Kazakhstan Population and Language

By | July 29, 2020

Kazakhstan is a sparsely populated country. Large population movements have changed the composition of the population over time. Ethnic diversity is large, but most of the ethnic groups are small. Today, more than two-thirds of the residents are estimated to be ethnic Kazakhs and just under one-fifth are Russians.

The population declined steadily during the 1990s, but from 2002 it began to grow again. The population is relatively young; just over a quarter of the population is under 15 and less than a tenth is 65 or older.

The Kazakhs are a Central Asian Turkic people with Mongolian features. They lived for a long time mainly as nomadic herdsmen in the area that today constitutes Kazakhstan. From the mid-1800s, Russians and Ukrainians, as well as Muslim Uighurs from China, immigrated.

Kazakhstan Population Pyramid 2020

  • COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Kazakhstan, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.

In the 1930s, Soviet leader Josef Stalin decided that the original population, the Kazakhs, would be “de-nomadized”. Forced collection of livestock management led to the death of over one million Kazakhs, while others fled to China or Afghanistan. In the context of the Second World War, Stalin drove entire groups of people from other parts of the Soviet Union to Kazakhstan – Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Soviet Poles and Greeks, Chechens, Ingushians and other Caucasus peoples, as well as Koreans from eastern Siberia (see Modern History).

It is estimated that over 120 people are living in Kazakhstan. The Russians dominate in the north and are predominantly urban. Before independence in 1991, the Russians were slightly more than the Kazakhs, but their share has since fallen as a result of emigration to Russia.

Kazakhstan Population and Language

The ethnic groups also emigrated during the 1990s. The German-speaking minority declined sharply as more than half a million Germans left the country. Often, they were best educated. At the same time, mainly Kazakhs immigrated from neighboring countries. There are still Kazakh minorities in neighboring countries. Most, just over a million, live in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

The Kazakhs have been divided into three “hordes” since the 17th century, which according to myth derive from three brothers. The hordes in turn are divided into clans and large families. The lineage used to decide which pastures a kazak was allowed to use, and even today the hordeship has some significance for how kazaks relate to each other.

Anti-Russian riots in Almaty 1986 are seen by some historians as the starting point for the entire Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Kazakhstan’s independence, however, the relationship between Kazakhs and Russians has been largely peaceful, although there are small groups of ultranationalists on both sides.


Kazakh gained a special status as a national language in 1989. Since 1995, Russian has also had official status, albeit somewhat subordinate to Kazakh. Almost everyone is fluent in Russian, and the language dominates in administration, business and higher education. Kazakh’s position has been strengthened since independence, but around one-third of the population does not speak the language at all.

Kazakh is a Turkish language, closely related to Kyrgyz and Uighur. It used to be written with the Arabic alphabet. From 1928 to 1940, the Latin alphabet was used, but then switched to Cyrillic (as Russian). Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, there have been plans to return to the Latin alphabet.

Localities in the country often have both a Russian and a Kazakh name. The authorities recommend using the Kazakh names, such as Almaty instead of the crushed Alma-Ata form. But there is also resistance from the Russian-speakers against this “Kazakhization”.



Kazakhs 68.0%, Russians 19.3%, Uzbek 3.2%, Ukrainians 1.5%, Uighurs 1.5%, Tatars 1.1%, Germans 1.0%, other 4.5% (official estimate 2019)

Number of residents

18 037 646 (2017)

Number of residents per square kilometer

7 (2017)

Percentage of residents in the cities

57.3 percent (2017)

Nativity / birth

22.5 per 1000 residents (2016)

Mortality / mortality

7.4 per 1000 residents (2016)


1.4 percent (2017)

fertility rate

2.7 number of births per woman (2016)

Percentage of women

51.6 percent (2017)

Life expectancy

72 years (2016)

Life expectancy for women

77 years (2016)

Life expectancy for men

68 years (2016)


Kazakh is the national language, Russian is the official language



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