/kah'zahk stahn"/, n.
a republic in central Asia, NE of the Caspian Sea and W of China. 16,898,572; 1,049,155 sq. mi. (2,717,311 sq. km). Cap.: Akmola. Former official name, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.

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Introduction Kazakhstan -
Background: 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
Location: Central Asia, northwest of China
Geographic coordinates: 48 00 N, 68 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: 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
Coastline: 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)
Climate: continental, cold winters and hot summers, arid and semiarid
Terrain: 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 party to: Air Pollution,
agreements: 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 -
Population: 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/ 3,500 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: 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)
Religions: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%
Languages: Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the "language of interethnic communication") 95% (2001 est.)
Literacy: 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: republic
Capital: 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)
Independence: 16 December 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holiday: Republic Day, 25 October (1990)
Constitution: adopted by national referendum 30 August 1995; first post-independence constitution was adopted 28 January 1993
Legal system: based on civil law system
Suffrage: 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 Adil-Soz [Tamara KALEYEVA];
leaders: 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 AsDB, CCC, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE,
participation: 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 chief of mission: Ambassador Larry
US: 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) 63-38-83, 50-76-24
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.
GDP: 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 lowest 10%: 2.8%
percentage share: highest 10%: 27.3% (2001) Distribution of family income - Gini 35.4 (1996)
index: 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.)
Budget: revenues: $4.2 billion expenditures: $5.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Industries: 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: 86.4% hydro: 13.6% 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
Exports: $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)
Imports: $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
Currency: tenge (KZT)
Currency code: KZT
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)
Radios: 6.47 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 12 (plus nine repeaters) (1998)
Televisions: 3.88 million (1997)
Internet country code: .kz Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 10 (with their own international channels) (2001)
Internet users: 85,000 (2001) Transportation Kazakhstan -
Railways: 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)
Highways: 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)
Waterways: 3,900 km note: on the Syr Darya (Syrdariya) and Ertis (Irtysh) rivers
Pipelines: 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
Airports: 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 (2001) 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 (2001) 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 males age 15-49: 3,629,219 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 163,628 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $173 million (Ministry of Defense
figure: expenditures) (FY01) Military expenditures - percent of 1% (Ministry of Defense
GDP: 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 and limited cultivation of opium poppy and ephedra (for the drug ephedrone); limited government eradication program; cannabis consumed largely in the CIS; used as transshipment point for illicit drugs to Russia, North America, and Western Europe from Southwest Asia; developing heroin addiction problem

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or Kazakstan officially Republic of Kazakhstan

Country, Central Asia.

Area: 1,052,090 sq mi (2,724,900 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 14,884,000. Capital: Astana. Kazakhs, a Turkic-speaking people who are the region's original inhabitants, make up less than one-half of the population; an equal number of Russians also live there, as do small minorities of Germans and Ukrainians. Language: Kazakh (official), Russian. Religion: Islam (Sunnite). Currency: tenge. From the steppe and desert lands of western and central Kazakhstan, the terrain rises to high mountains in the southeast along the border with Kyrgyzstan and China. Its highest point is Mount Khan-Tengri, 22,949 ft (6,995 m) high. The country is intensively developed agriculturally, but much of the land area is used for pasture, with sheep and goats as the main livestock. Manufacturing includes cast iron and rolled steel; mining and oil drilling are also important. Kazakhstan is a republic with a parliament consisting of two chambers; its head of state and government is the president, assisted by the prime minister. The area came under Mongol rule in the 13th century. The Kazakhs consolidated a nomadic empire in the 15th–16th centuries. Under Russian rule by the mid 19th century, it became part of the Kirgiz Autonomous Republic formed by the Soviets in 1920, and in 1925 its name was changed to the Kazakh Autonomous S.S.R. Kazakhstan obtained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It subsequently experienced economic troubles.

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▪ 2009

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 15,655,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Minister Karim Masimov

      The political leadership in Kazakhstan spent 2008 seeking to prove its worthiness to head the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); at its annual meeting in 2007, the foreign ministers of the OSCE participating countries had agreed that Kazakhstan should chair the organization in 2010, on condition that the country met certain requirements in the areas of political reform and human rights guarantees. In return, Kazakhstan promised to bring its national legislation into line with international standards during 2008. The decision gave a boost to Kazakh Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev's “Road to Europe” program, which was hailed in February 2008 by visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher as helping Kazakhstan to become a “really modern country.” The same month, however, Nazarbayev notably passed over the issue of political reform in his annual state of the nation address.

      The president defended his own party's dominance of Parliament as necessary to facilitate “crucial reforms,” comparing the situation in Kazakhstan to such one-party-dominated countries as Japan, Sweden, and Singapore. In February, Prime Minister Karim Masimov imposed a moratorium on state inspections of small businesses in order to give a boost to the free-market economy. In September, President Nazarbayev told the new EU representative in Astana that Kazakhstan wanted to expand cooperation with the EU, already a major trading partner, in an effort “to attract European technologies, investments, experience and to develop the cooperation within the framework of Kazakhstan's chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010.”

      Kazakhstan's relations during the year with major foreign investors were more troubled. In January the Agip KCÖ consortium, after serious disputes with Kazakh government agencies, handed a majority share in the huge Kashagan oil field to state-owned KazMunaiGaz. After a blast killed 30 miners in January in a mine owned by ArcelorMittal, the Kazakh government accused the company of having neglected to improve safety and meet environmental requirements, which were somewhat nebulous. In April, Standard & Poor's dealt a blow to the government's development program, reducing Kazakhstan's credit rating from stable to negative, owing to the country's foreign-currency obligations.

      Kazakhstan showed less willingness in 2008 to meet international standards in the sphere of human rights protection. The government was sharply criticized by the international human rights community for handing Uzbek asylum seekers over to Uzbek security services on what were widely believed to be trumped-up charges. Despite President Nazarbayev's well-publicized commitment to promoting religious tolerance, members of minority religious communities, such as unregistered Baptists and Hare Krishna adherents, continued to experience harassment from local officials.

Bess Brown

▪ 2008

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 15,472,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Ministers Daniyal Akhmetov and, from January 10, Karim Masimov

      Throughout 2007 Kazakhstan continued its quest to receive recognition by the international community for its political and economic achievements. Though the country had developed one of the strongest economies in the Commonwealth of Independent States, thanks largely to its oil revenues, backsliding on democratization was increasingly evident.

      Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov resigned on January 8 and was replaced two days later by his deputy for economic development, Karim Masimov. Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev explained that the change was part of the planned reform of administrative methods in government and called on Masimov to make greater efforts to develop those regions that had been left behind the oil-producing areas with booming economies. Nazarbayev also reiterated his call for a greater diversification of the economy, especially into high-technology industries, to reduce Kazakhstan's dependence on its oil revenues.

      In 2007 Kazakhstan became the first state in Central Asia to become a donor to the economic development of its neighbours. In April, disturbed by continuing instability in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan promised $100 million to aid the Kyrgyz economy. In addition, a number of Kazakh firms announced plans during the year to invest in industries in Tajikistan as well as in the Tajik banking sector.

      In his annual televised report to the nation in February, Nazarbayev promised that although the country would retain a presidential form of governance, more powers would be given to the parliament, particularly in the formation of the government. One step in this direction was the president's signing in May of constitutional amendments that reduced the presidential term in office from seven to five years. At the same time, however, the limit was lifted on the number of presidential terms in office. In a parliamentary election held on August 19, Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party won 88% of the vote and took all of the seats in the parliament. Although international observers noted that improvements had been made in electoral procedure, there was some criticism that vote counting was not transparent. The opposition parties, of which the two largest received less than 10% of the vote combined, asserted that the results had been falsified. Culture Minister Yermuhamet Yertysbayev commented that the opposition's failure resulted from its lack of unity.

      In February, Minister of Environmental Protection Nurlan Iskakov threatened that foreign oil firms working in Kazakhstan would face suspension of their activities for alleged failure to observe environmental regulations. The international oil consortium headed by Italy's Eni-Agip and the U.S.-Kazakh TengizChevroil consortium were particular targets, which led to speculation that Kazakh interests might be intending to push foreigners out.

Bess Brown

▪ 2007

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 15,242,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov

      Throughout 2006 Kazakhstan expanded on its declared policy of cultivating good relations in all directions. In his state of the country address to the parliament in March, Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev said that Russia remained Kazakhstan's most important foreign policy priority, but China, the United States, and the European Union were extremely important too, as sources of investment. Economic ties with Russia were intensified with a joint agreement on development of a giant gas field in Kazakhstan. Oil started flowing through the pipeline from central Kazakhstan to China, and Japanese firms contracted for joint exploitation of a uranium deposit.

      In June Kazakhstan signed an agreement to ship oil through the newly opened Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, in which the European Union had a great interest. In May EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs arrived in Astana to explore possibilities for exporting Kazakh gas and uranium to Europe. During a visit to Washington in September, Nazarbayev noted that the U.S. remained the largest investor in Kazakhstan's economy and had particular interest in energy development. Kazakhstan itself looked to diversify its economy from dependence on oil and mineral exports and sought investment to develop industries that would produce finished goods for export.

 Kazakhstan's political life was overshadowed through much of 2006 by the murders of the prominent opposition politician and leader of the Ak Zhol (Bright Path) Party Altynbek Sarsenbayuly, his driver, and bodyguard, who were found shot dead on February 13. The political opposition asserted that the murders had been ordered at the highest level. To limit the damage to the country's image, the leadership called for international help in the investigation. On August 31, 10 persons, including members of an elite unit of the National Security Committee, were sentenced to long prison terms for their roles in the affair. Yerzhan Utembayev, the former head of the Senate administration, who admitted to having masterminded the murders because Sarsenbayuly had damaged his career, received 20 years. The opposition expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation, asserting that the real reason for the murder of Sarsenbayuly was to destabilize the country and intimidate persons opposed to the government.

      Kazakhstan experienced some setbacks in its efforts to portray itself as fully committed to democratization. In April two opposition politicians were prevented from leaving the country to address the European Parliament, and in June the Kazakh parliament adopted a law restricting media outlets, which was sharply attacked by domestic and foreign observers as a step backward for freedom of the media.

Bess Brown

▪ 2006

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 15,186,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov

      Authoritarian tendencies increased in Kazakhstan's political life during 2005; some observers attributed the government's growing intolerance of opposition to the run-up to the presidential election in December. Incumbent Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev won a third seven-year term in office with 91% of the vote; foreign observers stated that the election fell short of international standards. The most common explanation for the government's actions was that the Kazakh leadership feared that the country could experience a political overturn such as had occurred in Georgia, Ukraine, and, in March 2005, neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. The danger of such a “revolution” to the country's social and economic stability was a frequent theme in the public statements of Kazakh President Nazarbayev and other government officials.

      In early January one of the country's major opposition political parties, the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK), was shut down by court order for having allegedly called publicly for civil disobedience in protest against the outcome of parliamentary elections in 2004. An appeal against the court order failed in February, and other political parties saw the fate of the DVK as a precedent that would be used against others. In the same month, the most important opposition parties announced that they would back a single candidate in the presidential contest; they chose former parliamentary speaker Zharmakan Tuyakbay, a former leader of the pro-presidential Otan Party who had joined the opposition in protest against vote rigging in the 2004 election. In April Parliament adopted a law banning protest rallies before election results were announced; the opposition declared that the law would restrict rights of citizens guaranteed in the constitution.

      Kazakhstan's independent media also fared poorly in 2005, with a number of major publications being closed by court order or being forced out of business by large fines. In a speech in May, Nazarbayev rejected unlimited freedom of speech, reacting to a rally in Almaty in support of free speech, in which participants called on the government to stop persecuting the media for criticizing the authorities.

      In mid-July Parliament adopted a law strengthening government control over nongovernmental organizations, especially NGO funding from foreign sources. This action was explained by supporters and opponents of the legislation as a reaction to assertions in the Russian and other regional media that foreign funding had played a major role in events in Georgia and Ukraine. Kazakhstan NGOs protested the restrictions, and in August the Constitutional Court declared the law unconstitutional.

      During the year Kazakhstan drew closer to the Russian Federation as Kazakh officials praised Russia as a bulwark against political instability.

Bess Brown

▪ 2005

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 15,144,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov

      Kazakhstan faced a major political test when in September 2004 it held the first parliamentary elections following the adoption in April of controversial amendments to the country's election code. The government insisted that the changes would improve the election system and increase transparency, while opposition politicians warned that the changes, especially the introduction of electronic voting, would make it easier to falsify election results. The election, held on September 19, resulted in Otan, the party of Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev, winning the largest number of seats (42) in the new Parliament. A bloc formed by two pro-presidential parties obtained 11 seats; Asar, the party of the president's daughter Dariga, won 4 seats; and the moderate opposition party Ak Zhol obtained only 1. A bloc formed by the opposition Communist Party and Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan Party, which had succeeded in registering with the Justice Ministry in time to take part in the election, won no seats and immediately protested that the election had been marred by widespread rules violations. Foreign observer teams agreed that the election had fallen short of international standards, but even so, the outcome indicated that the Kazakh opposition was not as influential as it believed itself to be.

      In late April President Nazarbayev ended controversy between the government and the independent media over a draft media law by unexpectedly vetoing the legislation after Parliament had approved it. Dariga Nazarbayeva attributed her father's veto to the pressure of public opinion. In July the president appointed Altynbek Sarsenbayev, Ak Zhol cochairman, to the post of information minister. Sarsenbayev immediately promised that a radically different media law would be drafted with input from journalists and the public. He also said that if his party considered the parliamentary election to be unfair, he would resign the following day. Consequently, he handed in his resignation on September 20 and was replaced by a Nazarbayev crony.

      In July the World Bank and the IMF advised Kazakhstan to use its oil profits to develop other sectors of the national economy, especially services and small and medium businesses. President Nazarbayev continued his efforts to attract foreign investment to nonextractive sectors of the economy and hoped that Kazakhstan could become a centre of high-tech industry. In the first six months of 2004, the U.S. remained the top foreign investor in the Kazakh economy, followed by European states. Economic and security ties with Russia grew during the year, as did ties with China.

Bess Brown

▪ 2004

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 14,790,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Ministers Imangali Tasmagambetov and, from June 13, Daniyal Akhmetov

      Kazakhstan joined with Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine at the Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Yalta, Ukraine, in September 2003 to create the Common Economic Space, an integration mechanism for the four strongest economies in the CIS. The concept had been proposed by Kazakh Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev in the early 1990s, and its realization was a tribute to Kazakhstan's success in the transition to a modern market economy. The U.S. had already announced in June that aid to Kazakhstan would be reduced because of the country's economic achievements, and Kazakhstan was generally acknowledged to be the richest state in Central Asia because of its oil and mineral wealth. Economics Minister Kairat Kelimbetov warned the Cabinet of Ministers in June, however, that significant sections of the population—pensioners, the unemployed, and the handicapped—were not benefiting from the improvement in the economy.

      Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov resigned on June 11 after losing a struggle with Parliament over a new land code that introduced private ownership of agricultural land. Many politicians argued that the terms of the code meant that only the wealthy would be able to buy land. The code was finally adopted by Parliament in late June after the president himself had made corrections to the draft. The new prime minister, Daniyal Akhmetov, presented an action plan at the end of June that was intended to triple gross domestic product by 2015; he also promised to raise taxes on the oil and gas industries and then had to reassure foreign investors that existing contracts in these industries would not be altered.

      The domestic opposition and the international community complained that Kazakhstan's ruling elite was becoming increasingly authoritarian. The independent media were sharply critical of a draft media law that it said would attempt to curb the reporting of stories that upset the government, such as the so-called Kazakhgate affair, in which American businessmen were accused of having paid bribes to high-ranking Kazakh government officials.

      The government also came under international criticism over the sentencing of independent journalist Sergey Duvanov in January to three and a half years in prison on a rape charge that the opposition insisted was fabricated in retaliation for his stories about high-level corruption. In February the European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing concern over the course of democratic reform and the situation of the independent media in Kazakhstan that worried the government and inspired the opposition.

Bess Brown

▪ 2003

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 14,888,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Ministers Kasymzhomart Tokayev and, from January 28, Imangali Tasmagambetov

      While Kazakhstan's economy continued to perform relatively well in 2002, particularly in the petroleum sector, concerns were increasingly being expressed both inside and outside the country that the deteriorating political situation could discourage the international investors so vital to furthering economic growth. Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev charged the new government installed in January with providing fresh ideas on economic management and ensuring annual gross domestic product growth of 7–8%. Sixty percent of the state budget was supposed to be spent on social improvements.

      Undermining Kazakhstan's reputation as a country well on the road to democracy were pressures on the independent media and the adoption of a law on political parties that would effectively exclude the opposition from participation in the political life of the country. The attacks—including physical assaults on journalists, firebombing, and sabotage of the equipment of independent media—were generally assumed by the targets to be the work of the authorities, although government officials claimed the actions were perpetrated by criminals. The savage beating in August of well-known journalist Sergey Duvanov moved the head of Kazakhstan's Journalists' Union to describe 2002 as the darkest year for the media in Kazakhstan since the country gained its independence.

      The political opposition received a major blow at the end of March when former minister of energy Mukhtar Ablyazov, one of the founders in 2001 of the new political grouping Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, was arrested on fraud charges. An arrest warrant was issued for another leading member of the party who took refuge in the French embassy and thereby drew international attention to the tribulations of the political opposition.

      In June Parliament approved a law requiring that political parties have at least 50,000 members, instead of the previously required 3,000, in order to register with the authorities. The law drew sharp criticism from abroad, and the domestic opposition described it as putting an end to their activities. By September, however, a number of opposition parties were considering merging in order to meet the requirements.

      Kazakhstan's status as a major oil producer was enhanced when an Italian-led consortium announced that the Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea was proving to be as oil-rich as the Persian Gulf. In order to overcome limitations on oil development caused by the unresolved status of the Caspian, in May Kazakhstan and Russia agreed on a division of their share of the sea.

Bess Brown

▪ 2002

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 14,868,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev

      In 2001 Kazakhstan's efforts to integrate into the international community beyond the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) were stymied by the country's worsening human rights record. In early March a delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe arrived in Almaty to examine the human rights and social situation in connection with Kazakhstan's application for observer status in the Council. Opposition activists publicly criticized the government for allowing only meetings with pro-government groups, which portrayed the progress of democratization in the country as far rosier than warranted by reality. Kazakhstan's application was subsequently denied by the Council.

      The opposition and international observers were also critical of draft amendments to laws on the media and on religion. The latter included a provision for banning extremist sects and unauthorized missionary activity. In March the National Security Committee complained of an increase in Islamic religious and extremist activities in southern Kazakhstan. Shortly thereafter a group of adherents of the banned Muslim sect Hezb-ut Tahrir were put on trial for terrorism.

      Leaders of the opposition Republican People's Party and members of seven other opposition groups told foreign contacts that they had been harassed by the authorities because of their objections to the revised media law. Kazakhstan's international reputation was further damaged when security officials prevented two opposition politicians from taking part in a congressional hearing in the United States in July, though the country's image received a boost at the end of that month when the abolition of exit visas for Kazakhstani citizens was announced.

      Kazakhstan's economic outlook improved with the commissioning in March of the pipeline linking the Tengiz oil field in western Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea oil port of Novorossiisk. The pipeline, fully operational by December, significantly increased the amount of Kazakhstani oil that could be exported. An official proposal to raise money by accepting nuclear waste from abroad for burial in Kazakhstan set off protests by the country's influential environmental lobby.

      In May Kazakhstan agreed with Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to set up a rapid reaction force under the CIS Collective Security Treaty. In the wake of the September 11 attacks in the U.S., Kazakhstani Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered intensified security on Kazakhstan's borders and offered use of the country's air space and ground facilities to the U.S.-led antiterrorism coalition. In a step that caused considerable friction within the region, Kazakhstan's borders were closed to citizens of Tajikistan.

Bess Brown

▪ 2001

2,724,900 sq km (1,052,090 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 14,913,000
Head of state and government:
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, assisted by Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev

      Although in 2000 Kazakhstan was affected only indirectly by the activities of Islamic militants elsewhere in the region, the government was deeply concerned about the potential for destabilization by Muslim extremists, particularly in the southern part of the country. At the end of January, Kazakhstan joined Russia and the Central Asian states (except Turkmenistan) in drafting a program to combat international terrorism. Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev characterized religious and political extremism, the illegal drug trade, and armed conflicts in neighbouring countries as the major threats to Kazakhstan's security. Help was sought from the international community to stop the drug trade in narcotics, principally narcotics from Afghanistan transiting across Kazakh territory.

      In July the president announced that defense spending would be doubled in 2001. The following month the Kazakh Ministry of Defense held counterterrorism exercises in the south and stepped up the military presence on the border with Kyrgyzstan. Later in the year, however, a military expert noted that Kazakh forces were not trained to fight a guerrilla war in the mountains and that the border guards were worse equipped than were the militants who had invaded the neighbouring countries.

      In response to declining foreign investor interest in Kazakhstan, in April President Nazarbayev lifted the oil export quotas. These quotas had been imposed in 1999 to ensure supplies to domestic refineries, but they had irritated Western firms operating in the country. In the same month, the leadership called for improved investment incentives and the development of high-tech industry. Kazakhstan was able to pay off its International Monetary Fund loans seven years early and announced plans to export more oil via Russian pipelines.

      In October Kazakhstan joined the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in forming a Eurasian Economic Union to replace a nonfunctioning customs union set up by the five countries. The new union started its activities by seeking to harmonize tax laws and customs codes among its members.

      Relations between the government and the independent information media remained tense as the president called on the media to stop criticizing the state authorities and to engage in more responsible reporting. Nazarbayev promised visiting U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that freedom of the media would be respected, but Kazakhstan was later criticized by U.S. officials for continued government harassment of the media. In June a group of ethnic Russians who had been charged with plotting to set up an independent Russian state in northeastern Kazakhstan were given prison sentences of up to 18 years.

Bess Brown

▪ 1996

      A republic of Central Asia, Kazakhstan borders Russia on the west and north, China on the east, Kyrgyzstan on the southeast, Uzbekistan and the Aral Sea on the south, and Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea on the southwest. Area: 2,717,300 sq km (1,049,200 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 16,669,000. Cap.: Almaty (formerly Alma-Ata); capital-designate: Aqmola (formerly Tselinograd). Monetary unit: tenge, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 61.37 tenge = U.S. $1 (97.01 tenge = £ 1 sterling). President in 1995, Nursultan Nazarbayev; prime minister, Akezhan Kazhegeldin.

      In 1995 Kazakhstan took major steps in the direction of authoritarianism that disappointed those who hoped Western-style democracy and a civil society would develop in the largest country in Central Asia. Foreign investors still saw Kazakhstan as one of the most promising areas in the Commonwealth of Independent States, largely on the strength of its rich endowment of natural resources and the government's commitment to rapid introduction of a market economy. The government was reportedly considering selling a stake in the development of the Tengiz oil field to the Mobil Corp., and in November the huge state-owned Karmet steelworks was sold to a British-based company, Ispat International.

      The country's first constitutional crisis began in March when Kazakhstan's Constitutional Court declared the 1994 parliamentary elections illegal. The parliament was forced to resign, and Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev announced that he would rule by decree until new elections could be held. Shortly after the dissolution of the parliament, a consultative Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan that had been handpicked by the president called for a nationwide referendum on the extension of Nazarbayev's term in office to the end of December 2000. Some critics saw this as an attempt by Nazarbayev to avoid standing for reelection in 1996 and facing possible defeat at the hands of citizens angered over the effects his economic reforms had on their standard of living. Others attributed it to the president's already-demonstrated taste for running the country without interference.

      Official results of the referendum that was held on April 29 indicated near-unanimous support for the extension of Nazarbayev's term. Two months later he introduced a draft constitution that would greatly expand the powers of the president. It was immediately attacked by the Constitutional Court, the trade unions, and various opposition groups as being undemocratic and inimical to the creation of a civil society. Leaders of Kazakhstan's large Russian community asserted that Nazarbayev's proposed constitution gave unfair advantages to ethnic Kazakhs. In late December Nazarbayev decreed that he had the right on his own initiative to remove any minister or replace the entire government.

      The leadership's response was to revise the draft, abolishing the Constitutional Court, which had earned a solid reputation for its commitment to establishing the rule of law. Among the first decrees issued by the president after the dissolution of the parliament was a restriction on demonstrations and rallies. Nazarbayev defended his growing authoritarianism by citing the need to counter the increase in criminality that had accompanied the advent of a market economy. Nazarbayev likened his rule to that of former French president Charles de Gaulle, arguing that greater presidential powers would be the key to a democratic society. Despite the protests, 89% of those who voted in the August 30 referendum approved the new constitution. Elections for a new Senate were held on December 5, and a second round of voting for the lower house took place on December 23. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Kazakstan (Kazakhstan).

▪ 1995

      A republic of Central Asia, Kazakhstan borders Russia on the west and north, China on the east, Kyrgyzstan on the southeast, Uzbekistan and the Aral Sea on the south, and Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea on the southwest. Area: 2,717,300 sq km (1,049,200 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 16,954,000. Cap.: Almaty (formerly Alma-Ata); capital-designate: Akmola (formerly Tselinograd). Monetary unit: tenge, with (Oct. 3, 1994) a free rate of 56.98 tenge = U.S. $1 (90.62 tenge = £ 1 sterling). President in 1994, Nursultan Nazarbayev; prime ministers, Sergey Tereshchenko and, from October 12, Akezhan Kazhegeldin.

      The first postindependence parliamentary elections dominated Kazakhstan's political life in the first two months of 1994. The new Supreme Council (Kenges), elected on March 7, included representatives of the most important political groups, although Kazakh nationalist groups and representatives of the Russian community did less well than the Socialist (former Communist) Party. The most successful party, the People's Unity Union, was supported by Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had assumed that the new legislature would be more supportive of his economic reforms than had its predecessor. At its first session, however, the new Supreme Soviet adopted a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Sergey Tereshchenko's program to rescue the country from its post-Soviet economic malaise. Nazarbayev continued to support Tereshchenko, but after a series of corruption scandals involving government ministers and the failure of Tereshchenko's program to produce results by October, the president asked the government to resign. Akezhan Kazhegeldin, the new prime minister, who had helped shape Nazarbayev's reform program in the former government, promised to accelerate, rather than slow down, market reforms.

      The appointment of Kazhegeldin, a Kazakh, upset the ethnic balance that had prevailed when Tereshchenko, a Slav, held the post of prime minister. The increasing Kazakhization of the country contributed to the emigration of thousands of non-Kazakhs during 1994. Attempts by officials in the Russian Federation to persuade Kazakhstan's leadership to permit dual Kazakhstani-Russian citizenship were rejected. To lessen tensions between Kazakhs and Russians, journalist Boris Suprunyuk, a spokesman for the Russian community, was given a suspended sentence on a charge of fostering interethnic animosities.

      The most ambitious privatization plan for any of the Central Asian states was launched in Kazakhstan at the end of April, with 3,500 enterprises, representing about 70% of the country's state-owned firms, slated for auction over a 15-month period. Popular anger over high inflation and falling living standards contributed to Tereshchenko's ouster, and in the autumn disturbances were reported over a rumoured increase in the price of bread and bread rationing.

      In January Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan moved toward an economic union and began to dismantle customs and other barriers. In March Nazarbayev proposed a Eurasian Union embracing the former Soviet republics. It generated much discussion within the Commonwealth of Independent States, but only Russia reacted favourably. Frictions developed with Russia over the Baikonur space complex and its demand for a share in the development of Kazakhstan's gas and oil resources. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Kazakstan (Kazakhstan).

▪ 1994

      A republic of Central Asia, Kazakhstan borders Russia on the west and north, China on the east, Kyrgyzstan on the southeast, Uzbekistan and the Aral Sea on the south, and Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea on the southwest. Area: 2,717,300 sq km (1,049,200 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 17,186,000. Cap.: Almaty (formerly Alma-Ata). Monetary unit: Russian ruble (the monetary systems of Kazakhstan and Russia were unified on Sept. 23, 1993), with (October 4) a free rate of 1,165 rubles = U.S. $1 (1,765 rubles = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Nursultan Nazarbayev; prime minister, Sergey Tereshchenko.

      During 1993 Kazakhstan continued to enjoy a reputation as one of the more democratic of the new states of Central Asia on the basis of its relatively free press, commitment to rapid privatization, and encouragement of foreign investment. Pres. Nursultan Nazarbayev and his government maintained a monopoly over political decision making, arguing that in Kazakhstan's multiethnic environment democratization would have to be a protracted process. A wide spectrum of political parties was allowed to function, on the understanding that they would not engage in extremist rhetoric or seek to upset the ethnic status quo. Most of these groups were tiny and had no real influence, though the Socialist Party, the People's Congress Party, and the People's Unity Union sought to become genuine opposition parties. The independence of Kazakhstan's Constitutional Court was an encouraging sign that democratic principles were taking root; on several occasions the court ruled presidential or government decrees unconstitutional.

      The lack of a common Kazakhstani national consciousness transcending ethnic loyalties caused considerable concern to the country's leadership, and in June, Nazarbayev created a special presidential council of intellectuals, scientists, and government officials to find ways to create a "national ideology." While many Russians identified themselves fully as loyal citizens, others were disturbed by the rising level of Kazakh ethnic assertiveness and the increasing "Kazakhization" of official positions.

      In early September, Nazarbayev achieved a long-cherished goal with the creation of an economic union of members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Immediately prior to this agreement, Kazakhstan joined with Uzbekistan and Russia in establishing a single currency zone.

      Kazakhstan had signed a number of international agreements committing itself to giving up the strategic nuclear missiles it inherited from the Soviet Union. In mid-December Nazarbayev and U.S. Vice Pres. Al Gore signed an agreement that committed the U.S. to funding denuclearization. In another significant move, the parliament approved the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty by a vote of 283-1 on December 13.

      In the spring a package of legislation was adopted by the national legislature to speed up privatization, but while small establishments were quickly sold, privatization of housing and larger enterprises proceeded very slowly. Many foreign-owned businesses and joint ventures opened in Almaty, and in June an ambitious scheme involving six foreign partners was initiated to explore the petroleum potential of the northeastern shelf of the Caspian Sea. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Kazakstan (Kazakhstan).

* * *

also spelled  Kazakstan , officially  Republic of Kazakhstan , Kazakh  Qazaqstan Respublikasï 
Kazakhstan, flag of country of Central Asia. It is bounded on the northwest and north by Russia, on the east by China, and on the south by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the Aral Sea; the Caspian Sea bounds Kazakhstan to the southwest. Kazakhstan is the largest country in Central Asia and the ninth largest in the world. Between its most distant points Kazakhstan measures about 1,820 miles (2,930 kilometres) east to west and 960 miles north to south. While Kazakhstan was not considered by authorities in the former Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) to be a part of Central Asia, it does have physical and cultural geographic characteristics similar to those of the other Central Asian countries. The capital is Astana (formerly Tselinograd) in the north-central part of the country. Kazakhstan, formerly a constituent (union) republic of the U.S.S.R., declared independence on Dec. 16, 1991.

      Kazakhstan's great mineral resources and arable lands have long aroused the envy of outsiders, and the resulting exploitation has generated environmental and political problems. The forced settlement of the nomadic Kazakhs (Kazakh) in the Soviet period, combined with large-scale Slavic in-migration, strikingly altered the Kazakh way of life and led to considerable settlement and urbanization in Kazakhstan. The Kazakhs' traditional customs uneasily coexist alongside incursions of the modern world.

The land (Kazakhstan)

      Lowlands make up one-third of Kazakhstan's huge expanse, hilly plateaus and plains account for nearly half, and low mountainous regions about one-fifth. Kazakhstan's highest point, Mount Khan-Tengri (Han-t'eng-ko-li Peak (Khan Tängiri Peak)) at 22,949 feet (6,995 metres), in the Tien Shan range on the border between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and China, contrasts with the flat or rolling terrain of most of the republic. The western and southwestern parts of the republic are dominated by the low-lying Caspian Depression, which at its lowest point lies some 95 feet below sea level. South of the Caspian Depression are the Ustyurt Plateau and the Tupqaraghan (formerly Mangyshlak) Peninsula jutting into the Caspian Sea. Vast amounts of sand form the Greater Barsuki and Aral Karakum deserts near the Aral Sea, the broad Betpaqdala Desert (Betpaqdala) of the interior, and the Muyunkum and Kyzylkum deserts in the south. Most of these desert regions support slight vegetative cover fed by subterranean groundwater.

      Depressions filled by salt lakes whose water has largely evaporated dot the undulating uplands (Kazak Uplands) of central Kazakhstan. In the north the mountains reach about 5,000 feet, and there are similar high areas among the Ulutau Mountains in the west and the Chingiz-Tau Range in the east. In the east and southeast, massifs (enormous blocks of crystalline rock) are furrowed by valleys. The Altai (Altai Mountains) mountain complex to the east sends three ridges into the republic, and, farther south, the Tarbagatay Range is an offshoot of the Naryn-Kolbin complex. Another range, the Dzungarian Alatau, penetrates the country to the south of the depression containing Lake Balkhash. The Tien Shan peaks rise along the southern frontier with Kyrgyzstan.

      Kazakhstan's east and southeast possess extensive watercourses: most of the country's 7,000 streams form part of the inland drainage systems of the Aral (Aral Sea) and Caspian seas and Lakes Balkhash (Balkhash, Lake) and Tengiz (Tengiz, Lake). The major exceptions are the great Irtysh (Irtysh River), Ishim (Ishim River) (Esil), and Tobol (Tobol River) rivers, which run northwest from the highlands in the southeast and, crossing Russia, ultimately drain into Arctic waters. In the west the major stream, the Ural (Ural River) (Kazakh: Zhayyq) River, flows into the Caspian Sea. In the south the waters of the once-mighty Syr Darya have, since the late 1970s, scarcely reached the Aral Sea at all.

      The torrent of the Irtysh River pours some 988 billion cubic feet (28 billion cubic metres) of water annually into the vast West Siberian catchment area. In the late 1970s Soviet authorities developed extensive plans to tap the Irtysh River for use in irrigating the arid expanses of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but the scheme was killed in 1986 because of the large investment required and concern for the project's possible adverse ecological consequences. This left southern and western Kazakhstan, as before, greatly in need of additional water resources. Kazakhstan also suffers from the disastrous depletion and the contamination (by pesticides and chemical fertilizers) of the Syr Darya flow, on which the republic depends greatly for crop irrigation.

      The Caspian Sea, the largest inland body of water in the world, forms Kazakhstan's border for 1,450 miles of its coastline. Other large bodies of water, all in the eastern half of the country, include Lakes Balkhash, Zaysan (Zaysan, Lake), Alaköl (Alakol, Lake), Tengiz, and Seletytengiz (Siletiteniz). Kazakhstan also wraps around the entire northern half of the shrinking Aral Sea, which underwent terrible decline during the second half of the 20th century: as freshwater inflow was diverted for agriculture, the salinity of the sea increased sharply, and the receding shores became the source of salty dust and polluted deposits that ruined the surrounding lands for animal, plant, or human use.

      Kazakhstan's climate is sharply continental, and hot summers alternate with equally extreme winters, especially in the plains and valleys. Temperatures fluctuate widely, with great variations between subregions. Average January temperatures in northern and central regions range from −2° to 3° F (−19° to −16° C); in the south, temperatures are milder, ranging from 23° to 29° F (−5° to −1.4° C). Average July temperatures in the north reach 68° F (20° C), but in the south they rise to 84° F (29° C). Temperature extremes of −49° F (−45° C) and 113° F (45° C) have been recorded. Light precipitation falls, ranging from 8 to 12 inches (200 to 300 millimetres) annually in the northern and central regions to 16 or 20 inches in the southern mountain valleys.

      Very fertile soils characterize the lands from far northern Kazakhstan down to the more infertile, alkaline soils of the middle and southern areas. The vast stretches of arable land in the northern plains are the most intensely cultivated and productive. Other cultivated areas fringe the mountains in the south and east; irrigation and reclamation, when feasible, extend along river valleys into the deserts. Nuclear bomb testing conducted during the Soviet period near Semey (Semipalatinsk) contaminated the soils in the vicinity.

Plant and animal life
      The vegetation on plains and deserts includes wormwood and tamarisk, with feather grass on drier plains. Kazakhstan has very little wooded area, amounting to only about 3 percent of the territory. Many animals, including antelope and elk, inhabit the plains. The wolf, bear, and snow leopard, as well as the commercially important ermine and sable, are found in the hills. Fishermen take sturgeon, herring, and roach from the Caspian Sea. In parts of northeastern and southwestern Kazakhstan, where commercial fishing collapsed as a result of industrial and agricultural pollution, efforts to revive fish populations have shown some success. In 2008 Kazakhstan's Naurzum and Korgalzhyn state nature reserves were named a UNESCO World Heritage site; both are important habitats for migrating birds, as well as for many other animal species.

Settlement patterns
      The extremely wide dispersion of population in Kazakhstan is reflected in the large number of small settlements. In the late 1980s fewer than 100 settlements fell into the category of city or town and fewer than 300 were worker settlements, while well over 2,000 were auïls (small farm villages).

      Kazakhstan's distinct regional patterns of settlement depend in part on its varied ethnic makeup. Slavs (Slav)—Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians—largely populate the northern plains, where they congregate in large villages that originally served as the centres of collective and state farms. These populated oases are separated by wheat fields or, in the more arid plains to the south, by semideserts and deserts where sheep breeders live in temporary quarters, usually yurts (yurt) (round tents with sturdy pole frames covered by heavy felt).

      Kazakh nomads (nomadism) formerly obtained their schooling and manufactured goods from Russian towns such as Troitsk, Orenburg, and Omsk, or, in the south, from the ancient cities of Transoxania, the Fergana Valley, and eastern Turkistan. After the Russian conquest established military governors and administrators in Alma-Ata (now Almaty), Uralsk (Oral), Yaik, and elsewhere, Kazakhstan began in the 19th century to develop its own cities. Qaraghandy ( Karaganda), Öskemen ( Ust-Kamenogorsk), and Rūdnyy ( Rudny), which are typical Soviet planned towns, have straight, wide streets and multistoried buildings and accommodate industry around their fringes.

The people
 The Kazakhs (Kazakh) are a nominally Muslim (Islāmic world) people who speak a Turkic language of the Northwest or Kipchak (Qipchaq) group. Fewer than one-fifth of the more than eight million ethnic Kazakhs live outside Kazakhstan, mainly in Uzbekistan and Russia. During the 19th century about 400,000 Russians flooded into Kazakhstan, and these were supplemented by about 1,000,000 Slavs, Germans, Jews, and others who immigrated to the region during the first third of the 20th century. The immigrants crowded Kazakhs off the best pastures and watered lands, rendering many tribes destitute. Another large influx of Slavs occurred from 1954 to 1956 as a result of the Virgin and Idle Lands project, initiated by the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich), himself a Slav. This project drew thousands of Russians and Ukrainians into the rich agricultural lands of northern Kazakhstan. By 1989, however, Kazakhs slightly outnumbered Russians.

      In the early years of independence, significant numbers of ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan emigrated to Russia. This emigration, along with a return to the country of ethnic Kazakhs, changed the demographic makeup of Kazakhstan: by the mid-1990s the Kazakh proportion was approaching half the total population, while that for the Russians was closer to one-third. The trend persisted into the early years of the 21st century, as the Kazakh population neared three-fifths of the country's total population while the Russian community represented less than one-third. Russian (Russian language), an official language, functions widely alongside Kazakh (Kazak language), which is the state language. Other ethnic groups in Kazakhstan include Uzbeks (Uzbek), Uighurs (Uighur), and Tajiks (Tajik), along with Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars (Tatar), and Koreans.

      The urban areas of Kazakhstan are still home to more Slavs than Kazakhs. Kazakhs constitute about half the inhabitants of Almaty, the country's largest city and, until 1997, its capital. About three-fifths of Kazakh families live in rural areas. Urbanization in Kazakhstan involves much more immigration of foreigners than movement of Kazakhs from the countryside into the cities.

      During much of their long nomadic period, the Kazakhs' adherence to Islam remained informal and permissive. When they moved into settlements or sent their children to towns such as Sterlitamak or Bukhara for an education, that situation changed. There, young Kazakhs entered Muslim maktabs or madrasahs, where religion supplied the main subjects and ideology. Thus, the younger generation of intellectuals turned into urban-style Muslims before the Soviet communists took over in the early 1920s. Thereafter, the authorities actively suppressed or discouraged religious life in Kazakhstan until the U.S.S.R. disintegrated. Since independence, Kazakhs generally have enjoyed freedom of religion.

The economy
      Kazakhstan possesses abundant natural resources. Its major exports include agricultural products, raw materials, chemical products, and manufactured goods. Privatization of state-owned industries was undertaken during the 1990s. In 1994 Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan formed an economic union that enabled free movement of labour and capital among the three countries and established coordinated economic policies.

      Among the most important minerals are copper in the central areas and in Aqtöbe (Aktyubinsk) province; lead, zinc, and silver in the Rūdnyy Altai area and the Dzungarian Alatau and Qarataū (Karatau) spurs; tungsten and tin in the Kolbin Ridge and southern Altai; chromite, nickel, and cobalt in the Mugozhar Hills; titanium, manganese, and antimony in the central regions; vanadium in the south; and gold in the north and east. Processing facilities at Aqtaū produce large quantities of uranium mined in the Mangghyshlaq area. Much iron ore comes from Qaraghandy and Qostanay (Kustanay), and coal from the Qaraghandy, Torghay (Turgay), Ekibastuz, and Maykuben basins. In 1993 Kazakhstan finalized a contract with the Chevron Corporation to exploit the reserves of the Tengiz oil field, one of the world's largest. In the mid-1990s agreements also were sought with foreign investors for the development of oil and natural gas from the Tengiz, Zhusan, Temir, and Kasashyganak wells. The profitability of such ventures rested principally on the establishment of new pipelines.

      Farming occupies some one-fifth of the labour force, largely the Kazakh portion plus the Slavic wheat farmers of northern Kazakhstan. Kazakhs raise sheep, goats, cattle, and swine. The country produces cereal crops, potatoes, vegetables, melons and other fruits, sugar beets, and rice, as well as fodder and industrial crops. Nuclear contamination of soils near Semey—the result of Soviet weapons testing—has hindered agricultural development in the northeast.

      Industry constitutes a prominent sector of the Kazakh economy, but it employs fewer than one-tenth of the indigenous Kazakhs. Manufacturing industries employing primarily Russian and Ukrainian workers produce cast iron, rolled steel, cement, chemical fertilizer, and consumer goods. Plants in Temirtaū and Qaraghandy produce steel. The country, with its nonferrous metallurgy concentrated in the east, is a major lead and copper producer. Kazakhstan's fuel production has increased with the extraction of coal from the Qaraghandy and Ekibastuz basins.

      Meatpacking plants operate in many areas, but creameries exist chiefly in areas settled by Slavs in the north and east. Sugar refineries are located in the south in the Taldyqorghan (Taldy-Kurgan) and Almaty areas. Fruit and vegetable canning, grain milling, brewing, and wine making are among the light industries. Synthetic fibres come from a factory at Qaraghandy and pharmaceuticals from a plant in Shymkent (Chimkent).

      Railways carry most of the freight going long distances. The Trans-Siberian, South Siberian, and Kazakh (formerly Turkistan-Siberian) trunk lines cross Kazakhstan east to west, and the Orenburg line extends as far as Tashkent in the south. Air transport carries the bulk of passenger traffic, both domestic and regional. The international airport at Almaty offers service to Frankfurt (Ger.), Istanbul, and other cities. The republic has an extensive network of oil pipelines between Atyraū and Orsk and Shymkent and Tashkent, as well as the Uzen-Zhetibay-Aqtaū pipeline from the west.

Edward Allworth

Administration and social conditions

      Kazakhstan's first postindependence constitution was adopted in 1993, replacing the Soviet-era constitution that had been in force since 1978; a new constitution was approved in 1995. The 1995 constitution provided for legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government dominated by a strong executive.

      The 1995 constitution established a bicameral legislature consisting of a Senate and an Assembly (Mazhilis). Working jointly, the two chambers have the authority to amend the constitution, approve the budget, confirm presidential appointees, ratify treaties, declare war, and delegate legislative authority to the president for up to one year; each chamber also has exclusive powers. Legislators serve four-year terms: two members of the Senate are elected from each province-level entity (called an “administrative-territorial unit”) by all legislative members of that unit, with the exception of several appointed by the president; members of the Assembly are elected from population-based constituencies by universal adult suffrage.

      The president is the head of state and is elected directly for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms. The president appoints the prime minister and other ministers of the cabinet, as well as the chairperson of the National Security Committee. The president also appoints the heads of the local government entities, can reverse decisions made by these officials, and has broad authority to issue decrees and overrule actions taken by the ministries.

      The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court, and there also are a number of lower courts; a Constitutional Council, the members of which are appointed by the president and legislature, reviews constitutional questions. Judges serve life terms and are appointed by the president, with those of the Supreme Court also subject to confirmation by the legislature.

      The constitution specifies a number of rights to the citizens of Kazakhstan, including freedom of speech, religion, and movement. Citizens have the right to work, to own property, and to form trade unions. Despite the democratic language in both the constitutions of 1993 and 1995, in the early years of independence Kazakhstan became increasingly authoritarian. The country's first parliamentary elections (1994) were declared illegal by what was then the Constitutional Court. This precipitated the drafting of the 1995 constitution, which expanded the already substantial powers granted to the president by the 1993 constitution.

Edward Allworth Ed.

Armed forces
      Kazakhstan possesses a small army, air force, and navy. In 1995 it agreed to partially unite its military with that of Russia, establishing a joint command for training and planning and for border patrols. During the Soviet period, a vast nuclear arsenal was stationed in Kazakh territory. Kazakhstan ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1993, however, and by 1995 it had dismantled or returned to Russia all of its inherited warheads.

      Kazakhstan moved to profoundly influence the future course of education in 1989 when it declared Kazakh (Kazak language) the official language of the republic, though in the 1995 constitution Russian (Russian language) was also officially acknowledged. Prior to independence, Russian generally served as the language of government and of education in the Kazakh S.S.R. Many younger Kazakhs, educated entirely in Russian, scarcely knew the traditional language of their people. The shift to the Kazakh language affected classroom instruction, textbooks, newspapers, and such media as television and cinema, all of which contribute to public education. The process of conversion to Kazakh-oriented communication began immediately and greatly affected the educational system. Few Russians speak and write Kazakh well. Implicit in the change has been the necessity for teachers to have a fluent knowledge of Kazakh, a requirement that tends to remove Slavic personnel from the elementary and secondary classrooms for Kazakh children. In addition, the number of schools dedicated to education in Kazakh has increased, while the number of Russian-language schools has declined. Nevertheless, Russian remains widely in use.

      A major reorganization of the curricula and redesign of textbooks began in the years after 1989. The study of Kazakh history, literature, and culture, long slighted in general education, now receives appropriate attention in school curricula. The institutes in the Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences (founded 1946) focus their research on subjects important to Kazakhstan, in science as well as in the humanities. The renunciation of Marxist-Leninist ideology in Kazakhstan has freed scholars from the restrictions that hampered their research and interpretation of findings. Many serious works long proscribed by communist censors have appeared in print for the first time or after many years of being out of print.

      In addition to the Academy of Sciences, higher educational institutions include the Kazakh al-Farabi State National University, Qaraghandy State University, and a number of polytechnical, agricultural, veterinary, and other facilities in Almaty. Medical and teachers' institutes function in Qaraghandy, and different institutions can be found at other regional centres. A network of vocational schools offers specialized secondary and technical training.

Health and welfare
      Housing, medical care, and other services are inadequate, despite large outlays by municipalities and the republic to keep up with the expanding population. Housing and other shortages exacerbate ethnic tension between Kazakhs, Russians, Uighurs, and other city dwellers, tensions that equitable distribution can partly alleviate.

      Rates of infant and maternal morbidity and mortality, though lower than in other Central Asian republics, are far higher in Kazakhstan than in Western countries because of an unbalanced diet, environmental pollution, and inadequate prenatal care. Life expectancy is low compared with the West. Although sanatoriums and hospitals exist in many locations, they dispense a level of medical care far below that considered standard in the West.

      Public health suffers greatly in heavily industrialized areas, such as Qaraghandy (Karaganda) province, because Soviet authorities never seriously made environmental protection a high priority. In the vicinity of the Aral Sea, and especially in Qyzylorda (Kzyl-Orda) and Aqtöbe provinces, Kazakhs suffer from the pollution and salinization of the sea. Its waters are contaminated with pesticides, especially DDT, and with chemical fertilizer fed into it by various rivers. The contraction of the Aral Sea has left a toxic dust in the newly formed salt flats, leading to respiratory disorders and other health problems. In Qyzylorda province the toxic emissions from rocket launches and related activities in the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Baikonur) near Tyuratam introduced additional industrial pollution into the area. But the most serious general health problems in Kazakhstan arise from the widespread radiation poisoning of the soil, food products, and water sources of eastern Kazakhstan, especially Semey province, where the Soviet military command for decades exposed almost one million people to nuclear weapons testing. Birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses related to radiation poisoning occur with unusual frequency among people in the region. These severe health hazards led the cultural and medical intelligentsia of Kazakhstan to organize mass demonstrations to protest the continued poisoning of Kazakhstan by nuclear testing and development in adjacent sites in Lop Nor in northwestern China after Soviet nuclear tests in eastern Kazakhstan had ceased.

Cultural life
      Kazakhs, probably more than any other Central Asian people, show the impact of nearly two centuries of close contact with Russians. Unlike Central Asians to the south of them, Kazakhs look more to Russia than to Islamic countries for inspiration in the post-Soviet period. At the same time, Kazakh scholars and other intellectuals actively work to reclaim Kazakh traditions and distinctive ways of life, including the literary and spoken language of a people whose experience emphasized Russian culture, literature, language, and ways of thinking.

      Urban Kazakhs of both sexes tend to wear modern clothing, but the women of remote villages continue to wear traditional dresses and head scarves. Kazakh-made carpets are a common sight, and less-Russified Kazakhs often decorate their homes with qoshmas, bright-coloured felt rugs.

      Oral epics formed the main literary genre among the largely illiterate Kazakhs until the 19th century. In the 18th century, as a series of Russian outposts arose along the border of Kazakhstan's plains on the north, Kazakhs added other written, poetic forms to their literature (Kazakh literature). Poetry remained the primary genre until prose stories, short novels, and drama were introduced in the early 20th century, before the end of the tsarist era in 1917. Abay Ibrahim Kūnanbay-ulï (Kunanbayev) in the late 19th century laid the basis with his verse for the development of the modern Kazakh literary language and its poetry. (Aqmet) Baytūrsyn-ulï, editor of the influential newspaper Qazaq, led the advance of modern Kazakh writing in the early 20th century. Baytūrsyn-ulï, along with Aliqan Nūrmuhambet Bokeyqan-ulï, Mir Jaqib Duwlat-ulï, and, later, Maghjan Jumabay-ulï, represented the cream of Kazakh modernism in literature, publishing, and cultural politics in the reformist decades before Sovietization set in after 1920. All these figures disappeared into Soviet prisons and never returned, as a result of Joseph Stalin's (Stalin, Joseph) purges, which destroyed much of the Kazakh intelligentsia. An early Soviet Kazakh writer, Mukhtar Auez-ulï, won recognition for the long novel Abay, based on the life and poetry of Kūnanbay-ulï, and for his plays, including Änglik-Kebek.

      Kazakhstan has a number of modern theatres and offers Uighur, Korean, and Russian musicals, opera, ballet, and puppet performances. Cinemas and art schools, dance ensembles, and music groups are active, as are radio and television broadcasting, the last being especially important in communications with distant farms and villages. Reception from outside Kazakhstan, especially from broadcasting stations in nearby Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and by way of relays from Moscow, enables listeners and viewers to follow programs from many sources.

Edward Allworth


Kazakhstan to c. 1700 CE
      The immense size and varied landscape of Kazakhstan exclude the possibility of a unified prehistoric culture covering the whole area. The Bronze Age Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BCE) spread over much of Kazakhstan; it was followed by periods dominated by nomads (nomadism), producers of the “animal art” later identified with the Scythians (Scythian). One can only speculate concerning the ethnic or linguistic identities of these populations; whether or not they were Turkic, they cannot be directly linked with the Kazakhs.

      In the course of centuries, various parts of present-day Kazakhstan were incorporated into different empires. During the empire of the Mongols (Mongol) (13th–14th centuries CE), most of the territory was part of the ulus (“polity”) of Chagatai. About 1465, under the leadership of Karay and Jani Beg, some 200,000 dissatisfied subjects of the Uzbek khan Abūʾl-Khayr (Uzbek) (Abū al-Khayr) moved into Mughulistān, whose khan, Esen Bogha (Buga), settled them between the Chu (Chu River) and Talas rivers. These separatist Uzbeks became known as Kazakh (“Independent” or “Vagabond”) Uzbeks, and over time a significant differentiation developed between them and the nonseparatist Uzbeks in their respective ways of life: that of the Kazakhs was more nomadic, that of the Uzbeks more sedentary.

      During the late 15th century and throughout the 16th century, the Kazakhs were able to consolidate a nomadic empire stretching across the steppes east of the Caspian (Caspian Sea) and north of the Aral Sea as far as the upper Irtysh River and the western approaches to the Altai Mountains. Under Burunduk Khan (ruled 1488–1509) and Kasym Khan (1509–18), the Kazakhs were the masters of virtually the entire steppe region, reportedly able to bring 200,000 horsemen into the field and feared by all their neighbours. The prevailing view is that the rule of Kasym Khan marked the beginning of an independent Kazakh polity. Under his rule Kazakh power extended from what is now southeastern Kazakhstan to the Ural Mountains.

      Under the successive rule of three of the sons of Kasym Khan (1518–38), however, there was a partial weakening of the khan's authority, accompanied by a trend, later to become more pronounced, for the khanate to disintegrate into three separate “hordes.” These were, from east to west, the Great Horde, in present-day southeastern Kazakhstan north of the Tien Shan; the Middle Horde, in the central steppe region east of the Aral Sea; and the Little Horde, between the Aral Sea and the Ural River. In each horde the authority of the khan tended to be curtailed by the power exercised by tribal chieftains, known as sultans (sultan), and perhaps even more by the beys (bey) and batyrs (the heads of the clans (clan) that were the components of each tribe). Nominally, the khans commanded a formidable force of mounted warriors, but, in reality, they depended on the loyalty of the beys and batyrs. The last son of Kasym Khan to rule the Kazakh steppes, Ḥaqq Naẓar (1538–80), overcame these obstacles and, having succeeded in reuniting the three hordes, embarked upon systematic raids into Transoxania, a trend that continued under his immediate successors down to the reign of Tevkkel Khan (1586–98), who even temporarily occupied Samarkand. By the beginning of the 17th century, the fragmentation halted by Kasym Khan resumed and became endemic; Kazakh central power was weak or nonexistent amidst a plethora of petty rulers.

      From the 1680s to the 1770s the Kazakhs were involved in a series of wars with the Oyrats (Oyrat), a federation of four western Mongol tribes, among which the Dzungars (Dzungar) were particularly aggressive. In 1681–84 the Dzungars, led by Dgaʾ-ldan (Dga'-ldan) (Galdan (Dga'-ldan)), launched a devastating attack against the Great Horde. The unification by Teüke Khan (1680–1718) of the three hordes brought a temporary reversal in the fortunes of war, and in 1711–12 a Kazakh counteroffensive penetrated deep into Dzungar territory. Teüke's achievements were not limited to war; he also was responsible for the creation of a Kazakh law code, an amalgam of Kazakh customary and Islamic laws.

      In 1723 Dgaʾ-ldan's successor, Cevang Rabtan, was again on the attack. Aided by Swedish officers who had been Russian prisoners at the Battle of Poltava (Poltava, Battle of) (1709) and found their way to these distant parts, the Dzungars launched a devastating invasion of the eastern Kazakh lands. The memory of this national catastrophe, the “Great Disaster,” has never faded among the Kazakhs. The next and last Dzungar invasion hit the Middle Horde, but—thanks to the skills of that horde's khan, Abūʾl-Khayr (1718–49), who managed to forge a temporary all-Kazakh alliance—it was less devastating. The elimination of the Dzungar threat came in the form of Chinese ( Manchu) intervention; in 1757–58 the Qianlong emperor launched two major campaigns, in the course of which the Dzungars were, for all practical purposes, exterminated and their land incorporated into China. For a time, Ablai Khan of the Middle Horde had shrewdly chosen not to take sides in the Dzungar-Chinese conflict. But, once the scores were settled, Ablai found it prudent to offer his submission to the Qianlong emperor. Then, in 1771, Ablai was confirmed as ruler by both the Chinese and the Russians. As a result of the collapse of Dzungar power, the Chinese inherited a vast territory that extended to Lake Balkhash (Balkhash, Lake) and beyond, far into the Kazakh steppes.

      The brunt of the Dzungar wars was carried by the Great Horde; the Middle and Little hordes fared better, partly because they moved westward toward Russian-held territories. In 1730 Abūʾl Khayr, khan of the Little Horde, swore allegiance to the Russian empress Anna.

Russian and Soviet rule
      The reverses experienced by the Kazakhs at the hands of the Dzungars undoubtedly retarded the emergence of a unified Kazakh state and further depressed the prevailing level of Kazakh cultural life. They also rendered the Kazakhs even less able to resist the encroachments of Russia from the north. The advance onto the Kazakh steppe began with the construction of a line of forts (Omsk)— Omsk in 1716, Semipalatinsk (Semey) in 1718, Ust-Kamenogorsk in 1719, and Orsk in 1735—which was then steadily advanced southward. The Russian advance into Kazakh territory was slow and seldom violent but ineluctable; it made full use of Kazakh internal divisions and dissensions but was, in its essence, the typical encroachment of sedentary agriculturalists into the lands of nomads. Russian occupation of the Kazakh steppe would prove essential for the conquest of Muslim Central Asia.

      Some Kazakhs believed that the Russian presence might at least provide some security against Dzungar raids, and in 1731 the Little Horde accepted Russian protection, followed by the Middle Horde in 1740 and by part of the Great Horde in 1742, although its effect upon the Dzungars was to prove minimal. Finally, after a series of ineffectual Kazakh uprisings of which the most extensive was that of Batyr Srym in 1792–97, Russia resolved to suppress such autonomy as the Kazakh khans still possessed. In 1822 the khanate of the Middle Horde was abolished, in 1824 the Little Horde, and in 1848 the Great Horde.

      Because of Kazakhstan's incorporation into Russia, modern ideas found a more fertile ground among the Kazakhs than in the semi-independent Uzbek khanates. Russian schooling brought these ideas into Kazakh life, and Russian-formed intellectuals such as Chokan Valikanov and Abay Kūnanbay-ulï adapted them to specific Kazakh needs and created a secular culture unparalleled in other parts of Asian Russia.

      The Kazakhs were onlookers rather than participants in the Russian Civil War that followed the fall of the tsarist regime in 1917. A Kazakh provisional government formed by the ephemeral Alash Orda political party existed only in name. In 1919–20 the Bolsheviks' Red Army defeated White Russian forces in the region and occupied Kazakhstan. On Aug. 26, 1920, the Soviet government established the Kirgiz Autonomous Republic, which in 1925 changed its name to the Kazakh A.S.S.R. From 1927 the Soviet government pursued a vigorous policy of transforming the Kazakh nomads into a settled population and of colonizing the region with Russians and Ukrainians.

      Despite their nomadic rural existence, the Kazakhs were the most literate and dynamic indigenous people in Central Asia. But the collectivization brutally imposed by the Soviet regime resulted in a shocking decrease in the Kazakh population: between 1926 and 1939 the number of Kazakhs in the Soviet Union fell by about one-fifth. More than 1.5 million died during this period, the majority from starvation and related diseases, others as a result of violence. Thousands of Kazakhs fled to China, but less than one-fourth survived the journey; about 300,000 fled to Uzbekistan and 44,000 to Turkmenistan.

      Kazakhstan formally became a constituent (union) republic of the Soviet Union on Dec. 5, 1936. During the first secretaryship of Nikita Khrushchev (Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich), the role of Kazakhstan within the Soviet Union increased dramatically. The Virgin and Idle Lands program launched in 1953 opened up the vast grasslands of northern Kazakhstan to wheat farming by Slavic settlers, a program that, over the course of several decades, led to an ecological disaster (see Aral Sea). Kazakhstan's significance in the Soviet period also increased through the location on its territory of the main Soviet space-launch centre and a substantial part of the Soviet Union's nuclear weaponry and the sites associated with nuclear testing.

      For a quarter of a century Kazakh politics were dominated by Dinmukhamed Kunayev, first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan from 1959 to 1986. The only Kazakh ever to become a member of the Soviet Politburo, Kunayev proved to be a masterful Soviet politician. Realizing that Kazakhs (Kazakh) constituted a minority of Kazakhstan's population, he looked with equal care after the needs of both Russians and Kazakhs. His dismissal in 1986 by the Soviet (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail) caused the first serious riots of the 1980s in the Soviet Union.

Independent Kazakhstan
      Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty on Oct. 25, 1990, and full independence on Dec. 16, 1991. Under the presidency of Nursultan Nazarbayev (Nazarbayev, Nursultan), Kazakh politics continued to follow the moderate line of Kunayev. Nazarbayev's leadership was initially restrained, relative to the leadership of neighbouring Central Asian states; however, over time it grew increasingly authoritarian. Nazarbayev was reelected to the presidency in 1999 and again in 2005. During his rule, parties who opposed the president and his administration remained weak, partly because of the maneuvering and manipulation of the ruling party. Although a reform package that included a reduction in the length of the presidential term and an expansion of parliamentary power was passed in 2007, a constitutional amendment was passed alongside it that rendered Nazarbayev personally exempt from the standard two-term limit on the presidency.

      In 1994 the government decided to gradually transfer the national capital from Almaty, located in the country's southeast, to Aqmola (Astana), located in the north-centre, in the following years. The capital was officially moved in 1997, and in May 1998 the city was renamed Astana. At the beginning of the 21st century, the rapid transformation of the capital was led by a dramatic construction boom directed by Nazarbayev and fueled largely by the country's growing petroleum revenues.

      Despite some periods of tension, Kazakhstan's relations with Russia in the years following independence remained close, marked by economic partnerships, treaties of accord, and cooperation on matters of security and intelligence. In consideration of both demographic and cultural factors, Russian continues to function as an official language. Kazakhstan also maintains an important relationship with China, with whom it settled lingering border demarcation issues in 1999. Although Russia remains one of Kazakhstan's principal trading partners, Kazakhstan's growing relationship with China led to increased trade in the early years of the 21st century.

Denis Sinor

Additional Reading

Accounts from travelers to Central Asian countries include Philip Glazebrook, Journey to Khiva (1992); Georgie Anne Geyer, Waiting for Winter to End: An Extraordinary Journey Through Soviet Central Asia (1994); Colin Thubron, The Lost Heart of Asia (1994); and Charles Undeland and Nicholas Platt, The Central Asian Republics: Fragments of Empire, Magnets of Wealth (1994). On Kazakhstan itself, studies include Thomas G. Winner, The Oral Art and Literature of the Kazakhs of Russian Central Asia (1958, reprinted 1980); and International Monetary Fund, Kazakhstan (1992).

Works written in English about the history of the Kazakhs are few and far between: Martha Brill Olcott, The Kazakhs 2nd ed. (1995), is not reliable on the premodern period. Works on the Kazakh-Russian relationship include George J. Demko, The Russian Colonization of Kazakhstan, 1896–1916 (1969); Mikhail Alexandrov, Uneasy Alliance: Relations Between Russia and Kazakhstan in the Post-Soviet Era, 1992–1997 (1999); and Jakob Rigi, Post-Soviet Chaos and the New Capitalism: Kazakhstan, a Case Study (1999).Works dealing with the history of Central Asia as a whole invariably incorporate material on Kazakh history. René Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia (1970; originally published in French, 1939), although dated, is still the most comprehensive and basically sound historical survey of the region in English. Geoffrey Wheeler, The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia (1964, reprinted 1975), can be profitably consulted. The best short sketch on the region's history is found in the entry "Central Asia," in Eshan Yarshater (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 5, fascicles 2–3 (1990–91), pp. 159–242. Various topics on Central Asia's history and culture are treated on a high scholarly level in H.A.R Gibb et al. (eds), The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed. (1954– ). Treatments of later developments include Michael Mandelbaum (ed.), Central Asia and the World: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan (1994). Hafeez Malik (ed.), Central Asia: Its Strategic Importance and Future Prospects (1994); Robert A. Lewis (ed.), Geographic Perspectives on Soviet Central Asia (1992); and Martha Brill Olcott, Central Asia's New States: Independence, Foreign Policy, and Regional Security (1996).Edward Allworth David Roger Smith Gavin R.G. Hambly Denis Sinor

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Universalium. 2010.

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