||Kazakh as the official national language,
Russian as the language of communication between
the ethnic groups
|Form of government
||UTC +4 to +6
|Telephone area code
The territory of Kazakhstan (officially Kazakstan
Respublikasy) lies on the border of Asia with Europe and
extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai
Mountains in the east over two time zones and a length
of 3,000 km. In the north, the country borders on the
Siberian lowlands of Russia, in the south on the
Kysylkum desert and the Tien-shan mountain range. With
an area of 2,724,900 km², Kazakhstan is about five
times the size of France. It is the second largest
within the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), of
which the country is a member.
A total of around 12,000 km of borders connect
Kazakhstan with its five neighboring countries: in the
southeast with China, in the south with Kyrgyzstan, with
Uzbekistan and with Turkmenistan. Finally, in the north
is the 6,846 km long border with Russia. The country's
capital is Astana with around 313,000 residents. Around
1.3 million people live in the former capital, Almati.
The city on the border with Kyrgyzstan is better known
in the west under its former name: Alma-Ata. Other major
cities are Karaganda (436,900 residents), Shymkent
(360,500), Pavlodar (301,000) and Taraz (330,500).
Large parts of the country of Kazakhstan consist of
plains, more than two thirds of the country area are
deserts and semi-deserts. The north is part of the West
Siberian lowlands, to the west is the Caspian Valley,
the Kazakh steppe and the low mountain range of the
Mugujar Mountains, which is over 700 m high. Behind it
is the Caspian Sea, the largest drainless lake on earth.
Its main inflow is the Volga. Numerous rivers flow
through the steppe areas (in total there are around
8,500 larger and smaller rivers in Kazakhstan). They
flow either in the Caspian Sea or in the Balchasch or
Saissansee, the most important inland waters in
Kazakhstan alongside the Aral Sea. The largest rivers
are the Urals and the Emba, which flow into the Caspian
Sea, while Syrdaria flows into the Aral Sea and the
Ishim and Tobol rivers into the Arctic Ocean. The center
of the country is occupied by the Turgai tablet country
and the wide Kazakh threshold. In the south are deserts
and the lowlands of Turan, in which the Aral Sea lies.
The Aral Sea is the most famous of the approximately
48,000 lakes in the country, some of which are saline.
In the region of Lake Balchasch further east are the
Hunger Steppe (Betpak-Dala), Mujunkum and the
Siebenstromland. High mountains lie on the eastern and
south-eastern edge of these regions: the southern Altai,
the western Tarbagatai mountains and on the border with
China the northern Tien-shan with the 4,973 m high
Transili-Alatau, the highest mountain in Kazakhstan.
There are approximately 2,700 glaciers in the country's
A dry continental climate prevails in Kazakhstan,
which is due to the mountain-related shielding of the
country from the large oceans and their rain clouds. The
low average rainfall increases only slightly from the
south with 150 mm a year to the north to 300 mm a year.
Only in preferred locations of the high mountains do
clouds of rain rain more frequently, thereby increasing
the local rainfall to over 1,000 mm per year. The
temperatures are extremely different in the seasons:
hard cold winters alternate with hot summers. In
Alma-Ata they average -10 กใ C in January, but rise to 24
กใ C in July. The lowest winter temperatures can also
drop below -40 กใ C, but rise to over 30 กใ C in summer.
Sandstorms often occur.
Flora and fauna
The flora of Kazakhstan in the far north and on the
border with Siberia is characterized by forest steppes,
which merge further south into real steppe zones. These
take up about a quarter of the total area of the
state. Further south, the country changes into
semi-deserts and finally into extremely dry desert
zones, which together take up more than half of the
country's territory. Continuous strong winds in the
steppes and deserts result in severe soil erosion, which
leads to further desolation of the areas concerned. The
region between the mountain ranges in the south and the
Aral Sea has a great wealth of flora and fauna despite
the inhospitability of the region. The flora has
adjusted to the large temperature differences and the
lack of groundwater. For example, some plants form
double root systems, one of which is close to the
surface and picks up the rare and scarce spring rain,
the other, however, penetrates to a depth of 70 m in
order to supply the plant with moisture during the dry
seasons. Dwarfism and a high proportion of wood fabric
and hairy leaves are further signs of adaptation to the
unfavorable natural conditions. On the other hand, with
a good water supply, such as that found in oases or
rivers that carry water all year round, lush vegetation
thrives. Grasses such as marjoram, sweet clover and
mugwort occur here. Other common plants in this room are
reeds, willows, poplars and bulrushes. In addition,
there are an estimated 250 different medicinal herbs.
The wildlife in Kazakhstan is also richer than the
large desert areas suggest. Around 155 mammal species,
480 bird and 150 fish species live in the country,
primarily along the lakes and along the rivers, but also
in the steppe deserts. The animal kingdom ranges from
wolves, bears, foxes, lynxes, gazelles and camels to
desert jerboa and numerous types of lizards and snakes.
Reptiles and insects also come in different types. The
Aral Sea serves as a resting place for numerous
migratory birds. Around twenty freshwater fish species
live in the lake and have adapted to the salinity. These
are primarily carp and perch, but also pike and salmon,
which were brought into the lake by the fishermen. A
major problem with all the lakes in the region is the
severe salinization and desolation of the lakes,
In recent years, the proportion of the population who
describe themselves as Kazakhs has increased
significantly: Today, 57% of the 15.07 million people
consider themselves to belong to the population group
that gave the state its name. According to COUNTRYAAH, 27% of the
population are of Russian origin and mostly immigrated
to the time of the Soviet Union. Another 3% are
Ukrainians. In the past decades, a large proportion of
the ethnic Germans relocated to Germany as late
emigrants, which reduced their share in Kazakhstan to
around 650,000 residents. Likewise, after the
declaration of independence in 1991, the Russian share
of the population decreased.
The majority of the Kazakhs who come from the Turkic
peoples are Sunni Muslims. By contrast, the Slavic
Russians and Ukrainians mostly belong to Orthodox
Christianity. There are currently as many Muslims (47%)
as Orthodox Christians (44%) living in the country.
Kazakh is the official language; Due to the high
proportion of Russian citizens, Russian is spoken in
large parts of the country as a colloquial language. The
population density varies greatly depending on the
region. Most citizens of Kazakhstan live in the
agricultural steppe areas in the north and in the area
in and around the city of Almati in the south of the
Life expectancy averages 66.5 years; the low
population growth of 1.1% is partly due to emigration,
especially of minorities. 98.5% of the Kazakh population
can read and write.
Kazakhstan has officially been a sovereign and
democratic presidential republic with a multi-party
system since 1995. The head of state is a president
elected directly for five years (Nursultan Ä.
Nazarbayev, since 1990). His term of office is seven
years. The Prime Minister (Kärim Mässimow, since April
2014) holds the highest executive power and is appointed
by the President, as is his deputy.
The parliament consists of two chambers: the lower
house and the senate. The 107 deputies of the lower
house (Madschlis) are elected every five years, nine of
them are representatives of ethnic minorities. The
Senate has 47 members, 32 of whom are elected and 15 are
appointed by the President; the senators remain in
office for six years.
The Supreme Court has 44 members, and there is a
constitutional court with seven judges.
Kazakhstan is divided into 14 provinces (Oblystar),
two cities (Quala; these are Almati and Astana) and the
special district of Baikonyr.
The increasing exploitation of Kazakhstan's rich
mineral resources - oil, natural gas, coal as well as
iron and copper ore - has given the economy a
considerable upswing in recent years. Heavy industry,
which was still built in the Soviet era, has increased
the share of industrial production to gross domestic
product (GDP) to 39%. Thanks to the vigorously
implemented reform program and foreign investments, but
above all due to the increased oil production and
export, economic growth of 5.0% was again achieved in
2012. The pipeline to the Black Sea opened in 2001 was
also decisive for this.
The agricultural sector (4% of GDP) mainly produces
grain, which is also exported, and cotton. Livestock
breeding (including Karakul sheep for wool production)
is also practiced on a large scale in Kazakhstan.
Today mainly oil (65%), other ores, metals and metal
goods are exported, but also coal, natural gas, iron
ore, bauxite, copper, nickel, lead, gold, uranium and
chromium. Most industrial companies process these raw
materials; tractors, agricultural machines and motors
are also manufactured. Exports are mainly delivered to
China, Italy and the Netherlands. Imports (machinery,
chemical products, food) are also largely from Russia,
China and Ukraine.
Currency is the tenge (= 100 Tiin).