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 neighbouring states and other foreign powers.


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
Population: 17,522,010 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 21.6% (male 1,709,929/female 1,637,132)

15-64 years: 71% (male 5,373,755/female 5,654,461)

65 years and over: 7.4% (male 392,689/female 754,407) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Kazakhstan

conventional short form: Kazakhstan

local long form: QazaqstanRespublikasy

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 two time zones

Telephones – main lines in use: 4.011 million (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 19.768 million (2009)
Airports: 97 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 64

over 3,047 m: 10

2,438 to 3,047 m: 25

1,524 to 2,437 m: 16

914 to 1,523 m: 5

under 914 m: 8 (2012)

Military branches: Kazakhstan Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Mobile Forces, Air Defence Forces (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation – 2 years; minimum age for volunteers NA (2004)


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.

Transnational Issues:

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