Key Facts: Kazakhstan

by Meyer Sosland
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Capital: Astana (moved from Almaty in 1998).

Population: 15.2 million; Kazakh (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uygur 1.4%, other 4.9%. Religions: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7% (1999 census).

Location: Central Asia, northwest of China; a small portion west of the Ural River in eastern-most Europe.

Government: Republic; Authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch; Chief of state is President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Economy: Kazakhstan, the largest of the former Soviet republics in land area after Russia, possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain. Kazakhstan’s industrial sector rests on the extraction and processing of these natural resources and also on a growing machine-building sector specializing in construction equipment, tractors, agricultural machinery, and some defense items. The breakup of the USSR in December 1991 and the collapse in demand for Kazakhstan’s traditional heavy industry products resulted in a short-term contraction of the economy, with the steepest annual decline occurring in 1994. From 1995-97, the pace of the government program of economic reform and privatization quickened, resulting in a substantial shifting of assets into the private sector. Kazakhstan enjoyed double-digit growth in 2000-01, and 9% or more per year from 2002-05, thanks largely to its booming energy sector, but also to economic reform, good harvests and foreign investment.

GDP per capita: U.S.$8,300 (2005 est.), 9.5% growth rate, 8.1% inflation and 7.5% unemployment (2005 estimates).

Currency: Kazakh tenge (KZT); 131 tenge per U.S. dollar (February 2, 2007).

Exports: U.S.$30.09 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.), oil and oil products, metals, grain.

Imports: U.S.$17.51 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.) machinery and equipment 41%, metal products 28%, foodstuffs 8% (2001).

Major crops/agricultural products: grain (mostly spring wheat), cotton; livestock.

Agriculture: 6.7% of GDP and 20% of the labor force

Internet: code .kz, 21,187 hosts and 400,000 users

Source: The World Fact Book