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Travel Notes: Asia: Kazakhstan Travel Notes

Kazakhstan Travel Notes

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Find Kazakhstan Travel and Tourist Information with links to official travel and tourism websites and state resources for visitors to Kazakhstan.

About Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan was a former republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Together with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan it forms a region known as Central Asia.

Central Asia

Countries neighbouring Kazakhstan are: Russia, Mongolia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Map of Kzakhstan

Weather in Asia:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around Asia.

Tien Shan Mountains

Tien Shan means Heavenly Mountains in Chinese. It is the major mountain system of Central Asia; stretching for over 2,400km, with a width of between 320 and 480kms.In the border area where Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and China all meet is a succession of high peaks. Peak Pobedy (Russian for victory), in eastern Kyrgyzstan, is the highest (7,439m).

The largest glaciers are formed in the high altitudes of these international boundaries when the amount of snowfall is greater than the melting rate.

Almaty - Alma-Ata

Formerly called Alma-Ata, Almaty (the former capital of Kazakhstan) is situated in the foothills of the Tien Shan Mountains, near China.

It was founded around the Russian fort Zailiyskoe in 1854. The city was known as Vernoye from 1855 to 1921.

The city was badly damaged by earthquakes in 1887 and 1911, and a flood in 1921.

Almaty developed into a major economic centre when the newly built Turkestan-Siberian Railway reached it, and was made the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) in 1921.

Known as one of the most enchanting cities of the former Soviet Union, Almaty also has its own opera house and symphony orchestra.


On December 10, 1997, President Nursultan Nazarbayev moved the capital of Kazakhstan from Almaty to Astana (formerly called Akmola) because of its central location.

Akmola was originally founded in 1830, as a Cossack fortification, and two years later the name was changed to Akmolinsk. During Soviet rule, the name was changed again, to Tselinograd.

While the old part of  town was located on the right bank of the River Ishim, the new construction of Government buildings, private housing and entertainment facilities has in effect created a whole new city centre on the left bank.

Accommodation in Astana

Turkic Settlement

Turkic tribes settled in the region that is now Kazakhstan from about the 8th century AD. It was incorporated in the Mongol empire of Genghis Khan in the 13th century.

Russian forces mounted a large-scale offensive southwards, beginning in the 1830s, and by 1866 all of present-day Kazakhstan was under their control.

Hundreds of thousands of Kazakhs were killed or fled to China when Stalin instituted a policy of forced settling and collectivisation of the Kazakh population, in the late 1920s.

Kazakhstan declared its independence in December 1991, shortly before the USSR broke apart.

Space Programme

The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was the base for Soviet space programmes beginning in the 1950s.

Operations still continue at the site, despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan's independence - at a price.

An agreement was signed between the two countries in March 1994; granting Russia control of the complex for 20 years - at the bargain price of US$115 million a year.

Language and Culture

The official language of Kazakhstan is the Turkic language of Kazakh, although Russian is the most widely spoken. Only about 40 per cent of the people speak Kazakh, while more than three-quarters of the population speak Russian.

Although the Kazakhs are the single largest ethnic group in Kazakhstan, they make up less than fifty per cent of the total population -- the only official ethnic group in the former USSR who constitute a minority.

The Kazakhs, a mixture of Mongol and Turkic peoples, emerged in about the 15th century.

Russian intrusions into what is now Kazakhstan began in the 16th century, when Cossacks settled along the URL River in the western portion of the country.

The Cossacks protected the Russian frontier by establishing settlements and fortifications across the northern boundary of the steppe region in Kazakhstan.

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