The Republic of Kazakhstan, situated at the heart of Eurasia, appeared on the geopolitical map in 1991. The name Kazakh, of Turkic origin, is thought to mean “free man” – which is appropriate in a land historically populated by freedom-loving nomads.
For thousands of years, these nomads tended vast cattle herds, pasture lands and the fertile soils of the region’s foothills and river valleys. Both the historic Silk Road and Sable Route, along which expensive furs were transported, passed through the region. This made Kazakhstan an important cultural, trade and economic bridge between Asia and Europe.
The land of many nationalities
Kazakhstan is home to many different nationalities and faiths, all united by a common history. This variety of tradition, heritage and language is treasured by the people of the Republic of Kazakhstan, who believe there is much truth in the Japanese saying: “You can survive without your relatives; you cannot survive without your neighbours.”
The people of Kazakhstan are proud of their diversity. Century after century, generation after generation, Kazakhstan has always sought to encourage friendship and tolerance among its people.
Currently around 130 nationalities populate Kazakhstan. Around 66% are Kazakhs, 21% are Russians and the remaining 13% constitutes Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Germans and Tartars. The predominant religions are Islam and Christianity.
The state language of Kazakhstan is Kazakh. However, the younger generations are becoming increasingly trilingual. Both Kazakh and Russian are used by the authorities and governing institutions of Kazakhstan. Kazakh is considered the language of the ancestors and Russian is widely spoken, while English is enjoying a growing popularity as the language most commonly used to communicate with foreign visitors.
The city of the future
The capital of Kazakhstan is Astana, a city founded as a fortress in 1830. Having only become the country’s capital in 1997, Astana is a young but fast-growing modern city full of bright prospects, rich opportunities and exciting ideas.
In 1999, in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, Astana received an honourable mention in UNESCO’s “Cities for Peace” awards. Astana continues to live up to this and is developing itself as “a model city of social wellbeing.”
Kazakhstan’s President, Nursultan Nazarbaev, is keen to ensure that Astana is a city in which innovative projects are realised. There are already many sites of interest in the Kazakhstan capital, including:
The Oceanarium, sometimes referred to as “a seawater drop in the steppe.”
The world’s youngest opera theatre. Many international celebrities, including Dmitry Khvorostovsky, have already performed on its stage.
The Baiterek monument, constructed from glass and concrete, towers above Astana offering a panoramic view of the entire city.
Astana is a city of the future, as a result not only of its unique architectural style, but also of its open and hospitable nature. Astana has played host to the UN Secretary General and Pope John Paul II. The Kazakhstan capital is a place open to businessmen and tourists, artists and sportsmen.
The star called Almaty
Certain world cities stand out due to their iconic and memorable landmarks. The mere mention of San Francisco, for example, usually conjures an image of the Golden Gate Bridge. Paris similarly brings to mind the Eiffel Tower. For Kazakhstan, the city of Almaty offers an enduring image with its picturesque valley Medeo.
Almaty is a city that successfully brings together people of different cultures. Eastern and European traditions are closely interwoven here and the city’s inhabitants are open-minded and friendly. The city has a well-developed infrastructure, a solid standard of living, a strong economy and recreational facilities of international standard.
Once seen, never forgotten
Despite being the ninth largest country in the world, Kazakhstan remains, for many people, an unknown and enigmatic place. Even the most well-travelled visitor will find many fascinations in Kazakhstan: mountain peaks covered with snow, vast highlands, deep rivers, parched deserts, endless fields covered with flowers and virgin forest reserves.
Kazakhstan’s natural beauty is outstanding. The Tyan-Shan, Tarbagatay and Altay mountains, located in the south, south-east and the west part of the country, gleam with snow and glaciered peaks. The Caspian Sea - sometimes referred to as the world’s largest lake - lies to the west and the Sary Arka steppe is home to the fascinating Balkhash Lake, which is part fresh water and part salt water. Northern Kazakhstan offers similar areas of beauty and is home to hundreds of picturesque glacier lakes surrounded by the pine woods of Kokshetau.
It would, of course, take pages to detail all of Kazakhstan’s attractions. The rock paintings and sculptures in the Bayan Aul national park are particularly unforgettable while the Kurgaldzhino natural reserve offers more than 300 types of plants and the world’s most northern colony of flamingos.
Much emphasis is placed on the preservation of the country’s many natural reserves, national parks and their unique landscapes, fauna and flora. Kazakhstan is an excellent destination for travellers who love nature. It is unspoilt, varied and beautiful.
Those looking for rest and relaxation, as well as impressive natural attractions, will enjoy the Kokshetau natural park’s famous resorts and spas, therapeutic mudbaths and mineral water springs.
Welcome to Kazakhstan
It is not necessary to search the entire world for fascinating tradition, beautiful, pristine nature or a delicate mixture of old and modern: simply visit Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan, guests are made welcome as they experience the very heart of Eurasia.