Key Country Facts
In Kazakhstan, about 19 million people live here (as of 2016) and the population is very diverse, representing people from over 120 nationalities. Kazakhstan became independent in 1991. The capital is Astana and the official languages are Kazakh and Russian. Its inhabitants are primarily Muslim (around 70 percent) followed by Russian Orthodox (about 26 percent) and a few smaller religions or atheism. The top export is primarily crude petroleum followed by refined petroleum. Its time zone is 9 hours ahead of EST in the west and 10 hours ahead of EST in the east.
Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world at less than 50,000 square kilometers below the size of Argentina. Also unique is that the name Kazakhstan comes from the ancient Persian word stand meaning “land” or “nation” and the word Kazakh meaning “wanderer” or “adventurer.” The name Kazakhstan translates to “Land of the Wanderers.”
Travelers who love skiing should head to the Almaty Province, where they can visit the Medeu Skating Rink and Ski Resort and enjoy the mountain views. Also worth a visit in Almaty is the Charyn Canyon, where travelers and hike and camp while enjoying the breathtaking canyon views.
In the capital, visitors can head to the top of Baiterek Tower to get a clear view of the city. From up top, onlookers will see the modern city park and the Presidential Palace in the distance. A must-see for travelers looking to explore the capital!
I was fortunate to be able to drive hours upon hours through the Southern part of Kazakhstan and its rolling hills and mountain vistas were spectacular. This is a huge country which is about 5 times the size of France and ranks in the top 10 largest countries. It’s also incredibly wealthy due to its access to the Caspian sea’s vast oil and gas resources. Don’t confuse Kazakhstan with Borat; it is a highly industrialized powerhouse, and an incredible vacation destination not-to-be-missed. Since the U.S. retired its space shuttle program, the Russians are the only ones to launch rockets to the International Space Station, and they do it from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is a vacationer’s paradise and offers a little bit of everything for adventurists, including white water rafting, hiking, climbing, fishing and skiing, all at reasonable prices.
Almaty is distinctly modern, with most of the stores and shops that you’d see in many European capitals. Its wide streets are lined with trees and the city has a number of nice parks.
Regardless, I ventured south into the mountains to participate in a falconry demonstration with a brown falcon and bald eagle. On the way back to my hotel I was in the worst thunderstorm I’ve ever been in in my life (video).