Where Is Kazakhstan?

Where is Kazakhstan? Facts and information about Kazakhstan.


Background: As a republic within the USSR (1920-91), Kazakhstan suffered greatly from Stalinist purges, from environmental damage, and saw the ethnic Russian portion of its population rise to 37% while other non-Kazakhs made up almost 20%. Current issues include the pace of market reform and privatization; fair and free elections and democratic reform; ethnic differences between Russians and Kazakhs; environmental problems; and how to convert the country's abundant energy resources into a better standard of living.


Location: Central Asia, northwest of China

Geographic coordinates: 48 00 N, 68 00 E

Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States


total: 2,717,300 sq km

land: 2,669,800 sq km

water: 47,500 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: Zhengis Shingy (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: 12%

permanent crops: 11%

permanent pastures: 57%

forests and woodland: 4%

other: 16% (1996 est.)

Irrigated land: 22,000 sq km (1996 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 are found throughout the country and 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 faulty irrigation practices

Environment""international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography""note: landlocked


Population: 16,824,825 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 28% (male 2,432,519; female 2,359,375)

15-64 years: 65% (male 5,279,877; female 5,580,271)

65 years and over: 7% (male 392,934; female 779,849) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.09% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 17.16 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 10.34 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: -7.73 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female

total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 58.82 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 63.39 years

male: 57.92 years

female: 69.13 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.09 children born/woman (1999 est.)


noun: Kazakhstani(s)

adjective: Kazakhstani

Ethnic groups: Kazakh (Qazaq) 46%, Russian 34.7%, Ukrainian 4.9%, German 3.1%, Uzbek 2.3%, Tatar 1.9%, other 7.1% (1996)

Religions: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%

Languages: Kazakh (Qazaq) (state language) 40%, Russian (official, used in everyday business) 66%


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 98%

male: 99%

female: 96% (1989 est.)


Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Kazakhstan

conventional short form: Kazakhstan

local long form: Qazaqstan Respublikasy

local short form: none

former: Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic

Data code: KZ

Government type: republic

Capital: Astana

note: the government moved from Almaty to Astana in December 1998

Administrative divisions: 14 oblystar (singular""oblysy) and 3 cities (qala, singular""qalasy)*; Almaty, Almaty*, Aqmola (Astana), Aqtobe, Astana*, Atyrau, Batys Qazaqstan (Oral), Bayqongyr*, Mangghystau (Aqtau; formerly Gur'yev), Ongtustik Qazaqstan (Shymkent), Pavlodar, Qaraghandy, Qostanay, Qyzylorda, Shyghys Qazaqstan (Oskemen; formerly Ust'-Kamenogorsk), Soltustik Qazaqstan (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 sq km enclosing the Bayqongyr (Baykonur) space launch facilities and the city of Bayqongyr (formerly Leninsk)

Independence: 16 December 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday: Day of the Republic, 25 October (1990) (date on which Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty)

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 1990-91, president since 1 December 1991)

head of government: Prime Minister Nurlan BALGIMBAYEV (since 10 October 1997) and First Deputy Prime Minister Uraz ZHANDOSOV (since 20 February 1998)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

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 had been extended to 2000 by a nationwide referendum held 30 April 1995; prime minister and first deputy prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV elected president; percent of vote""Nursultan NAZARBAYEV 82%, Serikbolsyn ABDILDIN 12%

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

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (47 seats; 7 senators are appointed by the president; other members are popularly elected, two from each oblast and Almaty, to serve four-year terms) and the Majilis (67 seats; members are popularly elected to serve four-year terms); note""with the oblasts being reduced to 14, the Senate will eventually be reduced to 37

elections: Senate""(indirect) last held 5 December 1995 (next to be held NA 1999); Majilis""last held 9 December and 23 December 1995 (next to be held NA 1999)

election results: Senate""percent of vote by party""NA; seats by party""party members 13, no party affiliation 34, of which "independent" state officials 25, nominated by the president 7, elected by popular vote 15; Majilis""percent of vote by party""NA; seats by party""PUP 24, December National Democratic Party 12, Kazakhstan Agrarian Union 5, Confederation of Kazakh Trade Unions 5, KPK 2, independents and others 19

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (44 members); Constitutional Council (7 members)

Political parties and leaders: People's Unity Party or PUP (was Union of People's Unity) [Akhan BIZHANOV, chairman]; People's Congress of Kazakhstan or NKK [Anuar ISMAILOV, chairman]; AZAMAT Movement [Petr SVOIK, Murat AUEZOV, and Galym ABILSIITOV, cochairmen]; Communist Party or KPK [Serikbolsyn ABDILDIN, first secretary]; December National Democratic Party [Hasen KOZHAKHMETOV, chairman]; Labor and Workers Movement [Madel ISMAILOV, chairman]; Republican People's Slavic Movement-Harmony or Lad [Aleksander SAMARKIN, chairman]; Russian Center or RT [Nina SIDOROVA, chairwoman]; Pensioners Movement or Pokoleniye [Irina SAVOSTINA, chairwoman]; Kazakhstan Agrarian Union [leader NA]; Confederation of Kazakh Trade Unions [leader NA]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Independent Trade Union Center [Leonid SOLOMIN, president]; Kazakhstan International Bureau on Human Rights [Yevgeniy ZHOVTIS, executive director]; Democratic Committee on Human Rights [Baretta YERGALIEVA, chairwoman]; Independent Miners Union [Victor GAIPOV, president]; The Almaty-Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights [Ninel FOKINA, chairwoman]; Legal Development of Kazakhstan [Vitaliy VORONOV, chairman]

International organization participation: AsDB, CCC, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Bolat K. NURGALIYEV

chancery: 1401 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 232-5488

FAX: [1] (202) 232-5845

consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Richard H. JONES

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, 63-13-75, 50-76-23

FAX: [7] (3272) 63-38-83

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 yellow


Economy""overview: Kazakhstan, the second largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, possesses enormous untapped fossil fuel reserves as well as plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has considerable agricultural potential with its vast steppe lands accommodating both livestock and grain production. Kazakhstan's industrial sector rests on the extraction and processing of these natural resources and also on a relatively large machine building sector specializing in construction equipment, tractors, agricultural machinery, and some defense items. The breakup of the USSR and the collapse of demand for Kazakhstan's traditional heavy industry products have resulted in a sharp contraction of the economy since 1991, 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. The December 1996 signing of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium agreement to build a new pipeline from western Kazakhstan's Tengiz oil field to the Black Sea increases prospects for substantially larger oil exports in several years. Kazakhstan's economy turned downward in 1998 with a 2.5% decline in GDP growth due to slumping oil prices and the August financial crisis in Russia. 1999 will also be a difficult year.

GDP: purchasing power parity""$52.9 billion (1998 est.)

GDP""real growth rate: -2.5% (1998 est.)

GDP""per capita: purchasing power parity""$3,100 (1998 est.)

GDP""composition by sector:

agriculture: 11.5%

industry: 32.6%

services: 55.9% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3.1%

highest 10%: 24.9% (1993)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (1998 est.)

Labor force: 8.8 million (1997)

Labor force""by occupation: industry 27%, agriculture and forestry 23%, other 50% (1996)

Unemployment rate: 13.7% (1998 est.)


revenues: $2.9 billion

expenditures: $4.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)

Industries: oil, coal, iron ore, manganese, chromite, lead, zinc, copper, titanium, bauxite, gold, silver, phosphates, sulfur, iron and steel, nonferrous metal, tractors and other agricultural machinery, electric motors, construction materials; much of industrial capacity is shut down and/or is in need of repair

Industrial production growth rate: -2.1% (1998 est.)

Electricity""production: 52 billion kWh (1997)

Electricity""production by source:

fossil fuel: 86.3%

hydro: 13.6%

nuclear: 0.1%

other: 0% (1997)

Electricity""consumption: 64.34 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity""exports: 1.75 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity""imports: 8.5 billion kWh (1996)

Agriculture""products: grain (mostly spring wheat), cotton; wool, livestock

Exports: $6.3 billion (1998 est.)

Exports""commodities: oil, ferrous and nonferrous metals, chemicals, grain, wool, meat, coal

Exports""partners: Russia, UK, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Netherlands, China, Italy, Germany (1997)

Imports: $7.4 billion (1998 est.)

Imports""commodities: machinery and parts, industrial materials, oil and gas, consumer goods

Imports""partners: Russia, Ukraine, US, Uzbekistan, Turkey, UK, Germany, South Korea (1997)

Debt""external: $3.1 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aid""recipient: $409.6 million (1995)

Currency: 1 Kazakhstani tenge = 100 tiyn

Exchange rates: tenges per US$1""85.2 (February 1999), 78.30 (1998), 75.44 (1997), 67.30 (1996), 60.95 (1995), 35.54 (1994)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 2 million (1997)

Telephone system: service is poor

domestic: landline and microwave radio relay; AMPS standard 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 and with other countries by satellite and through 8 international telecommunications circuits at the Moscow international gateway switch; satellite earth stations""1 Intelsat and a new digital satellite earth station established at Almaty; a third satellite earth station at Atyrau provides teleconnectivity to the AT&T network via Intelsat; cable connected by the Trans-Asia-Europe Fiber-Optic Line

Radio broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA

Radios: 4.088 million (with multiple speakers for program diffusion 6.082 million)

Television broadcast stations: 20 (of which at least eight are government stations and at least 12 are private stations""seven of those are satellite TV relay stations) (1997)

Televisions: 4.75 million



total: 14,400 km in common carrier service; does not include industrial lines

broad gauge: 14,400 km 1.520-m gauge (3,299 km electrified) (1997)


total: 141,000 km

paved: 104,200 km

unpaved: 36,800 km (1997 est.)

Waterways: 3,900 km on the Syrdariya (Syr Darya) and Ertis (Irtysh)

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)

Airports: 10 (1997 est.)

Airports""with paved runways:

total: 9

over 3,047 m: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports""with unpaved runways:

total: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1997 est.)


Military branches: General Purpose Forces (Army), Air Force, Border Guards, Navy, Republican Guard

Military manpower""military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower""availability:

males age 15-49: 4,450,258 (1999 est.)

Military manpower""fit for military service:

males age 15-49: 3,550,645 (1999 est.)

Military manpower""reaching military age annually:

males: 155,767 (1999 est.)

Military expenditures""dollar figure: $232.4 million (1998)

Military expenditures""percent of GDP: 1% (1998)

Transnational Issues

Disputes""international: Caspian Sea boundaries are not yet determined among Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan; Russia leases approximately 6,000 sq km of territory enclosing the Baykonur Cosmodrome

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

*Information obtained from the Central Intelligence Agency's World Fact Book.

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