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 Transnational Issues

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

Map of Kazakhstan

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
Native Kazakhs, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century, were rarely united as a single nation. The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century, and Kazakhstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936. During the 1950s and 1960s agricultural "Virgin Lands" program, Soviet citizens were encouraged to help cultivate Kazakhstan's northern pastures. This influx of immigrants (mostly Russians, but also some other deported nationalities) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives. Independence in 1991 caused many of these newcomers to emigrate. Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country's vast energy resources and exporting them to world markets; achieving a sustainable economic growth outside the oil, gas, and mining sectors; and strengthening relations with neighboring states and other foreign powers.
   Geography    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
Central Asia, northwest of China; a small portion west of the Ural River in eastern-most Europe
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
48 00 N, 68 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 2,717,300 sq km
land: 2,669,800 sq km
water: 47,500 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly less than four times the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
none (landlocked)
Definition Field Listing
continental, cold winters and hot summers, arid and semiarid
Definition Field Listing
extends from the Volga to the Altai Mountains and from the plains in western Siberia to oases and desert in Central Asia
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Vpadina Kaundy -132 m
highest point: Khan Tangiri Shyngy (Pik Khan-Tengri) 6,995 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, manganese, chrome ore, nickel, cobalt, copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, bauxite, gold, uranium
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 8.28%
permanent crops: 0.05%
other: 91.67% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
35,560 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
earthquakes in the south, mudslides around Almaty
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with former defense industries and test ranges scattered throughout the country 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 poor infrastructure and wasteful irrigation practices
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
landlocked; Russia leases approximately 6,000 sq km of territory enclosing the Baykonur Cosmodrome; in January 2004, Kazakhstan and Russia extended the lease to 2050
   People    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
15,233,244 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 23% (male 1,792,685/female 1,717,294)
15-64 years: 68.8% (male 5,122,027/female 5,357,819)
65 years and over: 8.2% (male 438,541/female 804,878) (2006 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 28.8 years
male: 27.2 years
female: 30.5 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.33% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
16 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.42 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-3.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.55 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 28.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.88 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23.45 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 66.89 years
male: 61.56 years
female: 72.52 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.89 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
16,500 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 200 (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Kazakhstani(s)
adjective: Kazakhstani
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Kazakh (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uygur 1.4%, other 4.9% (1999 census)
Definition Field Listing
Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%
Definition Field Listing
Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the "language of interethnic communication") 95% (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 99.1%
female: 97.7% (1999 est.)
   Government    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Republic of Kazakhstan
conventional short form: Kazakhstan
local long form: Qazaqstan Respublikasy
local short form: Qazaqstan
former: Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Definition Field Listing
name: Astana
geographic coordinates: 51 10 N, 71 30 E
time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Kazakhstan is divided into three time zones
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
14 provinces (oblystar, singular - oblys) and 3 cities* (qala, singular - qalasy); Almaty Oblysy, Almaty Qalasy*, Aqmola Oblysy (Astana), Aqtobe Oblysy, Astana Qalasy*, Atyrau Oblysy, Batys Qazaqstan Oblysy (Oral), Bayqongyr Qalasy*, Mangghystau Oblysy (Aqtau), Ongtustik Qazaqstan Oblysy (Shymkent), Pavlodar Oblysy, Qaraghandy Oblysy, Qostanay Oblysy, Qyzylorda Oblysy, Shyghys Qazaqstan Oblysy (Oskemen), Soltustik Qazaqstan Oblysy (Petropavlovsk), Zhambyl Oblysy (Taraz)
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 Baykonur space launch facilities and the city of Bayqongyr (Baykonur, formerly Leninsk); in 2004, a new agreement extended the lease to 2050
Definition Field Listing
16 December 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 16 December (1991)
Definition Field Listing
first post-independence constitution adopted 28 January 1993; new constitution adopted by national referendum 30 August 1995
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on civil law system
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV (chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 22 February 1990, elected president 1 December 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister Karim MASIMOV (since 10 January 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Aslan MUSIN (since 11 January 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (two term limit); election last held 4 December 2005 (next to be held in 2012); prime minister and first deputy prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV reelected president; percent of vote - Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV 91.1%, Zharmakhan A. TUYAKBAI 6.6%, Alikhan M. BAIMENOV 1.6%
note: President NAZARBAYEV arranged a referendum in 1995 that extended his term of office and expanded his presidential powers: 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:
Definition Field Listing
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (39 seats; 7 senators are appointed by the president; other members are elected by local government bodies, 2 from each of the 14 oblasts, the capital of Astana, and the city of Almaty, to serve six-year terms; note - formerly composed of 47 seats) and the Mazhilis (77 seats; 10 out of the 77 Mazhilis members are elected from the winning party's lists; members are popularly elected to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - (indirect) last held December 2005; next to be held in 2011; Mazhilis - last held 19 September and 3 October 2004 (next to be held in September 2009)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; candidates nominated by local councils; Mazhilis - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Otan 42, AIST 11, ASAR (All Together) 4, Aq Zhol (Bright Path) 1, Democratic Party 1 (party refused to take the seat due to criticism of the election and seat remained unoccupied), independent 18; note - most independent candidates are affiliated with parastatal enterprises and other pro-government institutions
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Court (44 members); Constitutional Council (7 members)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Adilet (Justice) [Maksut NARIKBAYEV, co-chair, Zeynulla ALSHIMBAYEV, co-chair, Bakhytbek AKHMETZHAN, co-chair, Yerkin ONGARBAYEV, co-chair, Tolegan SYDYKOV, co-chair] (formerly Democratic Party of Kazakhstan); Aq Zhol Party (Bright Path) [Alikhan BAIMENOV, chairman]; AUL (Village) [Gani KALIYEV, chairman]; Communist Party of Kazakhstan or KPK [Serikbolsyn ABDILDIN, first secretary]; Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan [Vladislav KOSAREV, first secretary]; Otan [Bakhytzhan ZHUMAGULOV, acting chairman] (the Agrarian, Asar, and Civic parties merged with Otan); Patriots' Party [Gani KASYMOV, chairman]; Rukhaniyat (Spirituality) [Altynshash ZHAGANOVA, chairwoman]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Adil-Soz [Tamara KALEYEVA]; Almaty Helsinki Group [Ninel FOKINA]; Confederation of Free Trade Unions [Sergei BELKIN]; For a Just Kazakhstan [Bolat ABILOV]; For Fair Elections [Yevgeniy ZHOVTIS, Sabit ZHUSUPOV, Sergey DUVANOV, Ibrash NUSUPBAYEV]; Kazakhstan International Bureau on Human Rights [Yevgeniy ZHOVTIS, executive director]; Pan-National Social Democratic Party of Kazakhstan [Zharmakhan TUYAKBAI]; Pensioners Movement or Pokoleniye [Irina SAVOSTINA, chairwoman]; Republican Network of International Monitors [Dos KUSHIM]; Transparency International [Sergei ZLOTNIKOV]
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Kanat B. SAUDABAYEV
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:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador John M. ORDWAY
embassy: Ak Bulak 4, Str. 23-22, Building #3, Astana 010010
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [7] (3172) 70-21-00
FAX: [7] (3172) 34-08-90
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
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 gold
   Economy    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Kazakhstan, the largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, excluding Russia, possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain. Kazakhstan's industrial sector rests on the extraction and processing of these natural resources and also on a growing machine-building sector specializing in construction equipment, tractors, agricultural machinery, and some defense items. The breakup of the USSR in December 1991 and the collapse in demand for Kazakhstan's traditional heavy industry products resulted in a short-term contraction of the economy, 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. Kazakhstan enjoyed double-digit growth in 2000-01 - 8% or more per year in 2002-06 - thanks largely to its booming energy sector, but also to economic reform, good harvests, and foreign investment. The opening of the Caspian Consortium pipeline in 2001, from western Kazakhstan's Tengiz oilfield to the Black Sea, substantially raised export capacity. Kazakhstan in 2006 completed the Atasu-Alashankou portion of an oil pipeline to China that is planned to extend from the country's Caspian coast eastward to the Chinese border in future construction. The country has embarked upon an industrial policy designed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the oil sector by developing light industry. The policy aims to reduce the influence of foreign investment and foreign personnel. The government has engaged in several disputes with foreign oil companies over the terms of production agreements; tensions continue. Upward pressure on the local currency continued in 2006 due to massive oil-related foreign-exchange inflows.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$138.7 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$52.6 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
8.5% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$9,100 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 6.3%
industry: 41.1%
services: 52.7% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.834 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 20%
industry: 30%
services: 50% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.4% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
19% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 26.5% (2004 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
31.5 (2003)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
8.6% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
27% of GDP (2006 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $18.48 billion
expenditures: $18.09 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
11% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
grain (mostly spring wheat), cotton; livestock
Definition Field Listing
oil, coal, iron ore, manganese, chromite, lead, zinc, copper, titanium, bauxite, gold, silver, phosphates, sulfur, iron and steel; tractors and other agricultural machinery, electric motors, construction materials
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.7% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
63.26 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
58.3 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
4.9 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
4.37 billion kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.3 million bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
220,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
890,000 bbl/day (2003)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
47,000 bbl/day (2003)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
26 billion bbl (1 January 2004)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
20.49 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
15.75 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.01 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.27 billion cu m
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.841 trillion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$133 million (2006 est.)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$35.55 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
oil and oil products 58%, ferrous metals 24%, chemicals 5%, machinery 3%, grain, wool, meat, coal (2001)
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Russia 12.4%, Germany 12%, China 11.2%, Italy 8.8%, France 8.6%, Romania 5.1%, US 4.5% (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$22 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment 41%, metal products 28%, foodstuffs 8% (2001)
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Russia 35.7%, China 21.3%, Germany 7.1% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$15.26 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$53.89 billion (30 June 2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$74.2 million in US assistance programs, 1992-2000 (FY2004)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
tenge (KZT)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
tenge per US dollar - 125.556 (2006), 132.88 (2005), 136.04 (2004), 149.58 (2003), 153.28 (2002)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.5 million (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.955 million (2005)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: service is poor; equipment antiquated
domestic: intercity by landline and microwave radio relay; mobile cellular systems are available in most of Kazakhstan
international: country code - 7; international traffic with other former Soviet republics and China carried by landline and microwave radio relay and with other countries by satellite and by the Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic cable; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 60, FM 17, shortwave 9 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
12 (plus nine repeaters) (1998)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
21,187 (2006)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
400,000 (2005)
   Transportation    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
150 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 67
over 3,047 m: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 27
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 10 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 83
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 53 (2006)
Definition Field Listing
4 (2006)
Definition Field Listing
condensate 658 km; gas 11,019 km; oil 10,338 km; refined products 1,095 km (2006)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 13,700 km
broad gauge: 13,700 km 1.520-m gauge (3,700 km electrified) (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 90,018 km
paved: 84,104 km
unpaved: 5,914 km (2004)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4,000 km (on the Ertis (Irtysh) (80%) and Syr Darya (Syrdariya) rivers) (2005)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 6 ships (1000 GRT or over) 27,173 GRT/43,475 DWT
by type: cargo 2, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 1
foreign-owned: 2 (Oman 2) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Aqtau (Shevchenko), Atyrau (Gur'yev), Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk), Pavlodar, Semey (Semipalatinsk)
   Military    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Ground Forces, Air and Air Defense Forces, Naval Force, Republican Guard
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - two years; minimum age for volunteers NA (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 3,758,255
females age 18-49: 3,822,845 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 2,473,529
females age 18-49: 3,168,048 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 173,129
females age 18-49: 168,697 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.9% (Ministry of Defense expenditures) (FY02)
   Transnational Issues    Kazakhstan Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
in 2005, Kazakhstan agreed with Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to commence demarcating their boundaries; delimitation with Kyrgyzstan is complete; creation of a seabed boundary with Turkmenistan in the Caspian Sea remains unresolved; equidistant seabed treaties have been ratified with Azerbaijan and Russia in the Caspian Sea, but no resolution has been made on dividing the water column among any of the littoral states
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Definition Field Listing
refugees (country of origin): 13,684 (Russia) (2005)
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
significant illicit cultivation of cannabis for CIS markets, as well as limited cultivation of opium poppy and ephedra (for the drug ephedrine); limited government eradication of illicit crops; transit point for Southwest Asian narcotics bound for Russia and the rest of Europe

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

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