Nur-Sultan, 16 December 2021 (TDI): Kazakhstan celebrated on 16 December, its 30th Independence Day from the former Soviet Union. It was one of the last Soviet Republics to declare independence.
Today #Kazakhstan marks its 30th #IndependenceDay. On the special date, we celebrate our history,our people,our achievements, & our dreams. Grateful to all sincere friends & great int’l partners for their valuable cooperation & support.
Long live 🇰🇿! #Kz30https://t.co/qlWgxMT9rK pic.twitter.com/GSvCN2U0N3
— MFA Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 (@MFA_KZ) December 15, 2021
The country’s location is in Central Asia and borders with Russia on the northwest and north, China in the East; in the South with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea, and Turkmenistan, and the southwest with the Caspian Sea.
It is the largest country in Central Asia and also the ninth-largest in the world, and its capital is Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana. As mentioned before, it was part of the Soviet Union until it collapsed and declared its independence in 1991.
Regarding the lands of the country, it has around one-third of lowlands, one-fifth of low mountains, plains, and hilly plateaus of nearly half of the territory. Its highest point is Mount Khan-Tengri at 6,995 meters.
Kazakhstan has the Greater Barsuki and Aral Karakum deserts near the Aral Sea, the broad Betpaqdala Desert of the interior; and the Muyunkum and Kyzylkum deserts in the south. The country also has 7,000 water streams that form part of the Aral and Caspian seas and Lakes Balkhash and Tengiz.
It is important to mention that it has some exceptions, for example, the Irtysh, Ishim (Esil), and Tobol rivers. Those rivers run from the northwest, across Russia to end in the Arctic waters. Whereas in the west, Kazakhstan has the Ural, which flows into the Caspian Sea.
In the Eastern Part of Kazakhstan, there are the Lakes Balkhash, Zaysan, Alaköl, Tengiz, and Seletytengiz. The climate of the country alternate between hot summers and extreme winters.
Among its wild diversity, Kazakhstan has antelopes, elks, wolves, bears, snow leopards, ermine, and sable. In the Caspian Sea, the fishermen can catch sturgeons, herrings, and roaches. In 2008, UNESCO named the Naurzum and Korgalzhyn state nature reserves World Heritage.
Russia and Uzbekistan concentrate a little less than one-fifth of the more than eight million ethnic Kazakhs. During the 19th century, Kazakhstan saw an increase of migrants that displaced many tribes. That was because the country received around 1,400,000 Russians, Slavs, Germans, Jews, and others.
Later on, the country had another important migrant influx from 1954 to 1956 due to the Virgin and Idle Lands Project. Furthermore, in the early years of the independence of Kazakhstan, a significant number of ethnic Russians returned to their country.
Several ethnic Kazakhs also returned to their country; changing the demography as now the Kazakhs were almost half of the population, and the Russians were one-third. In the 21st century, that distribution came to be two-thirds of Kazakhs, and one-third of Russians.
OTHER ETHNIC GROUPS IN THE COUNTRY
There are other ethnic groups in the country like Uzbeks, Uighurs, Tajiks, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, and Koreans. Some of them like the Slavs—Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians live in large villages that were originally centers of collective and state farms. These villages have a separation of wheat fields or semi-deserts.
The population of Kazakhstan is relatively young because, in 2019, half of the population was under 30 years.
A little more than a quarter of it was under 15 years. On the other side, the birth rate was a little lower than the average, but the death rate is slightly higher than the average.
Then the life expectancy, for men it is 66 years, for the women is significantly higher to occupy the position at 76 years.
The major exports of Kazakhstan include agricultural products, raw materials, chemical products, and also manufactured goods. In 1990, many of the state-owned industries in Kazakhstan were privatized.
Later in 1994, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan formed an economic union; Tajikistan joined it in 1998. This economic union enabled free movement of labor and capital among the countries and also established coordinated economic policies.
That Union gave way to the current Eurasian Economic Union, which was as members Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan. Then Kazakhstan has a wide variety of natural resources like its deposits of minerals.
The country has deposits of copper, lead, zinc, silver, tungsten, tin, chromite, nickel, cobalt, titanium, manganese, antimony, vanadium, gold; uranium, iron, coal. Kazakhstan has one of the world’s largest oil fields called Tengiz. Tengiz alongside Zhusan, Temir, and Kasashyganak are oil and natural gas wells.
Regarding agriculture, it is important to mention that it is quite important for Kazakhstan. The reason is that farming occupies around 1/5 of the labor force. They also raise sheep, goats, cattle, and swine; and regarding the farming, they produce cereal crops, potatoes, vegetables, melons, other fruits, sugar beets, and rice.
Even though the industrial sector is important for most of the countries, and also for Kazakhstan. Most of the manufacturing industries employed Russian and Ukrainian workers. The manufacturing industries produce cast iron, rolled steel, cement, chemical fertilizer, and consumer goods.
Kazakhstan was and is a major lead and copper producer. On the other side, its fuel production increased due to the extraction of coal from the Qaraghandy and Ekibastuz basins.
Regarding trade, Kazakhstan’s main exports are oil and natural gas, various metals, and chemicals. About their export destinations are Italy, China, the Netherlands, and Russia, from those Kazakhstan imports machinery, metal and chemical products, and food from China and Russia.
GOVERNMENT AND LAWS
Kazakhstan adopted its first post-independence constitution in 1993, which replaced the Soviet Constitution. Then in 1995, the country adopted a renewed constitution. That renewed constitution provided a strong executive power, but the government amended the Constitution in 2017; to reduce its power.
Currently, the country is a unitary republic with a bicameral legislature that consists of a Senate and an Assembly; and both have the power to amend the Constitution. Other joint powers of both are the approval of the budget, ratifying treaties, and also declaring war.
The elected legislators serve four-year terms. The President is the head of state, elected for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
After the elections, the President appoints a Prime Minister and the other Ministers of the Presidential Cabinet. The President also needs to appoint the chairperson of the National Security Committee.
Then the President appoints the foreign minister, minister of defense, and minister of internal affairs. Regarding the army, the President is the commander in chief, and finally is the one responsible for the country’s foreign relations. The current President is Kassym-Jomart Tokayev elected in 2019.
The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court and then lower courts, and a Constitutional Council. The members of the Constitutional Council are appointed by the president and legislators.
Kazakhs speak a Turkic language of the Northwest or Kipchak, but Russian and Kazakh are official languages. Russian is the most understood language. The Government declared the official language, Kazakh in 1989.
Regarding religion, in 2009, 70.2% of the citizens were Sunni Muslims, 26.2% of the population were Christians. 3.3% of the population practice atheism and the missing percentage practice other religions.
During the Soviet period, the young Kazakhs received their education totally in Russian. It later started a shift to the Kazakh language and it had an impact on classroom learning. The teachers needed to have fluent Kazakh, and the number of schools dedicated to education in that language increased.
After 1989, there was a major reorganization of the curricula and the textbooks were re-designed. That reorganization included the history of Kazakh history, literature, and culture. Due to the extensive interaction and close contact with Russia; the Kazakhs look more for inspiration there rather than other countries.
The citizens that live in urban areas wear modern clothes, but women in remote villages still wear traditional dresses and headscarves. The oral epics were the main genre in Kazakhstan until the 19th century.
In the 18th century, the Kazakhs added other written, poetic forms to their literature. Nowadays, the country has several modern theaters that offer Uighur, Korean, and Russian musicals, opera, ballet, and puppet performances
Throughout history, several parts of modern Kazakhstan were incorporated into different empires, like during the Mongol empire; most of the territory was part of the polity of Chagatai. Then in 1465, 200,000 people of the Uzbek Khan moved into Mughulistān and were known as Kazakh.
In the late 15th century and the 16th, the Kazakhs were able to consolidate a nomadic empire; and were the virtual masters of the entire steppe region. Teüke Khan reunited the three hordes, and he was also responsible for the creation of a Kazakh law code. That law code was a mix of Kazakh customary and Islamic laws.
Due to their incorporation into Russia, Russian schooling brought modern ideas into Kazakh life. Russian thinkers like Chokan Valikanov and Abay Kūnanbay-ulï adapted those ideas to specific Kazakh needs and created a secular culture.
During the Russian Civil War, the Kazakhs were bystanders instead of participants of the war that led to the fall of the tsarist regime. Then in 1919 and 1920, the Red Army occupied the country.
Despite their nomadic rural existence, the Kazakhs were the most literate and dynamic people in Central Asia. In 1936, Kazakhstan became formally a union republic of the Soviet Union.
In 1990, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty and achieved independence in 1991. At the beginning of the 21st century, the capital of Kazakhstan saw a rapid construction boom directed by Nazarbayev and fueled by the country’s growing petroleum revenues.
Nazarbayev was reelected in 1999, and then in 2005. In 2007, a reform package and a constitutional amendment were passed that included a reduction in the length of the presidential term; and an expansion of parliamentary power, but Nazarbayev was exempted from it.
In 2011, Nazarbayev called for early elections, which he won for another term in office. The next elections were in 2015, that Nazarbayev won once again, and he appointed his daughter as deputy prime minister and later appointed her for the Senate.
Nazarbayev resigned from the presidency and then Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over for the remaining time. Tokayev was elected as President and he is currently serving in the position.
TOURISM AND UNESCO SITES
Kazakhstan signed the World Heritage Convention in 1994. Currently, the country has served one mandate to the world heritage committee from 2013 to 2017. Currently, among its Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, we find 5.
The first one is the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi inscribed in 2003. The Petroglyphs of the Archaeological Landscape of Tanbaly, and the Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor; both inscribed in 2004.
Then the Saryarka – Steppe, and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan in 2008. Finally, the country has Western Tien-Shan inscribed in 2016. Currently, Kazakhstan has around 14 sites on the tentative list to be World Heritage, like the Turkic sanctuary of Merke, or the Northern Tyan-Shan (Ile-Alatau State National Park).
In that list, Kazakhstan also has the Cold winter deserts of Turan, Abylaikit Monastery, Cultural Landscape of Ulytau, the Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Arpauzen, the Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Eshkiolmes, Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Kulzhabasy, Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Sauyskandyk.
The Secretary of State of the United States, Antony J. Blinken, congratulated Kazakhstan on their Independence Day. In his message, Blinken appreciated the efforts of the country to advance economic connectivity, prosperity, and growth; and their contributions to peace and security.
Congratulatory statement by @SecBlinken on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of #Kazakhstan’s Independence, recognizing 🇰🇿 contribution to international peace & security as well as welcoming ongoing political reforms & climate actions.https://t.co/GmxYw7r03d
— Yerzhan Ashikbayev (@KZAmbUS) December 16, 2021
Finally, he mentioned the pride of the US to call Kazakhstan a friend, and reaffirmed their commitment towards their sovereignty. Azerbaijan also dedicated congratulations to the country for their national day; and expressed their best wishes for the citizens and the Government.
Happy Independence Day, Kazakhstan! 🇦🇿🇰🇿 pic.twitter.com/4ObtIGZvYx
— MFA Azerbaijan 🇦🇿 (@AzerbaijanMFA) December 16, 2021
Mexico also congratulated the Government and the citizens of Kazakhstan for Independence Day, on 16 December.
— Relaciones Exteriores (@SRE_mx) December 16, 2021
Russia was among the countries that congratulated Kazakhstan for the Anniversary of its Independence Day. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, remarked that relations between Russia and Kazakhstan are dynamically developing in the spirit of strategic partnership and alliance.
🥳 Congratulations to the Republic of #Kazakhstan on its 3️⃣0️⃣ anniversary of Independence!
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) December 16, 2021