According to Localcollegeexplorer, Soviet socialist republic since 1936, Kazakhstan is today an independent republic (Republic of Kazakhstan), within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) born from the dissolution of the USSR. The town covers an area of 2,717,300 km 2and, according to a 1991 estimate, it has 16,793,000 residents. At the 1989 census the population was 15,538,000 residents, of which 39.7% were Kazakhs and 37.8% were Russians (at the previous census, the latter represented the majority of the population); among the other main ethnic groups, the Germans (5.8%) and the Ukrainians (5.4%). Alma-Ata, capital of Kazakhstan since 1929 when it replaced Kzyl-Orda, in 1990 had 1,151,300 residents. Other cities are: Karaganda (614,000 residents), Čimkent (393,000 residents), Semipalatinsk (334,000 residents) and Petropavlovsk (241,000 residents). Together with Siberia, Kazakhstan represents the region of the CIS in the fastest and most intense development. The economy is based on agriculture, livestock and mineral resources. In the first two sectors, significant progress has been made in recent years:
In 1990 the cultivated area amounted to 221 million ha, corresponding to more than 20% of the total cultivated area of the former Soviet Union. Agriculture, totally mechanized (air vehicles are also frequently used), mainly produces wheat, corn (1.5 million t in 1990), sugar beet, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, grapes, tobacco and cotton.
The subsoil is rich in resources: two important coal districts are located in the northern Kazakhstan (Karaganda basin and Ekibastuz basin), while minerals such as copper, lead, zinc and bauxite abound in the central Kazakhstan These are processed locally, so the Kazakhstan needs a substantial production of energy, which it satisfies by drawing on its own coal resources, with some hydroelectric plants on the Ob and upper Irtyš, with the supply of oil through pipelines. Along the Emba valley, oil associated with gas is present in the subsoil; nickel and chromium are found in the Kustanaj and Semipalatinsk regions; near Kustanaj there is an iron field, cultivated in the open, which is the largest of those in the Kazakhstan and even supplies the steel industry in the Urals.
The secondary sector is closely connected to mining production and therefore the steel, metallurgical, chemical and petrochemical and mechanical sectors are particularly developed; there is no shortage of food and textile industries, linked to thriving agriculture.
History. – With the proclamation of December 16, 1991, Kazakhstan became in effect an independent republic, one of the last to leave the Soviet Union. This event concluded a process that began in September 1989 with the adoption of the Kazak as an official language (even if Russian was retained as an interethnic language): a provision which, like other analogues in other republics, was part of the transformation process of the USSR initiated by M. Gorbačëv. The second significant step was, on October 25, 1990, the declaration of sovereignty by the local Supreme Soviet combined with the decision to give Kazakhstan total control of natural resources and the economy. The protagonist of this whole story was, from the beginning, N. Nazarbaev, from June 1989 secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party and from February 1990 also president of the Supreme Soviet.
Under his leadership, Kazakhstan held a favorable attitude to the new Union treaty which was approved in a referendum in March 1991. But after the failed coup d’etat of 20 August 1991 and Gorbachev’s progressive exhaustion, even Nazarbaev, after a few hesitation, joined the new Community of Independent States, whose birth was sanctioned by the declaration of Alma-Ata of 21 December 1991. Some time earlier, in September, the Communist Party had changed its name to ‘socialist’, while the new independent republic it lost the appellation of socialist and Soviet. In the following months Nazarbaev, president of the Republic with very broad popular consent since 1 December 1991, took particular care of both relations with neighboring region.
These international relations aimed at attracting foreign investments, further favored by the creation of free trade zones. Kazakhstan, on whose territory numerous and powerful nuclear weapons are deployed, assured the international community of its intentions to transform itself into a nuclear-free country. This orientation was confirmed in May 1992 by Kazakhstan’s adhesion to the START treaty protocol, signed by the USSR and the United States in July 1991, for a progressive elimination of strategic nuclear weapons. Furthermore, in March 1992, Kazakhstan became a full member of the United Nations and in July of the International Monetary Fund.