Kazakhstan Population, Politics and Economy
Population in Kazakhstan
After the population initially fell below 15 million in the 1990s due to the emigration of Russians and Germans and falling birth rates, it has increased again since 2003 and is currently around 17.75 million. Due to its geographical extent, Kazakhstan is part of it the most sparsely populated countries in the world. According to directoryaah, the country is home to more than 50 ethnic groups, each with more than 1,000 followers. The Turkish-speaking Kazakhs make up the majority of the population with 2/3, while the Russians make up the largest minority with 1/5. Other minorities are Uzbeks, Uyghurs, Tatars, Ukrainians, Germans (1.1%) and a significant minority of around 100,000 Koreans. Most of the members of the minorities were deported to Kazakhstan during the Stalin era.
The predominant language is still Russian, although the role of Kazakh, which is also the official national language, is growing through targeted promotion. At 97.5%, the literacy rate is as high as in Germany.
Despite the decades of forced atheism of the Soviet Union era, today only 2.8% of the population are atheists. Around 70% belong to Islam (most of them Sunnis), 26% to Christianity with its various denominations. Small groups of Jews and Buddhists can be found alongside other religious forms.
Politics and economy in Kazakhstan
According to the Kazakh Constitution of 1995, Kashstan is a presidential republic. The term of office of the head of state is five years and it is limited to two terms – this regulation did not apply to the previous President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled the country until 2019 in an authoritarian style and severely restricted the opposition parties in their rights.
Parliament consists of a bicameral system – a Senate and a House of Commons.
The House of Commons (Mäschilis) has 107 members. 98 of them are elected proportionally, and nine are appointed by the President to represent the ethnic minorities. To move into the Mäschilis, a party needs a share of 7% of the vote.
According to the OSCE, the past elections did not meet international standards. In foreign policy there are strategic partnerships with Russia, China and the USA. Relations with Russia are particularly closely intertwined. Kazakhstan is seen as a stabilizing, protective “shield” between Russia and the other countries of Central Asia, as it lies like a buffer between them and shields these states from direct Russian pressure, so that after the collapse of the USSR in 1990 their own national identities slowly begin to develop. The country is concerned about the oppressed minority of the Islamic Uyghurs in Xinjang on Chinese territory. Kazakhstan has had a partnership with China since 2005, which primarily aims to expand the transport infrastructure between its neighbors. Since 2015 there has also been a partnership agreement with the European Union that aims to open Kazakhstan to tourism. For regional supremacy, it is in direct competition with neighboring Uzbekistan, with which tensions arise again and again on issues of water and energy.
According to ebizdir, the Kazakh economy is based on oil and gas production and oil products. Kazakhstan wants to further expand its oil production, at the same time there are strategies for the ecological restructuring of the economy. Kazakhstan, with a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 128.1 billion US dollars and a GDP per capita of 7138.1 US dollars in 2016 (source: GTAI), still belongs to the group of successful transition countries, even if the economy is up has clouded over heavily lately. The aim is to move up to the group of the 20 most developed countries by 2050. In order to reduce Kazakhstan’s dependence on crude oil, efforts are being made to expand the manufacturing, agriculture and transport sectors and to restructure the energy sector.
Transport network in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is still little developed for individual tourism, especially for travelers who travel by car. Overland travel can be difficult because of the poor condition of the roads. The density of filling stations is usually good, the sanitary infrastructure at rest stops or parking lots is simple. Diesel and petrol with an octane rating of 80 to 92 are available at almost all petrol stations, and petrol up to 98 octane is also regularly available in larger cities. Problems with diesel vehicles can arise in winter, as the fuel freezes at temperatures below minus 22 degrees Celsius, which are particularly common in northern and eastern Kazakhstan.
Cities and regions in Kazakhstan
The capital and seat of government is Astana in central Kazakhstan with a population of 814,401. It is a university city and one of the largest industrial and service conurbations in Kazakhstan. The largest city in the country and at the same time an economic and cultural center is the metropolis of Almaty in Southeast Kazakhstan. Other cities are Shymkent in the south (652,500 residents), Qaraghandy in central Kazakhstan (485,300 residents), Taras (406,262 residents), Pavlodar (495,554), Öskemen in the northeast and the oil strongholds of Aktau and Atyrau in western Kazakhstan. Settlement between the cities is extremely thin. The national territory is divided into 14 extensive areas and 3 cities with special status. These units are in turn divided into circles.