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KAZAKHSTAN

The web page is attended to be used by  United States High Students in Grades 9th-12th, particularly 9th graders who are taking a world history class or who want to know more about Kazakhstan, which is a country in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Lesson Plan

The Lesson Plan will consist of educating high school students about the natural environment, resources, and history of the country of Kazakhstan. Also to discuss and teach the cultural breakdown of Kazakhstan as well as the political and economic history of the country. The main objective of this lesson is to expose and educate U.S. high school students to the atmosphere and environment of a country associated with the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Mission Statement

The students should be able to know more about Kazakhstan at the end of the webpage. Therefore the students should and will be able to take and pass the quiz at the end of the webpage once done reading all of the material from the webpage.

Click here for General Information about Kazakhstan

 

Political, Economic, and General History of Kazakhstan

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 civilizations 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 civilization in Central Asia did not begin to recover until Russian colonization 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 travelers' 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 first Kazakhs were Turkic-speaking nomads who broke away from the Mongol empire in 1465 to settle between the Chu and Talas rivers. An enterprising group, by the early 16th century they had formed an empire of their own under the charismatic rule of Kasym Khan. But Kasym’s death in 1518 brought a reversal of fortunes. Central authority disintegrated, and the Khanate split into three separate entities, controlled by the Great, Middle and Little Hordes. The ruin of the Kazakhs came thanks to the Oyrats, a warlike, expansionist Mongolian people who subjugated eastern Kazakhstan, the Tian Shan and parts of Xinjiang to form the Zhungarian Empire in the 1630s. A series of wars that began in the 1680s with the Oyrat, a federation of Mongol tribes, further weakened its political homogeneity. Temporary reunification and counteroffensive came under Teuke Khan (1680-1718), who formed a code of law fusing Islamic and local traditions, but long-term peace remained elusive. The Kazakhs were savagely and repeatedly pummeled, particularly between 1690 and 1720. In 1723, the “Great Disaster”—an invasion by the Dzungars, one of the Oyrat tribes— destabilized the region again, this time giving China’s expansionist Manchu empire a chance to intervene. China incorporated a large part of eastern Kazakh territory in 1771.  This 'Great Disaster' made them susceptible to the Russian expansion of the 19th century.

The power vacuum that remained in the western territory drew the attention of Russia, which took control of land through a slow process of encroachment. 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. Kazakhstan'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. A large army and some clever concessions to the Islamic religion saw Pasha's support wane and Moscow's reign prevail. In 1731 the Little Horde accepted Russian protection, and by 1848 the Russian Empire had absorbed what remained of Kazakh territory.

Independent-minded Kazakhs attempted to win autonomy and cultural rights during the Russian Revolution. They formed a provisional government after 1917, but by 1920 Kazakhstan was in the Red Army’s control. 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. In 1936, the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic was declared. A brutal collectivization of agriculture killed about one-fifth of the population between 1926 and 1939, and forced many to flee Kazakhstan. Many Slavs moved in to replace them, and after 1941, Stalin began deporting ethnic Germans and other minority groups into settlements in Kazakhstan.

Matters improved only after Stalin’s death in 1953. Huge wheat plantations were established and the Soviets began to use Kazakhstan as a base for their space and nuclear programs. Dinmukhamed Kunayev, the Kazakh Communist Party first secretary between 1959 to 1986, and the only Kazakh ever in the Soviet Politburo, fostered better relations between Slavs and Kazakhs.

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 Kazakhstan 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 perestroika led to the disintegration of the USSR in 1991.  Although Kazakhstan broke from the Soviet Union in October 1990 and proclaimed independence in December 1991, after which Nursultan Nazarbaev, the Kazakh Communist Party first secretary, became president. Later that year they joined with 11 other former Soviet states to form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He began consolidating his own power and gradually restricting the new country’s democratic freedoms, winning a referendum to cancel the 1996 election and securing a new seven-year term in a 1999 poll that was widely condemned as rigged.

Today Kazakhstan is grappling with the free market and an enthusiastic brand of deregulation that tends toward anarchy. President Nazarbayev, a former Communist, is imposing his peculiar ideas about democracy (weakened parliament, handy constitutional changes) on the country he hopes to turn into Central Asia's economic tiger. Nazarbayev's sweeping election victory in early 1999 was aided by the banning of major opponents on frivolous grounds and the fact that one of the remaining candidates based his campaign on an ability to crush glass with his bare hands. In keeping with the ad hoc nature of the new republic, the nation's capital was moved from Almaty in the south to Akmola in the north and then re-named Astana, none of which really helped Kazakhstan's image as a country prone to tragic flights of fancy.

Click here to view about Kazakhstan moving its capital city.

Click here to view facts and figures about the country.

 

Historical Timeline of Kazakhstan

Preview CIA World Fact Book About Kazakhstan

 

Culture of Kazakhstan

The biggest name in Kazak cultural history is Abay Qunanbaev, a 19th century poet and man of letters who launched Kazak as a literary language and translated Russian works into Kazak. Before Abay, Kazakhstan literature consisted chiefly of long oral poems. Recitals by bards (aqins) and contests between them known as aitys are still important and popular. Kazakhstan's most impressive textiles originate in the country's north-east, near the 'four corners' region of Kazakhstan, Russia, China and Mongolia. The mix of influences is apparent in wall carpets and rugs unmatched in their striking color combinations and the intricacy of their geometric designs.

Though Kazaks are Muslim (Sunni) they are not, by and large, strictly so, and Islam is not a major political force. Reasons for this include the Kazakhstan's location on the fringe of the Muslim world, and their traditionally nomadic lifestyle, unsuited to central religious authority. Kazak women appear Central Asia's most confident and least restricted, despite the lingering custom of wife-stealing, whereby a man may simply kidnap a woman he wants to marry (often with some collusion, it must be said), leaving her parents with no option but to negotiate the bride-price.

Many Kazaks maintain a semi nomadic existence, moving with herds, flocks and yurts from their collective farms to summer pastures every year. An affinity with the horse is shown in sports like kökpar, the wild free-for-all ancestor of polo (with a headless goat's carcass instead of a ball) and qyz quu, a boy-girl horse chase - if a boy catches a girl he kisses her, if a girl catches a boy she beats him with her riding whip, all the while both of them riding hell for leather.

Much Kazak food resembles that of the Middle East or the Mediterranean in its use of rice, savory seasonings, vegetables and legumes, yoghurt and grilled meats. Other dishes have developed from the subsistence diet of the nomads - mainly mutton (including entrails), milk products and bread - whereas in the heavily Russian-populated cities of northern Kazakhstan, the dominant cuisine is Russian. Rural Kazaks make good qazy, smoked horsemeat sausage sometimes served sliced with cold noodles. If that sounds a bit hardcore, look out for a sweet plov (pilaf) made with dried apricots, raisins and prunes or Kazak apples which are famous throughout Central Asia (Almaty literally means 'father of apples').

Kazakhstan is a Turkic language written in a 42-letter version of the Cyrillic alphabet. At least as many people in Kazakhstan speak Russian as Kazak; Kazakhstan is the official state language but Russian is the 'language of inter-ethnic communication.

 

Natural Resources of Kazakhstan

Major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, manganese, chrome ore, nickel, cobalt, copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, bauxite, gold,  and uranium are found in Kazakhstan.

Click here to view more detailed information about the natural resources of Kazakhstan.

 

Environment of Kazakhstan

Covering 2.7 million sq km (1.05 million sq mi), Kazakhstan is the ninth biggest country in the world, about the size of western Europe or half the size of mainland USA. It borders Russia to the north, the Caspian Sea to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to the south and China to the east. Kazakhstan is mainly dry and flat except for its alpine south-east and eastern fringes which lie along the northern edge of the mighty Tian Shan range. Mt Khan Tengri at 6995m (22,950ft), on the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan border, is the country's highest point. Lake Balqash in the central east is huge but shallow - the eastern half is salty, the western half fresh. Kazakhstan's underground environment contains massive deposits of iron, coal, oil, gas, lead, bismuth, cadmium and thallium (these last three essential in electronics). These and other minerals have drawn hefty, if shady, foreign investment interest to Kazakhstan's otherwise unpromising plains.

Back on top of the crust, Kazakhstan has been badly ravaged by dodgy Soviet schemes which have poisoned, denuded and drained. The country was set aside for massive wheat production in the 1960s, setting off a train of ecological nightmares. Water from the Syr-Darya and Amu-Darya rivers was diverted for irrigation, causing the Aral Sea, which they fed, to shrink dramatically. The fishing port of Aralsk was left high and dry and became a ghost town; the fish died out from rising salt levels; rains stopped; salt, sand and dust blew in storms for hundreds of km around; birds and animals have fled the river delta. Chemical residues from agriculture have found their way into the rivers and into Kazakhstan's drinking water, while the Kazakh steppe has become eroded, arid and Stalinized from over-cultivation. In case Kazakhstan hadn't had enough, Moscow used the area between Semey and Pavlodar as a testing ground for nuclear weapons between 1949 and 1989; around 40 million people have been adversely affected by radiation.

Amazingly, there's still a reasonably good chance you'll see some memorable beasts and plants once you get out of the dead zones. At the very least there are the millions of rooks that inhabit the towns and the Cannabis indica that grows thick and wild by the roadsides. You're likely to spot antelope, brown bear, wild boar, lynx and eagles in Kazakhstan's mountains, though sighting the elusive snow leopard may take a tad longer. Poppies and tulips grow wild in the grassy steppes, trampled upon by roe deer, wolves, foxes and badgers.

Summer is sizzling hot with desert temperatures topping 40°C (105°F) during the day, but often dropping to less than half that at night. Snow starts to fall around November and the mountain passes fill with snow until April, sometimes even May. Winters are bitterly cold, even in the desert. Annual precipitation ranges from less than 100mm (3.9in) a year in the deserts to 1500mm (58.5in) in the mountains. Much of the summer rain on the steppes comes from violent thunderstorms which often cause local flash floods.

 

Click here to look at Websites created under IATP Small Grants Program in Kazakhstan

Quiz

1. What was the former capital of Kazakhstan and what year did the capital move? Where did it move to?

2. What resources are Kazakhstan predominately known for?

3.  How is the climate of Kazakhstan in the summer and winter? Also based on the information provided to you how you say the climate in the fall and spring is in Kazakhstan (Take an educated guess)?

4.  How much has Kazakhstan's oil reserves grown year by year since 1999?

5. What is Tengiz and why is it important to Kazakhstan? What other areas are important to Kazakhstan and why?

6. What are some Kazakhstan's environmental problems and have they been corrected?

7. What are the similarities and differences between Kazakhstan's culture and the culture in the United States that you are exposed to or have grown up in?

8. What event occurred in 1723 in Kazakhstan and what were the repercussions of this event?

9. How many people currently live in Kazakhstan and what is the average income of a person living in Kazakhstan?

10. How is natural gas distributed in Kazakhstan and is it disturbed evenly throughout the land in your opinion?

Trick Question:

What is the official name of Kazakhstan?

Bonus Question:

How is Kazakhstan's government set up and what are the differences and similaries between the United States governmental structure and Kazakhstan's governmental structure? Also what are the major political parties and what are some the political pressures the Kazakhstan's governments face?

Extra Credit:

Write a three page summary on why or why not you believe a person should live in Kazakhstan or at least visit Kazakhstan. Be sure to include facts and details about the country in terms of how is the weather and culture life as well as what resources or major industries are located in Kazakhstan. Remember that whatever you say has to be backed up by facts of some kind! You can even do further research than what is presented to you on this page but you must make reference to where the source came from. You can use the internet, books, etc. because you must have a work cited page if you use information from outside sources that are not represented by the webpage.