Until recently, Kazakhstan was relatively unknown until a certain film came along. Even after the release of said film there has still been some confusion over the location with many assuming it is closer to the Middle East due to the ‘Stan suffix on the countries name. That being said, if you’ve looked at a map it should have been difficult to miss as it is one of the largest countries in the world!
Where is Kazakhstan?
So where is Kazakhstan? Kazakhstan is in Central Asia and was part of the former Soviet Union. The Kazakhs are very closely related to their Kyrgyz cousins to the South as well as the other Turkic people of Asia including Uzbeks, Turkmens and even Mongols.
Despite this, almost a quarter of Kazakhstan is actually in Europe as the line between Europe and Asia runs through Western Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan borders Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the South, China to the East, and Russia to the North and West.
With an area of 2,724,900 km 2 , Kazakhstan is the 9 th largest country in the world, slightly ahead of Algeria and just behind Argentina.
Regions of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is divided into 14 regions and there are also 4 cities governed independently (Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent and Baikonur).
You could say Nur-Sultan has gone through quite a lot of name changes. In 2019 the current name Nur-Sultan was adopted, named after the first President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who retired from the position of President in the same year – a position he held since the country gained independence in 1991.
Before its current name, the city was named Astana, which you’ll still see on the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, Air Astana, as well as their famous cycling team, Team Astana. It took the name Astana in 1998 after it took over from Almaty as the capital of Kazakhstan.
Before it was named Astana, it was alternatively known as Akmola in the Kazakh language or Tselinograd in Russian. Tselinograd was a named given in 1961 to celebrate the supposed successes of the Soviet virgin lands programme.
Modern Nur-Sultan is a planned city with some extremely impressive architecture. Some of the world’s best architects were given carte-blanche to design their wildest dreams and as such Astana is truly a site to see.
Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and was the capital of Kazakhstan until 1997. Still today Almaty is the most important city for business and is considered the financial capital of Central Asia.
Border crossings of Kazakhstan
It is possible to cross by land into and out of Kazakhstan, so long as of course you have a visa, e-visa or are eligible for visa free travel. There are several border crossings with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and China. There are also passenger boats from Atyrau to Baku in Azerbaijan.