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Kazakhstan Information - Page 2
History
Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Stone Age; farming settlements were in existence during the Bronze Age and nomads roamed the area from early times.

Over the centuries various tribes settled in the region. These included the Scythian-Saka, Hun and Turkic tribes. In the early thirteenth century, the Mongols, under the leadership of Genghis Khan, absorbed "Kazakhstan" into their extensive Empire.

By the second half of the fifteenth century the tribes had formed Kazakh "khanates" and in the early sixteenth century they became a united nomadic empire under one Khan. However this unity did not last and tribal groups formed smaller organizations known as "hordes".

In the early nineteenth century the neighbouring Russian Empire became more and more involved in the area and in the 1860s Russia annexed present-day Kazakhstan. This annexation was followed by large-scale Russian migration to the area.

The Russian Revolution provided an opportunity for the Kazakhs to form their own government (1918) but independence was short-lived. The Kazakhs became part of the new Russian union as the Kirgiz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed in 1922 and between 1924 and 1925 the USSR reorganized its Central Asian territory. The Kirgiz ASSR became the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. A change of name occurred again in 1936; Kazakh ASSR was upgraded to a Soviet Socialist Republic of the USSR. (Members of the former USSR were Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia - from WW2, Latvia - from WW2, Lithuania - from WW2 and Moldova - from WW2).

Following the Second World War (1939-1945), a "Cold War" existed between the USSR and the West. This situation continued until Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 introducing extensive political and economic reforms (Perestroika) and calling for a greater openness (Glasnost) between nations.

At the end of 1991 the USSR was dissolved and Kazakhstan became independent.

Economy
Since becoming independent the Republic of Kazakhstan has carried out economic reforms. These reforms, together with liberal trade policies, have made the country attractive to international investors.

Industries, such as iron and steel, agricultural machinery and construction equipment are supported by Kazakhstan's significant reserves of minerals and metals. The country also benefits from large supplies of fossil fuels.

In 2004 the governments of Kazakhstan and China agreed to build an oil pipeline from central Kazakhstan to northwest China. Kazakhstan has estimated that it will be producing three million barrels of oil a day by 2015.

The agricultural sector produces wheat, barley, corn, millet, vegetables, sunflowers and mustard. Kazakhstan is particularly famous for apples. Cotton is also grown. Karakul sheep, cattle and pigs are reared.

Over half of the labour force works in the services sector. Kazakhstan's banking system is comparable to those in Central Europe. Tourism is a priority for development with emphasis on historical tours, eco-tourism and winter sports. (2008)

Arts
The Republic of Kazakhstan is well represented in the arts; its treasures date back to prehistory. Rock art sites, particularly at the Tamgaly Gorge, near Almaty, display around a thousand paintings, described by UNESCO as unique documents of the times.

Over the centuries the artists and artisans of Kazakhstan have produced traditional works of art including beautiful rugs and carpets.

Kazakhstan's artists are honoured with the title of People's Artist of Kazakhstan. Title-holders have included Aisha Galimbayeva, Abylkhan Kasteyev, Moldakhmet Kenbayev and Kamil Shayakhmetov.

Traditionally music and poetry have been combined by travelling "akyns" who still perform songs of epic poems and take part in competitions.

Abay Ibrahim Qunanbaev (1845-1904), a poet, was the first person to use the Kazak language for literary works. His translations of Russian literature into Kazak earned him the title of Father of Kazak Literature. Others who advanced Kazakh literature included Akhmet Baytursunov and Mukhtar Auezov.

Among the cultural institutions of Kazakhstan are the Abay Academic Opera and Ballet House, Auezov Kazakh State Academic Drama Theatre and the State Republican Uigur Theatre of Musical Comedy.

Sport
Horse riding is a traditional sport in Kazakhstan. There are a variety of games played on horseback including "wrestling on horseback" and "pick up the coin" which is performed whilst galloping at full speed. Falconry has also been a sport in Kazakhstan for centuries. The Burkitshi Association brings together falconry clubs from a number of provinces in Kazakhstan.

As a member of the USSR, Kazakhstan produced many successful sportsmen and sportswomen. Since independence Kazakhstan's athletes have continued to win medals at Olympic and international level. The Kazakh Academy of Sport and Tourism, formerly the Kazakh Institute of Physical Culture (established 1945), is one of the country's organizations which supports physical culture and sports.

Team sports played in Kazakhstan include basketball, volleyball, rugby and football.

Skiing takes place in winter. The most popular resort is Chimbulak, which is not too far from the city of Almaty.

Holidays
Russian Orthodox and Muslim holidays are celebrated. Nauryz (New Days) is an important spring holiday. Other days celebrated include New Year (1-2 January), Women's Day (8 March), Day of Unity of Peoples of Kazakhstan (1 May), Victory Day (9 May), Constitution Day (30 August), Republic Day (25 October) and Independence Day (16 December).

News
News from Kazakhstan is available from Newslink.

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