Where is Kazakhstan located?

What countries border Kazakhstan?

Kazakhstan Weather

What is the current weather in Kazakhstan?


Kazakhstan Facts and Culture

What is Kazakhstan famous for?

  • Food and Recipes: Kuirdak, is a dish prepared from freshly slaughtered meat and consists of the animal's liver, heart, kidneys and other organs... More
  • Family: Just over half of Kazakhstan's people live in cities, mostly in apartments. There is a housing shortage in Kazakhstan and... More
  • Fashion: Urban Kazaks wear Western style clothes. Traditionally Kazaks liked to wear boots with with a pair of felt stockings in... More
  • Visiting: “Come to my dastarkhan” is an invitation to a table spread with a Kazakh feast. Welcoming guests warmly and making... More
  • Recreation: The people of the steppe created several games that are played on horseback, sometimes at wild speeds. Kokpar is a... More
  • Cultural Attributes: Hospitality is an important part of Kazak culture. A traveler will be put up for the night in any Kazak's... More
  • Diet: At a traditional meal, tea, called chai, is served first, with breads, nuts and sweets, as an appetizer. The main... More

Kazakhstan Facts

What is the capital of Kazakhstan?

Capital Astana
Government Type presidential republic
Currency KZT
Total Area 1,052,084 Square Miles
2,724,900 Square Kilometers
Location Central Asia, northwest of China; a small portion west of the Ural (Zhayyq) River in eastern-most Europe
Language Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the "language of interethnic communication") 95%
GDP - real growth rate 1.5%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $24,700.00 (USD)

Kazakhstan Demographics

What is the population of Kazakhstan?

Ethnic Groups Kazakh (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Uygur 1.4%, other 6.6% (1999 census)
Languages Kazakhstan is in the process of changing the alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin.
Nationality Adjective Kazakhstani
Nationality Noun Kazakhstani(s)
Population 19,091,949
Population Growth Rate 1.2%
Population in Major Urban Areas Almaty 1.426 million; ASTANA (capital) 664,000
Predominant Language Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the "language of interethnic communication") 95%
Urban Population 53.6%

Kazakhstan Government

What type of government does Kazakhstan have?

  • Executive Branch: chief of state: President Kasym-Zhomart TOKAYEV (since 20 March 2019); note - Nursultan NAZARBAYEV, who was president since 24 April... More
  • Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal More
  • Citizenship: citizenship by birth: no citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Kazakhstan dual citizenship recognized: no residency... More
  • National Holiday: Independence Day, 16 December (1991) More
  • Constitution: previous 1937, 1978 (preindependence); latest adopted 28 January 1993, approved by referendum 30 August 1995, effective 5 September 1995; amended... More
  • Independence: 16 December 1991 (from the Soviet Union) More

Kazakhstan Geography

What environmental issues does Kazakhstan have?

  • Overview: Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, covering three time zones, 1,900 miles from East to West, and... More
  • Climate: The climate throughout Kazakhstan is continental and dry, and there are four distinct seasons. The weather in Almaty is very... More
  • Border Countries: China 1,533 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,051 km, Russia 6,846 km, Turkmenistan 379 km, Uzbekistan 2,203 km More
  • Environment - Current Issues: radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with former defense industries and test ranges scattered throughout the country pose health risks... More
  • Environment - International Agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands... More
  • Terrain: extends from the Volga to the Altai Mountains and from the plains in western Siberia to oases and desert in... More

Kazakhstan Economy

How big is the Kazakhstan economy?

Kazakhstan News & Current Events

What current events are happening in Kazakhstan?
Source: Google News

Interesting Kazakhstan Facts

What unique things can you discover about Kazakhstan?

  • Aleksandr Parygin of Kazakhstan won the modern pentathlon at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The pentathlon tests the ability and endurance of athletes in pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horseback riding and running.
  • Almaty was once a stop on the Silk Road - an overland trade route between China and Europe from the 1st century to the 16th century. Caravans regularly traveled the route across Asia until the Dutch, Portuguese and English established sea routes to the East.
  • Because parts of the country are very sparsely populated, Kazakhstan offers several distance education programs to allow students to continue their studies, even if they live far away from a school.
  • During Naurysz, the celebration of spring, people set up traditional tents in towns and cities. They are a reminder of Kazakhstan's ancient nomadic heritage.
  • For many years, the capital of Kazakhstan was Almaty, the largest city in the country. In 1998, the capital was moved to Astana. Almaty remains an important business center.

  • Kazakh apples are famous. The city of Almaty in the southeast is named for the local orchards. The name means “father of apples.”
  • Kazakhs have traditionally been divided into three large clans called zhuszes. They were ruled by leaders called khans. Even today people may ask when meeting someone new: "What zhusz do you belong to." Many Kazakhs can trace their heritage back seven generations or more.
  • Kazakhstan has several specialized sports schools that train promising athletes for national and international competitions.
  • The hearth is an honored place in a herder's yurt. Sitting near the fire is a privilege for guests. A cauldron called a kazan simmers over the fire.
  • Kures is a Kazakh form of wrestling that has some similarities to sumo wrestling. Powerful competitors try to force each other out of the ring.
  • Lake Balkash in eastern Kazakhstan contains two kinds of water: salt water in the east and fresh water in the west.

  • Many Kazakh people consider naming a child after a relative bad luck. It implies that the child is replacing that person.
  • Many Kazakhstanis follow the teachings of Porphyry Korneyevich Ivanov, who believed that good health could be achieved by hardening the body. His advice included going barefoot in cold weather and pouring a bucket of cold water over one's head in the open air.
  • One of the Mongol leaders who succeeded Genghis Khan was Tamerlane. Although he is remembered as a cruel ruler, he built a huge religious complex in Turkestan in south Kazakhstan in the 14th century. The complex includes a mausoleum dedicated to the Sufi poet and teacher Khodja Ahmed Yasavi.
  • Some Muslims end a meal with a prayerful gesture called the amin. They bring cupped hands together and briefly cover their faces, moving their fingers downward.
  • The Golden Man is a 2500-year-old suit of Armour that once belonged to a Scythian warrior. It is the country's most important ancient artifact and is housed in Almaty's Central Museum. Scythians were the first people in recorded history who fought on horseback using bows and arrows. They were a warlike nomadic tribe that lived in Central Asia in the first millennium B.C.
  • The Russian space program is based at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in central Kazakhstan. The Soviet Union was first to send into space a satellite, a lunar probe, astronauts (the first man in space in 1961 and the first woman two years later) and a space station. Russia still runs the centre, but pays rent for it to Kazakhstan.
  • Zenkov Cathedral in Almaty is one of the world's tallest wooden buildings. It was built in 1904 without the use of nails. The cathedral withstood the 1910 earthquake that destroyed much of the rest of the city. It served as a concert hall during the Soviet era, but is now used for Orthodox church services.
  • When a child loses a tooth they drop their tooth under the bathtub and say "Mouse, mouse, bring me a new tooth, please."

Watch video on Kazakhstan

What can you learn about Kazakhstan in this video?

Saryarka - Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan YouTube: Unesco

Kazakhstan Travel Information

What makes Kazakhstan a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with a strong presidency and a market economy. Kazakhstan's tourist facilities are not highly developed; the availability of goods and services is better than in many neighboring countries, but generally not up to the standards found in North America and Western Europe. Internal travel and travel to neighboring countries, by air and land, can be subject to delays due to infrastructure shortcomings and winter weather.

Crime

Travelers in Kazakhstan should exercise the same precautions concerning personal safety and protection of valuables as they would in any major U.S. city. Using good judgment and avoiding high-risk areas can reduce the crime threat. The most common crimes foreign tourists encounter are purse snatching, pick pocketing, assaults, and robberies. Pick pocketing or robberies occur most frequently in the vicinity of Western hotels, transportation sites, and at open-air markets, including the central open-air market in Almaty (known locally as the "Green Market"). U.S. citizens are advised to exercise caution in the vicinity of hotels, bus or train stations, and when shopping. U.S. Mission Kazakhstan strongly recommends that U.S. citizens do not carry large sums of money on the street.

Identification checks by the police are common practice. U.S. visitors must produce either a passport or an Embassy-certified copy thereof upon request. Police are not required to demonstrate probable cause or reasonable suspicion to initiate ID checks. U.S. citizens may obtain a certified copy of their passport and visa from the U.S. Embassy in Astana or U.S. Consulate General in Almaty during American Citizens Services hours. Please check the U.S. Mission Kazakhstan website for the American Citizens Services hours in Almaty and Astana.

Be wary of persons representing themselves as police or other local officials. It is not uncommon for U.S. citizens to become victims of harassment and extortion by imposters, genuine law enforcement, and other officials. A genuine police official should always present his own credentials when approaching someone on the street. If the officer cannot produce identification, he is most likely an imposter. Never voluntarily hand over your wallet to a police officer. If pressured, tell the officer that you will report his behavior to the U.S. Embassy in Astana or Consulate General in Almaty and the officer’s supervisors. Authorities are concerned about these incidents and have cooperated in investigating such cases. Try to obtain the officer's name, badge number, and license plate number, and note where the incident happened because this information assists local officials in identifying the perpetrators. Report crimes committed against you by persons presenting themselves as police or other governmental authorities to a police station and the U.S. Embassy in Astana or Consulate General in Almaty.

The "lost wallet" scam continues to be common in Kazakhstan. One version of this scam involves the discovery of a lost wallet in your presence. A first person will discover the wallet and offer to divide its contents with you. Then, a second person will appear, claim to be the owner of the wallet, and demand compensation for the missing money. A second version involves a person looking for a lost wallet, asking you if have seen it. The person asks you to reveal the contents of your pockets or bag to prove that you do not have the missing wallet. The wallet seeker will then surreptitiously steal your exposed valuables. When initially approached by the "finder" or "seeker" of the lost wallet, simply walk away.

U.S. Mission Kazakhstan highly discourages taking unlicensed cabs in lieu of licensed taxicabs while in Kazakhstan. This applies especially to travel from the airport and train station to the city upon arrival, where men posing as "meet and greet" airport facilitators have lured foreigners into cars purportedly to take them to their hotels. However, the driver then takes the passengers to a secluded destination and demands approximately $100 for gas to take the foreigner back to the city. At the airport, U.S. citizens should not leave with anyone who does not show pre-arranged identification, even if the person is holding a sign with the traveler's name.

U.S. Mission Kazakhstan has received reports from U.S. citizen residents and visitors of being victims of violent, late-night muggings. U.S. citizens are advised to travel in groups or pairs. Lone individuals often make easy targets for muggers. At night, try to remain in well-lit, populated areas. Visitors are encouraged to leave restaurants or bars if fights break out.

Corruption by public officials, including law enforcement, has been reported frequently, especially at the airport in Almaty. Some foreigners have been told by customs or border guard officials that they must pay a $50-$500 fine for violating an undisclosed local regulation, despite the fact that the foreign citizen has fully complied with local laws. Some U.S. citizens have reportedly been asked to pay a large fine upon exiting Kazakhstan. When encountering such irregularities, U.S. citizens are advised to seek clarification from supervisory airport officials or contact the U.S. Embassy in Astana or Consulate General in Almaty before paying.

Don't buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may also be breaking local law.

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don't have your passport with you. In some places it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in your host country, your U.S. passport won't help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It's very important to know what's legal and what's not where you are going. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Kazakhstan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States government is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

Languages

Kazakhstan is in the process of changing the alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin.

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Medical care in Kazakhstan is limited and well below North American and West European standards. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of English-speaking physicians. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident U.S. citizens travel to Western Europe for serious medical treatment. Such travel can be extremely expensive if undertaken under emergency conditions. Travelers requiring prescription medications or specific brand-name medicines should bring sufficient supplies of medications and not rely on local availability.

Safety and Security

Supporters of extremist groups such as the Islamic Jihad Union, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaida, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private interests in the region, including in Kazakhstan. Extremist tactics, including the use of suicide bombers, which were employed by extremists against U.S. targets in neighboring Uzbekistan in 2004, were used for the first time in Kazakhstan in 2011.Because of increased security at official U.S. facilities, terrorists may also target "soft" civilian targets such as commercial or residential areas, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, hotels, schools, outdoor recreation events, resorts, beaches, maritime facilities, and aircraft.

Following several attacks against local authorities in Western Kazakhstan in 2012, the U.S. Mission in Kazakhstan encourages U.S. citizens resident in, or traveling to, Western Kazakhstan to remain vigilant. Although previous violent activity has primarily been directed towards Kazakhstani governmental entities, it is possible that this focus could shift to other targets. In addition, law enforcement agencies have conducted anti-terrorist operations against suspected terrorists in populated areas throughout the country.

Kazakhstani security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Kazakhstan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Roads in Kazakhstan are in poor repair, especially in rural areas. Poor signage is common. Street lighting, especially on side streets, may be turned off at night. Drivers often ignore lane markings. Potholes are common, and are often dangerously deep. Pedestrians frequently dart out in front of cars. Visitors should drive defensively at all times as many local drivers do not follow traffic laws. Special caution should be taken if driving at night. Road rage can be a problem, especially in and around Almaty, and a non-confrontational response to such behavior is strongly recommended. Accidents involving severe injury and/or death are common. Traffic police have reportedly stopped cars to extort bribes on main city streets and at periodic checkpoints on major highways.

The road between Almaty and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, is especially treacherous at night or during poor weather. U.S. citizens and other travelers have been killed in traffic accidents on that road, and travel at night or during poor weather should be avoided.

Travelers should be particularly careful when using public transportation and taxis. Buses tend to be very crowded and can be unsafe and unreliable. Due to the danger of theft or assault, travelers should be selective regarding which taxi they contract and always avoid entering a cab that already contains persons other than the driver.

Kazakhstan has a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol. A driver may be detained by police and convicted of drunk driving for driving a vehicle after consuming one drink of alcohol, regardless of whether the driver is actually intoxicated.

U.S. citizens wishing to drive in Kazakhstan should possess a valid international driver's license. For specific information, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan at 1401 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, telephone (202) 232-5488.

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