Travel Guides: Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan, officially named the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a country that stretches over a vast area in northern and central Eurasia.
It is the ninth largest country in the world. Kazakhstan is in central Asia and covers an area approximately equal to that of the United States. Over half the population is composed of Kazakh, Russians make up more than a quarter and the rest of the population consists of Ukrainians, Germans, Czechs, Koreans and other ethnic groups in Central Asia. The territory of Kazakhstan is as diverse as the population and is composed of steppe and forest in the north, which turns into sand dunes in the south. Since independence, it has invested heavily in the Caspian oil sector. Development of oil industry brought rapid economic growth. However, poverty is widespread and Kazakhstan faces with unemployment and inflation.
For centuries, Kazakhstan’s vast plains were Nomad territories and are almost empty today. Most settlements are located in the south-east and east of the republic. Main attractions: Southern Kazakhstan is a center of history and culture in Central Asia and there are plenty of famous monuments in the region. The land has a diverse landscape and you have the opportunity to go through all four seasons in one day – snowy peaks, lakes and glaciers in the Tien Shan mountain chain are lost in the desert and steppe lands that stretch thousands of kilometers. The desert shelters Singing Dune, 80 m high and 3 miles long. It is so called because the sand carried by vans makes a sound similar to the organ.
Almaty is a city with modern architecture, broad streets, fountains, parks and breathtaking views of the mountains. City attractions include the Panfilov Park, dominated by one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world, the Cathedral Zenkov, which served in the Soviet times as a concert hall and exhibition, New Market, Independence Obelisk, Kazakh National Instruments Museum, the Museum of Arts and Arasan Baths. 160 km from Chimkent is located the Kodja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum from the XIV century, in Turkestan, built in Tamerlane period. Dzhambul is an industrial city in the region, which has several replicas of the remains from the time when it was called Taraz. The authentic remains are in Golovachovka village, 18 km to the west.
In central Kazakhstan is one of the largest lakes in the world. Lake Balkhash is half salt and half fresh water. In the center of the country have been kept some archaeological sites remnants of the Bronze Age, the Stone and Iron Ages. Bayan-aul Park has cave paintings, stone carvings, crystal clear water lakes and pine. Baikonur Cosmodrome is located 5 km from Leninsk and is the variant from central Asia of Cape Canaveral. Yuri Gagarin took off from here, on April 12, 1961. Western Kazakhstan marks the meeting of Europe with Asia trough the Caspian Sea basin. The Karagie Depression at 132 m above sea level is the lowest point in the world after the Dead Sea. There are many architectural treasures in the region, including the Underground Mosque, in the shape of a cross, Ata Shakpak.
Astana is the new capital of the country since 1997, because it has a less accessible location for the Russian Federation and is less vulnerable to earthquakes. Eastern Kazakhstan offers a colorful landscape with snow covered mountain peaks, forested canyons and beautiful cedar forests. Marakol Lake rivals with Baikal Lake rival in beauty. Semipalatinsk city, 30 km from Siberia, was a place of Russian exile. Here was exiled Dostoyevski between 1857 and 1859 and the house is a museum.
A Kazakh cuisine special is usually “dastarkhan” a feast that takes place on special occasions and is generally made of meat and dairy dishes. Usually an animal sacrifice is completed and the oldest family member has the honor to cut the animal’s head, cook and serve the family. Parts of the body are traits desired by those who eat that part. For example, children are given ears to listen better, the receiver of the tongue will speak more eloquently and the receiver of the eye will get wisdom.
Most dishes are made from raised animals. There are a variety of dairy products including cheese, butter and boiling milk. In spring and summer milk is gathered in a leather container, it is mixed well and expected to ferment. The whey is a favorite summertime drink. “Kuirdak” is a kind of fresh meat of horses, sheep or cow and consists of liver, heart, kidneys and other chopped organs, cooked in oil and served with onions and pepper.
Kazakhs are a very hospitable people. When the host welcomes its guests, it stretches his arms to see that he is not armed. Residents can contact the guest or an older person with the diminutive name plus “ke” (Abkhan = Abeke, Nursultan = Nureke) as a sign of respect and appreciation. Tradition says that the most respected guest from the host will receive a boiled sheep’s head, sitting on a nice platter. Custom prohibits children whose parents are alive to cut off the sheep’s head. They must give the other guests the head of the sheep, to cut it. In mosques, women pray in a separate room and must cover their head and arms.
Capital: Astana. Local time: GMT+4 to GMT+6. Main spoken languages: Kazakh, Russian. Currency: Tenge (KZT) = 100 tiyn. A small portion of land located in the western Ural River is located in the far east of Europe. Main neighbors are Russia and China and in the south-western it borders with Central Asian countries: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It also has a significant coastline on the Caspian Sea. Kazakhstan is the ninth country in the world in size, but due to the semi-desert steppe landscape it is one of the most sparsely populated countries with less than 6 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Kazakhstan is almost entirely in Central Asia stretching from the Caspian Sea (the West) to the Altai Mountains in the east. A large part of its area is covered by arid steppes. Kazakhstan ranks 62 in world in number of inhabitants. Over the centuries the territory of Kazakhstan today has been inhabited by nomadic tribes until the XVI century following the right to assert a distinct group, divided into three hordes. Russians have gone into the steppes of Kazakhstan only through the eighteenth century and the mid-nineteenth century the whole country was part of the Russian Empire. After the 1917 Russian revolution and civil war, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganized several times before it became the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936 as part of the former USSR.
During the twentieth century, Kazakhstan was one of many Soviet projects including serving as the main nuclear weapons testing area. Kazakhstan declared its independence on December 16, 1991 being the last of the Soviet republics independent states and former communist leader became president. Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a balanced foreign policy and focused on economic development with emphasis on the oil industry. Although the state economy is constantly growing, President Nursultan Nazarbayev still holds a tight control over government policies. Many opposition leaders and journalists have been killed in recent years, and a western observer considered the elections in Kazakhstan unfair, but with no doubt the prestige of the country is still growing.
At the present time it is regarded as the dominant country in Central Asia. The country is part of many international organizations like the UN, the CIS and the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, and in 2011 will form a customs union with Russia and Belarus. Kazakhstan is a country of ethnically diverse and culturally, in large part due to massive deportations from the time of Stalin’s rule, but Kazakhs is still the largest group followed by Russians. The country offers freedom of choice of religion so many different faiths can be met here, Islam being the basis religion followed by Christianity. The official language is Kazakh although Russian is also used in everyday speech.
Provinces: Kazakhstan is divided into 14 provinces. Population: Kazakhstan’s population is approximately 16,033,648 inhabitants (in 2006), the density of population being 5.6 inhabitants per square kilometer. It consists of about 100 ethnic groups, most prominent being: 68% Kazakh, 21% Russians, Ukrainians 4%, 2% German, and others. The German community was deported here by Stalin. Urban population is 56%. Cities: The state capital is Astana (529,000 inhabitants). Yet, the largest city is Alma-Ata (Almaty), former capital of the state (1.21 million inhabitants). Other cities: Seme, Karaganda, Cimkent, Pavlodar.
Climate: Due to the large area of the country, the climate is very diverse, in the largest area the clime is temperate continental, arid and semiarid. Average annual temperatures range from -19 ° C and -3 ° C in January, 19 ° C and 30 ° C in July. Relief: Kazakhstan has a very diverse landscape. Most of the territory (about 50%) is occupied by plains. To the east is a mountainous area, the top Khan Tengri, in the Tien Shan Mountains with a height of 6995 m. In the center of the country is a desert area, which is virtually uninhabited.
Economy: Kazakhstan is a country rich in natural resources, but they are still not operating at full capacity. The reserves of uranium in the soil, ranks the country 3rd in the world. It also has large quantities of oil, natural gas, coal, copper, zinc, manganese, iron, gold. Metallurgy, machine building and food are still under development. Kazakhstan is the largest oil producer in Central Asia. Area: 2,717,300 sq km. Population: 16,963,000 inhabitants. Population density: 6 inhabitants/sq km. Past History: Kazakhstan became a Soviet republic in 1936. It declared its Independence in 1991 and joined the UN in 1992.
Geographical features: In the western are low plains and mountains in south-east. Beluha Peak (4506 m) lies on the border with China and Mongolia. The rivers in the north flow into Tobol and Irtis and into the Caspian Sea. Irrigation water is drained from the rivers which resulted in lower water levels Lake Aral and Caspian Sea. The climate is continental with warm summers and cold winters. Industry: Kazakhstan is rich in minerals which include gold, copper, lead, zinc, iron and coal. Also found in large quantities are oil, natural gas and manganese. Most cities are industrialized, and in 1993 was introduced a privatization program.
Agriculture: In the north and the west is practiced farming mixed with tobacco, mustard and fruit. In south and south-east, irrigation has allowed growth of a wide range of crops including cotton, fruits and vegetables for export. It is important sheep and cattle breeding. Form of government: Republic – the bicameral Parliament consists of Senate (47 seats, seven members are appointed by the president and the rest are elected by local assemblies, for a period of six years) and Mazhilis (107 seats elected by popular vote for a period of five years).
The Sea gives Kazakhstan 1.894 km of coast. Neighborhood: China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. Main Cities: Astana, Almaty, Qaraghandy, Taraz, Semele Oskemen, Pavlodar, Semipalatinsk. Administrative Divisions: 14 provinces and 3 cities. Country code (phone): 7. Radio emission: AM 60, FM 17, Ultra-short 9 (1998). Medieval Territory: Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Stone Age; historians say that on these territories for the first time the horse was domesticated. In the 13th century Mongols invaded, settled administrative regions that were named Kazakh Khanate. In the 19th century the territory was dominated by the Russian Empire. In 1920, the territory of Kazakhstan today, became an autonomous republic in Russia. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, August 1991, Kazakhstan gained independence on December 16, 1991.
Modern Politics: While in power as President, Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected in 1991, Kazakhstan has made remarkable progress in building the economy market. But the democratic system has noted progress in 1991. In 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan passed a law which grants the President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, power and rights for life. Critics say that in the past 10 years while he was in power, Nazarbayev has censored the press, blocked access to websites of opposition and banned the Wahhabi religious sect, in cruel conditions in penitentiary and many others.
Independence: Obtained on 16 December 1991 before the Soviet Union. Organization: Kazakhstan Tourist Association (KTA) was founded in 1999, with the approval of the president. The Association is non-commercial, non-profit and non-governmental organization; it has a purpose: to increase the number of tourists landing directly in Astana or Almaty and encouraging eco-tourism. So, tourism in Kazakhstan is developing. What to see: Astana – capital, Zailiysky Alatau, Almatinsky – nature reserve with rare species of animals, Kol-Say Lakes – perfect for fishing, Akhmed Kozh Yasaui Mausoleum.
When to go: Since the summers are very hot and winters are very cold, the best times to travel to Kazakhstan are spring (April-June) and autumn (September-October). Events: Independence Day – December 16. Population Distribution: Urban 56% / 44% Rural (2005). Population living below the standard: 19% (2004). Birth rate: 16.23 to 1000 inhabitants. Death rate: 9.4 to 1000 inhabitants. Average Age: 29.1 years. Education Rates: 99.5% – People who know how to read and write (more than 15 years). Unemployment rate: 7.5% (2006).
Ethnic Groups: Kazakh 53.4%, Russians 30% Ukrainians 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uygur 1.4%, others 4.9% (1999). Emigrants: 3.32 persons per 1,000 inhabitants. Language: Kazakh 66%, Russian (official, used in everyday business) 40% (2001). Religion: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%. Transport: car, bus, plane, train, ship, ferryboat. Shipping routes: 4.000 km (2006). Highways / Roads: 90.018 km. Railways: 13.700 km. Airports: 97. Ports: 4. Coin: KZT. Gross Domestic Product: $ 143.4 billion (total) (2006). Minimum Wage: 9200 KZT per month. Average salary: Approximately $ 100 per month (2005).
Industries: Oil, coal, iron, chromate, lead, zinc, copper, titanium, bauxite, gold, silver, phosphate, sulfur, steel, tractors and other agricultural machinery, electric motors, construction materials. Agriculture Products: wheat, cotton, livestock. Money Advice: hotel accommodation = $ 15-40, dinner at the restaurant = $ 2-40. Personalities: Borat Sagdiyev – the fictitious reporter from Kazakhstan, invented and played by comedian Jew, Sacha Baron Cohen.
Passport Scheme: Passport simple: it is necessary to obtain visa. Passport Service: no need for a short stay visa. Diplomatic Passport: no need for a short stay visa. Short period of stay: 90. Conditions of entry and residence regime: citizens, holders of ordinary passports, are required to obtain visas for traveling to Kazakhstan. Visas are issued by invitation only at Kazakhstan embassies and consulates abroad. In exceptional circumstances, the visa may be granted at the airport. People who spend more than 30 days in Kazakhstan may be required the presentation of HIV test certificate not older than one month (Center for the Prevention and Control of AIDS 7 Talgarskaya Street in Alma-Ata).
Travel foreigners in some areas near the border with China require obtaining a permit from the authorities. Also, since 2001 the Government of Kazakhstan has declared closed to foreign citizens access these localities in the vicinity of military objectives: Gvardeyskii and Rossavel villages and the station CF Kulyhabashz from the Jambyl region, Jangaly and Bokezorda districts of West Kazakhstan region, the city of Priozersk and Gulshad village in the Karaganda region and Baikonur, Kazakly and Karmakshy in the Kzyl-ORDA region.
Companies and businessmen interested in developing business in Kazakhstan are recommended attention to the choice and contracting partners. Obtaining work permits for foreign citizens in Kazakhstan is often a problem because of restrictive local laws. It is indicated consulted in advance of the Embassy in Alma-Ata to obtain an assessment of the business environment in Kazakhstan. Emergency Calls: 01 firefighters, 02 police, 03 ambulance and 051 service for special situations.
Customs Regulations: It is allowed in or out in Kazakhstan 2 liters of alcoholic beverages and up to 0.5 kg caviar. Valuables and electronic equipment is declared when crossing the frontier. There is a strict export of antiquities from Kazakhstan. The maximum amount allowed (undeclared) in output in Kazakhstan is 3000 USD. A larger amount of money has to be declared. People who sit a short period of time on the territory of Kazakhstan, the country moved from an equivalent amount declared when entering the country. Preserve the customs declaration to the border.
Kazakh Indigenous people were a nomadic Turkic people who belonged to several divisions of Kazakh hordes. They were grouped in settlements and lived in circular domed tents made from felt and called yurt. The tribes were migrating with the new season in search of pasture for sheep, horses and goats. Although they had chiefs, Kazakhs have rarely been united under one leader. These tribes came under Mongol leadership in the thirteenth century and were ruled by Tartar Orders until the area was conquered by Russia in the eighteenth century.
The territory became part of the Kyrgyz Autonomous Republic formed by the Soviet authorities in 1920 and in 1925 the name was changed in the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. After 1927 the Soviet government began forcing the nomadic people to settle in the farms and continued to encourage a policy of tsarist to the large number of Russians and other Slavs to settle in the region. Due to intensive agricultural development and land use within the testing of nuclear weapons by the Soviets in the late twentieth century appeared serious environmental problems.
Together with other Central Asian republics, Kyrgyzstan achieved independence in 1991. In 1993 the country has signed the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has restructured and consolidated government, eliminating a third of the ministries and agencies. In 1997 the capital was moved from Almaty to Astana. In 1999, Nazarbayev won another term of seven years, although elections have been criticized. Due to mineral and petroleum resources, which have attracted Western investment, Kazakhstan has great potential to become one of the richest countries in Central Asia.
In 2000 oil was discovered in the Caspian Sea and is believed to be the biggest deposit discovered in the last 30 years. In March 2001 it was opened a pipeline that takes oil from Tengiz fields to the Russian port of Novorossiysk in the Black Sea. But while Kazakhstan has a flowering economy, its democratic principles begin to falter. In recent years the president has harassed the media, arrested opposition leaders and has enacted a law that made it impossible to create new political parties. In 2005 the president was reelected, and in 2007 the parliament voted to eliminate the mandate, allowing the president to remain in power for an unlimited period. Then the president dissolved parliament and held elections.
The territory of Kazakhstan was held for the first time by the nomadic tribes who lived in the steppes of this region. They were conquered in the thirteenth century by the Mongols, who at that time were led by Genghis Khan. By the fifteenth century, Kazakhs were formed in hordes, who continued to live a nomadic life until the nineteenth century when they were occupied by Russia. On 16 December 1991, Kazakhstan was the last republic that proclaimed their independence from the USSR. The borders of this state are: China, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Kazakhstan is a country rich in raw materials, the third country in the world in terms of uranium resources. There are also important resources of oil, natural gas, coal, copper, zinc, manganese, iron, gold. Metallurgy, machine building and food industry is in continuous development. On the territory of Kazakhstan, since the sixth century to the middle of the thirteenth century, there were more Turkic tribes replaced, after the Mongol invasion, by the Ulus of the Mongol Empire. Due to its location on the Silk Road region has become a vector for spreading the art of dance, painting, architecture and music, and of different religions, such as Manichaeism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, the religion became the last century Kazakhs since the eighth century.
Kazakh population has absorbed over time elements of civilization that came from various areas of culture, contributing early in his turn, to the civilization of the area. Kazakh state-building process continued in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries on the territory of Kazakhstan today the formation of three territorial-administrative units – Old, New and Medium Horde in the mid-fifteenth century formed taking the Kazakh Khanate, which- during its existence, has strengthened its statehood, has developed trade relations and contacts with Russia and other neighboring countries. In the nineteenth century, the Kazakhs are occupied by Russia in the next century was founded on August 26, 1920 Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.
Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty as a republic within the USSR in October 1990, followed by the adoption of the independent Republic of Kazakhstan on 16 December 1991. On August 30, 1995, following a national referendum, the state constitution is adopted, which is present until today. Under the Constitution, the form of government is mixed: the presidential and parliament and its president is elected by all citizens of Kazakhstan for a term of five years. In 2010, Kazakhstan assumes the presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Kazakh traditional culture has nomadic Turkic influences and behavior of Islamism and Western. Nomadic influence is reflected today in Kazakh cuisine, where many traditional dishes hold symbolic value.
Kazakhstan has given the world writers, scientists and renowned philosophers, among which Qunanbayuli Abaya, Al-Farabi, Mukhtar Auezov, Gabita Musirepov, Kanysh Satpayev, Mukhtar Shakhanov, Saken Seyfullin and Jambyl Jabayev. In recent years was seen a revival of Kazakh language to the detriment of the Russian language in mass media, legislative and business environment being an important factor in preserving and strengthening the identity of the Kazakh nation. Parliament also plans to shift the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet, replacing Cyrillic alphabet used today.
Kazakhstan’s economy is considered to be the most developed of the Central Asia. The state’s main economic sectors are mining and processing oil and gas, Kazakhstan with the potential to become a global gas exporter in the medium term. Kazakhstan is the second country in the world after Australia in terms of uranium reserves and also has the largest market for silver, zinc and nickel in Western Asia. In 2000, Kazakhstan was the first ex-Soviet country that has paid all debts to the International Monetary Fund, 7 years before the aforesaid period.
Kazakhstan will invest 1.5 billion dollars to develop tourism and improve the image of this former Soviet republic, especially known in the West thanks to the comedy character Borat. Winter Asian Games in 2011 will become a major platform to promote the country. $ 1.5 billion will be invested in projects of image. Astana will compete for the Winter Olympic Games in 2030. In 2009, Kazakhstan has attracted 800,000 foreign tourists. Kazakhstan’s international image has suffered a hard blow in 2006 with the release of the comedy Borat: Cultural Learning of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, in which the main character is a Kazakh returned, incestuous and racist.
Frozen water which makes unsatisfied the Europeans became a tourist attraction. Today there are only -30 degrees Celsius. The city is now sterile. There is no virus or microbe to survive in this weather. So people can live a long life here. Maybe not as long as the mammoth, but long enough. Nazarbayev moved to Astana in 1997, and invested over a billion dollars to turn the capital into a city full of golden skyscrapers. Diplomats and officials in Kazakhstan have not wanted to move to Astana, the second capital of the world as cold, the old capital, Almaty. But for Nazarbayev, Astana is a symbol of Kazakhstan’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Europe has far exceeded the geographical condition of the peninsula of Asia. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe held its conclave in distant Asian states of Kazakhstan, reached through a political game, along with other ex-Soviet republics, the European organization. From Alexander’s empire and until the Soviet Union, history tells us that any expansion of Europe’s policy towards Asia had given birth to complications. Heads of state and government of 56 members of the organization met, 1-2 December 2010 in Astana, the capital built by Nursultan Nazarbayev, president and the newest and largest state which would be Kazakhstan.
If locals refer to boast such huge wealth that spread their tents until not long ago, when their pride is in part motivated. But not everywhere where the oil is not necessarily better lives. Independent Kazakhstan is rich but the father-god Nursultan Nazarbayev returned to the stage of the Middle Ages. The despotism with which leads the Stalinist dictator does not really bother those looking for the riches of Kazakhstan. European democracies, the 12-13 million Muslims in the distant country but more importantly have some poetry seems to be what is under their feet from hot sand. Here it was time for Europe’s leading people to serve tea in the morning in the palaces built by Nazarbayev in the desert.
With the world in crisis, the OSCE is still more concerned about serious things, like trust, cooperation, stability and regional security. Trust – that hope was not abandoned, but it does not matter that much. With the Cold War, after the recent military conflicts in the Caucasus, protagonists have retired to their camps concerned to strengthen fortifications rather than to seek peace. The highest fracture occurred in August 2008 because of the war between Russia and Georgia, which resulted in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be under Russian protection of the tanks and self-proclaimed independent.11