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Kazakhstan (English)Timeline: The Fires of God
Kazakhstan (in green) and neighbouring countries as of 2015
(and largest city)
|Government||Unitary dominant-party presidential republic|
|-||Prime Minister||Karim Massimov|
|-||Independence from the Russian Empire||December 25 1991|
Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a country in Central Asia, with a minor part west of the Ural River and thus in Europe. It has borders with (clockwise from the north) Russia, China and Persia, and also adjoins a large part of the Caspian Sea. The terrain of Kazakhstan includes flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts.
The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomadic tribes. This changed in the 13th century, when Genghis Khan occupied the country. Following internal struggles among the conquerors, power eventually reverted to the nomads. By the 16th century, the Kazakhs emerged as a distinct group, divided into three jüz (ancestor branches occupying specific territories). The Russians began advancing into the Kazakh steppe in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century all of Kazakhstan was part of the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 abolition of the monarchy, and subsequent civil war, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganized several times before becoming the Kazakh Nationalist Republic in 1936, an integral part of the Russian Empire.
Kazakhstan was the last of the Russian Nationalist republics to declare independence following the dissolution of the Russian Empire in 1991; the current President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been leader of the country since then. Kazakhstan pursues a balanced foreign policy and works to develop its economy, especially its dominant hydrocarbon industry.
Kazakhstan is populated by 131 ethnicities, including Kazakhs (who make up 63 percent of the population), Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, and Uyghurs. Zoroastrianism is the religion of about 70% of the population, with Christianity practiced by 26%; Kazakhstan allows freedom of religion. The Kazakh language is the state language, while Russian and Persian have equal official status for all levels of administrative and institutional purposes.