Kazakhstan Overview

Kazakhstan is a country in Central Asia. It is south of Russia, with which it shares the most border, as well as west of China, and north of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. In addition, it lies along the Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea, which also forms part of its western boundary. Its lowest point is 433 feet below sea level (-132 m) in a depression, and its highest point is Khan Tangiri Shyngy 22,946.19 feet (6994 m), a mountain on the border shared with Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakhstan flag

Kazakhstan flag

 

The capital of Kazakhstan is Astana. Its area is 1,049,155.4 square miles (2,717,300 sq km), making it the ninth largest country in the world, following Russia, Canada, the United States, China, Brazil, Australia, India, and Argentina. The country is divided into 14 provinces, and is the site of the Kara Kum Desert, which is the fourth largest desert in the world.

 

Known as the Republic of Kazakhstan, the country was once called the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, when it was a member of the USSR. The local name is Qazaqstan Respublikasy. It celebrates its independence from the Soviet Union, achieved on 16 December 1991, as its Independence Day.

Kazakhstan map

Kazakhstan territory

 

The July, 2008 population of Kazakhstan was estimated to be 15,340,533. The population is primarily Kazakh, with a large percentage of Russians, as well as Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Germans, Tatar, Uygur, and other ethnicities. The state language is Kazakh, but Russian is both the official language as well as the language designated for “interethnic communication.” While a large percentage of the population speaks Kazakh, most speak Russian as well.

The overall literacy rate in Kazakhstan is 99.5%, with a half percent difference between the literacy of men and women. There are two main religious affiliations: Muslim and Russian Orthodox, with a far smaller number of Protestants, and a few others. Over half the population is estimated to be in the work force, with half of the labor force devoted to the service sector, about a third in agriculture, and about a fifth in industry.

Images from en.wikipedia.org and www.infoplease.com

Kazakhstan Still World’s #1 Uranium Producer

Kazakhstan, better known for its vast oil and gas reserves, remained the world’s top uranium producer in 2014. Ever since Kazakhstan supplanted Canada as the uranium production leader in 2009, it has stayed No. 1 every year. It accounts for 38% of world production and has the world’s second largest known reserves, according to the Energy Ministry.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

Kazatomprom, the state nuclear holding company, comprises 26 enterprises surveying, mining, storing or transporting uranium. “The volume of uranium mined in the RK (Republic of Kazakhstan) last year was 22,829 tonnes, of which 13,156 tonnes were mined by Kazatomprom,” said Gani Kulakhmetov, spokesman for Kazatomprom. “In 2013 the amount mined was 22,500 tonnes … of which Kazatomprom accounted for 12,600 tonnes of uranium.”

Kazakhstan exports all of its uranium, having no nuclear power industry, but it will only sell to countries that signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, committing them to peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Its main customers include firms from the European Union, Japan and South Korea, Kulakhmetov said. “The company’s policy … is to develop all possible channels for selling and diversifying the export of uranium production everywhere [committed to peaceful use].”

Uranium

Uranium

Kazakhstan is in a “sweet spot,” because 38 of its 54 known uranium deposits are still unmined, according to industry stakeholders. Its deposits are scattered nationwide, though 57.8% of known uranium is situated in the Chu-Sarysu basin in South Kazakhstan Province, according to the Almaty-based National Centre of Scientific and Technical Information.

Consumers and rival producers of uranium alike are eyeing Kazakhstan’s uranium, Almaty-based economist Marat Kairlenov said, citing consumers such as France and Japan and Kazakhstan’s main rival, Canada. With its plentiful uranium reserves, Kazakhstan stands to benefit from unsatisfied worldwide demand for “new” uranium, he said.

However, the uranium industry would like to see prices rise after years of stagnation or decline. “In 2011-2014, the price of uranium on the world spot market fell by about 50%,” said Anna Bodrova, senior analyst at the Alpari investment firm. “The main reason … was the [March 2011] accident at the Fukushima power station in Japan.”

Images from www.earthtimes.org and en.wikipedia.org

 

Kazakhstan

In the previous articles, introduction concerning Central Asia were done. A brief history of the whole Central Asia was also discussed. In the next articles, each of the countries included in Central Asia would be focused in order to know each of their brief history, as well as developments in the 21st century.

First in the spotlight would be Kazakhstan. Its official name is the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is a contiguous transcontinental country in Central Asia. It is the world’s largest landlocked country. When you say landlocked country, it means it is a country entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas. It is also the ninth largest country in the world. It has borders, with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, as well as a large part of the Caspian Sea.

Kazakhstan is a desert beauty made out of flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. As one may have noticed, the physical setting of this country is akin to that of an arid climate setting. With a warfare-filled history, far-off sea industry, and a landlocked country, how did this country fare off in the 21st century?

 

Politics: In the 21st century, Kazakhstan is a unitary republic. Unitary republic means it is a state governed as one single power in which the central government is ultimately supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate. Its first and current President (2015) is Nursultan Nazarbayev.  The newly elected President quickly created a new ministry, which is the Ministry of Investment and Development. This division is responsible for industrial-innovative, scientific, and technological development.

Demographics: Currently, the current population of Kazakhstan is 16.455 million as of February 2011.

Language: It is a bilingual country. Kazakh, a Turkic language is spoken natively by 64.4% of the population. It is also the state language. The other is Russian, which is dominantly spoken. It is the official language of Kazakhstan.

Religion: Predominantly, it is an Islamic country, making up of the 70% of the population’s religion. The minorities include Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Irreligious. Most chose not to declare their religion.

 

Other aspects of Kazakhstan in the 21st century would be discussed in later articles as it has something to do with the rest of Central Asia.

Images from en.wikipedia.org and brittanica.com

Kazakhstan Facts and Figures

Ethnically the country is as diverse, with the Kazakhs making up over half the population, the Russians comprising just over a quarter, and smaller minorities of Uzbeks, Koreans, Chechens and others accounting for the rest.

download (78)

Astana, Kazakhstan

 

These groups generally live in harmony, though Russians resent the lack of dual citizenship and having to pass a Kazakh-language test in order to work for state agencies. Since independence many ethnic Russians have emigrated to Russia.

 

The main religion, Islam, was suppressed like all others under Communist rule, but has enjoyed a revival since the collapse of the Soviet Union. There has been major foreign investment in the Caspian oil sector, bringing rapid economic growth, averaging about 8% in the decade since 2000. By 2010, per capita gross domestic product was estimated to have grown more than tenfold since the mid-nineties.

 

An oil pipeline linking the Tengiz oil field in western Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk opened in 2001. In 2008, Kazakhstan began pumping some oil exports through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, as part of a drive to lessen its dependence on Russia as a transit country. A pipeline to China opened in late 2005. Kazakhstan is also the world’s largest producer of uranium.

 

In the 1990s, a small minority of Kazakhs grew very rich after independence through privatization and other business deals which opposition politicians alleged to have been corrupt, while many Kazakhs suffered from the initial negative impact of economic reform.

However, as a result of the growth since 2010, inequality is now less pronounced than in other Central Asian countries, and unemployment is low by regional standards. Some economic challenges remain, though, including persistently high inflation.

images (18)

 

The people of Kazakhstan also have to live with the aftermath of Soviet-era nuclear testing and toxic waste dumping, as well as with growing drug addiction levels and a growing incidence of HIV/Aids. Inefficient Soviet irrigation projects led to severe shrinkage of the heavily polluted Aral Sea.

Images from en.wikipedia.org

 

Kazakhstan Town Has Sleep Sickness

Have you ever felt more sleepy than you should? That’s the problem with a Kazakhstan town. The residents of a small village in Kazakhstan are falling asleep at random, sometimes for days at a time, and no one knows why. Since the spring of 2013, the village of Kalachi in the Akmolinsk district (whose name derives from aqmola, a Kazakh term that ominously translates to the white tomb), 150 miles south of the Russian border, has suffered from at least four outbreaks of the disorder. As of the latest wave, from late August to early September, over 60 people, or 10 percent of the town’s population of 680 had been affected. Last week, RT released a documentary on the problem titled “Sleepy Hallow, Kazakhstan.” Locals told the reporters that they fear one day they’ll fall asleep and never wake up again.

images (16)

Kalachi, Kazakhstan

 

Classified as an encephalopathy of unclear origin—the highfalutin term for a weird brain disorder we can’t figure out—villagers who do not simply keel over while moving or working report feeling weakness, dizziness, and memory and motor control loss. At least two children have reported hallucinations as well: Misha Plyukhin saw flying horses and light bulbs, his mother with eight eyes and a trunk, and snakes and worms in his bed, trying to eat his arms; Rudolf Boyarinos cannot remember his visions, but four people had to calm and subdue him as he screamed “monsters!” The sleep is so deep that some locals fear an old man they assumed was dead could have been buried alive.

sleep sickness

sleep sickness

As the Kazakhstani government and outside consultants fail on repeated pledges to figure out the cause of the epidemic, many locals are turning to conspiracy theories—like alien viruses and government experimentation. More disturbing than a cover-up, though, is the prospect that we could be dealing with a new disease or contaminant that we don’t know how to test for.

Images from dailymail.co.uk and mapcarta.com