Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The
largest in area of the countries of Central Asia, the former
republic of the USSR.
Country area - total: 2,717,300 km², water: 47,500 km², land: 2,669,800 km²
Kazakhstan borders on Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It has access to the Caspian and Aral Seas.
Kazakhstan is a country with a rich historical and cultural past. Located in the center of Eurasia, Kazakhstan found itself at the crossroads of the most ancient civilizations of the world, at the intersection of transport arteries, social and economic, cultural and ideological ties between East and West, South and North, between Europe and Asia, between the largest state formations of the Eurasian continent.
As of November 1, 2015 - 17,630,719 people.
The share of the main ethnic groups: Kazakhs - 65%, Russians - 21.8%, Uzbeks - 3%, Ukrainians - 1.8%, Uighurs - 1.4%, Tatars - 1.2%, Germans - 1.1%, others ethnic groups - 4.5%.
Religious beliefs - Muslims 70.2%, Russian Orthodox Church 26.2%, other 4%.
Administratively, the country is divided into 14 regions, but from a tourist point of view, the division of Kazakhstan is more interesting, taking into account natural and geographical features:
The Great Steppe is the central region of Kazakhstan, where there are few people, there are also not very many roads, and they usually connect the cities of other regions with each other, but there is a lot of steppe, partially plowed, and deserts. Almost all civilization here is in large cities along the northern border of the region: Aktobe, Karaganda and Semey. Almost the only detail of the landscape in the monotonous plain to the horizon is the Karkaraly National Park, the highest part of the Kazakh Upland.
Kyzylkum and Aral Karakum
Kyzylkum and the Aral Karakum - the south of Kazakhstan, almost entirely occupied by the desert, in the same clay, although in some places even with real sand dunes. The Aral Sea has almost dried up as a result of the irrigation programs of Kazakhstan's neighbors, but now the Kazakh part of the sea is fenced off by a dam, and further reduction does not threaten it. The cultural monuments of the region are mainly related to the history of neighboring Uzbekistan, such as the mausoleums in the city of Turkestan, but few reminders of colonial history remain, mainly in the cities of Kazalinsk and Kyzylorda.
The Caspian lowland is the westernmost region of Kazakhstan. In the north, the Ural River flows here with the historical cities of Uralsk and Atyrau. In the south, the region faces the coast of the Caspian Sea. In addition, there is the Mangyshlak peninsula, remarkable for its rocks, canyons, as well as mausoleums and cave mosques, while all this is in the desert, and the roads are mainly designed for four-wheel drive vehicles.
Rudny Altai is the Kazakh part of the Altai Mountains, with waterfalls, forests and reservoirs. The main city here is Ust-Kamenogorsk, and the entire region is strung on the Irtysh and Bukhtarma rivers.
Northern Kazakhstan is a rather large and rather diverse region. There is a large proportion of the Russian-speaking population here than in the whole country, and in the very north, in Petropavlovsk, the Russian language is more common than Kazakh. In the north of the region there is a forest-steppe, and right there is a rather famous resort of Borovoye, and to the south it turns into a steppe, in the middle of which stands the capital of the country, Astana. The capital was moved here by historical standards recently, but Astana is actively developing and is very interesting in architectural and cultural terms.
Semirechye is a region of Kazakhstan that is distinguished by the greatest diversity. In the north there is a steppe and a huge closed lake Balkhash. In the east of the region there are deserts with picturesque canyons, the most famous of which is the Charyn Canyon. In the south, the region is limited by two ranges of the Northern Tien Shan - Zailiysky Alatau and Kungei-Alatau, with glaciers, lakes, rivers and forests of Tien Shan spruce. In the east, along the border with China, there is a lower ridge of the Dzungarian Alatau. To all this is added Alma-Ata (Almaty), the largest city of Kazakhstan, for a long time its capital, and still retaining the role of a cultural capital.
Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan, striking in scope and pathos of modern architecture;
Alma-Ata (Almaty) - the southern, and in the past the main capital of Kazakhstan, located in the foothills of the Zailiysky Alatau;
Aktobe is the center of the West Kazakhstan region, which includes four regions. One of the largest cities in Kazakhstan;
Shymkent is the second (after Alma-Ata) largest city in the republic;
Karaganda is the capital of the coal-mining region;
Kostanay is the granary of Kazakhstan. In the Kostanay region, high yields of grain are traditionally collected;
Shchuchinsk - a unique mountain resort in the middle of the endless steppe and the adjacent national park "Burabay" ("Borovoye");
Semey - known as the place of exile of Dostoevsky and the place of death of ataman Annenkov;
Turkestan is a city in the Syrdarya valley, famous for its ancient mausoleums; Since 2018, it has been the capital of the Turkestan region;
Uralsk is a city with a long history, including a visit by Pushkin, the Pugachev uprising and the death of Chapaev;
Ust-Kamenogorsk is an industrial city in the southern part of Altai;
Kyzylorda is the first capital of the KazASSR. In the vicinity of the city there is a developed agriculture - rice and melon fields.
Lake Balkhash (Balkhash)
Ski resort Chimbulak (Shymbulak)
Alpine skating rink Medeo (Medeu)
Naurzumsky and Korgalzhynsky nature reserves (Nauyrzym zhane Korgalzhyn қoryқtary)
Ile-Alatau National Park, Northern Tien Shan
State National Park "Altyn-Emel" ("Altyn Emel")
Charyn Canyon (Shary)
Western Tien Shan, including Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve (Aksu Zhabagyly), Karatau Nature Reserve and Sairam-Ugam National Park
The capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan has a new, modern airport that receives flights from Russia, Europe, Southeast Asia, China, and Turkey. Almaty Airport belongs to the first class airports and is also able to receive flights with virtually no restrictions. Kostanay Airport accepts flights from Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Kyiv, Minsk, Munich, Hannover.
From Russia: Border guards and customs officers pass the train - they look at migration cards, declarations (if any) and luggage. They put an entry stamp on the card (which must be kept until leaving the country, when it is confiscated at the border) or in the passport. Trains are usually clean, which is not always true for domestic routes. They give out linen packed in bags. Linen is included in the ticket. The conductors are not always responsible, they may not inform you that you need to get off at this stop. According to the rules of railway transportation of Kazakhstan, conductors provide boiling water for drinks, dishes. Recharging is officially free, unless otherwise noted. In fact, a symbolic payment is welcomed by the conductor as a tip.
If you travel by train in Kazakhstan, having several stops in different cities, subject to a clear schedule, you should not buy all tickets in advance in Russia. It is better to do it in Kazakhstan - it will be much cheaper.
Kazakhstan has a long land border with Russia (RF), China (PRC), Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyzstan), Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan (Turkmenistan). Kazakhstan is connected to these states by highways built during the Soviet era. The quality of the road surface is not always satisfactory. There is no developed infrastructure for auto travelers. Outside of large cities and regional centers, low-quality gasoline and diesel fuel come across.
When entering the country, one should not forget about temporary insurance, which is issued immediately after the border checkpoint (usually these are small inconspicuous wagons). If you are stopped by traffic officers in the country, you should always have transport documents, completed migration cards and an insurance policy ready. The cost of the policy has now changed. The minimum insurance period is 3 months, it costs approximately 1500-1800 Russian rubles for a car. If you forgot to issue a document when entering the country, you should notify the inspector. On the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan there are embassies of border countries. You can always count on their help.
Domestic air traffic is well developed. From Nur-Sultan and Alma-Ata, you can fly to all regional centers, to larger ones several times a day. Airplanes fly between Nur-Sultan and Alma-Ata every 2-3 hours. Moreover, there are strange chord routes like Kyzylorda-Karaganda, and, digging into the schedules, you can find quite interesting options. Tickets for domestic flights are relatively inexpensive, everywhere you can take a one-way ticket without an additional surcharge. If you buy in advance, you are unlikely to pay more than 20-25 thousand tenge (one way). Trains, however, are still cheaper: with rare exceptions, a ticket in a compartment is cheaper than an airplane.
There are four airlines in Kazakhstan - Air Astana, SCAT, Bek Air and Qazaq Air. The last three were blacklisted by the European Union for a long time (due to security problems), but in 2016 they seemed to be excluded from there. SCAT and Bek Air operate in low-cost mode, i.e. they sell the cheapest tickets without luggage, and the surcharge depends on the weight. Air Astana tickets are slightly more expensive, but they always include meals and luggage. However, there is one eastern trick in the Air Astana tariff policy: on the site you need to select the country of Kazakhstan, but do not put a tick in front of resident of Kazakhstan (unless, of course, you have a Kazakh passport). If you choose any other country, a ticket for the simplest domestic flight will cost from $150.
The tricks don't end there. International booking systems see only a fraction of domestic flights and at prices that have nothing to do with reality. Use the websites of airlines, they all sell tickets via the Internet and accept credit cards for payment.
The state language of the country is Kazakh, which is spoken by more
than 80% of the population. The language of interethnic communication
and the official language is Russian, in which it is allowed to keep
official documentation. More than 80% of the population also speaks
Russian in the country, while many Kazakhs use it more often than Kazakh
in everyday life, and in the north they may not speak the state language
at all. The authorities are trying to correct this situation with
varying success, however, the matter has not come to prohibitive
measures against the Russian and is unlikely to come. The Uzbek language
is widely spoken in the south of the country, Uighur is popular in the
east, and in some villages of Semirechye one can meet speakers of the
Kyrgyz and Dungan languages. In the Aral Sea region, the Karakalpak
language has some distribution. In recent years, the popularity of
learning English has been growing among young people, and it is also
most often spoken by workers in the tourism sector. In large cities, one
can find those who know Turkish, Arabic and German, the latter is also
popular in areas of mass exile of Germans: Karaganda, Taraz, Alma-Ata.
The national currency is Kazakhstan tenge (KZT). 1 USD = 463 KZT 1 EUR = 501 KZT; 1 GBP = 572 KZT; 1 RUB = 6.6 KZT (as of January 19, 2023)
The exchange rate of the ruble against the tenge is constantly changing. Reverse exchange (tenge-rubles) is possible. Money should be changed in banks or special exchange offices where they issue a check for the exchange. It is recommended to keep these checks in order to present them at the border if necessary.
What's the cost? (2019)
1. Food, inexpensive restaurant: 2000 tenge
2. Meals for two, average restaurant, 3 courses: 10,000 tenge
3. Homemade beer (0.5 l draft): 400 tenge
4. Cola / Pepsi (bottle 0.33 l): 190 tenge
5. Water (bottle 0.33 l): 120 tenge
6. Loaf of bread (500 g): 90 tenge
7. Beef (1 kg): 2000 tenge
8. Apples (1 kg): 450 tenge
9. One way ticket (local transport): 80 tenge
10. Taxi start, per km: 425, 100 tenge
11. Gasoline (1 l): 170 tenge
12. Apartment (1 bed) in the city center / month: 111,000 tenge
13. Average monthly net salary (after taxes): 139,000 tenge
Prices for all goods and services vary significantly and depend on the place of purchase and the time of year. The cost of products in markets and food fairs is lower than in stores. The highest - in supermarkets, shopping malls and malls. There are wholesale stores with discount prices. Prices for clothes of imported brands are higher than in producing countries. Fakes available to low-income segments of the population are very popular. Prices for entertainment, as well as for travel in public transport, depend on the remoteness of the city and the degree of its development. In Almaty, a bus ticket for an adult costs 80 tenge, in Nur-Sultan - 90 (attention, the data may be outdated). The bus depot is quite new.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi (Turkestan) - Khoja Ahmed Yasawi kesenesi
Petroglyphs of the archaeological landscape of Tamgaly
Saryarka - steppes and lakes of Northern Kazakhstan
Turkic sanctuary Merke
Megalithic mausoleum of Begazy-Dandybai culture
Mounds and stone structures of the Tasmola culture
Petroglyphs of Eshkiolmes (Eshkiolmes)
Petroglyphs of Arpa-Uzen (Arpa ozen)
Paleolithic objects and geomorphology of the Karatau ridge
Archaeological objects of the Oasis Otrar
Cultural landscape of Ulytau
Complex of medieval mausoleums of the city of Taraz
Mausoleum of Jochi Khan (Joshy)
Mazvolei of Alash Khan (Alash)
In Kazakhstan, for various reasons, a large number of single-industry towns were built. After the collapse of the USSR, many of them partially or completely stopped production, and part of the Russian and German population left the country. Therefore, in many, even large, cities of Kazakhstan, there are entire areas of abandoned high-rise buildings. No valuable items have been left there for a long time, but as monuments of the era they are of interest. Among other things, Karaganda, Arkalyk and Zhanatas are famous for such areas, and the latter is also located in the desert.
Things to do
Mountain tourism - Medeu, Chimbulak (Shymbulak), Zailiysky Alatau National Park. Water tourism - rivers Koksu, Katun. Beach tourism - Caspian. Hiking in the forest - Kostanay, Zerenda, Schuchinsk, Borovoye (Burabay), Almaty region (Almaty oblysy). Beach holidays - lake Balkhash (Balkash), lake Borovoe, lake Shchuchye, lake Alakol (Alakol).
Besbarmak is a national dish (boiled noodles with meat, but not soup). Meat is different (horse meat, lamb ...).
Kazy is a national dish, which is a specially prepared horsemeat sausage.
Kymyz is a fermented milk drink made from mare's milk.
Shubat - fermented camel milk. This drink is common throughout Central Asia.
Bauyrsak is a traditional dish of nomadic pastoralists of Central Asia (small buns fried in oil).
The center of nightlife in Kazakhstan and all of Central Asia is Almaty. The city has a huge number of nightclubs, entertainment centers, bars, cafes and restaurants.
Where to stay
There are hotels in every city. From 1 to 5 stars. You can rent accommodation from local residents.
Kazakhstan and Russia are similar in terms of street life. You should be careful at night, especially in residential areas, avoid conflicts with temperamental representatives of the local population, carefully count the change in small shops and minimarkets, and also ask in advance the cost of goods. In addition, local taxi drivers, having noticed visitors, can raise prices, but you can bargain with them, just like in the market. When hitchhiking: there are areas where it is impossible to stop the car on the highway (the gender and money of the failed passenger are not important).
The international dialing code of Kazakhstan, as in Russia, is +7. Internet domains of the country .kz and .қaz Mobile operators Beeline, Kcell/Activ, Tele2, ALTEL operate on the territory of the country. Attention, at least the mobile Internet in Kazakhstan can be blocked, it works very poorly in the evenings and on weekends, while there is a connection, but there is no access to Vkontakte, Twitter. This is especially true during strikes and riots. Also, when connecting, operators require you to install a security certificate, the purpose of which is in doubt, and there is little information about it. Operators' SIM cards are sold and distributed almost everywhere, but after a day or two they require registration or are blocked. Sellers offer to add money to the account, but you should not trust them, because they may well add only a small part of the amount, leaving a significant part for themselves, be careful.