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Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world, a huge land encompassing two time zones, stretching from China to the Caspian Sea. It has an ethnically mixed population of 15 million people including Kazakhs, Russians, Ukranians, Uzbeks and others. Kazakhstan is potentially the richest of all the Central Asian countries with huge mineral and oil reserves. Until 1997, the capital of Kazakhstan was Almaty but the seat of political power was moved to Astana.

The Eastern part of Kazakhstan and the area around Almaty is extremely mountainous, with beautiful alpine scenery, densely forested valleys, multicoloured lakes and pristine glaciers. The mountain peaks are home to many species of wildlife, including almost 200 species of mammals and 480 species of birds. Travelling to the west in Kazakhstan the mountains give way to the vast steppes and also the desert.

Nomadic people have inhabited the vast steppes of Central Asia for many thousands of years but the Kazakh, a Turkic people, distantly related to Genghis Khan’s hordes, emerged as a distinct nationality in the 15th century. By the 17th century the Russians had arrived and in 1640, Guriyev (now Atyrau) became part of the Russian Empire. By 1848 all of Kazakhstan was under Russian rule and in 1854 the Russians established a fort called Verny, which later became Almaty. Kazakhstan became one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union until 1991 when it gained its independence.

A branch of the Silk Road passed though southern Kazakhstan, and the towns of Taraz, Otrar, Chimkent and Turkestan were important staging posts on the trade routes. These days however, most visitors come to Kazakhstan more for the beauty of its scenery than its historical monuments and now you can be amongst the first Westerners to journey to this remote and little visited land.

Interested in booking your ultimate Kazakhstan holiday?

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