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Kazakhstan, republic in Central Asia, bounded on the north by Russia; on the east by China; on the south by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan; and on the west by the Caspian Sea and Russia. Almost all of Kazakhstan is located in the west central portion of the Asian continent; however, a small part of the republic lies west of the Ural River on the European continent. The northern city of Astana (formerly Aqmola) is the capital of the country.

In Kazakh, the official state language, Kazakhstan is called Qazaqstan Respublikasy. The Kazakhs, a Turkic people, constitute a majority of the population. Kazakhstan was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1922 until December 1991, when it became independent. The republic has maintained a presidential system of government since independence. In 1995 Kazakhstan adopted a new constitution that granted extensive powers to the president.


For younger readers

Cartlidge, Cherese. The Central Asian States. Lucent, 2001. Discussion of Kazakhstan and the other former Soviet Central Asian republics, for readers in grades 6 to 12.

Kort, Michael. Central Asian Republics. Facts on File, 2003. For readers in grade 7 and up.

Pang Guek Cheng. Kazakhstan. Marshall Cavendish, 2001. For readers in grades 6 to 9.


Allworth, Edward, ed. Central Asia. 130 Years of Russian Dominance, A Historical Overview. Duke University Press, 1994. This book covers five dramatic years (1989-1993) of disintegration of the Soviet Union and of challenges facing the newborn Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan.

Curtis, Glenn E., ed. Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan: Country Studies. Library of Congress, 1997. A concise survey of the history, economy, society, and culture of each country.

Gleason, Gregory. The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence. Westview, 1997. The problems of post-Soviet Central Asia.

Olcott, Martha Brill. The Kazakhs. 2nd ed. Hoover Institution Press, 1995. A history of this ethnic group from the mid-15th century to the present.

Rashid, Ahmed. The Resurgence of Central Asia, Islam or Nationalism? Oxford University Press, 1994. An overview of the current problems of the five Central Asian republics from a journalistic rather than an academic standpoint.

Thomas, Paul. The Central Asian States: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan. Millbrook, 1992. For the younger reader.


Werner, Cynthia, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa.

Microsoft Encarta 2009. 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

Article key phrases:

Ural River, Turkic people, presidential system of government, Caspian Sea, European continent, Asian continent, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, new constitution, Central Asia, Russia, capital, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Uzbekistan, population, independence, December, east, country, majority

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