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Kazakhstan

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Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; Russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstán), also spelled Kazakstan, is a country that stretches over a vast expanse of Asia and a former republic of the now extinct USSR. It has borders with Russia, the People's Republic of China, and countries of Central Asia, such as Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and has a coastline on the Caspian Sea.

Kazakhistan is a Turkic nation. Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country in the world by area, but its semi-deserts (steppe) make it only the 57th country in population, with approximately 6 persons per sq km (16 per sq mi). Kazakhstan's population ranges from 15,143,704 (CIA World Factbook 2004) to 16,798,552 (Encarta Encyclopedia Online [2004]), depending on the source.

Қазақстан Республикасы
Qazaqstan Respūblīkasy
Республика Казахстан
Respublika Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan_flag_large.png
(in detail)
image:LocationKazakhstan.png
Official languages Kazakh, Russian
Official script Cyrillic
Capital Astana
Largest City Almaty
President Nursultan Nazarbayev
Prime minister Daniyal Akhmetov
Area
 - Total
 -
Ranked 9th
2,717,300 km²
 
Population
 - Total (2001)
  Density
Ranked 57th
15,143,704
6/km²
Independence - Declared - From the Soviet Union, December 16, 1991
Currency Tenge
Time zone UTC +4 to +6
National anthem Anthem of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Internet TLD .kz
Calling Code 7
Contents

History

Main article: History of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, once colonized by Czarist Russia, was absorbed into the Soviet Union following the Russian Revolution of 1917, led at that time by V.I. Lenin. During the reign of Stalin Kazakhstan was known for its Steplag correctional facility and for hosting deported Chechens, Koreans and Volga Germans. Later Kazakhstan became a site for several ambitious successful Soviet projects: the Semipalatinsk Test Site and nuclear laboratories, Baikonur space facility, and fallowing of virgin lands.

Kazakhstan proclaimed its independence in the early 1990s, immediately following the breakdown of the U.S.S.R. The current President of Kazakhstan is Nursultan Nazarbayev.

In 1997 the capital of Kazakhstan moved from the southern city of Almaty to Akmolinsk (Akmola), later renamed to Astana, a city closer to the geographic center of the country. This decision was partly based on the prediction by geologists that Almaty would suffer a severe earthquake in the near future.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Kazakhstan

Although Kazakhstan is considered to have made greater progress in the field of democratic reforms, compared to the other Central Asian countries, the situation is far from perfect and international and non-governmental human rights organizations often point to frequent violations of human rights by state officials. The most famous recent case is the trial of opposition journalist Sergei Duvanov. The media is also very tightly controlled by members of the president's immediate family which significantly limits air time and press space for his opponents.

The 1999 election was illegally held two years ahead of scheduale and Nursultan Nazarbayev won by a large margin keeping him in power since 1990. Many argue that repressive tactics like prohibiting those accused of "administrative offenses", such as attending meetings of groups not authorized by the government, from running for political office. High fees for running also prohibit many from entering politics without seeking the president's financial endorsements.

Kazakhstan is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Kazakhstan has recently proposed an economic union with Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

Oblystar

Main article: Oblystar of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is divided into 14 oblystar (singular - oblysy) and 3 cities (qala, singular - qalasy)*:

Almaty, Almaty*, Aqmola (Astana), Aqtobe, Astana*, Atyrau, Batys Qazaqstan (Oral), Bayqongyr*, Mangghystau (Aqtau; formerly Shevchenko), Ongtustik Qazaqstan (Shymkent), Pavlodar, Qaraghandy, Qostanay, Qyzylorda, Shyghys Qazaqstan (Oskemen; formerly Ust'Petropavl" title ="Petropavl">Petropavl), Zhambyl (Taraz; formerly Dzhambul)

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 km² enclosing the Bayqongyr (Baykonur) space launch facilities and the city of Bayqongyr (formerly Leninsk).

Geography

Map of Kazakhstan
Map of Kazakhstan

Main article: Geography of Kazakhstan

Economy

Main article: Economy of Kazakhstan

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Kazakhstan

The main ethnic groups in Kazakhstan are Kazakhs (Qazaq) 46%, Russians 34.7%, Ukrainians 4.9%, Germans 0.2%, Uzbeks 2.3%, Tatars 1.9% (as of 1996). Note: Before 1991 three million Germans lived in Kazakhstan.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Kazakhstan

Miscellaneous topics

Environmental issues

In part because of the country'Steppe" title ="Steppe">steppe, the Soviet government used Kazakhstan as its nuclear testing site, and this, along with near-absent pollution controls, has contributed to an alarmingly high rate of disease in many rural areas. Kazakhstan has identified at least two major ecological disasters within its borders-- the shrinking of the Aral Sea and radioactive contamination at the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing facility (in fact a large zone south of Koursatov) and along the Chinese border.

The Central Asian Regional Environmental Center is located in Kazakhstan, which fosters regional cooperation on environmental issues.

Cosmodrome

Kazakhstan possesses the Soviet equivalent to the United States'Cape_Canaveral" title ="Cape Canaveral">Cape Canaveral, where they have launched their version of the space shuttle and the well-known space station Mir. Russia currently leases approximately 6,000 km² of territory enclosing the Baikonur Cosmodrome space launch site in south central Kazakhstan.

Trivia

The name of the city of Almaty, 'Father of Apples'Apple" title ="Apple">apples that grow naturally in the area.

The popular TV creation of Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G) of "Borat" represents a seemingly naive Kazakhstan television reporter uncovering the inconsistencies of western culture. Interestingly, the ambassador from Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom was insulted by the character claiming it was far from an authentic representation of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan appears in the movies Air Force One (with Harrison Ford), The World is Not Enough (James Bond), and Rollerball (with Jean Reno).

Talented cyclist Alexander Vinokourov represents Kazakhstan in his cycling career for the German T-mobile team. Vinokourov has an impressive cycling record finishing third overall in the 2003 Tour de France.

External links

kazakhstan.gif Map of contaminated zones in red]


Countries in Central Asia

PRC (China) | Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Mongolia | Tajikistan | Turkmenistan | Uzbekistan




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