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Flag of Kazakhstan
Map of Kazakhstan
Introduction Kazakhstan
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 has 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.
Geography Kazakhstan
Central Asia, northwest of China
Geographic coordinates:
48 00 N, 68 00 E
Map references:
total: 2,717,300 sq km
water: 47,500 sq km
land: 2,669,800 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
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: 11.23%
permanent crops: 0.05%
other: 88.72% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
23,320 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
earthquakes in the south, mudslides around Almaty
Environment - current issues:
radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with its former defense industries and test ranges 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, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note:
landlocked; Russia leases approximately 6,000 sq km of territory enclosing the Baykonur Cosmodrome
People Kazakhstan
16,741,519 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26% (male 2,212,985; female 2,141,392)
15-64 years: 66.5% (male 5,393,281; female 5,731,288)
65 years and over: 7.5% (male 434,879; female 827,694) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.1% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
17.83 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
10.69 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-6.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.53 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
58.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.38 years
female: 69.01 years (2002 est.)
male: 58.02 years
Total fertility rate:
2.12 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.04% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,500 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 100 (1999 est.)
noun: Kazakhstani(s)
adjective: Kazakhstani
Ethnic groups:
Kazakh (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Uighur 1.4%, other 6.6% (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.)
Government Kazakhstan
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Kazakhstan
conventional short form: Kazakhstan
local long form: Qazaqstan Respublikasy
former: Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
local short form: none
Government type:
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 (Baykonyr, formerly Leninsk)
16 December 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holiday:
Republic Day, 25 October (1990)
adopted by national referendum 30 August 1995; first post-independence constitution was adopted 28 January 1993
Legal system:
based on civil law system
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 Imangali TASMAGAMBETOV (since 28 January 2002)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
election results: Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV reelected president; percent of vote - Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV 81.7%, Serikbolsyn ABDILDIN 12.1%, Gani KASYMOV 4.7%, Engels GABBASSOV 1.5%
note: President NAZARBAYEV expanded his presidential powers by decree: 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
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 10 January 1999, a year before it was previously scheduled (next to be held NA 2006); note - President NAZARBAYEV's previous term was extended to 2000 by a nationwide referendum held 30 April 1995; prime minister and first deputy prime minister appointed by the president
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (39 seats - previously 47 seats; 7 senators are appointed by the president; other members are popularly elected, two from each of the 14 oblasts, the capital of Astana, and the city of Almaty, to serve six-year terms) and the Majilis (77 seats; 10 out of the 77 Majilis members are elected from the winning party's lists; members are popularly elected to serve five-year terms)
election results: note - the election results are for the old Senate structure; Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; 16 seats up for election in 1999, candidates nominated by local councils; Majilis - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Otan 23, Civic Party 13, Communist Party 3, Agrarian Party 3, People's Cooperative Party 1, independents 34; note - most independent candidates are affiliated with parastatal enterprises and other pro-government institutions
elections: Senate - (indirect) last held 17 September 1999 (next to be held NA December 2005); Majilis - last held 10 and 24 October and 26 December 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (44 members); Constitutional Council (7 members)
Political parties and leaders:
Agrarian Party [Romin MADINOV]; Alash [Sabet-Kazy AKATAY]; AZAMAT "Citizen" Movement [Petr SVOIK, Murat AUEZOV, and Galym ABILSEITOV, cochairmen]; Civic Party [Azat PERUASHEV, first secretary]; Communist Party or KPK [Serikbolsyn ABDILDIN, first secretary]; Forum of Democratic Forces [a union of opposition parties, movements, and NGOs which includes Communists, RNPK, Orleu "Development" Movement, Pokoleniye "Generation" Pensioners' Movement, Labor Movement, Association of Independent Mass Media of Central Asia, and the Tabighat "Nature" Ecological Movement]; Labor and Worker's Movement [Madel ISMAILOV, chairman]; Orleu "Development" Movement [Seidakhmet KUTTYKADAM]; Otan "Fatherland" [Sergei TERESCHENKO, chairman]; Pensioners Movement or Pokoleniye [Irina SAVOSTINA, chairwoman]; People's Congress of Kazakhstan of NKK [Olzhas SULEIMENOV, chairman]; People's Cooperative Party of Kazakhstan [Umirzak SARSENOV]; Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan or RNPK [Akezhan KAZHEGELDIN]; Socialist Party [Petr SVOIK]; United Democratic Party (a new party not yet registered) [leader NA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Adil-Soz [Tamara KALEYEVA]; Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan [Galymzhan ZHAKIYANOV, Uraz ZHANDOSOV, Nurzhan SUBKHANBERDIN, Mukhtar ABLYAZOV, Zhanat YERTLESOVA, Bulat ABILOV, cofounders]; Kazakhstan International Bureau on Human Rights [Yevgeniy ZHOVTIS, executive director]
International organization participation:
AsDB, CCC, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (associate), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM (observer), OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Kanat B. SAUDABAYEV
chancery: 1401 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
consulate(s): New York
FAX: [1] (202) 232-5845
telephone: [1] (202) 232-5488
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Larry C. NAPPER
embassy: 99/97A Furmanova Street, Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan 480091
mailing address: American Embassy Almaty, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-7030
telephone: [7] (3272) 63-39-21, 50-76-23, 50-76-27 (emergency number)
FAX: [7] (3272) 50-62-69
Flag description:
sky blue background representing the endless sky and a gold sun with 32 rays soaring above a golden steppe eagle in the center; on the hoist side is a "national ornamentation" in gold
Economy Kazakhstan
Economy - overview:
Kazakhstan, the largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, excluding Russia, possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves as well as plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also is a large agricultural - livestock and grain - producer. 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 has enjoyed double-digit growth in 2000-01 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 raises export capacity. Astana has embarked upon an industrial policy designed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the oil sector by developing light industry.
purchasing power parity - $98.1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
12.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $5,900 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 10%
industry: 30%
services: 60% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
26% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 27% (2001)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
35 (1996)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
8.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
8.4 million (1999)
Labor force - by occupation:
industry 30%, agriculture 20%, services 50% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
10% (2001 est.)
revenues: $4.2 billion
expenditures: $5.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
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:
11.4% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
48.692 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 86%
hydro: 14%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
48.336 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
50 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
3.102 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
grain (mostly spring wheat), cotton; wool, livestock
$10.5 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
oil and oil products 52.8%, ferrous metals 12.9%, machinery, chemicals, grain, wool, meat, coal (2000)
Exports - partners:
Russia 19.5%, China 7.3%, Germany 6.2% (2000)
$8.2 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and parts 29.5%, energy and fuels 11.3%, electrical equipment 8.8%, vehicles 8.7%, ferrous metals 6.4% (2000)
Imports - partners:
Russia 48.7%, Germany 6.6%, US 5.5% (2000)
Debt - external:
$11.6 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$610 million in US assistance programs, 1992-2000
tenge (KZT)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
tenge per US dollar - 151.14 (January 2002), 146.74 (2001), 142.13 (2000), 119.52 (1999), 78.30 (1998), 75.44 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Kazakhstan
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.92 million (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
400,000 (2001)
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: international traffic with other former Soviet republics and China carried by landline and microwave radio relay; 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)
6.47 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
12 (plus nine repeaters) (1998)
3.88 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
10 (with their own international channels) (2001)
Internet users:
100,000 (2002)
Transportation Kazakhstan
total: 13,601 km in common carrier service; does not include industrial lines
broad gauge: 13,601 km 1.520-m gauge (3,661 km electrified) (2001)
total: 189,000 km
paved: 108,100 km (includes some all-weather gravel-surfaced roads)
unpaved: 80,900 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1990)
3,900 km
note: on the Syr Darya (Syrdariya) and Ertis (Irtysh) rivers
crude oil 2,850 km; refined products 1,500 km; natural gas 3,480 km (1992)
Ports and harbors:
Aqtau (Shevchenko), Atyrau (Gur'yev), Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk), Pavlodar, Semey (Semipalatinsk)
Merchant marine:
total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,064 GRT/646 DWT
note: includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: United States 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: roll on/roll off 1
449 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 28
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 14
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
under 914 m: 3 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 421
over 3,047 m: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 18
1,524 to 2,437 m: 45
914 to 1,523 m: 101
under 914 m: 246 (2002)
Military Kazakhstan
Military branches:
Ground Forces, Air and Air Defense Forces, Naval Force, Border Service, Republican Guard
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 4,545,168 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,629,219 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 163,628 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$173 million (Ministry of Defense expenditures) (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1% (Ministry of Defense expenditures) (FY01)
Transnational Issues Kazakhstan
Disputes - international:
Kazakhstan is working rapidly with China and Russia to delimit its large open borders to control population migration, illegal activities, and trade; signed bilateral agreement with Russia delimiting the Caspian Sea seabed, but littoral states are far from any multilateral agreement on dividing the waters and seabed regimes - Iran insists on division of Caspian Sea into five equal sectors while Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan have generally agreed upon equidistant seabed boundaries; border largely delimited with Uzbekistan, but unresolved dispute remains over sovereignty of two border villages, Bagys and Turkestan, and around the Arnasay dam; Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan wrestle with sharing limited water resources and the regional environmental degradation caused by the shrinking of the Aral Sea; disputes with Kyrgyzstan over providing water and hydropower to Kazakhstan
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

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003