January 27, 2022
Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстан, translit.: Qazaqstan, pronounced: [qɑzɑqˈstɑn]; Russian: Казахстан, translit.: Kazakhstan, pronounced: [kəzɐxˈstan]), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country located in Central Asia , with a small part west of the Ural River in Europe. It is the largest landlocked country in the world and the ninth largest on the planet; its territory of 2,724,900 square kilometers is larger than the area of Western Europe. Kazakhstan shares borders with (clockwise from the north) Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and it also has a large part of the coastline of the Caspian Sea. The country's terrain includes plains, steppes, taiga, rock gorges, mountains, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. With an estimated 18.7 million inhabitants (2020), Kazakhstan is ranked as the 61st most populous country in the world, although its population density is among the lowest at 6 people per km². The Kazakh capital is Nur-Sultan after it was moved from Almati in 1997. The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomadic tribes, this scenario changed in the 13th century when Genghis Khan occupied the country. In the aftermath, infighting ensued between the conquerors, power eventually reverted to the nomads. Around the 16th century, the Kazakhs emerged as a distinct ethnic group, divided into three jüz (ancestral branches that occupy specific territories). Russians began to advance into the Kazakh steppes in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century, the entire national territory was part of the Russian Empire. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent civil war, Kazakhstan was reorganized several times before becoming the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936, an integral part of the Soviet Union. The country was the last of the Soviet republics to declare its independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991; the president was Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been national leader since the country was a Soviet republic, but resigned in March 2019, due to several demonstrations that showed the population's discontent against his government. Currently, the president is Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, elected with more than 70% of the votes of nearly 12 million Kazakh voters. The government has a balanced foreign policy and works to develop its economy, especially its hydrocarbon industry. Kazakhstan is populated by 100 ethnic groups, including Kazakhs (who make up 68.5% of the population), Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Germans , Tatars and Uighurs. Islam is the religion of about 75% of the population, while Christianity is practiced by 21% of the inhabitants; the country allows freedom of religion. The Kazakh language is the official language, while Russian has equal official status for all administrative and institutional levels.