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Central Asia > Kazakhstan

Ethnic Kazakhs, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century, were rarely united as a single nation. The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century, and Kazakhstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936. During the 1950s and 1960s agricultural "Virgin Lands" program, Soviet citizens were encouraged to help cultivate Kazakhstan's northern pastures. This influx of immigrants (mostly Russians, but also some other deported nationalities) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-ethnic Kazakhs to outnumber natives. Independence in 1991 drove many of these newcomers to emigrate. Kazakhstan's economy is larger than those of all the other Central Asian states largely due to the country's vast natural resources. Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country's vast energy resources and advancing political and social reform; and strengthening relations with neighboring states and other foreign powers.

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Kazakhstan
by Said Atabekov

Kazgurt region of Southern Kazakhstan. A rider-kokparshi prays before the beginning of the kokpar competition.

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Nawruz in Kazakhstan
Life on the Steppe, Past and Present
by Anna Oldfield

It is wonderful to see southern Kazakhstan in spring from the windows of a train – the wide rolling lands shimmer bright green with new grass, the high peaked Tien Shan mountains are covered with snow glinting in the sunlight, herds of sheep and baby lambs graze under the watch of shepherds on horseback...

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Kazakhstan
by Anna Oldfield

Almaty, Astana Square. Spray painters in Astana square work on their conceptions of Nawruz.

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What does Nowruz Mean to you?
by Anna Oldfield

"It is the great Kazakh holiday of spring. You should clean your house and decorate, bake sweets, prepare Nawruz-kozhe, cook beshbarkmak. Any and all guests may come, you must not refuse to serve them. The more guests that come to your dastarxan (feast), the better. It is truly a great holiday. "

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