Context of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental landlocked country located mainly in Central Asia and partly 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, known as Nur-Sultan from 2019 to 2022. Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, was the country's capital until 1997. Kazakhstan is the world's ninth-largest country by land area and the world's largest landlocked country. It has a population of 19 million people and one of the lowest population densities in the world, at fewer than 6 people per square kilometre (15 people per square mile). Ethnic Kazakhs constitute a majority of the population, while ethnic Russians form a significant minority. Officially secular, Kazakhstan is a Muslim-majority country, although ethnic Russians in the...Read more

Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental landlocked country located mainly in Central Asia and partly 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, known as Nur-Sultan from 2019 to 2022. Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, was the country's capital until 1997. Kazakhstan is the world's ninth-largest country by land area and the world's largest landlocked country. It has a population of 19 million people and one of the lowest population densities in the world, at fewer than 6 people per square kilometre (15 people per square mile). Ethnic Kazakhs constitute a majority of the population, 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.

The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomadic groups and empires. In antiquity, the ancient Iranian nomadic Scythians inhabited the land, and the Achaemenid Persian Empire expanded towards the southern territory of the modern country. Turkic nomads, who trace their ancestry to many Turkic states such as the First Turkic Khaganate and the Second Turkic Khaganate, have inhabited the country from as early as the 6th century. In the 13th century, the territory was subjugated by the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan. In the 15th century, as a result of disintegration of Golden Horde, the Kazakh Khanate was established on much of the lands that would later form the territory of modern Kazakhstan.

By the 18th century, Kazakh Khanate disintegrated into three jüz which were absorbed and conquered by the Russian Empire; by the mid-19th century, the Russians nominally ruled all of Kazakhstan as part of the Russian Empire and liberated all of the slaves that the Kazakhs had captured in 1859. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution and subsequent outbreak of the Russian Civil War, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganized several times. In 1936, it was established as the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan was the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence during the dissolution of the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991. Human rights organizations have described the Kazakh government as authoritarian, and regularly describe Kazakhstan's human rights situation as poor.

The country dominates Central Asia economically and politically, generating 60 percent of the region's GDP, primarily through its oil and gas industry; it also has vast mineral resources. It is de jure a democratic, unitary, constitutional republic; however, it is de facto an authoritarian regime with no free elections. It has the highest Human Development Index ranking in the region. 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.

More about Kazakhstan

Basic information
  • Currency Kazakhstani tenge
  • Calling code +7
  • Internet domain .kz
  • Mains voltage 220V/50Hz
  • Democracy index 3.14
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 19002586
  • Area 2724900
  • Driving side right
History
  • This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable...Read more
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    Approximate extent of Scythia in the 1st century BC

    Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era.[1] 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.[2] Pastoralism developed during the Neolithic, as the region's climate and terrain are best suited to a nomadic lifestyle. The population was Caucasoid during the Bronze and Iron Age period.[3][4]

    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 (i.e., ponies) in the region's vast steppes. During recent prehistoric times, Central Asia was inhabited by groups such as the possibly Indo-European Afanasievo culture,[5] later early Indo-Iranian cultures such as Andronovo,[6] and later Indo-Iranians such as the Saka and Massagetae.[7][8] 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.[9]

    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.

    Cuman-Kipchak and Golden Horde
     
    Cuman–Kipchak confederation in Eurasia circa 1200. The Kazakhs are descendants of Kipchaks, Nogais and other Turkic and medieval Mongol tribes.

    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.[10]

    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.

    Kazakh Khanate

    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.

     
    Approximate areas occupied by the three Kazakh jüz in the early 20th century
      Junior Juz
      Middle Juz
      Great Juz

    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.[11] 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.[12]

    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. Also, the Emirate of Bukhara ruled Shymkent before the Russians gained dominance.[13]

    Russian Kazakhstan
     
    Ural Cossacks skirmish with Kazakhs
     
    Map of the Kazakh Territory in 1903
     
    Kazakh woman in wedding clothes, 19th century

    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),[14] to prevent Kazakh and Oirat raids into Russian territory.[15] 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.[citation needed] 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 Kazakh people, 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 hunger and 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.[16] 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.[17] Both sides resisted the communist government until late 1919.

    Kazakh SSR
     
    Stanitsa Sofiiskaya, Talgar, 1920s
     
    Young Pioneers at a Young Pioneer camp in the Kazakh SSR

    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).[18][19] 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".[20] 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 International Conference on Primary Health Care in 1978, known as the Alma-Ata Declaration

    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 in the country, making up 30 percent of the population. Ethnic Russians accounted for 43 percent.[21]

    In 1947, the USSR government, 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.[22] The Anti-nuclear movement in Kazakhstan became a major political force in the late 1980s.

    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.[23] In the waning days of Soviet rule, discontent continued to grow and found expression under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost ("openness").

    Independence

    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.[24]

    In 1997, the government moved the capital to Astana, renamed Nur-Sultan on 23 March 2019,[25] from Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, where it had been established under the Soviet Union.[26]

    In March 2019, Nazarbayev resigned 29 years after taking office. However, he continued to lead the influential security council and held the formal title Leader of the Nation.[27] Kassym-Jomart Tokayev succeeded Nazarbayev as the President of Kazakhstan. His first official act was to rename the capital after his predecessor.[28] In June 2019, the new president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, won Kazakhstan's presidential election.[29]

    In January 2022, the country plunged into political unrest following a spike in fuel prices.[30] In consequence, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over as head of the powerful Security Council, removing his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev from the post.[31] In September 2022, the name of the country's capital was changed back to Astana from Nur-Sultan.[32]

    ^ Ikawa-Smith, Fumiko (1 January 1978). Early Paleolithic in South and East Asia. Walter de Gruyter. p. 91. ISBN 978-3-11-081003-5. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2020. ^ Jeong, Choongwon; Balanovsky, Oleg; Lukianova, Elena; Kahbatkyzy, Nurzhibek; Flegontov, Pavel; Zaporozhchenko, Valery; Immel, Alexander; Wang, Chuan-Chao; Ixan, Olzhas; Khussainova, Elmira; Bekmanov, Bakhytzhan (June 2019). "The genetic history of admixture across inner Eurasia". Nature Ecology & Evolution. 3 (6): 966–976. doi:10.1038/s41559-019-0878-2. ISSN 2397-334X. PMC 6542712. PMID 31036896. ^ Ismagulov, O; et al. (2010). "Physical Anthropology of Kazakh People and their Genesis". Science of Central Asia. ^ Gibbons, Ann (10 June 2015). "Nomadic herders left a strong genetic mark on Europeans and Asians". Science. AAAS. ^ According to Allentoft et al. (2015) and Haak et al. (2015), ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 49: "Archaeologists are now generally agreed that the Andronovo culture of the Central Steppe region in the second millennium BC is to be equated with the Indo-Iranians." ^ Beckwith 2009, p. 68 "Modern scholars have mostly used the name Saka to refer to Iranians of the Eastern Steppe and Tarim Basin" ^ Dandamayev 1994, p. 37 "In modern scholarship the name 'Sakas' is reserved for the ancient tribes of northern and eastern Central Asia and Eastern Turkestan to distinguish them from the related Massagetae of the Aral region and the Scythians of the Pontic steppes. These tribes spoke Iranian languages, and their chief occupation was nomadic pastoralism." ^ Narasimhan, Vagheesh M. (2019). "The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 365 (6457): eaat7487. bioRxiv 10.1101/292581. doi:10.1126/science.aat7487. PMC 6822619. PMID 31488661. ^ Damgaard, Peter de Barros; Marchi, Nina; Rasmussen, Simon; Peyrot, Michaël; Renaud, Gabriel; Korneliussen, Thorfinn; Moreno-Mayar, J. Víctor; Pedersen, Mikkel Winther; Goldberg, Amy; Usmanova, Emma; Baimukhanov, Nurbol (May 2018). "137 ancient human genomes from across the Eurasian steppes". Nature. 557 (7705): 369–374. Bibcode:2018Natur.557..369D. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0094-2. hdl:1887/3202709. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 29743675. S2CID 13670282. The wide distribution of the Turkic languages from Northwest China, Mongolia and Siberia in the east to Turkey and Bulgaria in the west implies large-scale migrations out of the homeland in Mongolia. The quotation is from pp. 4–5. ^ "Kazakhstan to c. AD 1700". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 11 August 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2010. ^ "Country Briefings: Kazakhstan". The Economist. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2010. ^ January 2018, Assel Satubaldina in Tourism on 17 (17 January 2018). "Shymkent – the city of medieval culture and vibrant modern lifestyle". The Astana Times. Archived from the original on 7 January 2021. Retrieved 5 January 2021. ^ "Russian Colonization and the Genesis of Kazak National Consciousness". S. Sabol (2003). Springer. p.27 ISBN 0230599427 ^ "Central Asia, 130 Years of Russian Dominance: A Historical Overview". Edward A. Allworth, Edward Allworth (1994). Duke University Press. p. 10. ISBN 0822315211 ^ "Kazakhstan". Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 December 1991. Archived from the original on 17 June 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2013. ^ "Kazakhstan". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 2005y. Archived from the original on 15 April 2005. Retrieved 29 October 2009. ^ Simon Ertz (2005). "The Kazakh Catastrophe and Stalin's Order of Priorities, 1929–1933: Evidence from the Soviet Secret Archives" (PDF). Stanford's Student Journal of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. 1: 1–12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2010. ^ Pianciola, Niccolò (2004). "Famine in the Steppe. The collectivization of agriculture and the Kazak herdsmen, 1928–1934". Cahiers du monde russe. 45: 137–192. Archived from the original on 23 October 2015. ^ Children of the gulag live with amnesiaArchived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Taipei Times, 1 January 2007 ^ Flynn, Moya (1994). Migrant Resettlement in the Russian Federation: Reconstructing 'Homes' and 'Homelands' Archived 5 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Anthem Press. p. 15. ISBN 1-84331-117-8 ^ Keenan, Jillian. "Kazakhstan's Painful Nuclear Past Looms Large Over Its Energy Future". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017. ^ Putz, Catherine. "1986: Kazakhstan's Other Independence Anniversary". thediplomat.com. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2021. ^ Cite error: The named reference time was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ "Nursultan: Kazakhstan renames capital Astana after ex-president". BBC News. 20 March 2019. Archived from the original on 25 December 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2021. ^ "Capital change: A look at some countries that have moved their capitals – Nigeria: Lagos to Abuja". The Economic Times. Archived from the original on 20 April 2021. Retrieved 5 January 2021. ^ "Kazakh leader Nazarbayev resigns after three decades". BBC News. 19 March 2019. ^ "Kazakhstan renames capital as new president takes office". France 24. 20 March 2019. ^ "Nazarbayev protégé wins Kazakhstan elections marred by protests". France 24. 10 June 2019. ^ "Kazakhstan protests: government resigns amid rare outbreak of unrest". the Guardian. 5 January 2022. Archived from the original on 5 January 2022. Retrieved 5 January 2022. ^ "Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev handed over security council job on his own will: Spokesman". www.aa.com.tr. ^ "Kazakhstan to change name of capital from Nur-sultan back to Astana". the Guardian. 14 September 2022.
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Stay safe
  •  
    Stay safe

    Kazakhstan is a country where the population has a long history of balanced, harmonious, multi-ethnic social interaction, where both guests and locals are treated with respect during everyday life, with certain exceptions (described below in more detail). Visitors will experience hospitality and warmth in this lovely country. However, your personal safety may vary from very safe to relatively unsafe depending on your location, time of the day, circumstances, and your personal behaviour. Unlike other former Soviet Union countries, black, South Asian and Middle Eastern people should feel comfortable.

    Generally, Kazakh cities are safe during the day, but certain parts of major cities should be avoided at night to reduce risk (e.g. (i) all parts of Almaty below Tashkentskaya street and all microdistrict areas within these zones, certain other remote microdistricts, and areas with high concentrations of shabby private houses (such as Shanyrak); (ii) in smaller towns, e.g. Taraz, Balkhash, Shymkent, Taldykorgan, Uralsk, Semey and Ust-Kamenogorsk, going out at night should not present a significant risk, though infrequent muggings do occur; and (iii) all smaller towns such as Shar, Stepnogorsk, and Temirtau may present a higher risk of mugging and violent crime).

    Although illegal, prostitution has become widespread in many big cities lately. Usually prostitutes work in hotels, night clubs or saunas. Also, local classified newspapers typically have a whole section dedicated to escort services. Many sex workers in Kazakhstan are in fact from neighbouring less economically developed states such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

    Keep your passport (or a certified copy of your passport and visa) with you at all times. While the situation has improved lately, police might still try to extort money from foreigners, especially on trains and long-distance buses. Unless the officers involved are drunk, it is possible to avoid paying them by pretending not to understand, or by claiming poverty.

    The risk of violent crime is comparable with Eastern European countries and rougher parts of major US cities. An ordinary tourist should not experience any violent crime and is unlikely to be a target of minor crimes, if their behaviour stays within generally accepted norms in public places.

    ...Read more
     
    Stay safe

    Kazakhstan is a country where the population has a long history of balanced, harmonious, multi-ethnic social interaction, where both guests and locals are treated with respect during everyday life, with certain exceptions (described below in more detail). Visitors will experience hospitality and warmth in this lovely country. However, your personal safety may vary from very safe to relatively unsafe depending on your location, time of the day, circumstances, and your personal behaviour. Unlike other former Soviet Union countries, black, South Asian and Middle Eastern people should feel comfortable.

    Generally, Kazakh cities are safe during the day, but certain parts of major cities should be avoided at night to reduce risk (e.g. (i) all parts of Almaty below Tashkentskaya street and all microdistrict areas within these zones, certain other remote microdistricts, and areas with high concentrations of shabby private houses (such as Shanyrak); (ii) in smaller towns, e.g. Taraz, Balkhash, Shymkent, Taldykorgan, Uralsk, Semey and Ust-Kamenogorsk, going out at night should not present a significant risk, though infrequent muggings do occur; and (iii) all smaller towns such as Shar, Stepnogorsk, and Temirtau may present a higher risk of mugging and violent crime).

    Although illegal, prostitution has become widespread in many big cities lately. Usually prostitutes work in hotels, night clubs or saunas. Also, local classified newspapers typically have a whole section dedicated to escort services. Many sex workers in Kazakhstan are in fact from neighbouring less economically developed states such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

    Keep your passport (or a certified copy of your passport and visa) with you at all times. While the situation has improved lately, police might still try to extort money from foreigners, especially on trains and long-distance buses. Unless the officers involved are drunk, it is possible to avoid paying them by pretending not to understand, or by claiming poverty.

    The risk of violent crime is comparable with Eastern European countries and rougher parts of major US cities. An ordinary tourist should not experience any violent crime and is unlikely to be a target of minor crimes, if their behaviour stays within generally accepted norms in public places.

     
    Dusk in Almaty

    Excessive consumption of alcohol and visiting a nightclub will always present a higher risk, especially if a person goes out alone. It is advisable to go out as a group, or even better, with locals. Late at night, people speaking foreign languages may receive extra attention from local police, who have been known to falsely accuse a person of petty crimes, make an arrest, and attempt to obtain a 1,000-5,000 tenge cash payment "fine". Mobile phones work in most places and should be used to call a local-language speaking friend.

    A foreign man soliciting a local woman on the streets or in a nightclub may draw unwanted attention from locals, or might result in arguments. Normal western attention and respect for women and children, including a smile or kind greeting, can be taken by a local husband or father as threatening or offensive.

    Carrying expensive phones, watches and jewellery; or otherwise demonstrating wealth in public may result in closer attention from pickpockets and potential criminals. Outside Almaty and Astana, this should be avoided.

    There is zero tolerance for any drugs, and trace amounts may result in criminal investigation, prosecution and a prison sentence. Prisons are known to be dangerous and often inhumane.

    Careless and drunk driving is a problem. It is always advisable to obey traffic rules and wear seat belts. In most cities, using local taxis may present a higher risk than official public transportation due to many taxis operating unlicensed with incompetent drivers. Situations of unlicensed taxi drivers demanding additional fees before releasing luggage from their boot, or driving off and stealing luggage are more common than would be expected in western cities with a well-regulated taxi industry. It's advisable to keep your valuables and passport in your pockets and your most valuable bag on your lap. Public transportation and taxis are much less expensive than in western cities.

    Major criminal organisations are active in the Shu valley, between Taraz and Almaty. Locals widely report a heavy police presence, and that corrupt police are known to plant drugs on both local and foreign visitors.

    Watch out for food poisoning from shady vendors in smaller towns. In Astana, completely legitimate cafes may include milder drugs in their drinks menu. A misunderstanding can get the unwary traveler lots more than he bargained for.

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