Location: Central Asia, northwest of China,with a small part west of the Ural (Zhayyq)River in eastern-most Europe Area:◦ Total: 2,724,900 sq km◦ Country comparison to the world: 9◦ Land: 2,699,700 sq km◦ Water: 25,200 sq km Area – comparative: Slightly less than fourtimes the size of Texas Land boundaries:◦ Total: 12,185 km◦ Border countries: China 1,533 km, Kyrgyzstan1,224 km, Russia 6,846 km, Turkmenistan 379 km,Uzbekistan 2,203 km Coastline: 0 km (landlocked – note:Kazakhstan borders the Aral Sea, now splitinto two bodies of water (1,070 km), and theCaspian Sea (1,894 km)
The majority of Kazakhs are Sunni Muslims of the Hannifin school, whichcustomarily include ethnic Kazakhs, who account for almost 60% ofKazakhstan’s population, along with minorities like Uzbeks, Uyghurs, andTatars. Less than 1% belong to the Sharis (mainly Chechens) and Shia. There are a total of 2,300 mosques; each mosque is associated with the“Spiritual Association of Muslims of Kazakhstan”, led by a supreme mufti. The Enid al-Adwa is recognized as a national celebration. Less than 25% of Kazakhstan’s population is Russian Orthodox, whichcustomarily comprises ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians. Other Christian minorities include Roman Catholics and Protestants(Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Pentecostals, as well as Jehovah’sWitnesses and Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Mennonites, and membersof The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons). In all, there are 265 registered Orthodox churches, 93 Catholic churches, and543 Protestant churches and prayer homes; the Russian Orthodox Christmas isrecognized as a national observance in Kazakhstan. Other smaller registered religions include Judaism, the Bahai Faith, HareKrishnas, Buddhists, the Church of Scientology, Christian Scientists, and theUnification Church. Kazakhstan is ethnically diverse; it has a long history of acceptance andsecularism and, since independence, the number of mosques and churcheshave increased significantly. Nonetheless, the population is at times suspicious of minority religious groupsand groups that proselytize; there were a number of incidences in whichcitizens filed objections with authorities after their families became involvedwith these groups. Leaders of the four religious groups regarded as “traditional” by the government(Islam, Russian Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Judaism) indicated overallacceptance and open-mindedness that other minority religious groups did notalways have the benefit of.
Muslim 70.2% Christian 26.2% (Russian Orthodox23.9%, other Christian 2.3%) Buddhist 0.1% Other 0.2% Atheist 2.8% Unspecified 0.5% (2009 census)
Kazakhstan’s politics function in the structure of a presidential republic; thePresident of Kazakhstan serves as head of state and appoints the head ofgovernment. The government exercises executive power; legislative power is vested in both thegovernment and the two chambers of parliament.
Main office holdersPowers of the Presidentand the Prime Minister Office: President◦ Name: Nursultan Nazarbayev◦ Party: Nur Otan◦ Since: 24 April 1990 Office: Prime Minister◦ Name: Serik Akhmetov◦ Party: Nur Otan◦ Since: 24 September 2012 The president is elected by popular vote to a five-year term. The president nominates both the PM and the first Deputy PM; thepresident also nominates the Council of Ministers. President Nazarbayev extended his presidential powers by decree:only he may initiate constitutional modifications, nominate anddischarge the government, dissolve Parliament, call referendums athis discretion, and nominate executive heads of regions and cities. The president acts as head of state; he is additionally thecommander-in-chief of the armed forces and can forbid legislationthat has been passed by the Parliament. President Nazarbayev, in office since Kazakhstan’s independence, waselected to a new 7-year term in the 1999 election, which theOrganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said did not meetinternational standards. A key political opponent, ex-PM Akezhan Kazhegeldin, was forbiddenfrom running against the president because he attended an illegalmeeting of “the movement for free elections”. The election was also illegally called two years ahead of schedule. Free media access is also prohibited to contrasting views. In 2002, a law set very strict requirements for the continuance of thelawful standing of a political party; the number of legitimate partieswas decreased from 19 in 2002 to 8 in 2003. The PM, who serves as the president’s delight, chairs the Cabinet ofMinisters and serves as the head of government of Kazakhstan. The Cabinet is made up of three Deputy PMs and 16 ministers. Serik Akhmetov became PM in September 2012.
The legislature, or Parliament, contains twochambers. The Lower House Assembly (Mazhilis) contains 107seats, elected to a four-year term; 98 seats arefrom party lists, and 9 are from the Assembly ofPeople. All MPs are elected to five-year terms. The Upper House Senate contains 47 members; 40of them are elected to six-year terms in double-seat constituencies by the local authorities, withhalf renewed every two years; the other seven arepresidential appointees. Additionally, former presidents are ex-officiosenators for life. Majilis delegates and the government both reservethe right to legislative initiative, although thegovernment advises most legislation considered bythe Parliament. Numerous delegates are elected from theAssembly of People of Kazakhstan.
44 judges serve in the Supreme Courtof Kazakhstan. The Constitutional Council has sevenmembers.
Nur Otan (83) Ak Zhol (8) Communist People’s Party (7)
Born in Chemolgan on 6 July 1940. 1st and current President of Kazakhstan;assumed office on 24 April 1990. Also the 2nd and current chairman of theNational Democratic Party Nur Otan since 4July 2007. Previously served as Secretary General ofthe Central Committee of the CommunistParty of Kazakh SSR (22 June 1989-14December 1991) and Chairman of theSupreme Soviet of the Kazakh SovietSocialist Republic (22 February 1990-24April 1990). Was re-elected to another five-year term inApril 2011.
Born 25 June 1958 in Temirtau. 8th and current PM of Kazakhstan since2012. Served as Deputy Governor of Astanabriefly prior to his appointment to theGovernment of Kazakhstan as Minister ofTransportation on 25 September 2006. Has also served as Chairman of the Boardof the Atameken National Union ofEntrepreneurs and Employers ofKazakhstan since 2005. Was nominated by President NursultanNazarbayev as PM subsequent to KarimMassimov’s resignation on 24 September2012; was sworn in the same day.