Wikipedia Entry for Kazakhstan, Read by Jason

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Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a landlocked country mostly in Central Asia, with a small part in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to the north and west, China to the east, Kyrgyzstan to the southeast, Uzbekistan to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southwest, with a coastline along the Caspian Sea. Its capital is Astana, while the largest city and leading cultural and commercial hub is Almaty. Kazakhstan is the world's ninth-largest country by land area and the largest landlocked country. It has a population of 20 million and one of the lowest population densities in the world, at fewer than 6 people per square kilometre (16 people/sq mi). Ethnic Kazakhs constitute a majority, while ethnic Russians form a significant minority. Officially secular, Kazakhstan is a Muslim-majority country, although ethnic Russians in the country form a sizeable Christian community.
Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era. In antiquity, various nomadic Iranian peoples such as the Saka, Massagetae, and Scythians dominated the territory, with the Achaemenid Persian Empire expanding towards the southern region. Turkic nomads entered the region from as early as the sixth century. In the 13th century, the area was subjugated by the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan. Following the disintegration of the Golden Horde in the 15th century, the Kazakh Khanate was established over an area roughly corresponding with modern Kazakhstan. By the 18th century, the Kazakh Khanate had fragmented into three jüz (tribal divisions), which were gradually absorbed and conquered by the Russian Empire; by the mid-19th century, all of Kazakhstan was nominally under Russian rule. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution and subsequent Russian Civil War, the territory was reorganized several times. In 1936, its modern borders were established with the formation of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan was the last Soviet republic to declare independence during the dissolution of the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991.
Kazakhstan dominates Central Asia economically and politically, accounting for 60 percent of the region's GDP, primarily through its oil and gas industry; it also has vast mineral resources. Kazakhstan has the highest Human Development Index ranking in the region. It is de jure a democratic, unitary, constitutional republic; however, it is de facto an authoritarian regime with no free elections. Nevertheless, there have been incremental efforts at democratization and political reform since the 2019 resignation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan is a member state of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Eurasian Economic Union, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Organization of Turkic States, and International Organization of Turkic Culture.

The English word Kazakh, meaning a member of the Kazakh people, derives from Russian: казах. The native name is Kazakh: қазақ, romanized: qazaq. It might originate from the Turkic word verb qaz-, 'to wander', reflecting the Kazakhs' nomadic culture. The term 'Cossack' is of the same origin. In Turko-Persian sources, the term Özbek-Qazaq first appeared during the mid-16th century, in the Tarikh-i-Rashidi by Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat, a Chagatayid prince of Kashmir, which locates Kazakh in the eastern part of Desht-i Qipchaq. According to Vasily Bartold, the Kazakhs likely began using that name during the 15th century. Though Kazakh traditionally referred only to ethnic Kazakhs, including those living in China, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and other neighbouring countries, the term is increasingly being used to refer to any inhabitant of Kazakhstan, including residents of other ethnicities.

Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era. The Botai culture (3700–3100 BC) is credited with the first domestication of horses. The Botai population derived most of their ancestry from a deeply European-related population known as Ancient North Eurasians, while also displaying some Ancient East Asian admixture. Pastoralism developed during the Neolithic. The population was Caucasoid during the Bronze and Iron Age period. The Kazakh territory was a key constituent of the Eurasian trading Steppe Route, the ancestor of the terrestrial Silk Roads. Archaeologists believe that humans first domesticated the horse in the region's vast steppes. During recent prehistoric times, Central Asia was inhabited by groups such as the possibly Indo-European Afanasievo culture, later early Indo-Iranian cultures such as Andronovo, and later Indo-Iranians such as the Saka and Massagetae. Other groups included the nomadic Scythians and the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the southern territory of the modern country. The Andronovo and Srubnaya cultures, precursors to the peoples of the Scythian cultures, were found to harbor mixed ancestry from the Yamnaya Steppe herders and peoples of the Central European Middle Neolithic. In 329 BC, Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army fought in the Battle of Jaxartes against the Scythians along the Jaxartes River, now known as the Syr Darya along the southern border of modern Kazakhstan.

The main migration of Turkic peoples occurred between the 5th and 11th centuries when they spread across most of Central Asia. The Turkic peoples slowly replaced and assimilated the previous Iranian-speaking locals, turning the population of Central Asia from largely Iranian, into primarily of East Asian descent. The first Turkic Khaganate was founded by Bumin in 552 on the Mongolian Plateau and quickly spread west toward the Caspian Sea. The Göktürks drove before them various peoples: Xionites, Uar, Oghurs and others. These seem to have merged into the Avars and Bulgars. Within 35 years the eastern half and the Western Turkic Khaganate were independent. The Western Khaganate reached its peak in the early 7th century.
The Cumans entered the steppes of modern-day Kazakhstan around the early 11th century, where they later joined with the Kipchak and established the vast Cuman-Kipchak confederation. While ancient cities Taraz (Aulie-Ata) and Hazrat-e Turkestan had long served as important way-stations along the Silk Road connecting Asia and Europe, true political consolidation began only with the Mongol rule of the early 13th century. Under the Mongol Empire, the first strictly structured administrative districts (Ulus) were established. After the division of the Mongol Empire in 1259, the land that would become modern-day Kazakhstan was ruled by the Golden Horde, also known as the Ulus of Jochi. During the Golden Horde period, a Turco-Mongol tradition emerged among the ruling elite wherein Turkicised descendants of Genghis Khan followed Islam and continued to reign over the lands.

In 1465, the Kazakh Khanate emerged as a result of the dissolution of the Golden Horde. Established by Janibek Khan and Kerei Khan, it continued to be ruled by the Turco-Mongol clan of Tore (Jochid dynasty). Throughout this period, traditional nomadic life and a livestock-based economy continued to dominate the steppe. In the 15th century, a distinct Kazakh identity began to emerge among the Turkic tribes. This was followed by the Kazakh War of Independence, where the Khanate gained its sovereignty from the Shaybanids. The process was consolidated by the mid-16th century with the appearance of the Kazakh language, culture, and economy.
Nevertheless, the region was the focus of ever-increasing disputes between the native Kazakh emirs and the neighbouring Persian-speaking peoples to the south. At its height, the Khanate would rule parts of Central Asia and control Cumania. The Kazakh Khanate's territories would expand deep into Central Asia. By the early 17th century, the Kazakh Khanate was struggling with the impact of tribal rivalries, which had effectively divided the population into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) hordes (jüz). Political disunion, tribal rivalries, and the diminishing importance of overland trade routes between east and west weakened the Kazakh Khanate. The Khiva Khanate used this opportunity and annexed the Mangyshlak Peninsula. Uzbek rule there lasted two centuries until the Russian arrival.

During the 17th century, the Kazakhs fought the Oirats, a federation of western Mongol tribes, including the Dzungar. The beginning of the 18th century marked the zenith of the Kazakh Khanate. During this period the Little Horde participated in the 1723–1730 war against the Dzungar Khanate, following their "Great Disaster" invasion of Kazakh territory. Under the leadership of Abul Khair Khan, the Kazakhs won major victories over the Dzungar at the Bulanty River in 1726 and at the Battle of Añyraqai in 1729. Ablai Khan participated in the most significant battles against the Dzungar from the 1720s to the 1750s, for which he was declared a "batyr" ("hero") by the people. The Kazakhs suffered from the frequent raids against them by the Volga Kalmyks. The Kokand Khanate used the weakness of Kazakh jüzs after Dzungar and Kalmyk raids and conquered present Southeastern Kazakhstan, including Almaty, the formal capital in the first quarter of the 19th century. The Emirate of Bukhara ruled Şymkent before the Russians gained dominance.

In the first half of the 18th century, the Russian Empire constructed the Irtysh line, a series of forty-six forts and ninety-six redoubts, including Omsk (1716), Semipalatinsk (1718), Pavlodar (1720), Orenburg (1743) and Petropavlovsk (1752), to prevent Kazakh and Oirat raids into Russian territory. In the late 18th century the Kazakhs took advantage of Pugachev's Rebellion, which was centred on the Volga area, to raid Russian and Volga German settlements. In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to expand its influence into Central Asia. The "Great Game" period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. The tsars effectively ruled over most of the territory belonging to what is now the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The Russian Empire introduced a system of administration and built military garrisons and barracks in its effort to establish a presence in Central Asia in the so-called "Great Game" for dominance in the area against the British Empire, which was extending its influence from the south in India and Southeast Asia. Russia built its first outpost, Orsk, in 1735. Russia introduced the Russian language in all schools and governmental organisations.
Russia's efforts to impose its system aroused the resentment of the Kazakhs, and, by the 1860s, some Kazakhs resisted its rule. Russia had disrupted the traditional nomadic lifestyle and livestock-based economy, and people were suffering from starvation, with some Kazakh tribes being decimated. The Kazakh national movement, which began in the late 19th century, sought to preserve the native language and identity by resisting the attempts of the Russian Empire to assimilate and stifle Kazakh culture.
From the 1890s onward, ever-larger numbers of settlers from the Russian Empire began colonizing the territory of present-day Kazakhstan, in particular, the province of Semirechye. The number of settlers rose still further once the Trans-Aral Railway from Orenburg to Tashkent was completed in 1906. A specially created Migration Department (Переселенческое Управление) in St. Petersburg oversaw and encouraged the migration to expand Russian influence in the area. During the 19th century, about 400,000 Russians immigrated to Kazakhstan, and about one million Slavs, Germans, Jews, and others immigrated to the region during the first third of the 20th century. Vasile Balabanov was the administrator responsible for the resettlement during much of this time.
The competition for land and water that ensued between the Kazakhs and the newcomers caused great resentment against colonial rule during the final years of the Russian Empire. The most serious uprising, the Central Asian revolt, occurred in 1916. The Kazakhs attacked Russian and Cossack settlers and military garrisons. The revolt resulted in a series of clashes and in brutal massacres committed by both sides. Both sides resisted the communist government until late 1919.

Following the collapse of central government in Petrograd in November 1917, the Kazakhs (then in Russia officially referred to as "Kirghiz") experienced a brief period of autonomy (the Alash Autonomy) before eventually succumbing to the Bolsheviks′ rule. On 26 August 1920, the Kirghiz Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was established. The Kirghiz ASSR included the territory of present-day Kazakhstan, but its administrative centre was the mainly Russian-populated town of Orenburg. In June 1925, the Kirghiz ASSR was renamed the Kazak ASSR and its administrative centre was transferred to the town of Kyzylorda, and in April 1927 to Alma-Ata.

Soviet repression of the traditional elite, along with forced collectivisation in the late 1920s and 1930s, brought famine and high fatalities, leading to unrest (see also: Famine in Kazakhstan of 1932–33). During the 1930s, some members of the Kazakh intelligentsia were executed – as part of the policies of political reprisals pursued by the Soviet government in Moscow.
On 5 December 1936, the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (whose territory by then corresponded to that of modern Kazakhstan) was detached from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) and made the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, a full union republic of the USSR, one of eleven such republics at the time, along with the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic.
The republic was one of the destinations for exiled and convicted persons, as well as for mass resettlements, or deportations affected by the central USSR authorities during the 1930s and 1940s, such as approximately 400,000 Volga Germans deported from the Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in September–October 1941, and then later the Greeks and Crimean Tatars. Deportees and prisoners were interned in some of the biggest Soviet labour camps (the Gulag), including ALZhIR camp outside Astana, which was reserved for the wives of men considered "enemies of the people". Many moved due to the policy of population transfer in the Soviet Union and others were forced into involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union.
The Soviet-German War (1941–1945) led to an increase in industrialisation and mineral extraction in support of the war effort. At the time of Joseph Stalin's death in 1953, however, Kazakhstan still had an overwhelmingly agricultural economy. In 1953, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev initiated the Virgin Lands Campaign designed to turn the traditional pasturelands of Kazakhstan into a major grain-producing region for the Soviet Union. The Virgin Lands policy brought mixed results. However, along with later modernisations under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev (in power 1964–1982), it accelerated the development of the agricultural sector, which remains the source of livelihood for a large percentage of Kazakhstan's population. Because of the decades of privation, war and resettlement, by 1959 the Kazakhs had become a minority, making up 30 percent of the population. Ethnic Russians accounted for 43 percent. In 1947, the USSR, as part of its atomic bomb project, founded an atomic bomb test site near the north-eastern town of Semipalatinsk, where the first Soviet nuclear bomb test was conducted in 1949. Hundreds of nuclear tests were conducted until 1989 with adverse consequences for the nation's environment and population. The Anti-nuclear movement in Kazakhstan became a major political force in the late 1980s.
In April 1961, Baikonur became the springboard of Vostok 1, a spacecraft with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin being the first human to enter space.
In December 1986, mass demonstrations by young ethnic Kazakhs, later called the Jeltoqsan riot, took place in Almaty to protest the replacement of the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR Dinmukhamed Konayev with Gennady Kolbin from the Russian SFSR. Governmental troops suppressed the unrest, several people were killed, and many demonstrators were jailed. In the waning days of Soviet rule, discontent continued to grow and found expression under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost ("openness").

On 25 October 1990, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty on its territory as a republic within the Soviet Union. Following the August 1991 aborted coup attempt in Moscow, Kazakhstan declared independence on 16 December 1991, thus becoming the last Soviet republic to declare independence. Ten days later, the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist.

Kazakhstan's communist-era leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, became the country's first President. Nazarbayev ruled in an authoritarian manner. An emphasis was placed on converting the country's economy to a market economy while political reforms lagged behind economic advances. By 2006, Kazakhstan was generating 60 percent of the GDP of Central Asia, primarily through its oil industry. In 1997, the government moved the capital to Astana, renamed Nur-Sultan on 23 March 2019, from Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, where it had been established under the Soviet Union. Elections to the Majilis in September 2004, yielded a lower house dominated by the pro-government Otan Party, headed by President Nazarbayev. Two other parties considered sympathetic to the president, including the agrarian-industrial bloc AIST and the Asar Party, founded by President Nazarbayev's daughter, won most of the remaining seats. The opposition parties which were officially registered and competed in the elections won a single seat. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was monitoring the election, which it said fell short of international standards. In March 2011, Nazarbayev outlined the progress made toward democracy by Kazakhstan. As of 2010, Kazakhstan was reported on the Democracy Index by The Economist as an authoritarian regime, which was still the case as of the 2022 report.
On 19 March 2019, Nazarbayev announced his resignation from the presidency. Kazakhstan's senate speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won the 2019 presidential election that was held on 9 June. His first official act was to rename the capital after his predecessor. In June 2019, the new president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, won Kazakhstan's presidential election.
In January 2022, the country plunged into political unrest following a spike in fuel prices. In consequence, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over as head of the powerful Security Council, removing his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev from the post. In September 2022, the name of the country's capital was changed back to Astana from Nur-Sultan.

As it extends across both sides of the Ural River, considered the dividing line separating Europe and Asia, Kazakhstan is one of only two landlocked countries in the world that has territory in two continents (the other is Azerbaijan).
With an area of 2,700,000 square kilometres (1,000,000 sq mi) – equivalent in size to Western Europe – Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country and largest landlocked country in the world. While it was part of the Russian Empire, Kazakhstan lost some of its territory to China's Xinjiang province, and some to Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan autonomous republic during Soviet years.
It shares borders of 6,846 kilometres (4,254 mi) with Russia, 2,203 kilometres (1,369 mi) with Uzbekistan, 1,533 kilometres (953 mi) with China, 1,051 kilometres (653 mi) with Kyrgyzstan, and 379 kilometres (235 mi) with Turkmenistan. Major cities include Astana, Almaty, Qarağandy, Şymkent, Atyrau, and Öskemen. It lies between latitudes 40° and 56° N, and longitudes 46° and 88° E. While located primarily in Asia, a small portion of Kazakhstan is also located west of the Urals in Eastern Europe. Kazakhstan's terrain extends west to east from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains and north to south from the plains of Western Siberia to the oases and deserts of Central Asia. The Kazakh Steppe (plain), with an area of around 804,500 square kilometres (310,600 sq mi), occupies one-third of the country and is the world's largest dry steppe region. The steppe is characterised by large areas of grasslands and sandy regions. Major seas, lakes and rivers include Lake Balkhash, Lake Zaysan, the Charyn River and gorge, the Ili, Irtysh, Ishim, Ural and Syr Darya rivers, and the Aral Sea until it largely dried up in one of the world's worst environmental disasters. The Charyn Canyon is 80 kilometres (50 mi) long, cutting through a red sandstone plateau and stretching along the Charyn River gorge in northern Tian Shan ("Heavenly Mountains", 200 km (124 mi) east of Almaty) at 43°21′1.16″N 79°4′49.28″E. The steep canyon slopes, columns and arches rise to heights of between 150 and 300 metres (490 and 980 feet). The inaccessibility of the canyon provided a safe haven for a rare ash tree, Fraxinus sogdiana, which survived the Ice Age there and has now also grown in some other areas. Bigach crater, at 48°30′N 82°00′E, is a Pliocene or Miocene asteroid impact crater, 8 km (5 mi) in diameter and estimated to be 5±3 million years old.
Kazakhstan's Almaty region is also home to the Mynzhylky mountain plateau.

Kazakhstan has an abundant supply of accessible mineral and fossil fuel resources. Development of petroleum, natural gas, and mineral extractions has attracted most of the over $40 billion in foreign investment in Kazakhstan since 1993 and accounts for some 57 percent of the nation's industrial output (or approximately 13 percent of gross domestic product). According to some estimates, Kazakhstan has the second largest uranium, chromium, lead, and zinc reserves; the third largest manganese reserves; the fifth largest copper reserves; and ranks in the top ten for coal, iron, and gold. It is also an exporter of diamonds. Perhaps most significant for economic development, Kazakhstan also has the 11th largest proven reserves of both petroleum and natural gas. One such location is the Tokarevskoye gas condensate field.
In total, there are 160 deposits with over 2.7 billion tonnes (2.7 billion long tons) of petroleum. Oil explorations have shown that the deposits on the Caspian shore are only a small part of a much larger deposit. It is said that 3.5 billion tonnes (3.4 billion long tons) of oil and 2.5 billion cubic metres (88 billion cubic feet) of gas could be found in that area. Overall the estimate of Kazakhstan's oil deposits is 6.1 billion tonnes (6.0 billion long tons). However, there are only three refineries within the country, situated in Atyrau, Pavlodar, and Şymkent. These are not capable of processing the total crude output, so much of it is exported to Russia. According to the US Energy Information Administration, Kazakhstan was producing approximately 1,540,000 barrels (245,000 m3) of oil per day in 2009. Kazakhstan also possesses large deposits of phosphorite. Two of the largest deposits include the Karatau basin with 650 million tonnes of P2O5 and the Chilisai deposit of the Aqtobe phosphorite basin located in northwestern Kazakhstan, with resources of 500–800 million tonnes of 9 percent ore. On 17 October 2013, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) accepted Kazakhstan as "EITI Compliant", meaning that the country has a basic and functional process to ensure the regular disclosure of natural resource revenues.

Kazakhstan has an "extreme" continental climate, with hot summers and very cold winters. Indeed, Astana is the second coldest capital city in the world after Ulaanbaatar. Precipitation varies between arid and semi-arid conditions, the winter being particularly dry.

There are ten nature reserves and ten national parks in Kazakhstan that provide safe haven for many rare and endangered plants and animals. Common plants are Astragalus, Gagea, Allium, Carex and Oxytropis; endangered plant species include native wild apple (Malus sieversii), wild grape (Vitis vinifera) and several wild tulip species (e. g. , Tulipa greigii) and rare onion species Allium karataviense, also Iris willmottiana and Tulipa kaufmanniana. Kazakhstan had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 8.23/10, ranking it 26th globally out of 172 countries. Common mammals include the wolf, red fox, corsac fox, moose, argali (the largest species of sheep), Eurasian lynx, Pallas's cat, and snow leopards, several of which are protected.
Kazakhstan's Red Book of Protected Species lists 125 vertebrates including many birds and mammals, and 404 plants including fungi, algae and lichens.

Officially, Kazakhstan is a democratic, secular, constitutional unitary republic; Nursultan Nazarbayev led the country from 1991 to 2019. He was succeeded by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The president may veto legislation that has been passed by the parliament and is also the commander in chief of the armed forces. The prime minister chairs the cabinet of ministers and serves as Kazakhstan's head of government. There are three deputy prime ministers and sixteen ministers in the cabinet.
Kazakhstan has a bicameral parliament composed of the Majilis (the lower house) and senate (the upper house). Single-mandate districts popularly elect 107 seats in the Majilis; there also are ten members elected by party-list vote. The senate has 48 members. Two senators are selected by each of the elected assemblies (mäslihats) of Kazakhstan's sixteen principal administrative divisions (fourteen regions plus the cities of Astana, Almaty, and Şymkent). The president appoints the remaining fifteen senators. Majilis deputies and the government both have the right of legislative initiative, though the government proposes most legislation considered by the parliament.
In 2020, Freedom House rated Kazakhstan as a "consolidated authoritarian regime", stating that freedom of speech is not respected and "Kazakhstan's electoral laws do not provide for free and fair elections. "

Reforms have begun to be implemented after the election of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in June 2019. Tokayev supports a culture of opposition, public assembly, and loosening rules on forming political parties. In June 2019, Tokayev established the National Council of Public Trust as a public platform for national conversation regarding government policies and reforms. In July 2019, the President of Kazakhstan announced a concept of a 'listening state' that quickly and efficiently responds to all constructive requests of the country's citizens. A law will be passed to allow representatives from other parties to hold chair positions on some Parliamentary committees, to foster alternative views and opinions. The minimum membership threshold needed to register a political party will be reduced from 40,000 to 20,000 members. Special places for peaceful rallies in central areas will be allocated and a new draft law outlining the rights and obligations of organisers, participants and observers will be passed. In an effort to increase public safety, President Tokayev has strengthened the penalties for those who commit crimes against individuals. On 17 September 2022, Tokayev signed a decree that limits presidential tenure to one term of seven years. He furthermore announced the preparation of a new reform package to "decentralize" and "distribute" power between government institutions. The reform package also seeks to modify the electoral system and increase the decision-making authorities of Kazakhstan's regions. The powers of the parliament were expanded at the expense of those of the president, relatives of whom are now also barred from holding government positions, while the Constitutional Court was restored and the death penalty abolished.

Kazakhstan is divided into seventeen regions (Kazakh: облыстар, oblystar; Russian: области, oblasti) plus three cities (Almaty, Astana and Şymkent) which are independent of the region in which they are situated. The regions are subdivided into 177 districts (Kazakh: аудандар, audandar; Russian: районы, rayony). The districts are further subdivided into rural districts at the lowest level of administration, which include all rural settlements and villages without an associated municipal government.
The cities of Almaty and Astana have status "state importance" and do not belong to any region. The city of Baikonur has a special status because it is being leased until 2050 to Russia for the Baikonur cosmodrome. In June 2018 the city of Şymkent became a "city of republican significance". Each region is headed by an äkim (regional governor) appointed by the president. District äkimi are appointed by regional akims. Kazakhstan's government relocated its capital from Almaty, established under the Soviet Union, to Astana on 10 December 1997.

Municipalities exist at each level of administrative division in Kazakhstan. Cities of republican, regional, and district significance are designated as urban inhabited localities; all others are designated rural. At the highest level are the cities of Almaty and Astana, which are classified as cities of republican significance on the administrative level equal to that of a region. At the intermediate level are cities of regional significance on the administrative level equal to that of a district. Cities of these two levels may be divided into city districts. At the lowest level are cities of district significance, and over two-thousand villages and rural settlements (aul) on the administrative level equal to that of rural districts.

Kazakhstan is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Economic Cooperation Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The nations of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan established the Eurasian Economic Community in 2000, to revive earlier efforts to harmonise trade tariffs and to create a free trade zone under a customs union. On 1 December 2007, it was announced that Kazakhstan had been chosen to chair the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for the year 2010. Kazakhstan was elected a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the first time on 12 November 2012. Kazakhstan is also a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Turkic Council, and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It is an active participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Partnership for Peace program. In 1999, Kazakhstan had applied for observer status at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. The official response of the Assembly was that because Kazakhstan is partially located in Europe, it could apply for full membership, but that it would not be granted any status whatsoever at the council until its democracy and human rights records improved.

Since independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has pursued what is known as the "multivector foreign policy" (Kazakh: көпвекторлы сыртқы саясат), seeking equally good relations with its two large neighbours, Russia and China, as well as with the United States and the rest of the Western world. Russia leases approximately 6,000 square kilometres (2,317 sq mi) of territory enclosing the Baikonur Cosmodrome space launch site in south central Kazakhstan, where the first man was launched into space as well as Soviet space shuttle Buran and the well-known space station Mir.
On 11 April 2010, presidents Nazarbayev and Obama met at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D. C. , and discussed strengthening the strategic partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan. They pledged to intensify bilateral co-operation to promote nuclear safety and non-proliferation, regional stability in Central Asia, economic prosperity, and universal values. Since 2014 the Kazakhstani government has been bidding for a non-permanent member seat on the UN Security Council for 2017–2018. On 28 June 2016 Kazakhstan was elected as a non-permanent member to serve on the UN Security Council for a two-year term.
Kazakhstan has supported UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Western Sahara, and Côte d'Ivoire. In March 2014, the Ministry of Defense chose 20 Kazakhstani military men as observers for the UN peacekeeping missions. The military personnel, ranking from captain to colonel, had to go through specialised UN training; they had to be fluent in English and skilled in using specialised military vehicles. In 2014, Kazakhstan gave Ukraine humanitarian aid during the conflict with Russian-backed rebels. In October 2014, Kazakhstan donated $30,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross's humanitarian effort in Ukraine. In January 2015, to help the humanitarian crisis, Kazakhstan sent $400,000 of aid to Ukraine's southeastern regions. President Nazarbayev said of the war in Ukraine, "The fratricidal war has brought true devastation to eastern Ukraine, and it is a common task to stop the war there, strengthen Ukraine's independence and secure territorial integrity of Ukraine. " Experts believe that no matter how the Ukraine crisis develops, Kazakhstan's relations with the European Union will remain normal. It is believed that Nazarbayev's mediation is positively received by both Russia and Ukraine. Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on 26 January 2015: "We are firmly convinced that there is no alternative to peace negotiations as a way to resolve the crisis in south-eastern Ukraine. " In 2018, Kazakhstan signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
On 6 March 2020, the Concept of the Foreign Policy of Kazakhstan for 2020–2030 was announced. The document outlines the following main points:
An open, predictable and consistent foreign policy of the country, which is progressive in nature and maintains its endurance by continuing the course of the First President – the country at a new stage of development;
Protection of human rights, development of humanitarian diplomacy and environmental protection;
Promotion of the country's economic interests in the international arena, including the implementation of state policy to attract investment;
Maintaining international peace and security;
Development of regional and multilateral diplomacy, which primarily involves strengthening mutually beneficial ties with key partners – Russia, China, the United States, Central Asian states and the EU countries, as well as through multilateral structures – the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and others. Kazakhstan's memberships of international organisations include:
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Individual Partnership Action Plan, with NATO, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro
Turkic Council and the TÜRKSOY community. (The national language, Kazakh, is related to the other Turkic languages, with which it shares cultural and historical ties)
United Nations
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
UNESCO, where Kazakhstan is a member of its World Heritage Committee
Nuclear Suppliers Group as a participating government
World Trade Organization

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)Based on these principles, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Kazakhstan has increasingly pursued an independent foreign policy, defined by its own foreign policy objectives and ambitions through which the country attempts to balance its relations with "all the major powers and an equally principled aversion towards excessive dependence in any field upon any one of them, while also opening the country up economically to all who are willing to invest there. "

Most of Kazakhstan's military was inherited from the Soviet Armed Forces' Turkestan Military District. These units became the core of Kazakhstan's new military. It acquired all the units of the 40th Army (the former 32nd Army) and part of the 17th Army Corps, including six land-force divisions, storage bases, the 14th and 35th air-landing brigades, two rocket brigades, two artillery regiments, and a large amount of equipment that had been withdrawn from over the Urals after the signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. Since the late 20th century, the Kazakhstan Army has focused on expanding the number of its armoured units. Since 1990, armoured units have expanded from 500 to 1,613 in 2005.
The Kazakh air force is composed mostly of Soviet-era planes, including 41 MiG-29s, 44 MiG-31s, 37 Su-24s and 60 Su-27s. A small naval force is maintained on the Caspian Sea. Kazakhstan sent 29 military engineers to Iraq to assist the US post-invasion mission in Iraq. During the second Iraq War, Kazakhstani troops dismantled 4 million mines and other explosives, helped provide medical care to more than 5,000 coalition members and civilians, and purified 718 cubic metres (25,400 cu ft) of water. Kazakhstan's National Security Committee (UQK) was established on 13 June 1992. It includes the Service of Internal Security, Military Counterintelligence, Border Guard, several Commando units, and Foreign Intelligence (Barlau). The latter is considered the most important part of KNB. Its director is Nurtai Abykayev.
Since 2002, the joint tactical peacekeeping exercise "Steppe Eagle" has been hosted by the Kazakhstan government. "Steppe Eagle" focuses on building coalitions and gives participating nations the opportunity to work together. During the Steppe Eagle exercises, the KAZBAT peacekeeping battalion operates within a multinational force under a unified command within multidisciplinary peacekeeping operations, with NATO and the U. S. Military. In December 2013, Kazakhstan announced it will send officers to support United Nations Peacekeeping forces in Haiti, Western Sahara, Ivory Coast and Liberia.

Wikipedia Entry for Kazakhstan, Read by Jason
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