Republic of Kazakhstan

Name: Republic of Kazakhstan
Geography/ Location: Central Asia, northwest of China
People/ Population: 16,731,303 (July 2001 est.)
Government type: Republic
Independence: 16 December 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holiday: Republic Day, 25 October (1990)
Constitution: Adopted by national referendum 30 August 1995. The first post-independence constitution was adopted 28 January 1993
Legal system: Based on civil law system
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 gold
Click here to learn more about Kazakhstan.

Overview

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. Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country’s vast energy resources and exporting them to world markets; and continuing to strengthen relations with neighboring states and other foreign powers. Click here for a map of Kazakhstan.

Economy

Kazakhstan, the second largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves as well as plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also is a large agricultural – livestock and grain – producer. 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 of 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. 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. Kazakhstan’s economy again turned downward in 1998 with a 2% decline in GDP due to slumping oil prices and the August financial crisis in Russia. The recovery of international oil prices in 1999, combined with a well-timed tenge devaluation and a bumper grain harvest, pulled the economy out of recession in 2000. Astana has embarked upon an industrial policy designed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the oil sector by developing soft technology.

Source: The World Factbook 2001, CIA