Kazakhstan is the birthplace of ancient Eurasian civilizations, the motherland of nomadic people, and an important part of the Great Silk Road (1,400km). Kazakhstan is a wealth of frosty mountain peaks, sparkling glaciers, softly rustling evergreen forest
General information on Kazakhstan Area: 2 724 000 sq.km Population: 16,196,800 (2010) Capital: Astana
Major languages: Kazakh, Russian Religions: Islam, Christianity Monetary unit: Kazakhstan tenge Internet Domain: .kz Kazakhstan is located on the border of two continents - Europe and Asia, between 45 and 87 degrees of east longitude, between 40 and 55 degrees of northern latitude. Geographical center of the euro-asian continent is in Kazakhstan (on the intersection of the 78th meridian and the 50th parallel). Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world by land, being inferior to Russia, China, the USA, Argentina. Brazil, Canada, India and Australia. The territory of Kazakhstan could hold such countries as France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Finland and Norway together. Kazakhstan borders: with China 1460 km, with Kyrgyzstan 980 km, with Turkmenistan 380 km, with Uzbekistan 2300 km, with Russian Federation 6467 km. Total length of borders is 12187 km. The territory of the republic spreads from lower current of Volga on the west to feet of the Alps on the east, covering two time zones, from West-Siberian plain on the north to desert Kyzylkum and mountain chain Tien Shan on the south. The northernmost point of Kazakhstan is 5526n.l. corresponds to southern longitude of central part of East-European plain and south of British isles (longitude of Moscow); the southernmost point is 4056 n.l. to longitude of Transcaucasia and Mediterranean countries of South Europe (longitude of Madrid, Istanbul and Baku). Climate: Distance from ocean and big territory influence climatic conditions. Kazakhstan nature strikes by its contrasts. Climate of the north of the republic is severe, as in Siberia, on the south at the same time fruit may blossom, dales may turn green. Average temperature of January is from -3оС on the north and east of the republic to -18оС in the southernmost part of Kazakhstan. Average temperature of July goes from +19оС on the north up to +28оС, +30оС on the south. Kazakhstan is located in four climate zones forest-steppe, steppe, semidesert, desert. Forest-steppe zone includes the most moisture provided plain regions of the north of the republic. The shortest season is spring 1,5 months; summer lasts 3 months, winter from October until April. Steppe zone covers large territory on the north of the republic. It is characterized be high wind
speed. As compared with forest-steppe zone, winter period is shorter, summer period is longer. Spring is short, and autumn lasts less than two months. It starts at the beginning of September. Semi-desert is the zone of dry steppes, covering central part of Kazakhstan. Winter is characterized by severity and instability of weather, summer is hot. Desert zone covers the biggest part of plain Kazakhstan. The climate is characterized by long hot summer, cold winter, high dryness of air. Water resources: In Kazakhstan there are 8.5 thousand big and small rivers. About 80% of territory of the republic relates to regions without drainage and basins of internal flow. Rivers Irtysh, Ishim and Tobol, slowing on the northern and north-eastern outskirts of the country, relate to the basin of Arctic Ocean. All other large rivers on the territory on the country carry their waters to closed internal pools: Ural to the Caspian sea, Syr Darya to the Aral sea, Ili to the lake Balkhash. Many small and medium rivers dry up in summer. The Caspian sea is included in the republican borders with its north-eastern waters with the softest water and biggest depths (5-7 m). Apart from Kazakhstan, the Caspian sea belongs to Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan. The Aral sea is divided between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. This is a drying pool, whose area decreased twice in the period of 1960-1995. The lake Balkhash completely belongs to Kazakhstan. The pool has soft western and salt eastern water. In Kazakhstan there are 48000 big and small lakes. Among them the biggest ones are the Aral sea, Balkhash, Zaysan, Alakol, Tengiz, Seletengiz. Flora and fauna: 26% of Kazakhstan territory is covered by steppe. 16 mln hectares are deserts (44%) and semi-deserts (12%). Forests cover only 3.5% (21 mln hectares) of the territory. Mostly they are softwood forests, though there are also birch, aspen, apple tree and juniper forest. The rest of the territory of the country has forb-grass, sagebrush-halophytic and desert vegetation. In highland there are subalpine and alpine meadows. In Kazakhstan there are 250 kinds of medicinal plants. On the south of Kazakhstan there are such plant as santonica or a wormwood tsitvarnaya, which cannot be found anywhere else. Kazakhstan fauna is peculiar. On the territory of the republic there are 155 species of mammals, 480 birds, 150 fishes. Insects and reptiles prevail in deserts and semi-deserts. In the steppe zone there are gazelle, antelope, wolves, hares, foxes, jackals, and various rodents (mice, squirrels, hamsters). Many of Kazakhstan lakes are constant or seasonal habitats of geese, swans, ducks, gulls, flamingoes. The most diverse fauna is in the mountains. Here can be found bears, Caucasian goats and sheep, snow leopard, deer, many kinds of birds. In order to protect the wild nature there are reserves in all natural zones from deserts to high mountains. In Kazakh national cuisine, like in a mirror, one can find the reflection of the nations soul, its history, customs and traditions. Since long ago the most distinctive feature of Kazakh people has been hospitality. Dear guest has been welcomed, seated on the seat of honor, treated to the best what could be found in the house.