Key facts about Kazakhstan

Key facts about Kazakhstan

KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakh law enforcement officers stand guard during a protest against LPG cost rise following authorities' decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on January 5, 2022.

Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters

Here are some basic facts about the country

Kazakhstan declared states of emergency in the capital, the main city and provinces on Wednesday, January 5, after protesters stormed and torched public buildings in the worst unrest for more than a decade.

Here are some basic facts about the country.

Kazakhstan is home to large oil, gas and metal deposits and is the largest economy in former Soviet Central Asia. It is the largest of the five ex-Soviet Central Asian republics by territory, or about five times the size of France, and has a population of nearly 19 million.

Helped by a reputation for political stability under its former long-serving leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has attracted hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investment, but much of the economy is believed to be controlled by the Nazarbayev family.

Now 81, Nazarbayev steered his country to independence from Moscow in 1991 and became the longest-serving ruler of any ex-Soviet state, only stepping down in 2019 to make way for his hand-picked successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Nazarbayev retained authority as head of a powerful security council. With some protesters on Wednesday chanting slogans against Nazarbayev, President Tokayev replaced him as chief of that body.

Kazakhstan’s purpose-built new capital, Nur-Sultan, is named after the former president.

Kazakhstan, a majority Muslim nation, is central to a geopolitical tug-of-war between Russia, China and the West. It has historically close ties with Russia and ethnic Russians make up nearly a fifth of the population.

Human rights groups have long criticized Kazakhstan over its authoritarian political system and its lack of free speech and open and fair elections. Nazarbayev was reelected in 2015 for a fifth presidential term with nearly 98% of the vote. – Rappler.com