A giant at the heart of the Central Asia

Introduction - History - Geography - Cities and Oblasts - Culture and Tradition - Food and Drinks - Population - What to do/Where to go - Did you know


Astana and even Almaty are new cities, but are heir to many influences which have shaped Central Asia. This land of vast deserts, sweeping steppes, ancient cities and high mountains has been a crossroads of cultures and conquerors for millennia.


The first occurrence of the name "Kazak" is registered in a Turkish-Arabic dictionary of 1245, which was probably compiled in Egypt of the period when it was reigned by the Mamelukes (guardsmen) who came from the steppes of Kazakstan and the region north of the Black Sea, were called "Kypchak" Turks" in Muslim sources, "Polovets in ancient Russian annals and "Komans" in European and Byzantine chronicles and were ancestors of the Kazaks and other Turkish-speaking peoples.

The word "kazak" means "independent", "free", "wanderer", "exile". But in the 13th-century Egypt this word was not yet used as an ethnic name. It acquired this meaning later on the territory of Kazakstan in the 15th-16th centuries. Thus, the original meaning of the word "kazak" is a social one: at first it had neither political nor ethnic content, but designated a free person that broke away from his people and lead a life of an adventurer. The word was also used to designate a group of nomads that has broken away from the state to which they used to belong and with which they were in the state of war. Such people were the nomads of Khan Abulkhayr's state, or the Uzbek Khanate, that formed after the break-up of the Golden Horde on the territory of Kazakstan of the 14th-15th centuries. The subjects of Abulkhayr's state came from different Turkish-speaking nomadic tribes, but they also had common name "Uzbeks". They were nomadic livestock breeders and obeyed their leaders-sultans from the clan of the Genghisids some of whom defied Abulkhayr's authority, like his distant relatives Janibek and Ghirei. Together with their supporters, they moved to Zhetysu (Semirech'e), the land in south-eastern Kazakhstan that was destined to become the site of the Kazak capital. As they escaped the despotism of a ruler, they were called "kazaks". But since they still belonged to Uzbek tribes, they were called "Uzbeks-Kazaks".

After 1468, the hour of triumph came for Ghirei and Janibek, who managed to unite all Uzbek-Kazaks, enemies of Abulkhayr's dynasty, in the steppe from the Volga to the Irtysh. Ghirei and Janibek, who became co-ruling khans, and their supporters preferred to be called Kazaks, by the name under which they had wandered and won the victory. Since the time of Ghirei's rule, the word "Kazak" began to oust the word "Uzbek" as the name of the country's inhabitants. Burunduk Khan (1473-1511) was already known as a ruler of Kazaks.


The earliest people here were Aryans, members of a "white" race. It is said that the Kazaks, despite their current oriental appearance, were in the beginning fair and long-nosed. Conquest and intermarriage have produced the people we see today. Their history began around 2000 BC, when tent dwelling nomads started moving south and west across Central Asia. They had no written language, but the Assyrians wrote of them in the 9th century, BC. It is thought that they may have been the ancestors of the Medes and Persians, who originated the first monotheistic religion, named after its founder, Zoroaster.

They were succeeded by new groups of Aryans, the Scythians and Sarmatians, who had a similar nomadic life style. Although they, too, were without a written language, they are known to have been extremely clever, taming the horse, inventing the stirrup, and producing crafts of great beauty and utility. Both the Greeks and the Romans have left us written records of their encounters with these skillful mounted warriors. Next came the Huns, or Hsiung-nu, as the Chinese called them, another race of fierce fighters on horseback. Unlike their predecessors, who spoke an Iranian language, the Huns were the first of the Turkic peoples to sweep across Central Asia. According to the Chinese who described them as , "hairy", they had prominent noses and deep-set eyes. When the Chinese subdued the Hsiung-nu in 52 BC, wealthy Roman matrons began to wear diaphanous silk from China. With Central Asia at peace, several trade routes were developed which ultimate1y came to be known as the Silk Road.

Along the Silk Road There was never on the Silk Road, but rather a network of routes across mountain, steppe and desert. Starting from the Han capital of Chang-an, near the Yellow River, these routes traversed Asia and the Middle East, ultimately ending in the Levantine ports of Antioch, Acre and modern-day Beirut. From there, the precious cargos of silks, spices and crafts were carried by ship to Rome and Alexandria in the ancient world and ultimately to Venice and Constantinople during the Middle Ages. As the Silk Road developed, some nomads became town-dwellers. Although the horse was still important to their way of life, they lived most of the year in houses, and they had shops and farms. The Sogdians, for example, ruled a powerful empire from their capital at the site of present-day Samarkand. Defeated by Alexander the Great in 329 BC, they nevertheless maintained a sophisticated civilization until the 7th century. The nomadic Kushans also settled and reigned over a Buddhist empire stretching from Northern India to the shores of the Aral Sea from the first to fourth centuries. Other nomads, including the Huns, were reluctant to give up their vagabond lifestyle, and waves of these peoples periodically rolled across Central Asia, disrupting the Silk Road trade from time to time.

Throughout the era of the Silk Road, powerful cultural influences traveled both east and west. Nestorian Christians and Manichaeans fled east, driven first by Zoroastrian and more orthodox Christian prejudice and then by the jihad (holy war) of Islam. Buddhist pilgrims like the widely-travelled Hsuang-sang came west to study at famous centers of learning. In 674, the Zoroastrian King of Persia fled to China before the fierce onslaughts of the soldiers of Islam. Both the Tibetans and the Western Turks allied themselves with the Arabs against the Chinese in a power struggle for Central Asia. In 749, a Chinese army was defeated near modern-day Tashkent by a joint Arab-Turk force. The Muslims swept aside their Turkic allies once tile Chinese were defeated. All of Central Asia was forcibly converted to Islam, and Buddhist, Manichaean and Christian shrines were destroyed or desecrated.

The Mongols and Their Heirs The Arab Caliphate soon disintegrated because of sectarian struggles, and Central Asia again fell prey to a series of conquerors, including the Seljuk and Uighur Turks. The most successful of these were the Mongols, led by Genghis Khan and his descendants. Their rapid conquest of the lands stretching from the Yellow River to the Black Sea brought another era of stability along the Silk Road, allowing Marco Polo and other Europeans to live to tell the tale of their adventures.

Unlike the peoples who had previously conquered Central Asia, the Mongols were described by contemporaries as yellowskinned with slanting eyes and high cheek-bones. It is the blending of these two ethnic groups which produced the modern-day Kazaks whom you'll see on the streets of Almaty and other cities of Kazakhstan. The Mongols conquered the largest empire in history, but their days of glory lasted little more than a century.

In 1368, they were driven from China, although their Western arm, ultimately known as the Tatars, continued in power in Russia for another 300 years. One of Genghis Khan's collateral descendants, Tamerlane, established another empire in Central Asia, with its capital in Samarkand. His cruelty and munificence were both legend. The glories of his city, including his tomb and the ruins of the mosque he built in honor of his favorite wife, are still visible today. Tamerlane also left behind important structures in western Kazakstan. The next group of conquerors were the Uzbek Turks, who gave their name to our neighboring country, Uzbekistan. They, too, were known for their ferocity in war and their artistic sensibilities in peace. It was an Uzbek who founded the Mogul dynasty in India in 1526.

Russians and Soviets Now the Russians began to move, first driving out the Tatars, then colonizing Siberia in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 18th, they successfully took the Caucasus from the Shah of Persia but suffered defeat in their first attempt at establishing power in Central Asia. They were not to be defeated for long. During the 19th century, the Russians and the British played a "Great Game" of geopolitics and espionage with Central Asia as the prize. In its own way, each empire won and lost. The British kept the Russians out of India and Afghanistan. The Russians took the Central Asian khanates in rapid succession: Tashkent in 1865, Samarkand and Bokhara in 1868, Khiva in 1873 and the Turkoman fortress of Goek-Tepe in 1881.

One of the first steps in the Russian expansionism was the quiet annexation of Kazakhstan during the first half of the 19th century, followed by the establishment of a fortress at the site of modern-day Almaty in 1854. The "Great Game" was only ended by the advent of World War I and the rise of the Bolsheviks. The Russian fortress was built at the site of a former Silk Road town originally called "Almaty" by the Kazaks and destroyed by the Mongols. The Russians named the new town which grew up around the fort "Vierney", and by 1887, when it was destroyed by earthquake, it had a population of 12,000. In the early 20th century, Vierney was hit by two more transforming forces: another earthquake in 1911 and Soviet takeover in 1921.

The 19th century was the period when perhaps the most famous Kazak in history lived, Abay Kunanbayev. His memory is honored today in Almaty with a statue at the intersection of Dostyk and Abay Avenues and by the Abay Kazakh State Theater of Opera and Ballet. A poet, educator and composer, Abay was born into a traditional family in Semipalatinsk.

Educated in a Koranic madrassah, he was also versed in Kazakstani folklore and greatly admired Russian culture, especially writers like Pushkin and Tolstoy. Influenced by exiled Russians in the 1870s and 80s, he became an ardent champion of friendship and brotherhood between the two cultures. His poetry and other writings helped pave the way for the social and economic revolution which came to Kazakstan in the next century.

By World War I, the Kazaks had developed their own political leadership. They were initially exempt from serving in the war, but in 1916, they were conscripted, and they rebelled against this infringement of their rights. After the 1917 Revolution in Russia, the Kazak leader Ali Khan Bukeiklianov commanded a Kazak army called the Alash Orda and demanded independence from Russia. During the Russian Civil War which followed the October Revolution, the Alash Orda fought both the Red (Bolshevik) and the White (monarchist) armies but ultimately had to submit when the Reds won.

The Soviets renamed Vierney "Alma-Ata", a Russification of the original Kazak name meaning "Father of Apples." They also made it the capital of Soviet Kazakstan and began to lay out the modern city we see today with its broad, tree-lined streets, monumental buildings and many parks. Before the modern city really developed, the Soviets used Alma-Ata as a place of exile, Leon Trotsky being the most famous of those banished to repent between mountain and steppe.

The Soviet cultural influence was strong in both city and country. Many urban Kazakhs today are very "Russified", and visitors with experience elsewhere in Asia may be surprised to find the Kazakhs not as "Asian" as one might expect. Religious observances were discouraged and even banned, and most churches and mosques were closed. Kazakh singers were retrained so that the "plaintive" Asian sound was replaced by that of Russian opera. The ballet and symphony were nurtured, while traditional music and dance were neglected. Russian dishes came to be served along side, or even instead, of traditional Kazakh foods.


Territory of Kazakhstan has come to be mastered by man nearly a million years ago. As early as the age of Lower Paleolith the ancient man settled down on these Karatau lands fit for normal life, rich with game and wild fruit. It is there that they have found ancient settlements of Stone Age. By and by, in the centuries of Middle and Upper Paleolith the man came to master Central and Eastern Kazakhstan and Mangyshlak area.

As have been shown by excavations of the neolythic settlement Botay in the North Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan constitutes the area of horse-mastering (breeding) and that of formation of nomad civilizations. Archeologists revealed dwellings, numerous hand-made articles of stone and ivory which present the ancient history and archeology of Kazakhstan in the Stone epoch in an altogether new way.

As early as the Bronze Age, some four millenia ago, the territory of Kazakhstan was inhabited by tribes of the so called Andron and Begazy-Dandybay culture. They were engaged in farming and cattle-breeding, they were fine warriors who handled combat chariots marvellously. To this day we can see images of chariots drawn on rocks where ancient people would arrange their tribal temples and sanctuaries with the firmament as their natural cover. On the surfaces of black cliffs burnt with the sun people would chisel out scenes of dances, images of sun-headed deities, mighty camels and bulls as impersonations of ancient gods.

Burial mounds of noble warriors scattered all throughout Kazakh steppes are known for magnificient size of mounds and burial vaults proper. Particularly famous are such necropoles in the steppes of Sary-Arka and Tagiskent in the Transaral area. People of that epoch were not only fine warriors, shepherds and farmers but also skilled metallurgists. They would take bronze and manufacture axes, knives, daggers and various decorations thereof.

It were they who initiated development of copper which is being practiced to this day - they are Zhezkazgan and Sayak copper quarries of today. Ancient people lived in large settlements and ancient towns surrounded with walls and fosses. These towns were inhabited with warriors and craftsmen, priests and farmers. These tribes lived on the territory of Kazakhstan for about a thousand years - from the XVIIth century BC to IX-VIII centuries AD.

Later on they were ousted by Saks. Such was the name given to this tribe by ancient Persians. The Chinese called them "se" whereas Greeks chose to call them Scythians. They were essentially nomads, semi-nomads and farmers. Yet, first and foremost, they were excellent horsemen. In fact Saks were the first ever horsemen in the world to master arrow-shooting at full tilt.

In VI-II centuries BC Saks set up their first state with its centre in the Zhetysu (Semirechje) in South-East Kazakhstan. Kings of Saks were at the same time high priests. Saks had written language and mythology of their own, they were known for their well developed art of world standard labelled in research papers as "animal-styled art". Respective subjects were represented by predators and herbivourous animals and the struggle therebetween. Sheer masterpieces made of gold and bronze serve as worthy exhibits of best museums of the world.

Linguistic situation was just as complicated. As is traditionally believed, in the course of the first millenium BC the population of Kazakhstan was mostly represented by native speakers of Indo-European and Indo-Iranian languages. However, of late, they are inclined to think that tribes of the Bronze Age, particularly those of Saks, included tribes that spoke prothoturkic languages.

In the Issyk burial mound that harboured the world-famous "Golden Man" they have found a silver bowl whose bottom bore an incription consisting of 26 characters. They have failed to read it to this day. Some think that the incription is made in one of the Iranian languages, others insist on its prothoturkic origin. Anyway, this must be the very period that highlighted formation of the cast of mind and the language of medieval and modern Kazakhs, their phychological stereotypes, in fact, of many an element of their culture, everyday life and folk rites.

The middle of the first millenium AD is a fairly important stage in the history of all Turks in general and Kazakhs in particular. The period is marked with manifest changes in ethnic media: predominant now there become Turkic tribes which chose Altai as their natural centre. Written sources of the VIth century register the term "Tyurk" which is pronounced as "Tutszyue" by the Chinese and as "Turk" by Sogdians.

Archeological study of Turkic monuments makes it possible to somehow compare "these" Turks with certain Turkic tribal associations. In the Sayano-Altai region they have identified certain archeological cultures which might well be likened to early Kyrghyzes, early Kypchaks or early Oguzes. In the course of not infrequent intestine wars, tribal discords, struggle for power and pastures a part of Turkic tribes that inhabited steppes and valleys of Kazakhstan moved southwards - to Central Asia ( say, Tyurgeshes, Karluks, Kypchaks, Uzbeks, Oguzes, Turkmens-Seldzhuks), to Asia Minor, to Caucasus (Turkmens and Seldzhuks), to Eastern Europe (Kangars and Pechenegs, Kypchaks-and-Polovtsians, Torks-and-Oguzes, black Klobuks and Karakalpakians).

Starting from the IV-th century up to the beginning of the XIII-th century the territory of Kazakhstan was the seat of West-Turkic, Tyurgesh, Karluk Kaganates, of the state made by Oguzes, Karakhanides, Kimeks and Kypchaks. All of them successively replaced one another up to the very Mongol invasion. After the invasion, i.e. in the beginning of the XIIIth century, there have shaped up uluses of the Mongol Empire of Zhuchi-Khan and Zhagatai which later gave birth to Ak-Orda, Mongolistan and finally to Kazakh Khanate.

Essentially all these states were mixed economies. Tribes of cattle-breeders had farming tribes as their neighbours, steppes and cities supplemented each other. Such cities as Taraz, Otrar, Ispijab, Talkhir were set up right in the way of the Grand Silk Route which served as a reliable link joining antiquity and Middle Ages, the West and the East: Japan, Korea and China with Central Asia, Iran, the State of Seldzhuks, Rus, Byzantium, France and Italy.

It is through the Grand Silk Route that dancing arts, painting, architecture and music made their way from one people to another. Incidentally, it was the way along which various religions advanced: Manicheism and Buddhism, Christianity and Islam with the latter becoming predominant (starting from the VIIIth century) and subsequently the only faith of Kazakhs. In late XIV - early XVth century on the bank of the Syrdaria-river, in the city of Turkestan they erected a religious sacred place worshipped by all Turkic-speaking nations - a complex of Khodja Akhmed Yasavi.

The nation that inhabited the territory of Kazakhstan would avidly absorb and assimilate all the ideas and achievements of various civilizations making -in its turn - its own contribution to the treasury of world culture, be it economy or handicraft or music: among numerous accomplishments one may name a mobile dwelling "yurta", saddle and stirrups for a horse, combat arts on horse-back, carpet ornaments and silver juvellery, sweet melodies and music reminding of an impetuous gallop of steppe horses...

All these factors have determined integrity and continuity of ancient and medieval history of Kazakhstan.


On the whole the process of formation of the Kazakh ethnic national group came to completion in XIV-XV centuries.

By virtue of many ethnopolitical and economic factors on the territory of Kazakhstan there formed three ethnoterritorial associations - Senior, Middle and Junior Juzes. Division into juzes was the actual reflection of the complex process - formation of the Kazakh ethnic national group, it left its characteristic stamp on local cultural and every-day specifics of its development. Kazakh Khanate shaped up in the middle of the XVth century. Extension of estates, consolidation of statehood, active foreign policy pursued by the First Khans, particularly by Kasymkhan in early XVIth century, later on gave way to ever growing intestine wars and mass roamings-off of people.

The 2nd half of the XVI century witnesses another political upswing of the Kazakh Khanate, relaxation of intestine feud, development of cattle-breeding and farming economies, progressing trade relations, increasing contacts with Russia and other contiguous countries.

The rule of Tauke-Khan is marked with compiling a code of rules of common law - "Zhety Zhargy" which specified basic principles of social law and order and state structure. However political disunion. strivings to strengthening independence of juzes manifested by certain khans and sultans, lack of internal market - all these factors weakened the Khanate making it helpless in the face of outer enemies. From the beginning of the XVIIth century plundering raids of Jungars into Kazakh lands became ever more frequent. That's why Tauke-Khan made an effort of uniting the three Juzes. Kazakh Khanate torn apart by intestine wars and contradictions, weakened in wasting combats with the aggressor wages a desperate struggle for its independence.

The main events of the war with Jungars occur in 1723-1727 known in the history as "the years of the great disaster" ("Aktaban shobyryndy"). A decisive role in countering the Jungar aggression belongs to All-Kazakh congresses where - by virtue of the decisions of biis (tutor-guides) of all the three Juzes (Tole-bi, Kazbek-bi and Aiteke-bi) - they try to take measures to form a people's volunteer corps, a unified front of defence to counter Jungar raids. Indeed, All-Kazakh congresses contributed tangibly to the formation of the corps (1727 - at the river of Bulanty; an Anrakai battle in 1729) to retailiating Jungar aggression. No small contribution was made by the activities of folk batyrs Kabanbay, Bogenbay, Nauryzbay, Karasay, owing to Abylay's military talent, etc.

The aggravated economic and political situation generated the issue of joining Russia, a process that lasted nearly 150 years. Abulkhair, Khan of the Junior Juz exasperated by the ongoing weakening of the Kazakh Khanate as a result of the exhausting war had to accept the terms of the Junior Juz's joining Russia. Efforts of the "opposition" headed by Sultan Baraka to impede the negotiations and frustrate formalization of the act of the Junior Juz' joining Russia ended in a failure and on October 10, 1731 a part of the assembly of Kazakh elders supported the decision.

Kazakhstan's joining Russia implied incorporation, peaceful and military colonization and a naked conquest. The year of 1732 highlighted formal incorporation of a certain part of the Middle Juz by Russia. The oath sworn by a group of sultans and elders of the Junior and Middle Juzes (Abulmambet, Abylay) in 1740 stipulated joining of only a part of the Middle Juz. Major regions of North-East and Central Kazakhstan were incorporated in the empire in the 20 -40s of the XIXth century being the consequence of the defeat of the national-liberation war waged by K.Kasymov and political moves undertaken by tsarism.

Seizure of Turkestan, Shymkent, Aulije-Ata and other settlements by tsarist troops in the 60s of the XIX century which required participation of quite powerful armed forces completed the conquest of the territory of the Senior Juz by Russia. Joining of Kazakhstan and - later on - that of Central Asia made it possible for Russia to successfully compete with the British Empire.

Political and economic status of Kazakhstan in the middle and the end of the XVIIIth century features the following: aggravation of internal discord in the Junior juz; expansion of economic relations with Russia; development of barter trade; aggravation of the land issue; first moves in colonial policies of tsarism in the agrarian issue.

The second half of the XVIIIth century is marked with the formation of Abylay's Khanate, the very person who was one of the organizers of effective rebuff against Jungar aggressors. He pursued a policy of double citizenship - that of both Russia and China. Indepth transformations he initiated added to consolidation of Kazakh feudal statehood, enhanced adherence to an independent policy.

Policy of manoeuvring conducted by the ruling circles of Russia strengthened its confidence in abolition of Khan's power in Kazakhstan. After Bukey (1817) and Uali-Khan (1819) died, Russia no longer appointed new khans. In 1822 by virtue of introducing the "Charter on Siberian Kyrghyzes" Khan's power in Kazakhstan was officially abolished. Instead they set up counties. To step up colonization of the territory they introduced a Russian system of administration which resulted in a protest on the part of the Kazakh population which - subsequently - expressed itself in a national-liberation struggle of Kazakhs within the Russian empire. In sum, the Kazakh people raised the banner of freedom more than 300 times. Starting from the second half of the XIXth century Kazakhstan represents a completely shaped up colony of the Russian Empire.

Further process is characterized with an intensification of colonial forms of mastering of the territory, creation of military-supporting bases of tsarism. Development of capitalism in Russia affects the specifics of social, economic and political status of Kazakhstan. In 1867-1868 tsarism performs an administrative reform. On July 1867 Alexander the IInd signed the draft of the Regulation on Administering Semirechje and Syrdaria regions", and on October 21, 1862 - the draft of the "Regulation on Administering Turgay, Uralsk, Akmolinsk and Semipalatinsk regions". Bukeyev horde became a part of the Astrakhan province.

Late in the XIXth century colonial specifics of the agrarian policy of tsarism brought about a gradual shift in the proportion of nomadic and settled population. There have shaped up new forms of economies: a settled cattle-breeding one and a settled farming one. Social differentiation of the Kazakh society becomes ever more pronounced. A part of economies comes to be envolved in market relations. Now quite typical is the engagement of impoverished Kazakhs in various industries that emerged in Kazakhstan in the last quarter of the XIXth century. Local merchants initiated a new practice of trade - they started arranging fairs. Over the last decade of the XIXth century they built some 482 km of railway lines. Development of transit trade is also underway. In context of the Kuldzha Treaty of 1851 trade links with China come to be more intensive. In commercial systems there appear elements of usury and private entrepreneurship.

By the beginning of the XXth century the following regions constituted the territory of Kazakhstan: Syrdaria and Semirechje ones (Turkestan general-governorship with the centre in Tashkent), Akmolinsk, Semipalatinsk, Uralsk, Turgay (Steppe general-governorship with the centre in Omsk); Mangyshlak - Transcaspian region; Inner (Bukeyev) Horde (in the Astrakhan province).

Further intensification in colonization of Kazakhstan is closely associated with capitalist relations increasingly penetrating Kazakhstan. It brings along sharp class differentiation in the countryside, mass impoverishment, greater involvement of people in various industries and budding protest against colonial and social oppression becomes ever more pronounced. First uprisings are of spontaneous and uncoordinated nature though. In 1905-1907 there spring up sporadic social-democratic groups (mostly on the initiative of political exiles). The year of 1907 signified commencement of the realization of the Stolypin's reform and adoption of the "Law on election to the State Duma" which resulted in depriving nations of Siberia, Central Asia and Kazakhstan of their electoral rights. There occurs ever growing intensification of the process of emigration of peasants from the European part of Russia to its outlying districts in context of settling the land problem in the metropoly. Consequently they withdraw pasture areas from nomadic cattle-breeding economies (by 1917 there have been withdrawn over 40 mln dessiatinas (1 dessiatina = 2.7 acres).

Colonial oppression weighed hard on the living standards of the Kazakh people. Ever growing taxes and duties, land withdrawal generate aggravation of internal contradictions in the Kazakh countryside, a crisis in cattlebreeding economies.

Invariably, social and economic conditions generated prerequisites for a rising national movement. On the scene of the struggle for leadership there appears traditional elite and nascent Kazakh intelligentsia. A. Bukeikhanov places himself at the head of the all-national liberal and democratic opposition. In context of reawakening of national awareness there occurs consolidation of Turkic-speaking nations. In 1913-1918 they issue a newspaper "Kazakh". Russia's taking part in the WWI triggered a universal economic crisis. There form obvious prerequisites for a struggle of Kazakhs for their freedom and independence. The tsar's Decree of June 25, 1916 on requisition of Kazakhs for works in the rear served a natural pretext for the national-liberation war waged by Kazakhs in 1916. B.Ashekeyev, A.Imanov, A.Zhanbosynov, T.Bokin and others stood at the head of this movement.

The war of 1918 crowns the national-liberation movement of Kazakhs within the Russian Empire. Victorious February revolution in Russia brought about an overthrow of the tsarist government. It was a period of dual power in the country: the power of the proletariat and peasantry represented by the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and the power of bourgeoisie and land-lords represented by the Provisional Government.

Upon the overthrow of tsarism, in Kazakhstan too, they started organizing Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. It went on hand in hand with the emergence of bodies of bourgeois power: all sorts of "executive committees", "civil committees", regional or district commissars appointed by the Provisional Government.

Victory of the February revolution and the development of revolutionary movement spanning February and October of 1917 triggered a tendency when various strata of the Kazakh society came to be actively envolved in politics, in setting up all sorts of political, professional and youth organizations. In process of ever growing revolutionary movement and rising class differenciation they came close to settling immediate problems of class, social and political import: some followed the banner of Bolshevism and Socialist revolution - others the banner of the "Alash" party to uphold the idea of shaping up a Kazakh national autonomy within the framework of a bourgeois-and-democratic Russia.

Organizationally, the party of "Alash" was formalized at the first All-Kazakh congress in Orenburg in July 1917. It was in fact a party of liberal orientation. Establishment of Soviet power in Kazakhstan took several months: from late October 1917 to March 1918. The party of "Alash" and its leaders would not welcome the October revolution: on December 5-13, 1917 in Orenburg they convened the second All-Kazakh congress that announced formation of a bourgeois autonomy under the name of "Alash" and setting up of a government represented by a "provisional people's council" named "Alash-Orda".

In the period spanning late October 1917 and March 1918 Soviet power was established mostly in cities and other more or less significant settlements of Kazakhstan. The process of establishment of Soviet Power in most of the Kazakhstani countryside went on up to the very beginning of the Civil war.

Armed struggle in Kazakhstan was part and parcel of the Civil war waged by the whole of the country. It was thrust upon by overthrown parasitic classes and foreign imperialists. For this reason hostilities in Kazakhstan were of less importance compared with the situation on the main fronts of the Civil war. In March 1919 VTsIK (All-Russia Central Executive Committee) of the RSFSR announced amnesty to the "Alash-Orda". In those days Turgay group of the "Alash-Orda" headed by A.Baitursynov turncoated to support Soviet power. On August 26, 1920 they formed an Autonomous Kyrghyz (Kazakh) SSR within the RSFSR.

The victory over the interventionists and the White Guardists made it possible to proceed with peaceful economic construction. March 1921 signified the beginning of the transition to the new economic policy which enhanced development of agriculture because at that time producers were really interested in the benefits derived from their labour.

The end of the 20s-30s is marked with an upsurge of peasant uprisings to counter forced collectivization which brought about mass deaths of people. "Kazakhstani tragedy" - such is the name of this man-made disaster in history. The 30s is the period of establishment of totalitarianism in Kazakhstan which entailed massive political repressions, ever-present and omnipotent in all spheres of social and political life.

In 1939-1941 Kazakhstan is transformed into a major basis for production of non-ferrous metals, coal, oil, it becomes a region of developed agriculture.

In 1941-1945 Kazakhstan comes to be envolved in the WWII, more particularly in the Great Patriotic war against the invasion of fascist Germany. In this period practically all Kazakhstani enterprises put out only defence produce. Major industrial facilities and cultural establishments are being evacuated to Kazakhstan from western and central areas of the USSR. The war years are filled with the selfless heroic labour of millions of Soviet people in industries and agriculture. In WWII Kazakhstan lost nearly 425,000 people. The Republic played host to hundreds of thousands of evacuated people; whole nations subjected to deportation amounted almost to 2,000,000 people.

In 1946 again, the economy of the country is transferred onto "peaceful rails". Particularly accelerated was the erection of enterprises of construction industry, they laid the foundation of the power engineering basis of the industry. June 1946 marked inauguration of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR.

Late 40s - early 50s highlight consolidation of the administer-and-command system. There extends the network of GULAG camps (i.e. camps of the Main Directorate of Corrective Labour Camps): Karlag, Steplag, ALZHIR and others. Not infrequently there occur repressions against certain scientists, representatives of intelligentsia and others.

In 1954 top leaders of the country launch a campaign of massive development of virgin and fallow lands which entails a new influx of people arriving from other republics of the USSR, they boost up housing construction, that of cultural and mass facilities.

The years of the 50s - 80s are those coloured with the struggle between the party-and-state bureaucracy and the people. This 30-year span is characterized by an offensive against the bureaucracy (so called "Khruschev's thaw") and the bureaucratic retaliation (L.I. Brezhnev, K.U. Chernenko) which brought about a stagnation in the Kazakhstani society.
The above process coincides in time with a crisis that burst out in economics. There occurs a rise in monetary revenues of the population which outpaces that of the commodity mass resulting in an overall shortage of goods. By mid-80s expediency of radical changes in the Soviet society have become as obvious and compelling as never before. A certain part of the political leadership of the country was well aware of the necessity of urgent in-depth transformations which would help overcome negative phenomena in the development of the USSR.

The course of social and economic transformations announced by Mikhail Gorbachov when he became the topmost leader of the USSR, betrayed, initially, the same tendency as the efforts of his predecessors who did their utmost - when ascending to power - to present themselves as exceedingly active democratic reformers. The system of social, economic and political actions aimed at reforming the society remained in history as a notorious "perestroika".

An altogether new political atmosphere was swelling up in the country. There sprang up all sorts of plentiful controversial social movements, unofficial organizations; all in all the situation displayed all prerequisites for a transfer to a multi-party system. At every meeting or a demonstration, in the electorate clubs they would discuss topical issues of everyday life, compelling problems of the country's development.

A graphic manifestation of a clash, a sharp struggle between the old and the new mentality was the well-known developments that took place in December 1986 in Alma-Ata. Young people came out to the square to express a universal protest against the methods resorted to by the administer-and-command system which - as of old - demonstrated utter disregard to the opinion of the population of the Republic. The very life proved complete groundlessness of rash and indiscriminate charges in nationalism advanced against the whole of the Kazakh nation.

Elections of the USSR people's deputies held in spring 1989 proved to be very important in context of eventual transition to genuine democracy. For the first ever time they were conducted on the basis of alternative nomination and voting accompanied by political competition.


Today Kazakstan is grappling with the free market and an enthusiastic brand of deregulation that tends toward anarchy. President Nazarbayev, a former Communist, is imposing his ideas about democracy on the country he hopes to turn into Central Asia's economic tiger.

The day of August 19, 1991 - the day of the abortive attempt of a coup. President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan addresses the people of Kazakhstan. They issue Presidential Decrees "On the formation of the Security Council of the Kazakh SSR", "On the transition of state-owned enterprises and organizations of Union subordination into that of the Government of the Kazakh SSR", "On establishing the gold and diamond fund of the Kazakh SSR", "On closing of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing grounds", etc. In September 1991 there has been adopted a decision about disbandment of the Kommunist Party of Kazakhstan.

Ongoing exacerbation of the economic crisis is underway. There spring up new bank-like entities. Inflation is on the rise accompanied by an ever aggravating decline in the living standards of the majority of the population. Such were the conditions in which the authorities embarked on the road of developing market economic relations. On December 16, 1991 they pass the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Independence (a law of a Constitutional Law effectiveness). On announcing its independence the Republic of Kazakhstan has come to represent a politically independent state with a multinational structure and a single monolith organization. On August 30, 1995 at the all-national referendum they adopted the currently effective Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

At the moment major world companies open their representations in the Republic, we witness an intensive increase in the number of joint ventures, they elaborate and implement projects of joint development of natural resources and processing raws and materials, introduction of advanced technologies in the agrarian sphere, etc.

Tremendous natural resources of Kazakhstan, social and political stability in the Republic make this region one of the most attractive objects of capital investments among other republics of the late Soviet Union.

Republic of Kazakhstan has become a full-fledged equal member of the world community to enjoy universal recognition and support of absolute majority of the states of the world. As of today Kazakhstan has been recognized by 113 states including 105 ones that maintain diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan.

Today we witness consolidation of interaction, extension of cooperation with most authoritative international agencies. Among them is the UNO, the European Community, the International and European Banks for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the IAEA, the IFRCRCS, the UNICEF, the UNESCO, the WHO, etc. The Republic has acceeded to more than 40 international conventions, it has signed almost 400 multilateral and over 700 bilateral agreements and treaties.
In 1997 there has been adopted a decision on transferring the capital of the country from Almaty to Akmola, the circumstance conditioned by geopolitical and economic considerations of Kazakhstan's development.

Finally, there has been elaborated and adopted for realization a Programme "On measures for realization of Kazakhstan's development up to 2030".

Mesolith, Neolith, XII - III centuries BC

Formation of a cultural community. The borders enclosed Kazakhstan, steppe areas of West Siberia, the Altai, northern areas of Central Asia. A tribal community, formation of tribes and tribal alliances.Hunting, fishing, rudiments of mining, weaving. Ever increasing settled mode of life of the population as the climate gets more damp and warm. Primeval faiths.

Late IV - early III centuries BC. Eneolith.

Judging from the examination of 200 ancient sites of settlements of the Stone Age - transition to Eneolith on a local basis as a result of development of production forces. The population was ready to go over to cattle-breeding as the climatic conditions become more favourable for horse-breeding. Close ties between the cultures of Central Kazakhstan, Siberia, Urals and Central Asia. Cattle-breeding, horse-breeding, woodworking, bone carving, fishing, hunting, collecting eatables.

Bronze Age.IInd century BC

Androne version of the Prothoeuropeoid race (central, northern and eastern areas of Kazakhstan). Mediter-ranean version of the Europeoid race (West and South-West of Kazakhstan). Steppes of Siberia, Priuralje, Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Androne tribes conducted mostly a settled way of life filled with cattle-breeding and farming. Development of mining and metallurgy. Cult of fire, the Sun, the Moon and the stars. There appears a cult of forefathers and a faith in the life hereafter. Rites of imposing a taboo on cattle and implements of production assigned by tribal chiefs or rich families.

Ist century BC

Cattle-breeding tribes. Anthropological type successive to Androne predecessors. Central Kazakhstan. An alliance of tribes. Nomadic cattle-breeding, mountain workings of copper in Northern Pribalkhashje, those of tin on the river of Ishim, in the mountains of Kokshetau. Gold mining in the area of Stepnyak, Bestobe, Maikain. Emergence of jewellery production.

IX - VII centuries BC

Emergence of nomadic cattle-breeding

VI - IV centuries BC

Conventional name- Savromate - Sarmate group of tribes. West and North Kazakhstan (present-day territory of Atyrau, West-Kazakhstan, Aktobe and - partially - Kostanay regions). Alliance of tribes. Cattle-breeding. Fire-worshippers. The cult roots in the Androne epoch.

VII - IV centuries BC

East-Iranian tribes. Indoiranian ethnic and linguistic communities. Impact of tribes of Central Kazakhstan and Semirechje on East Kazakhstan. Basis of the antropological type: Europeoid one with a slight admixture of the Mongoloid one, predominant are features of Androne type with a transition to a type of Central Asian interfluve. East Kazakhstan. Monuments of the Zaisan basin are close to those of Semirechje. Culture of the Pavlodar Priirtyshje, closely related to that of the North of Kazakhstan, gravitates to the communities of West Siberia, to the culture of nomadic Ugor tribes. The names of the tribes failed to reach our times. Southern, steppe areas of East Kazakhstan are associated with the name of Saks. On the whole all of them are closely related tribes. An alliance of Sak tribes. Cattle-breeding. In VII-VI centuries BC - formalization of Scythian-and-Siberian animal style in fine arts.

Ist century BC

On the territory of Zhetysu (Semirechje) a process of formation of Usunes' statehood is underway. Following the example of Khoresm there spring up cities in the area.

VII - IV centuries BC

Saks-Tigrakhauda, same as Massagets Day (Dakhs) in the South of Kazakhstan, Issedones in Central Kazakhstan, Arimasps in South East Kazakhstan constituted the Sak tribal alliance. Partially northern areas constituted the Savromate confederation of tribes. Proliferation of Mongoloid groups.

IInd century BC

Nomadic state of the Usunes. Emergence of fighting squads of the Usunes. Seminomadic cattle-breeding.

II century BC - early XV century AD

Functioning of the Grand Silk Route.

Ist century BC

Ethnopolitical unification of the kangyuis in the area of Talas, Syrdaria, the Otrar basis. It possessed certain attributes of a state. First attempts of minting coins.

The year of 47 BC

The first wave of Huns' advance to the territory of Kazakhstan. Alliance of tribes headed by a ruler (shanjuy), a Council of elders.

Ist century AD

The second wave of Huns' advance. Their proliferation lasted nearly three centuries.

VI century 552 - 554

Turkic kaganate. First allusion of the name of Turks. A nomadic state. Nomadic cattle-breeding. Emergence of a written language. Tengrianism, an effort of introducing Buddhism as a state religion.


Disintegration of the Turkic Kaganate into West and East areas with the centre in Semirechje. The capital is Suyab in the Chu valley. Synchretization of two fun-damentals - a society based on cattle-breeding and that based on settled farming.


Kimek tribal alliance was comprised of 7 tribes: Eimur, Imak, Tatar, Bayandur, Kypchak, Lanikaz, Arzhlau. All of them integrated in Kazakhstan from Central Asia. They inhabited the Irtysh area with the capital in the city of Kimakiya in mid-reaches of the Irtysh-river. In VIII-X centuries there forms an ancient Turkic (Kimako-Kypchak) linguistic group. Tengrianism, Buddhism, Christianity of Nestorian persuasion.


Formation of the Kimek federation (confederation). Inheritable power. Taxation system.

VI - first half of the IXth century

Major composition: North-Iranian tribes. Ousting of the Iranian languages by the Turkic ones. Political subordination to Turkic dinasties, incorporation in West-Turkic, Tyurgesh and Karluk Kaganates.

694 - 756

Existence of Tyurgesh Kaganate and its disintegration in 756. It occupied the territory lying between the rivers of Chu and Ili, thus controlling caravan routes of Semirechje. Headquarters: Big ones in the city of Suyab, the Minor ones - in Kungut. The Turkic language. Tengrianism.

VI - VIII centuries

Sogdians in Semirechje. Assimilated themselves within the Turkic environment. Development of farming and construction. According to experts Buddhist temples were built by Sogdians. Zoroastrism.

IInd half of the VIIIth century

Karluks (pertaining to the Europeoid type). They were comprised of 9 groups. First inhabited the area between the West Altay and the Tarbagatay, then migrated to Semirechje. Karluk confederation of tribes. Cattle-breeding, hunting. The Turkic language. Tengrianism, Islam.

737 - 748

Arabs. In 910 Arabs undertook a number of aggressive crusades to Central Asia and South Kazakhstan. Dissemination of the Arabic culture and language (Al-Khorezmi, Al-Farabi, Al-Biruni, Ibn Sina). Caliphate. Cattle-breeding, hunting. Cities: Jend, Farabzi, Synak, Sauran, etc. Tengrianism. Shamanism. By and by - Islam.

766 - 940

The Karluk State.

IX - early XI centuries

Oguzes. 22 tribes. Mongoloid racial look is predominant. Initial areas of settling were South Eastern regions of Central Asia, then Semirechje and Syrdaria basin. An early feudal state. A confederation of tribes with the capital in Yangikent.

820 - 1005

The State of Samanides.

893 - early XIth centuries

The Kimek Kaganate

942 - 1212

The State of Karakhanides - a Kaganate. A feudal hierarchic system. Horse-breeding, farming. State religion - Islam.

Late XII - early XIII centuries

The Naimans. The Naiman alliance of tribes of segiz-oguzes sprang up in mid-VIII on the territory between the Upper Irtysh and the Orkhon, i.e. from the Khangay to Tarbagatay. In early XII - late XIII centuries they appeared in East Kazakhstan and Semirechje. Ongoing was the process of formation of uluses of nations not obligatorily blood-related to each other. Each ulus was ruled by a Khan and common law was at work. Such system may well be regarded as "a state of initial type". Nomadic cattle-breeding. Hunting. People lived in nomad tents made of felt. There was no money whatsoever. A kypchak group of languages. Kiraites. Part of the Kiraites were Christians of Nestorian persuasion.

Early XI century

A Kypchak association. In ethnogenesis of Kazakhs a fairly tangible role belongs to East-Kypchak tribes which in XII-early XIII were quite close to an ethnic national group. Upper reaches of the Irtysh (Central Kazakhstan). By the end of the XIth century they occupied a huge territory of Kazakhstani steppes from the Irtysh in the East to the Volga in the West with certain groups penetrating in Mangyshlak. The XIth century gave birth to the name of Desht-i-Kypchak (Kypchak steppe). By the middle of the XIth century Kypchaks reached South Russian steppes, that's why in Oriental sources East Kypchaks came to be called Desht-i-Kypchaks. State-wise association of Kypchaks. The stage of the formation of early feudal relations. Social and class inequality. Private ownership of cattle, land, pastures.

1243 - mid-XV century

The Golden Horde. Prior to the 60s of the XIIIth century it was a part of the Mongol empire. The great Khan was the head of the Genghisides. He possessed a concentration of military, legislative and administrative power. The country was administered on the basis of written legal norms and legislative regulations - the so called "The Great Yasa" of Genghis Khan. Divan as the central executive body. Islam.

Early XIV century

The Ak Horde. The Ak Horde comprised the eastern portion of the Juchi ulus. Its territory embraced a part of the present-day Kazakhstan to the East of the Ural river and to the North of the Aral Sea and the Syrdaria river. From 1428 the power changed hands to the dinasty of the Shaibanides. Abulkhair-Khan stood at the head of the new ruling dinasty. Islam. Shamanism.


Mogulistan. By mid-XIV the Chagataides state disintegrated into a western and an eastern parts. The eastern portion gave rise to Mogulistan. Its territory - South-East Kazakhstan and Kyrghyzstan. Various handcrafts, cattle-breeding, farming and trade.


Abulkhair's Khanate(the state of Uzbek nomads) included lands lying to the East of the Nogay Horde: from the river of Yaik (Ural) in the West to the lake of Balkhash in the East and from the Aral Sea and the lower reaches of the Syrdaria in the South to mid-reaches of the Tobol and the Irtysh in the North.

1426 - 1440

The Nogay Horde with a biy as the head of the state. And a Turkic-speaking (Kypchak) council in addition.

1465 - 1466

Kazakh Khanate. South-East Semirechje - the valley of rivers Chu and Talas. Cattle-breeding and farming. The Turkic (Kazakh) language. Islam. The cult of Tengri.

1558 - 1628

Yesim-Khan. The city of Turkestan as a centre of the Khanate. Law-making activities.


Orbulak battle. Victory of Janghir Khan and Jalantos-batyr over the Jungar occupants.

1680 - 1718

Tauke-Khan. Claims of Jungar Khans to Kazakh territories. "Zhety Zhargy" - a code of laws.

XVI - early XVIII

A Khanate. Division into 3 juzes. Formation, centuries development and consolidation of Kazakh statehood. Nomadic cattle-breeding. Agriculture. Caravan trade. Islam.


A congress of Kazakh tribal rulers, sultans and batyrs in the Karakum.


Jungar invasion into Kazakhstan. Nomadic cattle-breeding. Mongol group of languages. Buddhism.

1723 - 1730

Patriotic war of the Kazakh people against Jungar invasion.

1721 - 1781

Abulay-Khan - an outstanding national (state) and military figure of Kazakhstan.

XVIII - first half

Russia's maintaining fortifications along Uralsk, of the Orenburg and Siberian lines.

XVIII century

1731: The Junior Juz Khan takes out Russia's citizenship. Forced expulsion of Kazakhs from the areas lying between the Volga and the Yaik (Ural) rivers. Farming, cattle-breeding, military service, various handicrafts. Christianity, Islam. Commencement of converting Kazakhstani population in Christian faith.

1783 - 1797

Uprising of Junior Juz Kazakhs headed by Srym Datov against Russian proliferation.

1801 - 1845

Formation of the Bukeev Khanate in the area lying between the Volga and the Ural rivers. Accountable to tsarist government represented by the Orenburg Administration. The Khan's Council as a consultative body. The Khan had an office of its own. Agriculture. Christianity.


"Charter of Siberian Kyrghyzes". Enclosed in West Siberia are Kazakhstan's territories occupied by the Middle and (partially) Senior Juz under the name of "A region of Siberian Kyrghyzes". Setting up of the Cossacks. Nomadic cattle-breeding, farming. The Kazakh language. Moslems.

1836 - 1838

National-liberation movement of Kazakhs headed by Isatay Taimanov and Makhambet Utemisov.

1837 - 1847

National-liberation struggle headed by Kenesary Kasymov. Khan Kenesary Kasymov's proclaiming restoration of statehood.

Early XIXth century

A feudal state. An aggression of Khiva, Bukhara and Kokand against South Kazakhstan. Invasion of a part of the territory of the Junior, Middle and Senior Juzes.

XVIII - first half of the XIXth century

The Kokand Khanate.

20 - 40s of the XIXth century

Formation of counties: Karkaraly, Kokshetau, Ayaguz, Bayanaul, Akmola, Aman-Karagay ones.

Mid - XIXth century

Reforming of Cossack troops. Commencement of peasants' migration to Kazakhstan.


Commencement of peasant migrants' settling on the territory of Kazakhstan.


Formation of the Alatau county.

1863 - 1864

Completion of the Senior Juz' joining Russia.

1867 - 1868

Reforms in administrative, judicial and financial policies on the territory of Kazakhstan. Formalization of regions, uyezds and volosts.

1869 - 1870

Uprising of Kazakhs in Uralsk and Turgay regions and on the Mangyshlak.


Establishment of the Turkestan General-Governship within the Syrdaria and Semirechje regions.

Second half of the XIXth century

Conspicuous Kazakh enlighteners - Chokan Valikhanov, Ibray Altynsarin, Abay Kunanbayev.

70-90s of the XIXth century

Two-stage migration from East Turkestan to Semirechje.

1881 - 1884, 1894

9,572 families of Uigurs and 1,147 ones of Dungans. Formation of 5 volosts.

XIX - early XXth centuries

Development of cities, industries, secular and religious education of Kazakhs.


Census of the population. Number of the population in the cities of Kazakhstan: Uralsk -36,446; Ust-Kamenogorsk - 8,721; Verny - 22,744; Pavlodar - 7,738; Semipalatinsk - 20,216; Perovsk (Ak-Mechet) - 5,058; Petropavlovsk - 19, 688; Kokshetau - 4,962; Jarkent - 16,094; Karkaralinsk - 4,451; Kustanay - 14,275; Zaisan - 4,402; Aulije-Ata - 11,722; Atbasar - 3,038; Akmolinsk - 9,688; Irghiz - 1,512; Gurjev - 9,322; Turgay - 896.

Late XIX - early XXth centuries

Massive peasants' migration to Kazakhstan from Russia.

1905 - 1914

Upsurge of social movement of Kazakhs - A.Baitursynov, A.Bukeikhanov, M.Dulatov and others.


National-liberation movement of Kazakhstan's peoples against colonial oppression of the Russian autocracy.

November 1917 - March 1918

Establishment of Soviet power on the territory of Kazakhstan.

December 5-13, 1917

IInd All-Kazakh Congress in Orenburg. Formation of Alash-Orda - provisional people's Council (Government) of the Kazakh autonomy.

August 26, 1920

Formation of the Autonomous Kyrghyz (Kazakh) Soviet Socialist Republic with the capital in Orenburg.

February 2, 1921

A decree of the Central Executive Committee of the Kyrghyz (Kazakh) ASSR on returning to Kazakh working people of lands withdrawn by tsarism in favour of big estates of nobility and landlords as well as for monastries and for the colonization fund.

March 14, 1921

A decree of the Central Executive Committee of the Turkestan Republic on renaming the city of Verny into Alma-Ata.

April 19, 1921

A decree of the Kyrghyz (Kazakh) ASSR on returning to Kazakh working people of lands withdrawn by tsarism in favour of Uralsk and Siberian Cossack troops.

June 12, 1924

Enactment of the USSR Central Executive Committee on demarkation of Central Asia. Reunification of all Kazakh lands within the confines of the Kyrghyz (Kazakh) ASSR.

October 27, 1924

By virtue of the Enactment of the USSR Central Executive Committee the Kyrghyz (Kazakh) part of Turkestan was annexed to the Kyrghyz (Kazakh) ASSR. Rearrangement of administrative division of the Kazakh ASSR had been accomplished by the beginning of 1925. The population increased by 1,468,000 people to make a total of 5,230,000 people. In 1926 Kazakhs constituted 61.3% of the whole population. Ak-Mechet - the capital of the Kazakh ASSR.

February 1925

Transfer of the capital of the Kyrghyz (Kazakh) ASSR from Orenburg to Kzyl-Orda.

April 15-19, 1925

The Vth Congress of Soviets of the Kyrghyz (Kazakh) ASSR. Restoration of the historically correct name of the Kazakh people and renaming of the Kyrghyz ASSR into the Kazakh ASSR.

January 13, 1926

Opening of the Kazakh State Drama Theatre.

December 20, 1928

Session of the Kazakh Central Executive Committee legalized transition to the new, latin alphabet.

May 1929

Transfer of the capital of the Kazakh ASSR from Kzyl-Orda to Alma-Ata.

April 1930

Construction of the Turksib railway line. In May 1929 the number of those engaged in the construction amounted to 39,500 workers and employees.

1925 - 1932

Collectivization. Losses in the number of population made up nearly 2,000,000 people (Kazakhs), i.e. 49% of the initial amount.

August 1928 - first half of 1933

Confiscation of the economies owned by major bais (rich people). Almost 145,000 heads of cattle were subjected to expropriation.

1929 - 1932

Armed uprisals of peasants, opposition to forced collectivization and the policy conducted by the Soviet regime. All in all - 372 uprisals with a summary participation of nearly 80,000 people.

1929 - 1933

Forced collectivization. Mass deaths caused by starvation and migration of the population beyond the confines of the Republic.

December 1936

Transformation of the Kazakh ASSR into a Union Republic (Kazakh SSR).

March 1937

Adoption of the Constitution of the Kazakh SSR.


Formation of the Kazakh SSR. On June 24, 1938 - election to the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR.

1937 - 1938

Massive political repressions.


The Great Patriotic war. In war years 1, 196, 164 Kazakhstanis fought among the rest of the combatting troops. Casualties amounted to almost 410,000 of the Kazakhstanis.

1937 - 1951

Deportation of whole nations to Kazakhstan: Koreans, Germans, Karachays, Chechens, Ingushes, Balkars, Kabardines, Kalmyks, Crimean Tatars, Meskhet Turks of Georgia, Ukrainians, Greeks, Georgians, etc.


Commencement of development of virgin and fallow lands.


Census of the population. Overall number of the population of the Republic - 9,295,000 people with Kazakhs making up 2,787,000 people (29.8%).

1979 - 1988

The Afghan war. 21,979 Kazakhstanis participated therein.

December 1986

December developments. Almost 9,000 Kazakh youths had to leave Kazakhstan and move to other Republics.


Census of the population. The Republic numbers 16,465,000 people.

October 1990

Declaration of state sovereignty of Kazakhstan.

December 1991

Proclamation of state independence of Kazakhstan.

January 1993

Adoption of the Constitution of sovereign Kazakhstan.

August 1995

Adoption of the new Constitution at the all national referendum.

October 1997

Elaboration of the Programme of Kazakhstan's strategic development up to 2030.

Since December 10, 1997

Akmola has become the new capital of the country.


Central Asia's recorded history begins in the 6th century BC, when the Achaemenid Empire of Persia held sway beyond the Amu-Darya River. In 330BC Alexander the Great led his army to victory over the last Achaemenid emperor and by 328 had reached Kabul and the Hindu Kush. The aftermath of Alexander's short-lived Central Asian empire saw an increase in cultural exchange between Europe and Asia. Hellenistic successor states disseminated the aesthetic values of the classical world deep into Asia, while trade bought such goods as the walnut to Europe.

No one knows for sure when the miraculously fine, sensuous fabric spun from the cocoon of the Bombyx caterpillar first reached the west from China. Even after the secret of sericulture arrived in the Mediterranean world, Chinese silk producers consistently exercised the advantage of centuries of know-how. The demand for this thread saw unprecedented trade upon what became known as the Silk Road - a shifting web of caravan tracks rather than a single road.

For a thousand years after the birth of Christ, Central Asia was the scene of pendulum-like shifts of power between nomadic hordes and the sedentary civilisations of Eurasia's periphery. Horses, rather than silk, had the greatest influence over regional events, since the vast grasslands fed millions of them. Mounted archers were the most potent military force in the region. The Huns, the Western Turks, Arabs and the Chinese all ventured into the region during this period.

From 1219, Mongol hordes under the leadership of Genghis Khan swept through most of Eurasia. The ravages inflicted on the region were so harsh that settled civilisation in Central Asia did not begin to recover until Russian colonisation some 600 years later. Genghis was brutal but he also perceived the importance of reliable trade and communications, laying down networks of guard and post stations and introducing tax breaks to boost economic activity. In modern terms, the streets were safe and the trains ran on time. The resulting flurry of trade on the Silk Road was the background to many famous medieval travellers' journeys, including Marco Polo's.

The splits and religious divisions which followed the death of Genghis led to the fracturing of the Mongol Empire, the rise of the tyrant's tyrant, Timur the Lame (aka Tamerlaine), at the end of the 14th century and the emergence of Kazaks as a distinct people for the first time.

Springing from the descendants of Mongols, Turkic and other peoples, the Kazaks went on to form one of the world's last great nomadic empires, stretching across the steppe and desert north, east and west of the Syr-Darya and capable of bringing 200,000 horsemen into the field. The ruin of the Kazakhs came from Oyrats, a warlike, expansionist Mongolian people who subjugated eastern Kazakstan, the Tian Shan and parts of Xinjiang to form the Zhungarian Empire in the 1630s. The Kazakhs were savagely and repeatedly pummeled, particularly between 1690 and 1720. This 'Great Disaster' made them susceptible to the Russian expansion of the 19th century.

Enter the Bolsheviks (stage Left), who quickly liberated the Central Asians from any ideas of self determination. Although there were frequent demonstrations of discontent, these were quickly and soundly defeated by the communists. Meanwhile a charismatic young Turk named Enver Pasha had bent Lenin's ear and convinced the Soviet leader he could deliver him all of Central Asia and British India. In reality Pasha had decided to ditch Lenin and win himself a Pan Turkic state with Central Asia as its core. A large army and some clever concessions to the Islamic religion saw Pasha's support wane and Moscow's reign prevail.

Kazakstan's traditional tribal divisions - the Great Horde in the south, the Middle Horde in the centre and north-east, and the Little Horde in the west - were pasted over by the Russians and simply ignored by the Soviets but remained important as social and ethnic identifiers. In fact, nationalist confusion is one of the major legacies of Soviet rule. Since the republics of Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen and Uzbek began to be created in the 1920s each was carefully shaped to contain pockets of differing nationalities with long-standing claims to the land. The present face of Central Asia is a product of this 'divide and rule' policy.

Soviet rule in Central Asia was a parade of ridiculous ideas: assimilating the region's ethnic groups, converting the steppe into a giant cotton plantation, using Kazakstan as a 'secret' nuclear testing zone, etc. The political, social, economic and ecological disasters resulting from these experiments meant all five republics had little to lose by declaring their sovereignty when glasnost and perestroyka led to the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. Later that year they joined with 11 other former Soviet states to form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

In 1991, new country - the Republic of Kazakhstan - appeared on the geopolitical map of the world. Kazakhstan has a multi-millennia history and culture. One of the central questions is the origin of its native people, Kazakhs, and the development of their statehood, culture, traditions, and relations with other civilizations. If written sources are examined, it can be concluded that the Kazakh statehood was completely formed by 1470 when sultans Janibek and Girey organized numerous tribes in the south-eastern areas and combined them into a single 'Kazakh' tribe. In the beginning of the 16th century, when Kasymkhan ruled over these lands, the Kazakh khanate strengthened: its borders were expanded and the khanate included the cities of Turkistan, Otrar, Sairam, Sauran, Sygnak, Suzak and Shymkent which were located on the Syrdarya River. Kazakhs became well-known both in Europe and Asia. The 16th century is a milestone in the Muslim world history. This was the time when a new age began.

V. Bartold, an outstanding orientalist, wrote: "In the new history of Islam, the pace of changing dynasties, the general instability of power, and small states where no patriotism could exist came to there opposite - uniting of states which took place there. We see the Muslim empire of Great Mogul in India, then Turkey, Persia..." That was the approximate time when the Kazakh, Bukhar, and Yarken khanates were established in Central Asia. Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kyrgyzes, and Karakalpaks, all speaking Turkic languages, claimed their rights in the historic arena.

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