(Қазақстан Республикасы, Qazaqstan Respublïkası, Республика Казахстан
- Location: Central Asia
- Capital: Astana
- Language(s): Kazakh, Russian
- Population: 16,463,254
- Total Area: 2,724,900 sq km
- Currency: Tenge
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Although a former Soviet republic, alcohol is not too popular in the country and this can be attributed to being a mainly Muslim nation.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 10.94 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Milk, tea
The Republic of Kazakhstan is a landlocked nation but the thing is that it is not just a landlocked nation; it is the largest of all the landlocked countries in the world. Such an immense area places the country among the largest ten on the planet. A typical Central Asian nation, Kazakhstan is surrounded by other countries like Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The Caspian Sea (the largest lake in the world) is forms part of its western border while the Aral Sea forms part of its southern border. The capital city of the country is Astana and it was formerly known as Tselinograd. Kazakhstan was once part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) until it declared its independence in 1991 and has been under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev since then.
More than 60% of the citizens in this Central Asian nation are ethnic Kazakhs. Russians make up about a fifth of the population while other groups include the Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Tatars, Belarussians, Uighurs, Lithuanians and Turks. On the whole, there are more than 130 ethnicities. Although Kazakh is the national language, virtually all the citizens can speak Russian, which is the official language. To an extent, English is also spoken by some of the Kazakhs. The largest religion in the country is Islam, and more than 70% of the citizens are Muslims. Other faiths in the country are Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism. The ethnic Kazakhs are nomadic in nature and they are also very kind and hospitable. A nomad family will graciously offer you a bowl of warm milk and cheese even if you drop by unannounced.
Mealtime is one of the most interesting times in Kazakhstan, especially if you are staying in a yurt (tent for nomad). As mentioned earlier, hospitality is an integral part of Kazakh culture and you will be treated like a royal. There is a special ritual called the dastarkhan and is usually held for guests. Kumiss is one preparation that you will be delighted to taste. It is processed mare milk taken at the beginning of meals. After that, you can descend upon besbarmak, a dish that I thoroughly enjoyed. Besbarmak is made from meat, which has been steamed and is then served with dough. There is also the kaurdak and is a type of soup made with mutton.
If you are in a yurt and you wish to have something to drink, you are more likely going to be served a jug of milk than getting water. Milk is widely consumed all over the nation. Tea is also consumed in various parts of the country. Alcoholic drinks are not particularly popular in the predominantly Muslim nation.
Kazakhstan is a place of enchanting beauty. You can take a cruise on the Caspian or Aral Sea. From there, you can take a trip to the capital city of Astana where you can see the Presidential Palace and Bayterek Tower. And never forget the Baikonur Cosmodrome!
When it comes to sports, Kazakhstan is a clear leader. It has made marks in various sporting activities especially in cycling (remember Alexander Vinokourov), gymnastics, chess, water sports, boxing and ice hockey.
- Apart from being the 9th largest nation in the world, Kazakhstan is also the largest landlocked nation on the planet.
- The country is home to the famous Baikonur Cosmodrome used in launching Russian-made spacecraft. The Cosmodrome is also the biggest and oldest functioning space launch facility in the world.
- Kazakhstan is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.
- The country has some of the largest petroleum deposits in the world.
- Kazakhstan is just one of the two land-locked countries in the world that lie in two continents.
- The nation is often fondly referred to as the Heart of Eurasia.
- The old capital was called Almaty or Alma Ata.
- Kazakhstan has had just one President, and his name is Nursultan Nazarbayev.
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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