Kazakhstan is the second largest country, geographically, to come out of the former Soviet Union.  It is almost four times the size of Texas and shares borders with China to the East, Russia to the North, and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to the South.  

It is a nation rich with history, mountains, and beautiful people and is known for its agriculture, mining, and space missions to the Russian space station MIR.   Kazakhstan possesses enormous untapped natural resources.  Oil is abundant, with the world's tenth largest reserves and a plentiful supply of other minerals and metals.  It also has considerable agricultural potential as well, as the steppe lands are perfect for livestock and grain production.  

At the end of the 14th century the Kazaks began to appear as a distinct Turkic-speaking people.  Living as nomadic shepherds, each clan was like a nation unto itself and eventually several of these clans came together to form one Kazak nation, but by 1730 they were already seeking Russian assistance to help in their struggle against Mongolian invaders.  As history would show, this turned out to be a mixed blessing.  With the communist takeover in 1917, the Soviet Union took the land as State property and under Stalin close to 2 million Kazaks died.  After World War II, so many Russians moved to Kazakhstan that the Kazaks became a minority in their own country.  Migrating Russians began to threaten the Kazak way of life.  As a republic within the USSR (1920-91), Kazakhstan suffered greatly from Stalinist purges, from environmental damage, and saw the ethnic Russian portion of its population rise to 37% while other non-Kazakhs made up almost 20%.                                                                                                                        The Flag of Kazakhstan   

The Kazakhstan FlagToday much has changed.  Russians are still to be seen in large numbers, but Kazakhstan is now an independent nation.  It still is influenced a great deal by its big brother to the north and it looks like this tendency will increase in the near future.  Current issues include the pace of market reform and privatization; fair and free elections and democratic reform; ethnic differences between Russians and Kazakhs; environmental problems; and how to convert the country's abundant energy resources into a better standard of living.

The population of the country is just over 17 million people of which most, if not all, speak Russian.  Kazakh, although the official language, is spoken rarely in day to day living.  The population breakdown is Kazakh 46%, Russian 34.7%, Ukrainian 4.9%, German 3.1% Uzbek 2.3%, Tatar 1.9%, other 7.1% (1996).

The country's various religions are primarily in their infancy with the former Soviet Union outlawing religion while under their control.  Today Kazakhstan finds itself with almost 47% Muslim, 44% Russian Orthodox, 2% Protestant and 7% of other forms.

Other Links you might be interested in: 

www.president.kz  The official site of Kazakhstan, created under the direction of President Nazarbayev. 

www.cia.gov  For quick facts about Kazakhstan ... geography, people, government, etc.