20 Fascinating Facts About Kazakhstan
1. Kazakhstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Landlocked countries are completely surrounded by land and do not have access to the open sea. Currently, there are 45 landlocked countries in the world as well as five partially recognized nations.
2. Kazakhstan has been inhabited for thousands of years by nomadic peoples. Over 5,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings) have been discovered dating from around 2000BC at the UNESCO-listed site of Tamgaly.
3. Kazakhstan was invaded by Genghis Khan and his Mongol tribes between 1219-24.
4. From the 18th century, Kazakhstan was ruled by Russia. In 1920 it became part of the USSR.
5. In 1991, Kazakhstan declared independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union and joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
6. Kazakhstan is the world’s 9th largest country when measured by total surface area.
7. As such, Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country.
8. It is also the largest of the former Soviet republics, excluding Russia.
9. Despite being landlocked, Kazakhstan has a navy that is based on the landlocked Caspian Sea. The Caspian sea is also bordered by Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan.
10. The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water. At 386,400 sq km, it is larger than the area of Japan.
11. Kazakhstan can be literally translated as “land of the wanderers”. The name “Kazakh” comes from the ancient Turkic word qaz which means “to wander”. The term “Cossack” is of the same origin. The Persian suffix -stan means “land”.
12. Kazakhstan is rich in mineral resources. More than 99 elements of Mendeleyev’s periodic table can be found in the country.
13. Kazakhstan also has vast oil reserves and is the world’s ninth-largest crude oil exporter.
14. The USSR conducted 456 nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk Polygon in Kazakhstan from 1949 to 1989.
15. Following independence, Kazakhstan was ruled by the same president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, for nearly 30 years.
16. Kazakhstan renamed its capital city Astana to Nur-Sultan in honor of Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev, after he finally stepped down, aged 78, in 2019.
17. Kymyz (fermented mare’s milk) is a popular mildly alcoholic drink in Kazakhstan. Shubat (fermented camel’s milk) is also available to buy.
18. It is believed that apples originated in Kazakhstan. The city of Almaty, which means ‘father of apples’ in Kazakh, has long claimed the honor of being the birthplace of the apple which was recently confirmed by DNA tests.
19. Kazakhstan is home to part of the Eurasian Steppe (sometimes called The Steppe), the largest grassland in the world. It extends from Hungary to China and reaches almost one-fifth of the way around the Earth.
20. The historic Silk Road, the ancient trading route that connected China with Europe and the Middle East, runs through Kazakhstan. A network of Silk Road sites comprises one of the country’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites.