Kazakhstan [Country Flag of Kazakhstan]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Kazakhstan]



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Location: Central Asia, northwest of China

Geographic coordinates: 48 00 N, 68 00 E

Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States

total: 2,717,300 sq km
land: 2,669,800 sq km
water: 47,500 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly less than four times the size of Texas

Land boundaries:
total: 12,012 km
border countries: China 1,533 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,051 km, Russia 6,846 km, Turkmenistan 379 km, Uzbekistan 2,203 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
note: Kazakhstan borders the Aral Sea (1,015 km) and the Caspian Sea (1,894 km)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: continental, cold winters and hot summers, arid and semiarid

Terrain: extends from the Volga to the Altai Mountains and from the plains in western Siberia to oasis and desert in Central Asia

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Vpadina Kaundy -132 m
highest point: Zhengis Shingy (Pik Khan-Tengri) 6,995 m

Natural resources: major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, manganese, chrome ore, nickel, cobalt, copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, bauxite, gold, uranium

Land use:
arable land: 12%
permanent crops: 11%
permanent pastures: 57%
forests and woodland: 4%
other: 16% (1996 est.)

Irrigated land: 22,000 sq km (1996 est.)

Natural hazards: earthquakes in the south, mudslides around Almaty

Environment—current issues: radioactive or toxic chemical sites associated with its former defense industries and test ranges are found throughout the country and pose health risks for humans and animals; industrial pollution is severe in some cities; because the two main rivers which flowed into the Aral Sea have been diverted for irrigation, it is drying up and leaving behind a harmful layer of chemical pesticides and natural salts; these substances are then picked up by the wind and blown into noxious dust storms; pollution in the Caspian Sea; soil pollution from overuse of agricultural chemicals and salinization from faulty irrigation practices

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography—note: landlocked


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Population: 16,846,808 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 29% (male 2,486,607; female 2,413,207)
15-64 years: 64% (male 5,243,028; female 5,523,199)
65 years and over: 7% (male 393,950; female 786,817) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.17% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 17.24 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 10.15 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -8.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 58.25 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.59 years
male: 58.12 years
female: 69.33 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.12 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Kazakhstani(s)
adjective: Kazakhstani

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

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

Languages: Kazakh (Qazaq) official language spoken by over 40% of population, Russian official language spoken by two-thirds of population and used in everyday business

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 99%
female: 96% (1989 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Kazakhstan
conventional short form: Kazakhstan
local long form: Qazaqstan Respublikasy
local short form: none
former: Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic

Data code: KZ

Government type: republic

National capital: Astana (Akmola)
note: the government has recently moved from Almaty to Astana

Administrative divisions: 14 oblystar (singular—oblys) and 1 city (qalalar, singular—qala)*; Almaty Qalasy*, Almaty Oblysy, Aqmola Oblysy (Astana), Aqtobe Oblysy, Atyrau Oblysy, Batys Qazaqstan Oblysy (Oral), Mangghystau Oblysy (Aqtau; formerly Gur'yev), Ongtustik Qazaqstan Oblysy (Shymkent), Pavlodar Oblysy, Qaraghandy Oblysy, Qostanay Oblysy, Qyzylorda Oblysy, Shyghys Qazaqstan Oblysy (Oskemen; formerly Ust'-Kamenogorsk), Soltustik Qazaqstan Oblysy (Petropavl), Zhambyl Oblysy (Taraz; formerly Dzhambul)
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses); in 1995 the governments of Kazakhstan and Russia entered into an agreement whereby Russia would lease for a period of 20 years an area of 6,000 sq km enclosing the Bayqongyr (Baykonur) space launch facilities and the city of Bayqongyr (Leninsk)

Independence: 16 December 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, 25 October (1991); Republic Day, 16 December (1991)

Constitution: adopted by national referendum 30 August 1995; first post-independence constitution was adopted 28 January 1993

Legal system: based on civil law system

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV (chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 22 February 1990-91, president since 1 December 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister Nurlan BALGIMBAYEV (since 10 October 1997) and First Deputy Prime Minister Uraz ZHANDOSOV (since 20 February 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 1 December 1991 (next to be held NA 2000); note—President NAZARBAYEV's term was extended to the year 2000 by a nationwide referendum held 30 April 1995; prime minister and first deputy prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV elected president without opposition; percent of vote—NA
note: President NAZARBAYEV has expanded his presidential powers by decree: only he can initiate constitutional amendments, appoint and dismiss the government, dissolve parliament, call referenda at his discretion, and appoint administrative heads of regions and cities

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (47 seats; 7 senators are appointed by the president; other members are popularly elected, two each from each oblast and Almaty, to serve four-year terms) and the Majilis (67 seats; members are popularly elected to serve four-year terms); note—with the oblasts being reduced to 14, the Senate will eventually be reduced to 37
elections: Senate—(indirect) last held 5 December 1995 (next to be held NA 1999); Majilis—last held 9 December and 23 December 1995 (next to be held NA 1999)
election results: Senate—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—party members 13, no party affiliation 34, of which "independent" state officials 25, nominated by the president 7, elected by popular vote 15; Majilis—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PUP 24, December National Democratic Party 12, Kazakh Agrarian Union 5, Confederation of Kazakh Trade Unions 5, KPK 2, independents and others 19

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

Political parties and leaders: Alash National Freedom Party [Aron ATABEK]; People's Unity Party or PUP (was Union of People's Unity) [Akhan BIZHANOV, chairman]; Democratic Party [Tulegen ZHUKEYEV and Altynbek SARSENBAYEV, cochairmen]; People's Congress of Kazakhstan or NKK [Anuar ISMAILOV, chairman]; AZAMAT Movement [Petr SVOIK, Murat AUEZOV, and Galym ABILSIITOV, cochairmen]; Communist Party or KPK [Serikbolsyn ABDILDIN, first secretary]; National Democratic Party [Hasen KOZHAKHMETOV, chairman]; AZAT party [Toleubek KARAMENDIN, chairman]; Labor and Workers Movement [Madel ISMAILOV, chairman]; Peasant Union of the Republic Kazakhstan or KPU; Republican People's Slavic Movement-Harmony or Lad [Aleksander SAMARKIN, chairman]; Party for Social Justice and Economic Revival "Tagibat"; Social Democratic Party of Kazakhstan or SDPK [Dos KUSHIMOV, cochairman]; People's Cooperative Party [Umirzak SARSENOV, chairman]; Organization of Veterans; Republican Party [Sabetkazy AKATAYEV]; Russian Center or RT [Nina SIDOROVA, chairwoman]; Russian Cossacks [Vladimir DESYATOV, head (ataman)]; Pensioners Movement or Pokoleniye [Irina SAVOSTINA, chairwoman]; Liberal Movement [Asylbek BISENBAYEV, chairman]

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

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

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Bolat K. NURGALIYEV
chancery: (temporary) 3421 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 333-4504 through 4507
FAX: [1] (202) 333-4509

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador A. Elizabeth JONES
embassy: 99/97 Furmanova Street, Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan 480012
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [7] (3272) 63-39-05, 63-13-75, 63-24-26
FAX: [7] (3272) 63-38-83

Flag description: sky blue background representing the endless sky and a gold sun with 32 rays soaring above a golden steppe eagle in the center; on the hoist side is a "national ornamentation" in yellow


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Economy—overview: Kazakhstan, the second largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, possesses enormous untapped fossil fuel reserves as well as plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has considerable agricultural potential with its vast steppe lands accommodating both livestock and grain production. Kazakhstan's industrial sector rests on the extraction and processing of these natural resources and also on a relatively large machine building sector specializing in construction equipment, tractors, agricultural machinery, and some defense items. The breakup of the USSR and the collapse of demand for Kazakhstan's traditional heavy industry products have resulted in a sharp contraction of the economy since 1991, with the steepest annual decline occurring in 1994. In 1995-97 the pace of the government program of economic reform and privatization quickened, resulting in a substantial shifting of assets into the private sector. The December 1996 signing of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium agreement to build a new pipeline from western Kazakhstan's Tengiz oil field to the Black Sea increases prospects for substantially larger oil exports in several years. The emigration of large numbers of skilled Slavic managers and technicians from the northern industrial areas will hold back future growth.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$50 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 2.1% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$3,000 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 12%
industry: 25%
services: 63% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 12% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 6.9 million
by occupation: industry 27%, agriculture and forestry 23%, other 50% (1996)

Unemployment rate: 2.6% includes only officially registered unemployed; also large additional numbers of unemployed and underemployed workers (December 1996 est.)

revenues: $3 billion
expenditures: $4.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $40 million (1996 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 3% (1997 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 18.9 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 61.7 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 3,800 kWh (1996 est.)

Agriculture—products: grain, mostly spring wheat, cotton; wool, meat

total value: $5.6 billion (1996)
commodities: oil, ferrous and nonferrous metals, chemicals, grain, wool, meat, coal
partners: Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Netherlands, China

total value: $6 billion (1996)
commodities: machinery and parts, industrial materials, oil and gas
partners: Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Germany

Debt—external: $3.3 billion (1996)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $10 million (1993)
note: commitments, 1992-95, $4,780 million ($1,795 million disbursements)

Currency: 1 Kazakhstani tenge = 100 tiyn

Exchange rates: tenges per US$1—76.4 (February 1998), 75.55 (January 1998), 75.44 (1997), 67.30 (1996), 60.95 (1995), 35.54 (1994)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 2.2 million

Telephone system: service is poor
domestic: landline and microwave radio relay
international: international traffic with other former Soviet republics and China carried by landline and microwave radio relay and with other countries by satellite and through 8 international telecommunications circuits at the Moscow international gateway switch; satellite earth stations—1 Intelsat and a new satellite earth station established at Almaty of unknown type

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

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

Television broadcast stations: 1 broadcast station; Orbita (TV receive only) earth station

Televisions: 4.75 million


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total: 13,841 km in common carrier service; does not include industrial lines
broad gauge: 13,841 km 1.520-m gauge (3,299 km electrified) (1992)

total: 141,076 km
paved: 113,566 km
unpaved: 27,510 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 4,002 km on the Syr Darya and Ertis Darya

Pipelines: crude oil 2,850 km; refined products 1,500 km; natural gas 3,480 km (1992)

Ports and harbors: Aqtau (Shevchenko), Atyrau (Gur'yev), Oskemen (Ust-Kamenogorsk), Pavlodar, Semey (Semipalatinsk)

Airports: 10 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 9
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Ministry of Defense (Border Guards, General Purpose Forces, Air Force), Republican Guard

Military manpower—military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 4,429,484 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 3,534,839 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 154,218 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: 18.9 billion tenges (1995); note—conversion of defense expenditures into US dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: Caspian Sea boundaries are not yet determined among Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan

Illicit drugs: significant illicit cultivation of cannabis and limited cultivation of opium poppy and ephedra (for the drug ephedrone); limited government eradication program; cannabis consumed largely in the CIS; used as transshipment point for illicit drugs to Russia, North America, and Western Europe from Southwest Asia