It is a scenically diverse region where the snow-capped peaks, lakes and glaciers of the Tian Shan range give way to wide open spaces and lunar landscapes of steppes and deserts.
For centuries, Kazakhstan’s vast plains were home only to nomads and they are still virtually empty. Most settlements are concentrated in the southeast and the east of the Republic.
With the lowest birth rate and the highest emigration rate in the region, Kazakstan’s population has remained virtually stable for the past ten years and is estimated at 15,340,533 (2008).
Kazakhstan stepped into the world arena as an independent republic in 1991. Since then it has carried out successful economic reforms. These reforms, together with liberal trade policies, have made the country attractive to international investors.
Industries, such as iron and steel, agricultural machinery and construction equipment are supported by Kazakhstan’s significant reserves of minerals and metals.
The Kazakh economy continues to grow at a rate of over 9% a year on the back of its oil and gas reserves, largely concentrated in the Caspian Sea region. In 2004 the governments of Kazakhstan and China agreed to build an oil pipeline from central Kazakhstan to northwest China. Kazakhstan has estimated that it will be producing three million barrels of oil a day by 2015.
The country also benefits from large supplies of fossil fuels.
The agricultural sector produces wheat, barley, corn, millet, vegetables, sunflowers and mustard. Kazakhstan is particularly famous for apples. Cotton is also grown. Karakul sheep, cattle and pigs are reared.
The capital of Kazakhstan is Astana the second largest city in the country. It took over the role of capital city from Almaty in December 1998. Now, this city with population of 600,000 (2004) is undergoing a transformation costing billions of dollars, where international top architects assist in trying to make Astana a worthy capital – not only of Kazakhstan but of all Central Asia.
Since 1990 the president of Kazakhstan is Nursultan NAZARBAYEV