(Country brief overview)
President: Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev
Prime Minister: Mr Serik Akhmetov
Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament (upper chamber):Mr Kayrat Mami
Chairman of the Majilis of the Parliament (lower chamber): Mr Nurlan Nigmatullin
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Mr Erlan Idrissov
Independence: December 16, 1991
Location: South of Russia, Northwest of China, North of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and Northeast of Caspian Sea (see map below).
• Total area: 1,687,443 sq miles (2,717,300 sq km)
• Land area: 1,657,945 sq miles (2,669,800 sq km)
• Comparative area:
- Ninth largest in the world, equivalent to the size of Western Europe.
- Four times the size of Texas.
- Five times the size France.
Boundaries: Total 7,459 miles (12,012 km (without Caspian shoreline). The Republic of Kazakhstan shares its longest borders with Russia, 4,251 miles (6,846 km) and China, 951 miles (1,533 km). It also borders 1,183 miles (1,894 km) on the Caspian Sea.
Major Cities: Astana (capital, moved from Almaty in 1998); Almaty, Karaganda, Shymkent, Atyrau, Aktobe, Oskemen.
Population: 16.83 million (as of January, 2012)
Ethnic and Social Diversity:
• Kazakhstanfs ethnic composition is the driving force behind much of the countryfs political and cultural life. The countryfs principal ethnic groups include Kazakh (63.1%), Russian (23.7%), Ukrainian (2.1%), Uzbek (2.8%), Uighur (1.4%), Tatar (1.3%), German (1.1%), and other groups (4.5%). There are more than 130 other ethnic groups living in peace in Kazakhstan.
• Two major religions in Kazakhstan are Islam and Christianity. Most Muslims in Kazakhstan belong to the Sunni denomination of Islam, while most of Christians belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. The rest constitute other religions – there are more than 40 confessions in Kazakhstan which are organised in more than 3000 religious organisations. It is worth mentioning that although most people in Kazakhstan associate themselves with a certain religion, most of the population is not deeply religious.
• Languages: Kazakh (state language), Russian. Newspapers, TV/Radio programs, school instruction are done in 11 languages (Kazakh, Russian, German, Korean, etc.)
• Literacy: 100%
In 1997, Kazakhstan launched the long-term national strategy gKazakhstan 2030. Prosperity, Security and Improvement of Welfare of the Citizens of Kazakhstanh. The strategy identified seven national priorities for the period to the year 2030 which serve as a groad-maph for Kazakhstanfs future growth:
• National security. Ensure development of Kazakhstan as an independent sovereign state preserving its complete territorial integrity;
• Safeguard and strengthen domestic political stability and national unity;
• Economic growth based on an open market economy with high levels of foreign investments and internal savings. Achieve realistic and sustainable rates of economic growth;
• Health, education and well-being of the citizens of Kazakhstan. Consistently improve living standards, health, education and opportunities of Kazakhstanis and improve the natural environment in the country;
• Energy resources. Effectively utilize energy resources of Kazakhstan through rapid increases in extracting and exploring oil and gas with the aim of gaining revenues to engender stable economic growth and improve living standards;
• Infrastructure and particularly transport and communications. Develop these key sectors to enhance national security, political stability and economic growth; and
• Professional government. Establish an effective professional corps of civil servants and state-owned formations of Kazakhstan loyal to the cause they serve and capable of acting as representatives of people in achieving national priorities.
Map of Kazakhstan: