Five times the size of France and half the size of the USA, Kazakhstan is the second largest state in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and is bordered by the Russian Federation to the north and west, the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the southwest, Kyrgyzstan to the south and China to the southeast.
90% of the country is made up of steppe, the sand massives of the Kara Kum and the vast desert of Kizilkum, while in the southeast of the country the mountains of the Tian Shan and the Altai form a great natural frontier with tens of thousands of lakes and rivers. The Aral Sea and Lake Balkhash are the country’s largest expanses of water.
Nowadays the republic of Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, an amazing mix of history, culture, crafts and gastronomy, 130 nationalities living here in peace and harmony. Kazakhstan is the homeland of the unique ancient philosophy of the nomads – ‘Tengrianism’. It is a philosophy of careful attitude to nature, love and tolerance to all people and all life on Earth. The symbol of this philosophy is Khan Tengri peak (7010m) – the highest mountain in Kazakhstan and the northernmost peak which above 7000 meters on the Planet.
Capital: Astana (formerly called Akmola), Population: 600,000 (2004).
Population: 15.4 million (UN estimate 2005).
Area: 2,717,300 sq km (1,049,150 sq miles).
The official language: Kazakh
Time zone: Kazakhstan is divided into three time zones:
Eastern zone: GMT + 6.
Central zone (including Astana): GMT + 5.
Western zone: GMT + 4.
Religion: Mainly Sunni Muslim. There are Russian Orthodox and Jewish minorities. Kazakhstan is an outlying district of the Muslim world and a meeting point of Russian, Chinese and Central Asian civilizations. Islam plays a minor role in policy and there are no significant Islamic political organizations in the country.
Kazakhstan shares borders with the Russian Federation, the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. For centuries, Kazakhstan's vast plains were home only to nomads and they are still virtually empty. Most settlements are concentrated in the southeast and the east of the Republic.
South Kazakhstan is a focus of Central Asian history and there are many famous monuments in the region. It is a scenically diverse region where the snow-capped peaks, lakes and glaciers of the Tian Shan range give way to steppe and desert. The desert is home to the Singing Barkhan – a sand dune 3.2km (2 miles) long, which, as it crumbles, produces a peculiar singing sound.
Kazakhstan Tourist Association (KTA)
KTA was founded in May 1999 with the support of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The association has been established with the aim to protect the interests of its 270+ members. KTA members include the Kazakhstan Association of Hotels and Restaurants (KAGIR); tourism-, insurance- and airline companies as well as universities and media representatives. Following are the objectives of the KTA:
• association on a voluntary basis enterprises and organizations, entrepreneurs, operating in the hospitality and tourism sector, interested in improving the level of professionalism and quality of services;
• coordinating the activities of the Association;
• It protects the rights and legitimate interests of the Association members;
• representation of the interests of the Association members in government and non-governmental institutions and organizations;
• promotion of tourist product on the world stage;
• promotion of ecotourism as the main tourism products in Kazakhstan;
• forming a positive image of the national tourist industry and separate regions in foreign countries;
• Preparation and publication of information, analytical and expert materials on tourism issues;
• creating clubs of tourists with theme nights and a variety of bonus programs;
• expansion and updating of information services for tourists through the Information Center of the KTA;
• organization of participation in international tourism exhibitions, including by creating a single regional information boards that perform the functions of advertising and information offices for presentations of tourist regions, through the participation of the authorities and all interested companies and organizations;
• creation of a modern system of retraining and advanced training of tourist and hotel business promotion services CTA Training Center;
• facilitating the creation of conditions for effective functioning of the enterprises of hotel and tourism infrastructure in the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
• participate in the development of tourism development programs and small business;
• rewarding the best industry experts.
For more information and contact: www.kaztour-association.com
Ecotourism Information Resource Centre (EIRC)
EIRC is a KTA-initiative that started in 2005 with the support of The Eurasia Foundation. EIRC is a one-stop service for eco- and community based tourism in Kazakhstan. Main activities of EIRC are:
• (inter)national popularization of eco – and community based tourism;
• provision of information to tourists and visitors of the center;
• booking of tours and advertising support to project regions.
For more information and contact: www.eco-tourism.kz