 million square kilometers, and is the ninth largest country (by area) in the world. It is a landlocked nation, bordering China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea. The Aral Sea is also partially contained within Kazakhstan's borders, and the country's government has made recent efforts to save the Aral Sea from environmental disaster .
- Area: 2.7 million sq. km. (1.05 million sq. mi.); ninth-largest nation in the world; the size of Western Europe.
- Major cities: Astana (capital, June 1998), Almaty (former capital and largest city), Karaganda, and Shymkent. Aktau is a booming oil town
- Terrain: Extends east to west from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains and north to south from the plains of Western Siberia to the oasis and desert of Central Asia.
- Climate: Continental, cold winters and hot summers; arid and semi-arid.
- Border lengths: Russia 6,846 km., Uzbekistan 2,203 km., China 1,533 km., Kyrgyzstan 1,051 km., and Turkmenistan 379 km.
Kazakhstan is very ethnically diverse, with only a slight majority of Kazakhstanis being ethnic Kazakh. Other ethnic groups include Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, German, and Uyghur. Religions are Sunni Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and other. Kazakhstan is a bilingual country. The Kazakh language has the status of the "state" language, while Russian is declared the "official" language. Russian is used routinely in business; 64.4% of the population speaks the Kazakh language. Education is universal and mandatory through the secondary level, and the literacy rate is 98.4%.
- Population (July 2006 est.): 15.2 million--down from 16.2 million in 1989; second most-populated country in Central Asia.
- Population growth rate (2006 est.): 0.3%. Population distribution: 56.4% of population lives in urban areas. Twenty-six cities had approximate populations of more than 50,000 in 1999--Astana (capital) 529,000, Almaty (former capital) 1.2 million, Karaganda 440,000, Shymkent 370,000, Taraz 340,000, Ust-Kamenogorsk 310,000, Pavlodar 300,000.
- Large scale emigration of ethnic Russians, Germans, and Ukrainians accounts for most of the population decrease since 1989.
- Population density: 14.5 people per sq. mi. (U.S. density 2000: 79.6 people per sq. mi.).
- Ethnic groups (2002): Kazakh 55.8%, Russian 28.3%, Ukrainian 3.3%, Uzbek 2.6%, German 1.8%, Uyghur 1.5%, other 5.0%.
- Religion: Sunni Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%.
- Language: Kazakhstan is a bilingual country. Kazakh language has the status of the "state" language, while Russian is declared the "official" language. Russian is used routinely in business; 64.4% of population speaks the Kazakh language.
- Health (2006 est.): Infant mortality rate--28.3/1,000. Life expectancy--66.89 years (male 61.56 yrs.; female 72.52 yrs.). *Health care (2005 est.)--30.3 doctors and 68.2 hospital beds per 10,000 persons.
- Education: Mandatory universal secondary education. School system consists of kindergarten, primary school (grades 1-4), secondary school (grades 5-9), and high school (grades 10-11). Literacy rate--98.4%.
- Work force (2005, 7.85 million): Industry and construction--18.1%; agriculture and fishing--32.9%; services--49%.
Kazakh (Qazaq) 63.1%, Russian 23.7%, Uzbek 2.8%, Ukrainian 2.1%, Uighur 1.4%, Tatar 1.3%, German 1.1%, other 4.5% (2009 census)
Government and Political Conditions
Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with a strong presidency. It is divided into 14 oblasts and the two municipal districts of Almaty and Astana. Each 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 June 10, 1998.
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. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has been in office since Kazakhstan became independent. In 1995, President Nazarbayev called for a referendum that expanded his presidential powers: only he can initiate constitutional amendments, appoint and dismiss the government, dissolve Parliament, call referenda, and appoint administrative heads of regions and cities. The prime minister, who serves at the pleasure of the president, 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.
Kazakhstan has a bicameral Parliament, comprised of a lower house (the Mazhilis) and upper house (the Senate). Single mandate districts popularly elect 67 seats in the Mazhilis; there also are 10 members elected by party-list vote. 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. Mazhilis deputies and the government both have the right of legislative initiative, though the government proposes most legislation considered by the Parliament.
Elections to the Mazhilis 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 (Asar and Otan subsequently merged in July 2006 to form the new Otan party). 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. The opposition party Ak Zhol refused to take the seat in protest of the flawed elections.
In December 2005, President Nazarbayev won a new 7-year term in an election that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said fell short of international standards. Official results gave the president 91% of the vote, although independent exit polls found this figure to be somewhat inflated. Opposition candidates Zharmakhan Tuyakbay (For a Just Kazakhstan) and Alikhan Baymenov (Ak Zhol) were able to compete freely in this election.
Principal Government Officials
- President--Nursultan Nazarbayev
- Head of government: Prime Minister Karim MASIMOV (since 2 April 2014)
- Prosecutor General--Rashid Tusupbekov
- National Security Committee (KNB) Chairman--Amangeldy Shabdarbayev
- Prime Minister-- Bakytzhan SAGINTAYEV (since 16 January 2013)
- Deputy Prime Minister--Gulshara ABDYKALIKOVA (since 28 November 2013)
- State Secretary--Oralbay Abdykarimov
- Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Kayrat UMAROV (since 14 January 2013)
Kazakhstan has stable relationships with all of its neighbors. Kazakhstan is a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and North Atlantic Cooperation Council. It also is an active participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace program. Kazakhstan also is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization along with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan, Russia, 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. Kazakhstan is the founding member of the Conference for Interaction and Confidence in Asia. Kazakhstan also engages in regional security dialogue with ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).
Kazakhstan's economy grew by 8.5% in 2006. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 9.4% in 2005, 9.1 % in 2004, 9.2% in 2003, 9.5% in 2002, and 13.2% in 2001.
Kazakhstan's monetary policy has been well managed. In 2006, inflation remained relatively steady at 8.6%, up from 7.5% in 2005. Inflation from 2001-2003 was 6.4%, 6.6%, and 6.8%, respectively. Because of its strong macroeconomic performance and financial health, Kazakhstan became the first former Soviet republic to repay all of its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2000, 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.
- GDP (2007): $102.5 billion.
- Exchange rate (period average): 122.55 KZT/U.S. $1 in 2007.
- GDP growth rate: 9.5% (2002); 9.2% (2003); 9.6% (2004 est.); 9.7% (2005 est.); 10.7% (2006); 8.5% (2007).
GDP per capita (2007, purchasing power parity): $11,100.
- Inflation rate: 6.6% (2002); 6.8% (2003); 6.7% (2004 est.); 7.5% (2005); 8.4% (2006); 18.8% (2007 year-over-year); 10.8% (2007 average).
- Trade: Exports (2007 est.)--$44.88 billion. Imports (2007 est.)--$29.91 billion.
- Gross external debt: $18.2 billion (2002); $22.9 billion (2003); $32.71 billion (2004); $43.40 billion (2005); $73.46 billion (2006); $96.37 billion (2007).
- Central Bank's foreign exchange reserves: $4.96 billion (2003); $7.07 billion (2005 est.); $19.04 billion (Feb. 2008).
- National (oil) fund reserves: $3.6 billion (2003); $5.1 billion (2004); $10.1 billion (2006); $22.6 billion (Feb. 2008).
- Officially recognized unemployment rate: 8.7% (2003); 8.4% (2004 est.); 8.1% (2005 est.); 7.4% (2006 est.); 7.1% (2007 est.).
- Population below poverty line: 13.8% (2007).
In September 2002, Kazakhstan became the first country in the former Soviet Union to receive an investment-grade credit rating from a major international credit rating agency. Estimated level of external debt in 2005 was $41.66 billion. In 2004, Kazakhstan's gross foreign debt was about $26.03 billion. Kazakhstan has been successful in reducing the ratio of debt to GDP in recent years. In 2005, total governmental debt was $5 billion, which amounts to 8.9% of GDP. In 2000, total government debt equaled 21.7% of GDP.
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 0.5% of GDP in 2005. Government revenues grew from 19.8% of GDP in 1999 to 22.6% of GDP in 2001 to 25.7% of GDP in 2005. 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 the value added tax (from 16% to 15%), the social tax (from 21% to 20%), and the personal income tax (from 30% to 20%). Kazakhstan furthered its reforms by adopting a new land code on June 20, 2003 and a customs code on April 5, 2003.
Oil and gas is the leading economic sector. Production of oil and gas condensate in Kazakhstan amounted to 61.9 million tons in 2005, which was 4.3% more than in 2004. Kazakhstan exported 52.4 million tons of oil and gas condensate a year in 2004 and 2005. Natural gas production in Kazakhstan in 2005 amounted to 14.5 billion cubic meters, a 25% increase from 2004. Kazakhstan holds about 4 billion tons of proven recoverable oil reserves and 3 trillion cubic meters 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 per day by 2015, lifting Kazakhstan into the ranks of the world's top 10 oil-producing nations. Kazakhstan's 2005 oil exports were valued at $17.4 billion, representing over 70% of overall exports. Major oil and gas fields and their recoverable oil reserves are Tengiz (7 billion barrels); Karachaganak (8 billion barrels and 1,350 billion cubic meters of natural gas); and Kashagan (7-9 billion barrels). Starting in 2004, the Government of Kazakhstan increased its take of oil deals by increasing taxation of new oil projects.
Kazakhstan instituted an ambitious pension reform program in 1998. There are 14 saving pension funds, one of which is state controlled. The National Bank 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. Its 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 10.3% of Kazakhstan's GDP in 2005. Grain (Kazakhstan is the seventh-largest producer of wheat in the world) and livestock are the most important agricultural commodities. Agricultural land occupies more than 220 million hectares, about 68% of which consists of pasture and hay land. Chief livestock products are dairy goods, leather, meat, and wool. The country's major crops include wheat, barley, cotton, and rice. Wheat is the leading agricultural commodity in Kazakhstan's export trade. Kazakhstan harvests 14-15 million tons of wheat per year.
Oil, gas, and mineral exports are key to Kazakhstan's economic success. Since 1993, Kazakhstan’s extractive industries have attracted $30.7 billion in foreign investment, which represents almost 76% of the total foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan for that period. Kazakhstan has significant deposits of coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, uranium, and gold.
Nomadic tribes have been living in the region that is now Kazakhstan since the first century BC, although the land has been inhabited at least as far back as the Stone Age. From the fourth century AD through the beginning of the 13th century, the territory of Kazakhstan was ruled by a series of nomadic nations. Following the Mongolian invasion in the early 13th century, administrative districts were established under the Mongol Empire, which eventually became the territories of the Kazakh Khanate. The major medieval cities of Taraz and Turkestan were founded along the northern route of the Great Silk Road during this period.
Traditional nomadic life on the vast steppe and semi-desert lands was characterized by a constant search for new pasture to support the livestock-based economy. The Kazakhs emerged from a mixture of tribes living in the region in about the 15th century and by the middle of the 16th century had developed a common language, culture, and economy. In the early 1600s, the Kazakh Khanate separated into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) Hordes--confederations based on extended family networks. Political disunion, competition among the hordes, and a lack of an internal market weakened the Kazakh Khanate. The beginning of the 18th century marked the zenith of the Kazakh Khanate. The following 150 years saw the gradual colonization of the Kazakh-controlled territories by tsarist Russia.
The process of colonization was a combination of voluntary integration into the Russian Empire and outright seizure. The Little Horde and part of the Middle Horde signed treaties of protection with Russia in the 1730s and 1740s. Major parts of the northeast and central Kazakh territories were incorporated into the Russian Empire by 1840. With the Russian seizure of territories belonging to the Senior Horde in the 1860s, 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 in its effort to establish a presence in Central Asia in the so-called "Great Game" between it and Great Britain. 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 Kazakh language and identity. There were uprisings against colonial rule during the final years of tsarist Russia, with the most serious occurring in 1916. The destruction of the nomadic life, prior to and during the Communist period, created a Kazakh diaspora in neighboring countries, especially western China. Since independence in 1991, the government has encouraged the return of ethnic Kazakhs by offering subsidies for returnees.
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 and, in 1936, a Soviet republic.
Soviet repression of the traditional elites, along with forced collectivization in late 1920s-1930s, brought about mass hunger and led to unrest. Soviet rule, however, took hold, and a communist apparatus steadily worked to fully integrate Kazakhstan into the Soviet system. Kazakhstan experienced population inflows of thousands exiled from other parts of the Soviet Union during the 1930s and later became home for hundreds of thousands evacuated from the Second World War battlefields. The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) contributed five national divisions to the Soviet Union's World War II effort.
The period of the Second World War marked an increase in industrialization and increased mineral extraction in support of the war effort. At the time of Soviet leader Josif 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 pasturelands 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, sped up the development of the agricultural sector, which to this day 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 took place in Almaty to protest the methods of the communist system. Soviet troops suppressed the unrest, and dozens of 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 (U.S.S.R.) 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.
The years following independence have been marked by significant reforms to the Soviet command-economy and political monopoly on power. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Kazakh Communist Party and was eventually elected President in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward developing a market economy, for which it was recognized by the United States in 2002. The country has enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves.
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