Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world with an area of 2,724,900 km². A wide variety of landscapes, valuable mineral resources and a strongly multiethnic population can be found on its territory. A look at the young, diverse state reveals a fascinating mix of opportunities, but also problems.
According to businesscarriers, Kazakhstan is above all diversity: it is considered a steppe country, but in fact deserts and high mountains also take up a significant part of its area. The number of natural resources is high, nature is extremely diverse, people’s lifestyles are shaped by tradition and modernity.
Official name: Republic of Kazakhstan
Area: 2,724,900 km²
Residents: 18.5 million (2019)
Growth of population: 0.9% (2018, estimated)
Seat of government: Nur-Sultan (Astana)
State language: Kazakh
Official language: Russian
Kazakhstan borders the Caspian Sea, the largest inland lake on earth, to the west. This is followed by the Caspian Depression (lowest point 132 m below sea level) and to the south of it the Ustyurt plateau, followed by the Turan lowlands and the Kazakh lowlands, which gradually merges into the Kazakh hill country in the east. Here you will find the endless steppes that are so characteristic for the perception of Kazakhstan, which actually only take up 26% of its area. In the almost deserted center and in the south of the country there are semi-deserts (14% of the territory) and deserts (44%), known under the descriptive name of the hunger steppeor Betpak-Dala. The extreme east and south-east of the country are marked by high mountains. In the northeast is the Kazakh part of the Altai with peaks of more than 4,000 m and in the southeast the ice-covered foothills of the Tien Shan. There is also the legendary Khan Tengri, with 7,010 m (other information 6,995 m) the highest point in the country and a destination for highly trained and ambitious mountaineers.
The citizens of Kazakhstan pride themselves on the fact that almost all elements of the periodic table can be found on the territory of their state. The size of the deposits or demand and world market prices make the mining of many worthwhile: in the first place are crude oil, gas, coal, but also iron, chromium, manganese, tungsten, aluminum, lead, gold, silver, uranium and many others and not least the “rare earths” are promoted.
Fauna and Flora
The flora and fauna are as big as the country and diverse as its landscapes. According to official figures there are in Kazakhstan, for example, more than 150 different species of mammals, including several from extinction endangered mammal species: bears, shy snow leopard (recently, Persian leopards), the rare saiga antelope and argali (wild sheep) who illegally hunted for their horns will. Kulane, half donkeys, have been successfully reintroduced into the wild for several years after they disappeared from the steppes of Kazakhstan in the 1930’s. recently the same has been true of Bukhara deerat Lake Balkhash. The reintroduction of the Przewalski wild horses, which are considered extinct in the wild, is proving to be difficult. Of the well over 5,000 documented plant species, 700 are endemic. Images of the blooming steppe are legendary. There are 35 different types of wild tulips in Kazakhstan, but the original form of our apple also comes from here. To protect this diversity, there are 24 protected areas, both strictly protected reserves and more easily accessible national parks. Part of the Ile-Alatau National Park near Almatys was dismayed by conservationists in spring 2020. Many animals and plants are now still in their threatened existence and on the Red List, there are isolated initiatives for the conservation of species and dedicated naturalist. Impressive successes, that is, astonishing increases in the number of saiga antelopes, were undone by a mass extinction in spring 2015, for which scientists blame a form of Pasteurellosis. Poachers also continue to attack the saigas. The repeated murder by state saiga protectors in 2019 by poachers is certainly an indication of the profit margins on the black market. This is not the only reason why the penalties for environmental crimes should now be tightened.
After steppe areas and lakes in northern Kazakhstan were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008, the decision was made in summer 2016 to grant this status to parts of western Tien Shan, which extends over Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.