Kazakhstan: A Multifaceted Central Asian Nation

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 Kazakhstan, located in the heart of Central Asia, is a vast and diverse nation renowned for its rich history, cultural variety and abundant natural resources.

As the largest country in Central Asia, Kazakhstan shares borders with China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Its landmass is comparable in size to Western Europe and it is the world’s largest landlocked country. With a land border spanning 7,591 kilometers, Kazakhstan’s boundary with Russia ranks as the world’s second-longest, only surpassed by the U.S.-Canada border.

The nation is home to approximately 19.8 million people, with 40 percent of the population under 25. Kazakhs constitute the majority of the population, around 70 percent, with the remaining 30 percent representing a diverse mix of ethnic groups, including Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Uighurs, Tatars, Germans, Koreans and others.

About 70 percent of the population practices Sunni Islam, while an additional 26 percent are Christians. There are approximately 130 different ethnic groups and nearly 4,000 religious organizations.

Kazakhstan boasts the largest economy in Central Asia, primarily driven by its abundant natural resources, such as minerals, hydrocarbons and rare-earth metals. The country has attracted significant foreign investment in these industries, resulting in a skilled workforce.

The economy is diversifying into various sectors, including agribusiness, manufacturing, logistics and finance. Government initiatives aim to diversify the economy further, focusing on transport, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, petrochemicals and food processing sectors.

Ongoing privatization of major state enterprises will reduce the state’s share in the economy to 18 percent. The government also seeks to boost small and medium-sized businesses’ role, aiming to increase their GDP share to 35 percent by 2025.

Kazakhstan operates as a presidential republic, with the president serving as the head of state and nominating a prime minister as the head of government. Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Parliament, consisting of the 98-seat Mazhilis and the 50-seat Senate.

As of November 2022, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is the president of Kazakhstan, having been reelected, and Alikhan Smailov retains his position as prime minister following the parliamentary elections in March.

Kazakhstan’s foreign policy is marked by a balanced and multi-vector approach, maintaining strong relations with major global powers, including Russia, China, the U.S. and the European Union. The nation is a member of various international organizations, such as the United Nations (U.N.), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Kazakhstan also plays a vital role in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), promoting regional economic cooperation. Notably, Kazakhstan was the first Central Asian state to serve as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council from 2017 to 2018.

The country has also served as a neutral venue for the Astana Process on Syria, hosting 20 rounds of peace negotiations to resolve the Syrian conflict.

Source : Koreatimes