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Friday 24th May
Kazakhstan Facts
The Republic of Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world.

The Caspian Sea, the world's largest enclosed body of water, borders Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan's Lake Balkhash is one of the world's largest lakes.

One half of Lake Balkhash consists of fresh water and the other half is salt water.

The Aral Sea, once the world's fourth largest body of inland water, has dramatically shrunk since the former USSR diverted the Ama Dariya and the Syrdariya, rivers that fed the Aral Sea.

The Issyk burial mound, near Almaty, was the resting-place of a young Scythian (or Saka) known as the Golden Man. This name has been given as the burial clothes and headdress are covered with many gold plates decorated with animals such as leopards and winged horses.

It is believed that the famous Akhal-Teke breed of horse was used by Scythians. Horse mummies found in the permafrost grave of a Scythian king in Russia are thought to be those of the Akhal-Teke breed.

In 1930 Kazakhstan was one of the first Central Asian countries outside Turkmenistan to breed the Akhal-Teke horse.

The meaning of "Kazakh" has been translated as "free independent nomad".

The yurta, a collapsible tent with a wooden frame and covered with felt, is the traditional nomad home.

The ancient cities of Taraz, Yasy (Turkestan) and the towns of the Otrar Oasis were important commercial centres on the Silk Road, the trade route between Europe and China.

Turkestan was founded over fifteen centuries ago. Once known as Yasy, Turkestan is the historical centre of Kazakhstan's culture.

The Hodja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum in Turkestan is a place of pilgrimage for Central Asian Muslims.

Hodja Ahmed Yasavi, born in 1103, was a religious leader and poet.

Timur (also known as Tamerlane) ordered the construction of the Hodja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum over two hundred years after the religious leader's death.

Almaty was the capital of Kazakhstan until the end of 1998.

Almaty is named after the apple trees that have grown in the area since early times. "Alma" is the Kazakh word for apple.

Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union. 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).

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian Nobel Prize winner, was imprisoned and exiled in Kazakhstan.

In 1961 Yuryi Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut, made the first manned space flight from the Baykonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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

An agreement to build an oil pipeline from central Kazakhstan to northwest China was agreed between the governments of Kazakhstan and China in May 2004.

The Kazakh section of the natural gas pipeline joining Kazakhstan to Asia was opened in 2009.

In 2013 the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, visited Kazakhstan, a trading partner of the United Kingdom.

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