Kazakhstan Country Overview

Kazakhstan Country Overview

Kazakhstan is a presidential republic in Central Asia. The area west of the Ural River is part of Eastern Europe. The capital is called Nursultan. Large parts are occupied by lowlands and plains. The hill country of the Kazakh threshold rises in the central part and the glaciated high mountains of Tian Shan and Altai in the east. There is a dry continental climate with rapidly decreasing rainfall towards the southwest. In the north steppes predominate, otherwise the country is made up of semi-deserts and deserts taken. The ninth largest country on earth is also one of the most sparsely populated. In the multi-ethnic state with over 100 different ethnic groups, Kazakhs have the largest share with 68%, followed by Russians (19%). The state language is Russian, the official language is Kazakh. The predominant religion is Islam. Since the 1st millennium BC. rider nomads populated the area of ​​today’s Kazakhstan and at the end of the 16th century divided it into three tribal groups (hordes). By 1848 all three hordes fell to the Russian Empire. In 1936 Kazakhstan became a union republic within the Soviet Union. The collectivization of agriculture in the 1930s was accompanied by the forced settling of the nomadic Kazakhs. In 1991 Kazakhstan declared itself independent. president N. Nazarbayev established an authoritarian ruling regime during his term in office from 1991 to 2019. Due to the wealth of natural resources, oil processing and heavy engineering developed. Kazakhstan is an important food producer. In terms of foreign policy, the country strives for good relations in all directions (»multi-vector policy«). It has close political and economic ties with its northern neighbor, Russia, and the “New Silk Road” project strengthens its relationship with China. Kazakhstan is the EU’s most important partner in the Central Asia region.


Kazakhstan borders Russia to the northwest, north and northeast, China to the southeast, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia, only the Western Kazakhstan area west of the Ural River is part of Eastern Europe.

Kazakhstan forms a “bridge space” between Europe and Asia as well as between Russia and the other Central Asian republics. This extends from the lowlands on the lower Volga and the Caspian Sea in the west over about 3,000 km to the east to the Altai, from the southern Urals and West Siberian lowlands in the north over about 1,700 km to the Ust-Yurt plateau and the Aral Sea, to the sandy desert Kyzylkum and the northern, up to 4,973 m above sea level high mountain ranges of the Tian Shan in the south (Ili-Alatau).

The highest mountain is Khan Tengri (6,995 m above sea level) on the border with Kyrgyzstan in central Tian Shan. The plains are predominant (in the west the Caspian Depression, in the southwest the lowlands of Turan, which reach up to 132 m below sea level) and low plateau areas (in the southwest the desert-like Ust-Jurt plateau, in the north the plateau of Turgai with the Turgais depression). The Mugodjar Mountains reach greater heights in the northwest, the Kazakh Threshold in the central and eastern parts and the Northern Hunger Steppes to the west of Lake Balkhash. The west and south of the country is made up of deserts and semi-deserts (including Kyzylkum, Mujunkum, Siebenstromland) embossed; this space is mostly without drainage to the oceans. Lakes without drainage include the Caspian Sea, the north-eastern part of which is claimed by Kazakhstan; the drying up Aral Sea, the northern part of which is in Kazakhstan; Lake Balkhash, which is also threatened with dehydration, and the Alakol. A 150 to 300 km wide steppe strip of the West Siberian lowlands connects to the Kazakh threshold in the north, the southern Altai, the western Tarbagatai mountains and the Djungarian Alatau in the east and south-east. More than half of the country is covered by deserts and semi-deserts, a third is made up of steppes, and only 1.2% is forested.

The country is crossed peripherally by several large rivers. They include Irtysh, Ischim and Tobol, which drain to the Ob, the Urals ends in the Caspian Sea, the Syr Darya only reaches its final sea, the Aral Sea, due to the high water abstraction in years with heavy rainfall. Otherwise the river network is very sparsely developed and the flow of water in many rivers is inconsistent. Numerous smaller rivers are drying up in the deserts and semi-deserts. In the south there are many oases that are fed by the glacial rivers of the Pamir and Tian Shan.


The climate is continental and dry. Cold, snow-poor winters are followed by long, hot and dry summers after a short spring. Strong winds in the steppe and desert areas, sometimes sandstorms, sometimes lead to considerable soil erosion. It shows pronounced differences depending on the geographical latitude. The winters in the north are characterized by long duration and low temperatures, while in the south they are relatively short and much milder. Visit harvardshoes.com for Asia climate. The average July temperatures in the north are 19 ° C, in the south 28–30 ° C, the January mean in the north −18 ° C, in the south −3 ° C. Precipitation is also subject to strong annual and seasonal fluctuations. The annual rainfall decreases from north to south from 250–400 mm to less than 100 mm, in the high mountains it increases to over 1,000 mm.

Kazakhstan Country Overview