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Қазақстан Республикасы

Qazaqstan Respublikasy (Kazakh)
Республика Казахстан (Russian)

Republic of Kazakhstan
Flag of Kazakhstan
Coat of arms of Kazakhstan
flag emblem
Official language Kazakh (national language) and Russian
capital city Nur-Sultan
State and form of government presidential republic
Head of state President
Qassym-Shomart Toqayev
Head of government Prime Minister
Älichan Smajylow (acting)
surface 2,724,900 ( 9th ) km²
population 18,877,128 ( 63rd )
(Jan. 1, 2021)
Population density 7 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.3% (2020 estimate)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 164.8 billion ( 54th )
  • $ 501.3 billion ( 43rd )
  • 8,733 USD ( 73. )
  • 26,565 USD ( 59. )
Human Development Index 0.825 ( 51st ) (2019)
currency Tenge (KZT)
independence December 16, 1991
(by the Soviet Union )
National anthem Meniń Qazaqstanym
Time zone UTC + 5 and UTC + 6
License Plate concentration camp
ISO 3166 KZ , KAZ, 398
Internet TLD .concentration camp
Telephone code +7
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Kazakhstan ( Kazakh Қазақстан Qazaqstan [ qɑzɑqstɑn ], Russian Казахстан , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan , Kazakh Қазақстан Республикасы Qazaqstan Respublikasy , Russian Республика Казахстан Respublika Kazakhstan ) is a 2,724,900 square kilometers large landlocked country in Central Asia with 18.8 million inhabitants. The former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea borders Russia to the north, China and Kyrgyzstan to the southeast, and Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the southwest .

The capital of the oil-rich steppe state is Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana ) with 1.1 million inhabitants, the largest city is Almaty with 1.9 million inhabitants. Other important cities in the Islamic and authoritarian ruled country are Shymkent and Qaraghandy . Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country and the ninth largest in the world .

Brief portrait

Most of Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia . If one defines the inner Eurasian border according to the demarcation of Strahlberg , about 5.4% of the land area would be assigned to the extreme Eastern Europe . The border with Russia is the country's only northern border and is over 7,000 kilometers long. Kazakhstan borders Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in the south and the People's Republic of China in the south-east . This border is almost 1,600 kilometers long.

Various empires existed in what is now Kazakhstan in ancient times. The western part of the First Turk Kaganat arose between the 6th and 8th centuries . In the 13th century, the Mongols invaded under Genghis Khan . After the conquest by the Uzbek Timur in the 15th century, the Kazakhs were again the Khanate of Bukhara separate and under a local Dschingiskhaniden dynasty the Kazakh Khanate build - so that the Kazakhs fought against the introduction of Islam and were connected to the old traditions remain. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Djungarian khanate expanded until the Kazakhs submitted to the Russian tsar . In 1936 Kazakhstan became an independent union republic within the Soviet Union as the Kazakh SSR .

After the collapse of the Soviet Union , the country declared itself independent as the Republic of Kazakhstan on December 16, 1991. Kazakhstan is a full member of the Commonwealth of Independent States . The presidential republic was ruled by Nursultan Nazarbayev from 1991 to 2019 . Kazakh , which belongs to the Turkic languages, and Russian , which belongs to the Slavic languages , were declared official languages ​​when they gained independence and the previous capital, Alma-Ata, was renamed Almaty . In 1997 the seat of government and parliament was moved to Aqmola. The city was proclaimed the official capital and renamed Astana ("Capital") a year later; this name was changed to Nur-Sultan in 2019 .


Extent and Limits

With an area of ​​2,724,900 square kilometers, Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world and also the largest landlocked country . It lies roughly in the middle of Eurasia and stretches from the Volga plain in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east. From a geographical perspective, 5% of the area belongs to Europe . The southern boundary is formed by the Tian-Shan mountain range, the river plain of the Syr Darja ( Jaxartes of antiquity), the Aral Sea and the Kyzylkum desert . To the north, Kazakhstan extends into the Urals region and the West Siberian lowlands without any natural boundaries . Most of the country consists of plains ( steppe and desert ), in the northwest lies the Mugodschar Mountains , in the center the Kazakh threshold , while in the southeast mountains of the Tian-Shan rise up to 7010 meters.

Kazakhstan has a 6846 km long border with Russia in the north . In the east, Kazakhstan's territory meets the People's Republic of China (1,533 kilometers), further south to the Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan (1051 kilometers), Uzbekistan (2203 kilometers including the 230 km border section across the Aral Sea) and Turkmenistan (379 kilometers). The total length of the national borders including the coastline on the Caspian Sea (previously pseudo-international water status) is 12,012 kilometers.

The Kazakh coastlines on the northern shore of the Aral Sea - which is increasingly drying up - are 1,070 kilometers long and on the Caspian Sea 1,894 kilometers.


The mountain Pik Talgar

The relief of Kazakhstan is very diverse, although most of the territory consists of plains, low mountains and hills. The west of the country is shaped by the Caspian Depression , a mostly swampy area below sea level that merges into the Ustyurt plateau in the east . To the west of this plateau, on the Mangghystau Peninsula , is the deepest point in Kazakhstan, the Karagije Depression (132 meters below sea level).

From the east the Caspian Depression is bounded by the southern foothills of the Ural Mountains, the Mugodschar Mountains , which are up to 656 meters high . Further to the southeast, around the Aral Sea, lies the Turanian Depression , which also includes the country's largest deserts, the Kyzylkum and the Aralkum . In the center of Kazakhstan is the Kazakh threshold (Kazakh Saryarka ), an area characterized by steppes and semi-deserts with many medium-sized (500 to 1500  m ) mountains and mountains such as the Ulutau , the Kökschetau or the Karkaraly . In the northwest, the Kazakh Threshold is bounded by the Turgai Plateau and in the north by the West Siberian Plain. In these regions the landscape is characterized by fertile steppes and forest steppes with many lakes and rivers. In the east of the republic are the forest-covered mountain ranges of the Altai with the highest mountain in the region, Belucha (4506 meters), which separate Siberia from the Central Asian deserts.

To the south of the Kazakh threshold lies the Hunger Steppe ( Betpak-Dala in Kazakh ). Even further south of this steppe and Lake Balkhash lies a belt of deserts, Mujunkum , and the seven rivers land that was fertile in the past . In the very south of Kazakhstan, on the borders with China and Kyrgyzstan, there are high mountains such as the Djungarian Alatau , the Qaratau and, above all, the Tian Shan (Chinese "sky mountains "); the latter is one of the highest mountain ranges on earth. The mountains, which are partly covered by forests and especially by glaciers, reach a height of 7439  m in neighboring Kyrgyzstan . The highest mountain in Kazakhstan is the Khan Tengri (7010 meters), located in the extreme southeast.

Flora and fauna

The "Singing Dune" in the Altyn-Emel National Park
The Qarqaraly National Park near Karagandy
Steppe in western Kazakhstan

Because of its size and the extent to which it extends over many natural zones, Kazakhstan has an extremely rich range of flora and fauna. The diverse natural treasures are protected in 16 Kazakh national parks and nature reserves.

In the north, where the steppes and forest steppes predominate, which together make up 28.5% of the area of ​​Kazakhstan, many cereal plants and grasses grow, feather grasses are particularly common in steppes . There are also many medicinally useful plants, such as Adonis flowers ( Adonis ), St. John's herbs ( Hypericum ) and valerians ( Valeriana ). Wormwood is very common . Birches, aspens, willows and currant bushes grow in the forest "islands"; further west spruce; to the west oak and linden . There are many berries in the woods. The typical inhabitants of this zone are rodents such as ground squirrels , marmots , jerboa and squirrels . But there are also many hares , ermines , badgers , wolves and foxes . Wild boars, elk and deer live in the forests, and the rare and protected saiga antelope in the steppe . There are many birds, including water birds, as there are over 1,500 lakes in this region. Among other things, swans, eagles , bustards (these are the largest birds in Kazakhstan, they can weigh up to 16 kilograms), vultures , cranes, herons , ducks, geese, grouse, woodpeckers, larks and many others.

Semi-deserts extend over 14% of the territory . Here one encounters significantly less biodiversity than in the steppes. Wormwood, chamomiles and feather grasses are particularly common . Rabbits, ground squirrels and jerboa can still be found here, wolves and korsak foxes are common, and saiga and crop gazelle a little more rarely . There are many types of lizards and snakes.

The most widespread natural area in Kazakhstan is the deserts. Only dry, small plants with long roots grow here. Sedge, feathery grass, and wormwood are the most common. Most plants burn in the sun in summer. Shrubs are quite common, especially Saxaul . There are seldom large animals in the desert. More common are ungulates such as goitered gazelles or saigas or wild boars that live near the water sources. Wolves and reed cats are even rarer . Asiatic wild asses are found, for example, in the Altyn-Emel National Park and the Barsa Kelmes Nature Reserve . The endangered Bukhara deer , which was once the main prey of the extinct Caspian tiger , occurs in some river forests within the arid regions . Smaller animals such as hedgehogs, turtles and jerboa can adapt better to the extreme conditions. Reptiles such as various agamas and some species of snakes are widespread in the desert ; In total there are around 50 to 60 different reptile species in Kazakhstan. Even scorpions belong to the people living in Kazakhstan fauna.

In the huge mountains of the Tian-Shan, which are mostly covered by spruce forests, one can still encounter the snow leopard - one of the national symbols of Kazakhstan. Stable populations of this cat can only be found in the Aksu-Jabagly and Almaty nature reserves . The lynx is also widespread, and bears are numerous in the Altai. The Tienschan brown bear occurs further south . Both mountains are also home to Siberian ibex and giant wild sheep . Steppe wild sheep live in the southwestern mountain steppes .

A connection from the Arctic Ocean to the Caspian Sea before the last Ice Age is thanks to the fact that large seal colonies can still be found on the Caspian Sea today. The Caspian seal is the only species of inland seal besides the Baikal seal .

Natural resources

Qarqaraly nature reserve at Qarqaraly near Karagandy

Kazakhstan is one of the most resource-rich countries on earth.

There are large oil and gas fields around the Caspian Sea , which include almost the entire west of the country, especially the areas of Mangghystau , Atyrau and Aqtöbe. Significant sources are Makat, Dossor, Usen, Karazhanbas, Karachaganak . There are also suspected oil deposits around the Aral Sea. There are other, poorer oil and gas fields in the south of the country, in the areas of Taras, Shymkent, Sheqasghan and Kyzylorda.

The Karagandy Basin is a globally significant coal deposit. The Karagandy region was one of the main coal suppliers in the Soviet Union. The basins of Ekibastus and Nur-Sultan are also far from exhausted.

In the area of Qostanai are rich iron ore occur. The country's most important copper deposits are located around Sheqasghan and Balqash , and gold is mined in the Altai Mountains . Abundant manganese deposits exist around Atassu and Schesdy near Sheqasghan. Nickel lies underground in the Aqtöbe area .

About 200 kilometers southwest of Qostanai is the once beautiful city of Shitiqara (Dschetygara). The gold is literally under the houses here. Many were torn down to get the gold.

Kazakhstan ranks first in the world for deposits of the following raw materials: chromium , vanadium , bismuth , fluorine . Kazakhstan has a leading position in terms of uranium , iron, copper , coal, cobalt , tungsten , lead , zinc and molybdenum deposits . During the uranium prospection , opals were also found.


The Kaindysee in southeast Kazakhstan
The Aral Sea in 1989 and 2008

There are some major rivers in Kazakhstan that are navigable . They all flow in the peripheral regions of the country, in the central part, on the other hand, there are almost exclusively steppe rivers without drainage, which often dry up in midsummer.

The longest rivers in Kazakhstan are Irtysh (4473 kilometers, 1700 kilometers of which in Kazakhstan), Syrdarya (2212/1400 kilometers), Schajyq (Russian and German Urals ) (2428/1100 kilometers) and Ili (1001/815 kilometers). Other important rivers are Ishim , Tobol , Emba , Sarysu (the longest steppe river with no outflow), Tschüi , and Nura . Irtysh and Nura are connected by the most important canal in the country: the Irtysh-Karagandy Canal (500 kilometers).

Kazakhstan is rich in lakes , especially in the north of the country. There are around 48,000 large and small lakes across the country, the majority of which are salt lakes . The largest lake in Kazakhstan is the Caspian Sea , which is around 371,000 square kilometers, about a quarter of its area is in Kazakhstan. The lake has rich natural reserves, for example in the form of fish; The protected Caspian seal also lives here .

The second largest lake is the Aral Sea , which threatens to dry up. This process has been going on since 1975 and has already led to lasting damage to people and nature. It is also attributed to the fact that Uzbekistan drained large amounts of water for cotton growing over the years. The lake has now been divided into three parts. As far as is known, the shrinking of the water surface has slowed down considerably in recent years.

The Lake Balkhash counts as the world's most important lakes. It is 18,428 square kilometers and 620 kilometers long. It belongs entirely to Kazakhstan. One of the special features of Balkhash is that it is the only lake on earth that consists of half fresh water and the other half salt water.

The nature-rich Saissansee lies in the mountains of the Altai . Other larger lakes in Kazakhstan are the Siletinizsee in the north, the Tengiz and Karakojyn lakes in the center and the Alakol lake in the southeast of the country. The magnificent lakes of Burabai (Borowoje) and Markakol are important for tourism .

The largest reservoirs are the Qapshaghai , Buchtarma and Schardara .


Kazakhstan's climate is continental , which means that cold winters with temperatures as low as −40 degrees Celsius are followed immediately by hot, long summers with over +40 degrees Celsius.

Deserts cover about 44% of the area of ​​Kazakhstan. There are usually sand deserts and gravel deserts .

Administrative division

Kazakhstan is one in 14 countries (regions Kasach. Oblys , majority Oblystar ) and three cities with special status (city of republican significance Kasach. Республикалық маңызы бар қала Republikalyq mangysy bar qala ) articulated state . These sub-national units are again divided into circles.

area capital city Area
in km²
(January 1, 2021)
coat of arms Almaty Taldyqorghan 223,911 2,077,656
coat of arms Aqmola Kokschetau 146.219 735.481
coat of arms Aktobe Aktobe 300,629 893.669
coat of arms Atyrau Atyrau 118,631 657.118
coat of arms Mangghystau Aqtau 165,642 719,559
coat of arms Northern Kazakhstan Petropavl 97.993 543,679
coat of arms East Kazakhstan Öskemen 283.226 1,363,656
coat of arms Pavlodar Pavlodar 124,755 751.011
coat of arms Karagandy Karagandy 427.982 1,375,788
coat of arms Qostanai Qostanai 196.001 864.529
coat of arms Qysylorda Qysylorda 226.019 814.461
coat of arms Shambyl Taras 144.264 1,139,151
coat of arms Turkistan Turkistan 117,249 2,044,551
coat of arms Western Kazakhstan Orally 151,339 661.172
Turkmenistan Usbekistan Aserbaidschan Georgien Kirgisistan Tadschikistan China Russland Baikonur Almaty Nur-Sultan Mangghystau Atyrau Westkasachstan Aqtöbe Qostanai Nordkasachstan Aqmola (Gebiet) Pawlodar Qaraghandy Qysylorda Türkistan Schambyl Ostkasachstan Almaty
Map of areas (Oblystar) of Kazakhstan
city Area
in km²
(January 1, 2021)
coat of arms Almaty 682 1,977,011
coat of arms Nur-Sultan 720 1,184,469
coat of arms Schymkent 1,163 1,074,167
  1. On June 19, 2018, the previous administrative center of Shymkent was spun off from the southern Kazakhstan area and elevated to a city of republican importance. The area was then renamed the Turkistan area.

After the administrative reform of 1997, the following areas were dissolved (administrative centers in brackets):


View over Almaty

The capital and seat of government is Nur-Sultan in central Kazakhstan with a population of 1,131,891. Nur-Sultan is one of the major industrial and service conurbations in Kazakhstan and a university city.

Metropolis, the largest city in the country and at the same time the most important economic and cultural center of the country is Almaty (formerly Alma-Ata ) in southeast Kazakhstan . The city has 1,909,471 inhabitants.

The city of Shymkent , located in the south of the country, is the third largest city in Kazakhstan with 1,033,478 inhabitants. Karagandy (485,300 inhabitants) in central Kazakhstan, the capital of the Karagandy region, is an important business location for the Kazakh industry. Other important cities are Taras (406,262 inhabitants), Pavlodar (495,554 inhabitants), Öskemen in the northeast and the oil strongholds of Aqtau and Atyrau in western Kazakhstan.


Population pyramid of Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan, there was initially a massive population decline after 1991. Between 1992 and 2002 the population fell by 10% to less than 15 million people. The main reasons for this were the emigration of the Russian and German population (a total of 2.1 million people left the country in the 1990s) and the falling birth rate. The population has been growing again since 2003. According to the last census in March 2009 , Kazakhstan had 16,009,600 inhabitants. By 2017 it had risen to just under 18 million. Life expectancy in 2015 was 69.1 years (men: 64.3 years, women: 73.9 years)

The average population density in Kazakhstan is 7 people per square kilometer, making it one of the lowest in the world. Most densely populated are the districts in the extreme south, around Almaty, Schymkent and Taras, as well as steppe regions in the north, areas of Nur-Sultan, Petropawl , the north of the areas Qostanai and Karagandy; the right bank of the Irtysh. It should also be noted that the highest population density in Kazakhstan in relation to regions is only 25 inhabitants per square kilometer, lower than in Western Pomerania .

Population development

year resident
1926 1 6,500,895
1939 1 6.151.102
1950 6,703,000
1955 7,992,000
1959 1 9,309,847
1965 11,909,000
1970 1 13,012,955
1975 14,130,000
1979 1 14,688,311
1985 15,789,000
1989 1 16.199.154
year resident
1990 16,297,981
1991 16,358,222
1992 16,451,711
1993 16,426,478
1994 16,334,865
1995 15,956,667
1996 15,675,819
1997 15,480,635
1998 15.188.174
1999 1 14.955.106
2000 14,901,641
year resident
2001 14,865,610
2002 14,851,059
2003 14,866,837
2004 14,951,200
2005 15,074,767
2006 15.219.291
2007 15,396,878
2008 15,571,506
2009 1 16,009,600
2010 16.203.036
2011 16,440,124
year resident
2012 16,673,077
2013 16,909,776
2014 17.160.774
2015 17,417,673
2016 17,670,579
2017 17,918,214
2018 18.157.078
2019 18,395,660
2020 18,632,169
2021 18,877,128
1 Census result

Sources: UN, stat.gov.kz, pop-stat.mashke.org


Ethnic groups in Kazakhstan
Ethnicity Portion [%]
Source: [1]

Members of more than 50 ethnic groups live in Kazakhstan, each with more than 1,000 members today. According to the 2009 census, the largest ethnic group is made up of the Turkish-speaking Kazakhs with 63% of the population (according to calculations, this has increased to around 65.5% by 2014). The Russians are one of the largest minorities with just under 24% (corresponding to just under 3.8 million, down to around 21.5% by 2018). The Turk-speaking minorities include around 457,000 Uzbeks , 225,000 Uyghurs , 204,000 Tatars , 97,000 Meshes and 85,000 Azerbaijanis as well as smaller groups of Bashkirs , Chuvashes , Turkmen , Kyrgyz , Karakalpaks , Crimean Tatars and Balkan Turks . In recent years, however, many Russians have emigrated to Russia for political reasons. Other minorities of European origin are Ukrainians (2%), Germans (1.1%, Kazakh Germans ) and small communities of Poles , Latvians , Lithuanians , Belarusians and Greeks . In 2017, 20% of the population was not born on what is now Kazakhstan's territory. At the same time, 2.5 million people born in Kazakhstan lived in Russia and 1 million in Germany.

The Caucasus peoples also living here include a few thousand Armenians as well as Georgians , Chechens , Circassians , Ossetians , Avars and Zachurians . A significant minority of around 100,000 Koreans (or Korjo-Saram ) lives in Kazakhstan , a good 0.6% of the population. Small Iranian-speaking minorities such as Kurds (38,000), Pashtuns and Persians also live in Kazakhstan . Other minorities, such as Buryats , Mongols , Tibetans , Dungans , and Chinese make up only a small proportion of the population (all data from 2009).

Most of the members of the minorities were forcibly deported to Kazakhstan during the Stalin era . Many were interned in labor camps. However, many immigrated to Kazakhstan for economic reasons. Up until the collapse of the USSR, almost all universities committed graduates with appropriate special training to Kazakhstan. No other Soviet republic accepted such a stream of migrants at the time.

The changes since independence include efforts by the government to establish the Kazakh language as the predominant official language instead of Russian. Despite efforts to achieve good relations between the various population groups, tendencies towards the displacement of the ethnic minorities are spreading in Central Asia.


The predominant language in Kazakhstan is still Russian , which is spoken and written by 84.8% of the population (oral comprehension 94.4%), although the role of Kazakh , a Turkic language , is spoken and written by 62.0%. the population is dominated (orally 74.0%), since independence has grown. Both languages ​​are official languages ​​and compulsory subjects in all schools; there are schools with both Kazakh and Russian as the language of instruction. There are nine years of compulsory schooling . The illiterate rate is around 0.2%, roughly the same as in Germany. Russian is particularly prevalent in northern Kazakhstan , where a large part of the Russian minority lives, but it is also often the dominant language in everyday life in most cities. Many Kazakhs (especially the upper and middle classes), especially in the north of the country, often speak Russian as their mother tongue.

The private language association Qazaq tili (Kazakh language) now enjoys semi-official status. Since 1989/90 he has been promoting the increased use of one's own language and the development and spread of Kazakh among the population. The conversion from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin alphabet that has been started has, among other things, the aim is to strengthen Kazakh versus Russian. The transition period for the changeover should initially be until 2025. The government has approved a budget of 218 billion tenge (about 550 million euros ) for the conversion , 90% of which will be used for educational programs. In order to be able to represent the spoken language of Kazakh, Latin letters with diacritical marks should be used.


Kazakhstan has experienced four fundamental reforms of the writing system in just under 100 years. Until the October Revolution of 1917, the Arabic script was in use in this Muslim country . In fact, with an illiteracy rate of around 90%, this was only mastered by a few. When the Arabic alphabet was replaced by the Latin alphabet in Turkey in 1928 - Kazakh belongs to the Turkic language family - Kazakhstan also introduced the Latin alphabet in 1929. In the 1940s, the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced across the board in the Soviet Union , to which Kazakhstan belonged at the time (unlike Georgia, Armenia and the Baltic states, Kazakhstan was not exempted from this rule). Since the country gained independence in 1991, a return to the Latin alphabet has been on the domestic political agenda. In 1998 the changeover took place formally. After initially a transition period until 2025 was issued, in December 2012 the transition period for the changeover to the Latin-Kazakh script (which is slow in practice) was shortened to 2015 in the meantime. On October 27, 2017, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered his government to replace the Cyrillic with the Latin alphabet by 2025.


Wedding in the mosque

70% of the population are Muslims and 26% are Christians. There are also small communities of Jews in the cities .

The number of religious associations in Kazakhstan is 4,173, compared to a total of 670 in 1990. The religious associations have 3129 places of worship at their disposal - 2,229 of them are mosques, 258 Orthodox and 93 Catholic churches, 6 synagogues and more than 500 Protestant churches and prayer houses . There were 384 missionaries working in the republic, from more than 20 countries, in 1990 there were only 12. The religious holidays Kurban and Christmas are non-working holidays in Kazakhstan.

Since 2003, on the initiative of President Nazarbayev, Congresses of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions have been held in Kazakhstan. Also on the initiative of President Nazarbayev, 2010 was proclaimed the International Year of Bringing Cultures together by a resolution of the UN General Assembly.

In 1995 the General Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan was established as an advisory body to the head of state.

Despite decades of enforced atheism by the Soviet Union , according to an estimate for 2009, only 2.8% of the population were declared atheists. In 2019, according to a statement by parliamentarian Vladimir Boiko , 18.8% of the population were atheists.


Around 70% of the population belongs to Islam , most of them are Sunnis . The first contact with Islam took place in the eighth century. With the Battle of the Talas in 751, the Chinese influence through the Umayyads from Khorasan in Central Asia could be contained, which allowed Islam to spread quickly in the region. The Mongol storm brought this development to a standstill for the time being. When some Mongol leaders converted to Islam, the process picked up again. The north of Kazakhstan, populated by nomads , came into contact with Islam only later. Many nomads continued their shamanistic traditions after the conversion . Under Catherine II , Islamic missionary activity among the nomads was promoted as a means of "civilization" and the Koran was also translated into Russian . From the middle of the 19th century, however, Russian authorities increasingly perceived Islam as a threat to their retention of power. The teaching of Arabic script was banned and the publication of books critical of Islam was encouraged. At the same time, Christian settlers also settled in previously nomadic areas. During the Soviet Union , Islam, like all other religions, was suppressed and, with a few exceptions, all mosques in the country were closed or repurposed.

Most Kazakhs are still secular and only practice their religion on major holidays such as Ramadan or the Festival of Sacrifice , sometimes mixed with pre-Islamic customs. This is especially true today for the Kazakh nomads and for the Kazakhs in the north, who were Russified during the Soviet era . In 1991 there were again over 170 mosques and 230 Muslim communities in all of Kazakhstan. Since then, Kazakhstan has received financial aid from Turkey , Egypt and Saudi Arabia . The number of pilgrims to Mecca from Kazakhstan is also increasing. While the number of pilgrims in 2001 was 228, in 2007 there were already 4,300. In 2006, the day of the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice was declared an official holiday .


Holy Ascension Cathedral in Almaty

26% of the population profess Christianity . Russian Orthodox Christians make up the largest proportion . But the Armenian Apostolic Church , Greek Orthodox Church and Georgian Orthodox Apostolic Church are also represented. Kazakh Germans are mostly Lutherans ( Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan ) or Mennonites . Many residents of Eastern European descent in Kazakhstan are Catholics, thus part of the Roman Catholic Church in Kazakhstan or the Kazakh Greek Catholic Church .

The first Christians immigrated from present-day Syria and the Byzantine Empire via Persia to the Central Asian region in the third and fourth centuries . They were Nestorians . This belief disappeared in the 14th century at the latest.

The Orthodox faith is the second largest religion after Islam . The Orthodox Church grew to its size as a result of Russian expansion. After various waves of immigration, around 400,000 Orthodox Christians were already living in Central Asia in 1871; they maintained over 300 churches. After the collapse of the Soviet Union , believers were able to practice their religion again in Kazakhstan, which revitalized the churches and enabled new churches to be built. Many Russians from Central Asia emigrated to Russia because the standard of living there was higher than in other successor states of the USSR such as Kazakhstan.

The first Protestants to come to Kazakhstan were Russian Germans who were in Russian military service . In the 1880s there was an influx of Lutherans and Baptists from the west of the Russian Empire. The deportation of Germans from Russia to Central Asia multiplied the number of Protestants there. After the collapse of the Soviet Union , the number of Protestant institutions in the country increased.

About 300,000 Catholics currently live in Kazakhstan. The first missionaries were Franciscan religious who came to Central Asia in the 13th century to win the regional rulers there for their religion. In the second half of the 19th century, the number of Catholics rose rapidly due to immigration from the western border regions of the Russian Empire. After the collapse of the Soviet Union , many Catholics took the opportunity to practice their religion freely. By building diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the Vatican , the Kazakh Catholics have received more support. The Vatican has also been supporting the Catholic University in Karagandy since 1998 . There are currently around 80 Roman Catholic and 4 Greek Catholic institutions in Kazakhstan .


In 1989, 18,492 Jews lived in the Kazakh SSR. In 2010 there were still around 3,700 people of Jewish faith, less than 0.5% of the total population in the country. Many of them emigrated to Germany , the United States or Israel . Almost all Jews living in Kazakhstan are Ashkenazim . The first Jews immigrated to Kazakhstan via Iran in the 14th century . Today many Jews live in the cities, such as Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Aqtöbe, Qysylorda, Petropawl, Taras and Shymkent. The country has a total of 28 Jewish institutions. In 2004, “Beyt Rahel- Habad Lyubovic ”, the largest synagogue in Central Asia, opened in Astana . In contrast to the Jews in Buxoro in Uzbekistan or the mountain Jews in Azerbaijan , Kazakhstan's Jewish community is scattered all over the country. In the winter months in particular, it is often difficult to reach the remote Jewish towns. To deal with the problem, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee offers social services and supplies to the communities with 13 Hesed offices nationwide . with food, medicine and clothing.


Central Asia received its first contact with Buddhism in the 1st century BC. Chr. In the second and third century AD Buddhist missionaries came from India to the region. From the sixth century, the population of Turkic origin was under the influence of Buddhism. The Dzungar Mongols, from which the Kalmyks split off at the beginning of the 17th century , operated monasteries in the Semirechye (Seven Streams) region of Eastern Kazakhstan and south and east of Lake Balkhash from the 16th to the 18th centuries . They cultivated the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism . However, religion could not anchor itself in society. Today Buddhism is mainly practiced by foreign minorities such as Soviet Koreans or Tibetans .


Medical Academy Semei

There is a uniform, national education system in Kazakhstan . At the age of five to six, the first step is to attend a preschool , which is free for all children. Here the individual needs of the individual children are to be promoted. Middle school is the most important part of the Kazakh educational model . It begins with the lower level (grades 1–4), continues with the main level (grades 5–7) and ends with the upper level (grades 10–11 or 12). The approximately 3.2 million pupils are taught in seven different languages, depending on the region (Kazakh, Russian, Uzbek, Uyghur, Tajik and at one school each in Ukrainian and German). In 2015, over 99% of the adult population could read and write.

Higher education can be completed in various institutions, including the university , the academy , an institute and institutions equivalent to these such as the conservatory , college and technical college . There are three levels in the university structure. At the end there is a university degree or master’s degree .

There are currently around 170 universities in Kazakhstan, 110 of which are non-state universities, and 60 are state universities. The largest universities include the Karagandy State University (KSU), Pavlodar State University (PSU) and Al-Farabi University . There is also a Kazakh-British Technical University and a German-Kazakh University in Almaty . Technical universities are located with the Kazakh National Technical University of Almaty (KAZNPU) in Almaty, in Karagandy and in Öskemen.

In the 2015 PISA ranking , Kazakh students ranked 42nd out of 72 countries in mathematics, 43rd in science and 51st in reading comprehension.


Settlement area, zone of influence and sphere of influence of the Kipchaks around 1200

Antiquity and Early Middle Ages

In ancient times, various empires emerged in what would later become Kazakhstan. The best-known are the kingdoms of the Turkic Kangly, Sha-t'o, Kirghiz, Kimek and Naimanen, who mainly ruled northern, southern and eastern Kazakhstan. The south was mainly formed by the Iranian empire of the Khorezm Shah , to which the territories of the Turkic Karakhanids and the Türgesch were also formally subject. What was later to become Western Kazakhstan was subordinate to the kingdoms of the Kyptschaks and Oghusen .

From the Middle Ages to the Modern Age

In the 13th century Kazakhstan was overrun by the Mongols of Genghis Khan and incorporated into his empire: Large parts of today's Kazakhstan belonged to the Orda Horde . In the west of the country was the area of ​​the Golden Horde , while the south was de jure controlled by the Chagatai Khanate . In southwestern Kazakhstan, in the areas between the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea, the khans of the Nogaier horde had ruled de facto since the 15th century .

The Kazakh khanate and territory
  • of the Little Horde
  • of the Middle Horde
  • of the Great Horde
  • In the 14./15. Affected by Timur's conquests in the 19th century , the Uzbek and Kazakh khanates emerged. In the following years , based on the latter, three successor khanates (" Elder / Greater Schus " in the Siebenstromland (kas. Ұлы жүз ), " Middle Schus " in Central Kazakhstan (kas. Орта жүз ) and " Jüngerer / Kleiner Schus " (kas. Ұлы жүз ) arose . Кіші жүз )). Later they went up in the Russian Empire. These state-like structures also play a role in the present.

    From 1640 the Mongolian Oirats formed the Dzungarian Khanate in the eastern neighborhood of Kazakhstan and invaded Kazakhstan again and again from the early 18th century. In 1718 the Djungars defeated the Kazakhs on the Ajagus River (on Lake Balkhash ), which marked the beginning of the “Great Disaster” for the Kazakhs. Repeated attacks by the Djungars on Kazakh territory followed, until the Chinese defeated the Djungarian khanate in 1755.

    Russian rule

    In order to avoid being absorbed by China, what would later become Kazakhstan submitted to the Russian Empire in the middle of the 18th century . The three Kazak-Kyrgyz hordes were formed there . The Kazakh resistance against Russian rule began in the 19th century : the Kazakh Bökey Horde was founded in the area of ​​the former Nogai Horde in 1812 , and the khanate wanted to restore it under their leadership. Their prince Bökey was a Dschingiskhanide and late 18th century contenders for the Khan title of Little Horde been. After failing, he asked the Russian tsar for admission. He and his followers settled in the area between the Volga and Urals, and Bökey Khan became a loyal vassal of the Tsar. This put him in 1812 as the second Khan in the Middle Horde . But a little later all hordes were disbanded and what would become Kazakhstan subjugated by General Kaufmann († 1882) and thus subordinated to the General Government of Turkestan .

    Most of the cities of Kazakhstan were founded by Russians during this period. These include Nur-Sultan , Almaty , Semipalatinsk , Ust-Kamenogorsk , Petropawl and others.

    Soviet rule

    After the February revolution in Petrograd in 1917 and the overthrow of the autocratic Tsar Nicholas II, the new ideas of the revolution were also spread in Kazakhstan. That same year, the Kazakh national movement proclaimed Alash the autonomy of Kazakhstan within a federative Russia. Since the Alash Orda refused to recognize the Bolsheviks coming to power, they came into conflict with the new Russian Soviet government. In the course of the Russian civil war, the area of ​​today's Kazakhstan was fought over between the Bolsheviks, the Alasch Orda and Russian anti-communist groups, with alliances and power relations changing several times. In 1919 the area was finally subjugated by the Soviets.

    Flag of the Kazakh SSR

    On August 26, 1920, the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed from the northern and central part of today's Kazakhstan within the RSFSR . Orenburg , which is now part of Russia, was its first capital . The women's suffrage was recognized with the first Constitution of the USSR on 31 January 1924th After the ASSR Turkestan was dissolved , what is now southern Kazakhstan and what is now Karakalpakistan were annexed to the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924/1925 . In April 1925 it was renamed the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Republic . Orenburg was separated from the Kazakh ASSR and directly part of the RSFSR, the new capital was initially Qysylorda in 1925, then Alma-Ata (today Almaty ) in 1929 .

    The population of Kazakhstan suffered from an unprecedented agricultural crisis between 1928 and 1933, as a result of the violent collectivization and deculakization carried out throughout the Soviet Union and, last but not least, the associated administrative settling of the nomads of Kazakhstan. The social and economic situation was characterized by mass expropriations , mass deportations , mass exodus and widespread unrest. Famine caused around 1.3 to 1.5 million lives. Other sources speak of 1.5 to 1.7 million fatalities and up to 42% of the population who fell victim to hunger.

    On December 5, 1936, Kazakhstan was declared as the Kazakh SSR to be an independent Union Republic of the Soviet Union separate from the RSFSR, while Karakalpakistan was added to neighboring Uzbekistan as an autonomous republic.

    During the Soviet era there was a massive development boost for Kazakhstan. The country, which until then had been rather nomadic, was opened up with new railway lines. Industrial establishments were established in the cities and the population grew rapidly thanks to the wave of skilled workers immigrating from Russia. During the Second World War , Kazakhstan served both as an evacuation site for numerous people from the European part of the Soviet Union and as a deportation destination for peoples who were accused of collaborating with National Socialist Germany ( Crimean Tatars , Chechens , Ingush , Koreans , but also Russian Germans ).

    Nikita Khrushchev ran an extensive and expensive agricultural program for the agricultural development of the northern Kazakh steppes. Huge irrigation systems were built, and there was even talk of a project to divert the Siberian rivers south, the so-called Davydov Plan . Under Khrushchev, the Baikonur spaceport was also built in Kazakhstan .


    In 1990 Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty within the USSR . Nursultan Nazarbayev became head of state.

    On December 16, 1991, the Republic of Kazakhstan declared its independence. Kazakh became the official language, the capital Alma-Ata was renamed Almaty, and December 16 became a national holiday. Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected president in the first direct election on December 1, 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan raised territorial claims against neighboring states. For example, it claimed all parts of Uzbekistan inhabited by southern Kazakhs, including the Autonomous Republic inhabited by the Karakalpaks . At that time, the majority of this ethnic minority also favored the connection of their territories to the linguistically related Kazakhstan.

    In 1992 Kazakhstan founded the Central Asian-Turkish Summit together with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey .

    On January 28, 1993, the constitution of independent Kazakhstan recognized the active and passive right to vote for women .

    In 1997 the government and parliament moved from Almaty to Aqmola. Aqmola was proclaimed the official capital and renamed Astana (capital) in 1998 . The reasons given for this were the better long-term development possibilities of Astana compared to Almaty, which is located in an earthquake-prone valley basin. The more central location of Astana compared to Almaty, which is near the Kyrgyz border, may have played a further role. Possibly the aim was to counteract separatist tendencies in the north of the country, which is populated by many ethnic minorities (especially Russians), by making a city closer to these areas the capital.



    Monument to the Victims of Political Repression and Totalitarianism: "Akmolinsk Camp for Women of Traitors to the Nation"

    According to the Kazakh Constitution of 1995, the country is a presidential republic . The term of office of the head of state is five years and it is limited to two terms - this regulation did not apply to Nursultan Nazarbayev , the president from 1991 to 2019.

    Parliament consists of a bicameral system - a Senate and a House of Commons .

    The House of Commons (Mäschilis) has 107 members. 98 of them are elected proportionally , and nine are appointed by the President to represent the ethnic minorities. To move into the Mäschilis, a party needs a share of 7% of the vote.

    Political indices

    Political indices issued by non-governmental organizations
    Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
    Fragile States Index 59.8 out of 120 117 of 178 Stability of the country: Stable
    0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
    Democracy index 3.14 out of 10 128 of 167 Authoritarian regime
    0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
    Freedom in the World Index 23 of 100 - Freedom status: unfree
    0 = unfree / 100 = free
    Freedom of the press ranking 50.28 out of 100 155 of 180 Difficult situation for freedom of the press
    0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
    Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 38 out of 100 94 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

    Domestic politics

    former President Nursultan Nazarbayev

    Domestic policy continues to be shaped by Nazarbayev's authoritarian style of government, who remained chairman of the Security Council for life and his position as “leader of the nation” is enshrined in the constitution.

    The murder of the opposition politician Altynbek Sarsenbajew caused a stir in February 2006 .

    In the elections in August 2007 , Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party received 88% of the vote. Since none of the six opposition parties that stood up was able to overcome the seven percent hurdle, Nur Otan won all 98 seats in parliament. The opposition had held one seat by then. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the election did not meet international standards, particularly in terms of counting votes and implementing new legislation. The opposition parties did not recognize the result and spoke of massive manipulation.

    As a result, the Communist Party of Kazakhstan , of which Nursultan Nazarbayev himself was chairman until 1991, was unable to enter parliament.

    Early parliamentary elections were held on January 15, 2012 . Only Otan received 83 seats. Nur Otan has 84 seats since the 2016 elections .

    Name debate

    In 2014, President Nazarbayev expressed his intention to change the country's name. The background to the initiative is the delimitation from other states whose names contain the ending -stan , especially Afghanistan and Pakistan, since the president fears that he will be perceived negatively abroad because the name Kazakhstan evokes negative associations. Nazarbayev argued that Mongolia is more attractive to foreigners, as the country's name is not the syllable - stan contained. A suggestion for a new name is Kazach Eli, translated country of the Kazakhs .

    Foreign policy

    States with a Kazakh embassy (2009)

    Kazakhstan has strategic partnerships with Russia, China and the USA. Kazakhstan's neighbor Russia is linked by the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Aid from 1992; in addition, the common border, a strong trade-political interdependence and a high Russian population. The Baikonur spaceport , which is leased by Russia, is also located in southern Kazakhstan. The partnership with China has existed since 2005 and is based in particular on the common interest in expanding the transport infrastructure between the neighbors. Relations with the USA are primarily shaped by the commitment of large US companies in the country, but also by common interests such as the fight against terrorism and against drugs. Due to water and energy issues, however, the relationship with neighboring Uzbekistan is not always free from tensions. Relations with Europe have strengthened. They are based on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in Brussels on January 23, 1995, which entered into force on July 1, 1999.

    Kazakhstan is a member of numerous international organizations such as the UN and all UN organizations (e.g. UNESCO ), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization , the CIS , the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) , the Organization for Economic Co-operation (ECO) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Kazakhstan held the OSCE Chairmanship in 2010. Kazakhstan is also an active member of the Turkish Council and the TÜRKSOY community . In recent years the country has massively increased its activities in the Turkish Council and plans to take a more active role in the Council in the future. For example, on the initiative of Kazakhstan, the southern Kazakh city of Turkistan became the "spiritual capital of the Turkish world".

    In the geostrategic analysis of Zbigniew Brzeziński in his fundamental work “ The Only World Power ”, Kazakhstan is understood from the US perspective as a “shield (Uzbekistan as the soul) of the national awakening of the various peoples of the region”. Kazakhstan protects the other countries from direct Russian pressure, as it borders only on Russia. Kazakhstan rivals Uzbekistan for regional supremacy. Kazakhstan is "highly tempting" for Russia, "because, due to its ethnic problems, it would certainly take the shorter in an open confrontation with Moscow." In addition, the Kazakhs' fear of China and the government's unrest over the Chinese way of dealing with the Uyghurs in Xinjang are working in favor of rapprochement with Russia. Dependence on Russia would bring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into the sphere of influence of Moscow, which could then “put both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan under greater pressure”.

    The European Union has been formulating its political goals towards the country since 2007, among other things through its EU Central Asia Strategy .

    On November 30, 2015, Kazakhstan became the 162nd member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) after 20 years of negotiations .

    Through the partnership agreement with the European Union , which was signed in Astana on December 21, 2015, the government of Kazakhstan hopes to open the country to tourism . The 2017 Expo also took place in the capital, Astana .


    Su-25 of the Kazakh Air Force

    Kazakhstan spent almost 0.8 percent of its economic output or 1.3 billion US dollars on its armed forces in 2017. The country remains an ally of Russia.

    Nuclear test areas

    From 1949 to 1989 - without moving people from the sparsely populated area - 470 nuclear tests (124 of them above ground) took place on the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons test site near Kurchatov in the northeast of the country . The heavily contaminated area was closed on August 29, 1991.

    During the times of the Soviet Union there were other small nuclear test areas, including two in northwest Kazakhstan, on the Caspian peninsula Mangyschlak and north of the Aral Sea . There are five missile test sites across the country . On the missile test site Sary Shagan also home to the laser test center Terra-3 .

    Human rights

    The human rights situation in Kazakhstan is tense; however, according to the Federal Foreign Office (as of 2012), the country has made limited progress towards a constitutional state in the past ten years. In October 2010 the UN Special Rapporteur criticized torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in Kazakhstan. The country continues to hide the full extent of torture and other ill-treatment in its detention and prison system. Corruption and political intervention in the legal field are the order of the day. Procedural rules are often violated in criminal proceedings. Initiatives for reform from inside and outside are hesitantly accepted and implemented.

    From 2004 a moratorium (postponement, suspension) applied to the execution of the death penalty . In 2009, President Nazarbayev signed a law abolishing the death penalty. However, this did not include some terrorist offenses and war crimes. In 2016, Ruslan Kulekbayev , a sympathizer of the ultra-radical Salafist movement, was sentenced to death after shooting ten people, including eight police officers, at a police station in Almaty city. Kazakhstan finally abolished the death penalty in early 2021; According to official sources, President Toqayev signed an order to this effect. Ruslan Kulekbayev's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

    constitutional state

    In 2010, the authorities introduced a series of measures aimed at preventing torture. This included easier access for independent public observers to detention facilities and a public obligation to apply a “zero tolerance policy” to torture.

    In 2010, the government postponed the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism, an independent surveillance mechanism for detention centers, for three years. Despite initial action, according to Amnesty International, people in police custody reported that they had been subjected to frequent torture and other ill-treatment both before and after they were formally registered in a police station. Police officers often violated the Penitentiary Act, which requires prisoners to be registered within three hours of being detained.

    freedom of speech

    In the 2020 press freedom list published by Reporters Without Borders , Kazakhstan was ranked 157th out of 180 countries. According to the NGO report, the press freedom situation in the country is "difficult". Freedom of expression and the media are restricted. Criticism of the president and his family occurs, but only sporadically. Unpopular journalists are harassed and certain sites on the Kazakh Internet are blocked.

    Bolat Atabaev , a prominent Kazakh theater director and human rights activist, was arrested in June 2012 for his critical statements in connection with the violent crackdown on the peaceful protests by oil workers in the city of Shangaosen (see Shangaosen massacre ). He was released around three weeks later and then went into exile in Germany. Atabaev was awarded the Goethe Medal in August of the same year for his commitment to more democracy in Kazakhstan.

    Freedom of religion and assembly

    Freedom of religion and assembly is handled restrictively by the state. Religious groups on the fringes of the religious spectrum are perceived as a threat. Those who profess their faith risk several years in prison. The UN Human Rights Committee therefore called on Kazakhstan in 2016 to amend its constitution to allow freedom of religion. Islam is playing an increasing role in daily life, but with few exceptions is largely tolerant.

    Women's rights and minority protection

    Despite their relatively high education and employment rate, women are rarely represented in top positions in politics and business. The core problem is the clear wage disadvantage for women, their poor social security (high single parenting rate) and their inadequate health protection. The multiplicity of marriages (one man and two or more women) is currently increasing among Muslim men (as of 2013). Unlike in other states, an imam can marry here without the registry office. A corresponding law on the official permission of multiple marriages is planned. In 2017, Kazakhstan was ranked 52nd out of 144 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report , which measures equality between men and women in a society.


    Homosexuality is taboo in large parts of society in Kazakhstan, but has been legal since 1998. Most of the opinion published by the state discriminates against homosexual people in Kazakhstan and state authorities such as the police harass LGBT activists in the country.

    Freedom of choice (presidential election 2019)

    Freedom of choice is difficult in Kazakhstan due to various laws, as the laws have been tightened again and again and have thus created high barriers to a presidential candidacy by the opposition, for example that you can only run for the presidential election after having lived in Kazakhstan for 15 years .

    After the abdication of long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev, presidential elections were held on June 9, 2019. The former Senator Sauresch Battalowa assumes that Nursultan Nazarbayev has also resigned because of his criminal prosecution protection ("Elbasy"). His predestined successor Qassym-Shomart Toqayev, who is Nursultan Nazarbayev's longtime confidante, is sworn in by this “sham election”. In addition, Nursultan Nazarbayev was made an honorary senator after his abdication. And as head of the ruling Nur-Otan party, he will “continue to set the policy”.

    Former opposition leaders have mostly fled to neighboring countries (especially Russia and Mongolia) to avoid prosecution. There is no opposition to be found in today's parliament.

    Workers rights

    According to a 2020 study by the International Trade Union Confederation , Kazakhstan is one of the ten most severely violated workers' rights of the 144 countries examined. The state has been criticized in particular for cracking down on independent trade unions and prosecuting their leaders. On the initiative of several oil companies, a regional authority filed a lawsuit in 2021 with the aim of dissolving the energy industry union.


    The economic growth of recent years (since 1999) was 9.3% on average. In 2004 the GDP (gross domestic product) increased by 9.4%. Kazakhstan thus stood out in the Central Asia region as a model for a transition economy and left all other countries in the region far behind. Kazakhstan's economic situation has continued to improve and the government is increasingly promoting foreign direct investment. However, only a small elite benefit from the country's oil and gas resources. Since 2003 attempts have been made to reduce the economy's dependence on raw materials. The projects implemented since 2008 to intensify added value by processing local raw materials include rolled steel and silicon plants in Karaganda, chrome ore processing in Aqtöbe and an iron alloy plant in Taras . With the fall in raw material prices, growth slowed significantly from 2014 onwards. In 2016 it was just under 1%.

    Kazakhstan is the largest economy and the richest country in Central Asia. In 2020, GDP (adjusted for purchasing power) per capita was 26,565 international US dollars.

    The country's financial center is the former capital, Almaty . All of Kazakhstan's major credit institutions have their headquarters here, including Kazkommertsbank , Halyk Bank and Alliance Bank . The BTA Bank introduced many Western banks considerable credit resources; its former board member Muchtar Äbljasow is currently the focus of investigations into the whereabouts of the funds. The Kazakh Stock Exchange is located in the new financial district of Almatys.

    The cooperative system plays a certain role. About 5% to 10% of Kazakhstan's residents are involved in producer, consumer and tenant cooperatives, etc.

    As a result of the crisis in 2009, economic zones free of customs duties were established. The Economic Commission for Europe ( UNECE ), however, notes clear deficits in the development of small and medium-sized enterprises and in the promotion of start-ups.

    Kazakhstan is a founding member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which has existed since January 1, 2015 . In December 2015, Kazakhstan became the 162nd member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The accession negotiations lasted for almost 20 years and are described as the most difficult of all. The negotiations on customs tariffs with the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union have made a particular contribution to this. The agreement that has been concluded is now to reduce the country's import tariff to 6.1% within 5 years, and to 7.6% for agricultural goods. From the point of view of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev , membership opens up further opportunities for the growth of the Kazakh economy, with WTO states already accounting for around 90% of trade.

    At the World Economic Forum 2016 in Davos, the Kazakh Prime Minister, Kärim Mässimow, increasingly recruited investors. He emphasized the investor-friendly reforms and said that the low oil price is an ideal prerequisite for the implementation of such reforms. In addition, Kazakhstan wants to be in an improved starting position at the next World Economic Forum.

    In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Kazakhstan was ranked 53rd out of 138 countries (2016-2017). In 2017, Kazakhstan was ranked 42nd out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index . The state still has a lot of influence on the Kazakh economy, even if numerous privatizations have been carried out in recent years.

    raw materials

    KazMunayGas headquarters

    Oil and gas production and oil products form the basis of the Kazakh economy. In the 1990s, the largest oil reserves of the last 30 years were found in the north of the Caspian Sea and in the Kazakh steppe . Experts estimate it to be around nine billion barrels . The exploitation takes place with the help of foreign companies. You have to give between 40% and 50% of the production volume to the Kazakh state. In 2002 alone, around 360 million barrels worth 7 billion euros were produced in Kazakhstan. Thanks to the increasing exploitation of the huge deposits discovered in the 1990s, it was possible to increase production to around 580 million barrels by 2010. Thanks to the sharp rise in the price of oil at the same time, oil revenues rose many times over and helped Kazakhstan to achieve very strong economic growth.

    The production rate is to be expanded further in the future, as important fields in the Caspian Sea are still being developed. Gas production in Kazakhstan more than tripled in the ten years between 2000 and 2010 from 10.4 billion m³ to 33.6 billion m³. Kazakhstan is one of the countries that lie in the strategic ellipse . In Kazakhstan, large areas of land are contaminated by radioactive waste from oil and gas production.

    Hard coal is still of great importance as an energy source. Kazakhstan also has rich reserves of tin , uranium, lead, zinc, bauxite , iron, gold, silver , phosphorus , manganese , copper and others.


    The metallurgical industry (black and non-ferrous metals) and its products are also very well developed. Chemical products (fertilizers, plastics), machines, equipment, textiles and food are also manufactured in Kazakhstan. The main industrial centers are Almaty, Karagandy, Shymkent, Pavlodar and Aktobe.


    Around 75% of the country's area can be used for agriculture. Thanks to the fertile steppe soils and despite the low yields due to the drought, Kazakhstan completely covers its need for grain itself and exports the surpluses amounting to four to five million tons. Since 2005, some of the exports have been carried out via the Latvian port cities of Liepāja and Ventspils . The Ventspils Grain Terminal , jointly built by the two countries, is designed for the shipment of 2.5 million tons of grain annually. In the north there is an agriculturally well developed area around the capital Nur-Sultan. The Russian name of the city from 1961 to 1991 ( Zelinograd, " Neuland city") suggests that it is reclaimed made steppe country at the behest of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev was tapped from the 1954th While the level of grain yields fell far below expectations in the first decades after reclamation , it stabilized after the turn of the millennium. Fruits are grown in the southern areas from Almaty to Shymkent. Livestock farming is of great importance, especially for the inhabitants of the semi-desert and desert areas. Mainly sheep are bred, as well as goats, cows and horses. Pig breeding is also widespread in regions that were dominated by Russia or previously German.

    In the south, as a result of extensive water abstraction - on the Kazakh side along the Syr-Darja , one of the two main tributaries - for agricultural cultivation of the region , the Aral Sea is about to dry out, which is one of the greatest ecological catastrophes of our time.

    Economic indicators

    The important economic indicators: Gross domestic product and foreign trade have developed as follows in recent years:

    Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real (source: World Bank)
    year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
    Change in% yoy 9.7 10.7 8.9 3.3 1.2 7.3 7.4 4.8 6.0 4.2 1.2 1.0 4.0
    Development of GDP (nominal) (source: World Bank)
    year 2015 2016 2017
    GDP (in billions of US $) 184.4 133.7 159.4
    GDP per inhabitant (in thousands of US $) 10.5 7.7 8.8
    Main trading partner (2016) (Source: GTAI)
    Export (in%) to Import (in%) of
    ItalyItaly Italy 20.3 RussiaRussia Russia 36.3
    China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 11.5 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 14.6
    RussiaRussia Russia 09.5 GermanyGermany Germany 05.7
    NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 08.9 United StatesUnited States United States 05.1
    SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 07.3 ItalyItaly Italy 03.3
    FranceFrance France 04.9 FranceFrance France 02.6
    SpainSpain Spain 02.7 TurkeyTurkey Turkey 02.5
    United NationsU.N. other states 34.9 United NationsU.N. other states 29.9
    Development of foreign trade (source: GTAI)
    year 2014 2015 2016
    Billion US $ % yoy Billion US $ % yoy Billion US $ % yoy
    import +41.3 −15.4 +30.6 −26.0 +25.2 −17.6
    export +79.5 0−6.2 +46.0 −42.2 +36.8 −20.0
    balance +38.2 +15.4 +11.6

    State budget

    The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 27.25 billion , which was offset by revenues equivalent to US $ 23.35 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 3.9% of GDP .
    The national debt was 21.1% of GDP in 2016.

    In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:



    The route network in Kazakhstan is operated by the state-owned Kazakhstan Railway Company Temir Scholy (KTZ), it comprises 13,700 kilometers of Russian broad gauge (1,520 millimeter gauge), of which 3,700 kilometers are electrified (2006).

    The most famous traffic axis is the Turkestan-Siberian Railway ( Turksib ) from Semei via Almaty to Arys . From the Shu station , 300 km west of Almaty, the Turksib is connected directly to Karaganda on the North Kazakh route network via the Karaganda Railway ( Карагандинская железная дорога Karagandinskaja schelesnaja doroga ) . In Arys , the western Kazakh cities of Aqtöbe , Atyrau and Aqtau are connected by the route that runs through Qysylorda .

    The construction of a high-speed line between the capital Nur-Sultan and Almaty should be completed by 2015. On the route, the trains should be able to reach a speed of 350 kilometers per hour and transport five million passengers annually. The People's Republic of China is working closely together on the construction of the line.

    Kazakhstan is an important transit country for goods traffic because the shortest rail link between Europe and China runs through the country. This was proven with test trains of the Trans-Eurasia-Express . So far, the Alashankou / Dostyk border crossing has been used for this purpose , through which more than 15 million tons of freight are handled annually. To expand capacities, the new 293-kilometer Korgas – Zhetygen line, which runs further south and is intended for a similarly high volume of goods, was opened on December 22, 2012. Since Kazakhstan and China use different track gauges are in the two border stations Dostyk and Korgas Umspurungsanlagen present.

    Road network

    Map of Kazakhstan with registered roads and rail connections

    The trunk road network is on the average developed on paper and covers about 141,000 kilometers, only the main line Nur-Sultan-Almaty corresponds to European standards. Outside the conurbations, the trunk roads are not developed like the expressways or motorways and, even on larger, wide roads, they are not separated from one another by guard rails . In northern Kazakhstan, lonely, but fully developed, motorway junctions on the outskirts of some medium-sized cities are a reminder of how big the Soviet plans for the road network once were. Apart from these islands, the road network is only reasonably good and safe to drive in the greater Almaty area. In the north and east of the country, the roads are regularly subject to major damage, which can seriously endanger the vehicle and its occupants. In isolated cases (e.g. the A7 south of the Alakölsee ), trunk roads are only passable at walking pace (summer 2014). In the south of the country there is increased construction activity on roads, but due to the enormous size of Kazakhstan it will probably take decades before at least the highways will be safe to drive (cf. Kazakhstan 2050 ). Through the Nurly Schol investment program , the Kazakh government has been investing several hundred million euros annually in the construction and expansion of roads in Kazakhstan since 2015.

    The main international highways in Kazakhstan are the M32 , M36 and M38 .


    There are ports on the Caspian Sea in Atyrau and Aktau . Important waterways are Irtysh and Shayyq .

    Air traffic

    Astana airport

    The biggest airports in Kazakhstan are in the capital Nur-Sultan and in Almaty . You are served by several international airlines . The Lufthansa connects the two cities with Frankfurt . Another important airport is the Karagandy Sary-Arka airport . In addition, almost every major city in the country has a smaller airport.

    The Air Astana is the national airline. Another major airline is SCAT Airlines .

    In July 2009, ordered European Commission by regulation an operating ban in the European Union to for all registered in Kazakhstan airlines. According to the Commission, the authority responsible for overseeing the safety of air carriers licensed in Kazakhstan has proven to be incapable of applying and enforcing the applicable international safety standards. Air Astana was allowed to operate flights to the Union again from December 2015. In December 2016, the EU operating ban on the country's other airlines was lifted.

    Local transport

    Tram in Almaty (car from Dresden )

    Local public transport was well established in Soviet times, with trams and trolleybuses operating in the larger cities . These were significantly reduced in independent Kazakhstan. Construction of a metro began in Almaty as early as the Soviet era ; the first line opened in 2011. The Astana light rail project is more recent, the first section is due to open in 2014.


    In Baikonur there is the largest space center in the world ( Baikonur Cosmodrome ). It has been leased from Russia for $ 115 million annually until 2050. Russia has been building the Vostochny Cosmodrome on its own territory since 2012 .

    Tourism and sightseeing

    The Ministry of Sport and Tourism opened an official tourism office in March 2011 to promote tourism in Germany. German citizens require a valid passport to enter the Republic of Kazakhstan, but have not required a visa since 2014.

    World cultural heritage and world natural heritage

    The following Kazakh sites are on the UNESCO World Heritage List :

    The following documents from Kazakhstan have been included in the list of UNESCO World Document Heritage :

    • Collection of manuscripts by Khodscha Ahmed Yasavi , National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana (2003)
    • Audiovisual documents of the international anti-nuclear movement "Nevada-Semipalatinsk", Semei (2005)
    • The archive of the Aral Sea , which documents its ecological changes from 1965 to 1990 (2011).


    Literature, art


    Kazachfilm is the state film company. It was founded as a film studio in Alma-Ata in 1934 and was responsible for practically all Kazakh films during the Soviet Union. In the 1980s, the “New Kazakh Wave” was a movement of young Kazakh film college graduates who moved away from classic propaganda films and created artistically innovative films that were internationally successful at film festivals. Its representatives include, among others, Raschid Nugmanow and Dareshan Omirbaew .


    The media freedom is not given. The media are in the hands of the state and are censored. 8 nationally distributed daily newspapers appear in Kazakhstan . The newspapers with the highest circulation include the government newspapers Kazakhstan Pravda and Egemen Qazaqstan and the private Wremja . Several weekly newspapers also appear. Published in English The Kazakhstan Monitor and The Almaty Herald , in German appearing German Allgemeine Zeitung .

    In 2019, 82 percent of Kazakhstan's residents used the Internet . In early July 2009, Nursultan Nazarbayev introduced Internet censorship.


    In Kazakhstan, sport is held in high esteem, which can be attributed to its very high status and the associated support for sport in the USSR (see also: Sport in the Soviet Union ). The most popular sports of the Kazakhs are soccer and ice hockey , but boxing , wrestling , judo and weightlifting are also very popular in the Central Asian country.


    When it comes to boxing, the country ranks among the best in the world; Between 1993 and 2016, Kazakh boxers won 22 medals (7 × gold, 7 × silver and 8 × bronze) at the Summer Olympics and 34 medals (10 × gold, 10 × silver, 14 × bronze) at world championships. During this period, six Summer Olympics and twelve World Championships took place; none of these events was without a Kazakh medal winning. How much Kazakh boxers dominate the Asian region alone was shown by the results of the 2013 Asian Championships in Jordan. Seven gold medals and one silver medal were fought for in ten weight classes. With an Olympic champion and four world champions in their ranks, Kazakhstan was the most successful boxing nation in the world in 2014. In addition, in seven of the ten weight classes, Kazakh boxers were among the top 3 of the AIBA world rankings.

    In addition, Kazakhstan has already hosted international competitions in amateur boxing. In Astana, for example, the 2002 World Cup, the 2011 Junior World Championships and the 2008 and 2012 Asian Olympic qualifications were held, while the 2006 University World Championships and the 2013 World Championships were held in Almaty .

    As of October 2015, the country's most successful professional boxer is the record middleweight world champion Gennadi Golowkin , who is considered the best boxer in this weight class worldwide.


    The top division in Kazakh football is the Premjer League . The most important football clubs are next to the record champions Irtysh Pavlodar , the Kazakh flagship club during the Soviet era Kairat Almaty , FK Aqtöbe , which has dominated since 2005, Tobol Qostanai , who can always be found in the top ranks, and the resurgent Shakhtar Karagandy . Although the Kazakh national territory is almost exclusively in Asia, the Kazakh Football Association is a member of UEFA and takes part in its tournaments ( European Championship , Champions League , Europa League ).


    The Kazakh cycling team Team Astana is counted among the leading teams in the world. The team's squad already included prominent drivers such as Lance Armstrong , Andreas Klöden , Levi Leipheimer , Haimar Zubeldia , Alberto Contador and Alexander Vinokurow , who won the gold medal in road racing at the 2012 Olympic Games .

    ice Hockey

    The ice hockey team Barys Astana , which includes not only the best Kazakh players but also well-known legionnaires such as Branislav Mezei , Kevin Dallman , Tomáš Klouček , Trevor Letowski and Jozef Stümpel , plays at the highest level in the Russian KHL . Another important ice hockey club is Kaszink-Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk .


    The Kazakh men's national rugby team is one of the leading teams in Asia and was even able to fight for second place in the Asian Five Nations 2009 , but has now been relegated to the second division of Asia. The women's national rugby team almost regularly qualifies as Asian winners (mostly ahead of Japan) for the world championships. So again for 2014.


    The Kazakhs have celebrated 16 Olympic champions since their independence (as of August 12, 2016). A total of 69 Olympic medals were won. Kazakhstan sent 132 athletes to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, and a total of 116 athletes in 16 sports were nominated for 2012 in London.

    Beschbarmak with sheep's head for special occasions

    The cities of Astana and Almaty hosted the Asian Winter Games in Kazakhstan for the first time in 2011 . The Asian weightlifting championships took place in 2009 in Taldyqorghan in the south-east of the country.

    At the 2009 World Weightlifting Championships , the athletes from Kazakhstan took second place in the nations' ranking behind China.


    Typical of the Kazakh kitchen is Beschbarmaq . The dish is prepared with fat, boiled mutton or horse meat and eaten by hand with lasagne-like, wafer-thin rolled out, cooked flatbreads. Plow , a rice dish with mutton typical of all of Central Asia , and shashlik , which is also known abroad, are other popular dishes. Kumys is the preferred drink in summer .

    The Kazakh cuisine is closely linked to the neighboring Central Asian and Slavic countries due to its location, language, culture and religion .

    See also

    Portal: Kazakhstan  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Kazakhstan


    • Jonathan Aitken: Kazakhstan: Surprises and Stereotypes After 20 Years of Independence . Continuum Intl., New York 2012, ISBN 978-1-4411-1654-3 (English).
    • Gundula Bahro: Areas in Kazakhstan contaminated by the nuclear industry. In: Ernst Giese, Gundula Bahro, Dirk Betke: Environmental destruction in arid regions of Central Asia (West and East Turkestan). Causes, effects, measures. Steiner, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-515-07374-4 , p. 33 ff.
    • Sally N. Cummings: Kazakhstan: Power and the Elite . IB Tauris, London 2005, ISBN 1-86064-854-1 (English).
    • Michael Fergus, Janar Jandosova: Kazakhstan: coming of age . Stacey International, London 2003, ISBN 1-900988-61-5 (English).
    • Valerija Ibraeva: The Art of Kazakhstan as a Political Project. In: Boris Groys , Anne von der Heiden , Peter Weibel (eds.): Back from the future. Eastern European Cultures in the Age of Post-Communism. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-518-12452-8 , pp. 407-471.
    • Philipp Meuser (ed.): Architectural Guide Kazakhstan. Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86922-272-1 .
    • Martha Brill Olcott: Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC 2010, ISBN 978-0-87003-243-1 (English).
    • Sebastian Schiek: contradicting state formation. Kazakhstan's conservative modernization . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2014, ISBN 978-3-8487-0765-2 .
    • Sebastian Schiek: The political system of Kazakhstan . In: Jakob Lempp , Sebastian Mayer, Alexander Brand (Ed.): The political systems of Central Asia. Internal change, external actors, regional cooperation . Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2020, ISBN 978-3-658-31633-4 , pp. 43–56.
    • Boris Shiryayev: great powers on the way to a new confrontation? The "Great Game" on the Caspian Sea. An examination of the new conflict situation using the example of Kazakhstan . Dr. Kovac, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8300-3749-1 .
    • Thomas Kunze : Central Asia. Portrait of a region . Christoph Links Verlag , Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86153-995-7 .
    • Michael Reinhard Heß: Uyghurs in Kazakhstan. Studies on demography, history and language . Shaker, Düren 2019, ISBN 978-3-8440-6867-2 .

    Studies and journal articles

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Kazakhstan  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : Kazakhstan  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
    Wikisource: Kazakhstan  - Sources and full texts

    Individual evidence

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    Coordinates: 49 °  N , 66 °  E