Kazakhstan (04/05)

For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.

Flag of Kazakhstan is sky blue background representing the endless sky and a gold sun with 32 rays soaring above a golden steppe eagle in the center; on the hoist side is a 'national ornamentation' in gold.


Republic of Kazakhstan

Area: 2.7 million sq. km. (1.56 million sq. mi.); ninth-largest nation in the world; the size of Western Europe.
Major cities: Astana (capital, June 1998), Almaty (former capital), Karaganda, and Shymkent.
Terrain: Extends east to west from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains and north to south from the plains of Western Siberia to the oasis and desert of Central Asia.
Climate: Continental, cold winters and hot summers; arid and semi-arid.
Border lengths: Russia 6,846 km., Uzbekistan 2,203 km., China 1,533 km., Kyrgyzstan 1,051 km., and Turkmenistan 379 km.

Nationality: Kazakhstani.
Population (2002): 14.8 million--down from 16.2 million in 1989; second most-populated country in Central Asia.
Population distribution: 56.4% of population lives in urban areas. Twenty-six cities had approximate populations of more than 50,000 in 1999--Astana (capital) more than 450,000, Almaty (former capital) 1.2 million, Karaganda 440,000, Shymkent 370,000, Taraz 340,000, Ust-Kamenogorsk 310,000, Pavlodar 300,000.
Population growth rate (2002 est.): Large scale emigration of ethnic Russians, Germans, and Ukrainians accounts for most of the population decrease since 1989.
Population density: 9.3 people per sq. mi. (U.S. density 1990: 70.3 people per sq. mi.).
Ethnic groups (2002): Kazakh 55.8%, Russian 28.3%, Ukrainian 3.3%, Uzbek 2.6%, German 1.8%, Uyghur 1.5%, other 5.0%.
Religion: Sunni Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%.
Language: Kazakhstan is a bilingual country. Kazakh language has the status of the "state" language, while Russian is declared the "official" language. Russian is used routinely in business; 64.4% of population speaks the Kazakh language.
Health (2001): Infant mortality rate--19.6/1,000. Life expectancy--65.6 years (male 60.2 yrs.; female 71.1 yrs.). Health care--34.6 doctors and 74.4 hospital beds per 10,000 persons.
Education: Mandatory universal secondary education. School system consists of kindergarten, primary school (grades 1-4), secondary school (grades 5-9), and high school (grades 10-11). Literacy rate--98.8%.
Work force (2001, 8.85 million): Industry--30%; agriculture--20%; services--50%.

Type: Republic.
Independence: December 16, 1991 (from the Soviet Union).
Declaration of sovereignty: October 25, 1990.
Constitution: August 30, 1995 constitution adopted by referendum replaced a 1993 constitution.
Branches: Executive--president, prime minister, Council of Ministers. Legislative--Senate and Mazhilis. Judicial--Supreme Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 17; 14 oblasts plus 3 cities--Almaty, the former capital; Astana, the current capital; and the territory of Baykonur, which contains the space launch center that the Russians built and now lease. Political parties: As of August 2004, there were twelve political parties registered by the Ministry of Justice. They are the Agrarian Party, Ak Zhol (Bright Path), Asar (All Together), Ayul (Farmers), the Civil Party, the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, the Communist People's Party, DVK (Democratic Choice), the Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, Otan (Fatherland), The Party of Patriots, and Rukhaniyat (Spirituality)
Suffrage: Universal, 18 years of age.

GDP (2003): $29.7 billion. (At average exchange rate of 149.6 KZT/USD in 2003, GDP in 2003 was KZT 4449.8 billion.)
GDP growth rate: 13.2% (2001); 9.5% (2002); 9.2% (2003); 9.7% (forecast 2004).
GDP per capita (2003): Purchasing power parity--$8,117.
Inflation rate: 6.4% (2001); 6.6% (2002); 6.8% (2003); 5-7% (forecast 2004).
Trade: Exports (2003)--$12.9 billion: oil products (65%), base metals (20%), food and agricultural goods (6%), chemicals (4%). Imports (2003)--$8.3 billion: machinery (43%), chemicals (15%), energy (12%), base metals (12%), food (8%).
Gross external debt: $18.2 billion (2002); $22.9 billion (2003).
Central Bank's foreign exchange reserves: $3.1 billion (2002); $4.96 billion (2003).
National (oil) fund reserves: $1.9 billion (2002); $3.6 billion (2003); $3.7 billion (Jan.-March 2004).
Officially recognized unemployment rate: 9.3% (2002); 8.7% (2003).
Exchange rate: 146.6 tenge/U.S. $1 (2003); 133.04 tenge/US $1 (October 2004).

The majority of Kazakhstanis are ethnic Kazakh; other ethnic groups include Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, German, and Uyghur. Religions are Sunni Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and other. Kazakhstan is a bilingual country. The Kazakh language has the status of the "state" language, while Russian is declared the "official" language. Russian is used routinely in business; 64.4% of the population speaks the Kazakh language. Education is universal and mandatory through the secondary level, and the literacy rate is 98.8%.

Nomadic tribes have been living in the region that is now Kazakhstan since the first century BC. From the fourth century AD through the beginning of the 13th century, the territory of Kazakhstan was ruled by a series of nomadic nations. Following the Mongolian invasion in the early 13th century, administrative districts were established under the Mongol Empire, which eventually became the territories of the Kazakh Khanate. The major medieval cities of Taraz and Turkestan were founded along the northern route of the Great Silk Road during this period.

Traditional nomadic life on the vast steppe and semi-desert lands was characterized by a constant search for new pasture to support the livestock-based economy. The Kazakhs emerged from a mixture of tribes living in the region in about the 15th century and by the middle of the 16th century had developed a common language, culture, and economy. In the early 1600s, the Kazakh Khanate separated into the Great, Middle and Little (or Small) Hordes--confederations based on extended family networks. Political disunion, competition among the hordes, and a lack of an internal market weakened the Kazakh Khanate. The beginning of the 18th century marked the zenith of the Kazakh Khanate. The following 150 years saw the gradual colonization of the Kazakh-controlled territories by tsarist Russia.

The process of colonization was a combination of voluntary integration into the Russian Empire and outright seizure. The Little Horde and part of the Middle Horde signed treaties of protection with Russia in the 1730s and 1740s. Major parts of the northeast and central Kazakh territories were incorporated into the Russian Empire by 1840. With the Russian seizure of territories belonging to the Senior Horde in the 1860s, the tsars effectively ruled over most of the territory belonging to what is now the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Russian Empire introduced a system of administration and built military garrisons in its effort to establish a presence in Central Asia in the so-called "Great Game" between it and Great Britain. Russian efforts to impose its system aroused the resentment of the Kazakh people, and by the 1860s, most Kazakhs resisted Russia's annexation largely because of the disruption it wrought upon the traditional nomadic lifestyle and livestock-based economy. The Kazakh national movement, which began in the late 1800s, sought to preserve the Kazakh language and identity. There were uprisings against colonial rule during the final years of tsarist Russia, with the most serious occurring in 1916.

Although there was a brief period of autonomy during the tumultuous period following the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Kazakhs eventually succumbed to Soviet rule. In 1920, the area of present-day Kazakhstan became an autonomous republic within Russia and, in 1936, a Soviet republic.

Soviet repression of the traditional elites, along with forced collectivization in late 1920s-1930s, brought about mass hunger and led to unrest. Soviet rule, however, took hold, and a communist apparatus steadily worked to fully integrate Kazakhstan into the Soviet system. Kazakhstan experienced population inflows of thousands exiled from other parts of the Soviet Union during the 1930s and later became home for hundreds of thousands evacuated from the Second World War battlefields. The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) contributed five national divisions to the Soviet Union's World War II effort.

The period of the Second World War marked an increase in industrialization and increased mineral extraction in support of the war effort. At the time of Soviet leader Josif Stalin's death, however, Kazakhstan still had an overwhelmingly agricultural-based economy. In 1953, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev initiated the ambitious "Virgin Lands" program to turn the traditional pasturelands of Kazakhstan into a major grain-producing region for the Soviet Union. The Virgin Lands policy, along with later modernizations under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, sped up the development of the agricultural sector, which to this day remains the source of livelihood for a large percentage of Kazakhstan's population.

Growing tensions within Soviet society led to a demand for political and economic reforms, which came to a head in the 1980s. In December 1986, mass demonstrations by young ethnic Kazakhs took place in Almaty to protest the methods of the communist system. Soviet troops suppressed the unrest, and dozens of demonstrators were jailed. In the waning days of Soviet rule, discontent continued to grow and find expression under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost. Caught up in the groundswell of Soviet republics seeking greater autonomy, Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty as a republic within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) in October 1990. Following the August 1991 abortive coup attempt in Moscow and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991.

The years following independence have been marked by significant reforms to the Soviet command-economy and political monopoly on power. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Kazakh Communist Party and was eventually elected President in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward developing a market economy, for which it was recognized by the United States in 2002. The country has enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves.

Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with a strong presidency. The president is the head of state. The president also is the commander in chief of the armed forces and may veto legislation that has been passed by the Parliament. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been in office since Kazakhstan became independent, won a new 7-year term in the 1999 election that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said fell short of international standards. The prime minister, who serves at the pleasure of the president, chairs the Cabinet of Ministers and serves as Kazakhstan's head of government. There are three deputy prime ministers and 16 ministers in the Cabinet. Daniyal K. Akhmetov became Prime Minister in June 2003.

Kazakhstan has a bicameral Parliament, comprised of a lower house (the Mazhilis) and upper house (the Senate). Single mandate districts popularly elect 67 seats in the Mazhilis; there also are 10 members elected by party-list vote rather than by single mandate districts. The Senate has 39 members. Two senators are selected by each of the elected assemblies (Maslikhats) of Kazakhstan's 16 principal administrative divisions (14 regions, or oblasts, plus the cities of Astana and Almaty). The president appoints the remaining seven senators. Mazhilis deputies and the government both have the right of legislative initiative, though the government proposes most legislation considered by the Parliament.

Elections to the Mazhilis in September 2004 yielded a lower house dominated by the pro-government Otan party, headed by President Nazarbayev. Two other parties considered sympathetic to the president, including the agrarian-industrial bloc AIST and the Asar party, founded by President Nazarbayev's daughter, won most of the remaining seats. Opposition parties, which were officially registered and competed in the elections, won a single seat during elections that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said fell short of international standards.

Kazakhstan is divided into 14 oblasts and the two municipal districts of Almaty and Astana. Each is headed by an akim (provincial governor) appointed by the president. Municipal akims are appointed by oblast akims. The Government of Kazakhstan transferred its capital from Almaty to Astana on June 10, 1998.

Principal Government Officials
President--Nursultan Nazarbayev
Head of Presidential Administration-Adilbek Dzhaksybekov
Prosecutor General--Rashid Tusupbekov
National Security Committee (KNB) Chairman-Lieutenant General Nartay Dutbayev
Prime Minister--Daniyal K. Akhmetov
Deputy Prime Minister--Sauat Mynbayev (also Minister of Industry and Trade)
Deputy Prime Minister--Akhmetzhan Yesimov
State Secretary--Oralbay Abdykarimov
Minister of Agriculture--Serik Umbetov
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Kasymzhomart Tokayev
Minister of Culture, Information and Sports--Yesetzhan Kosubayev
Minister of Defense--General of the Army Mukhtar Altynbayev
Minister of Economy and Budget Planning--Kairat Kelimbetov
Minister of Education and Science-Byrganym Aytimova
Minister of Environmental Protection--Aitkul Samakova
Minister of Finance--Arman Dunayev
Minister of Health Care--Yerbolat Dosayev
Minister of Industry and Trade-Sauat Mynbayev
Minister of Interior--Zautbek Turisbekov
Minister of Justice--Zagipa Baliyeva
Minister of Labor and Social Protection--Gulzhana Karagusova
Minister of Transport and Communication--Kazhmurat Nagmanov
Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources--Vladimir Shkolnik
Minister of Emergency Situations--Mukhambet Kopey

Kazakhstan's economy grew by 9.2% in 2003, buoyed by high world oil prices. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 9.5% in 2002; it grew 13.2% in 2001, up from 9.8% in 2000.

Kazakhstan's monetary policy has been well managed. Its principal challenges in 2002 were to manage strong foreign currency inflows without sparking inflation. In 2003 inflation did not remain under control, registering at 6.8% instead of forecast level of 5.3%-6.0%. In 2002 inflation was 6.6%, compared to 6.4% in 2001. Because of its strong macroeconomic performance and financial health, Kazakhstan became the first former Soviet republic to repay all of its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2000, 7 years ahead of schedule. In March 2002, the U.S. Department of Commerce graduated Kazakhstan to market economy status under U.S. trade law. The change in status recognized substantive market economy reforms in the areas of currency convertibility, wage rate determination, openness to foreign investment, and government control over the means of production and allocation of resources.

In September 2002, Kazakhstan became the first country in the former Soviet Union to receive an investment-grade credit rating from a major international credit rating agency. As of late December 2003, Kazakhstan's gross foreign debt was about $22.9 billion. Total governmental debt was $4.2 billion. This amounts to 14% of GDP. There has been a noticeable reduction in the ratio of debt to GDP observed in past years; the ratio of total governmental debt to GDP in 2000 was 21.7%, in 2001 it was 17.5%, and in 2002 it was 15.4%.

The upturn in economic growth, combined with the results of earlier tax and financial sector reforms, dramatically improved government finances from the 1999 budget deficit level of 3.5% of GDP to a deficit of 1.2% of GDP in 2003. Government revenues grew from 19.8% of GDP in 1999 to 22.6% of GDP in 2001, but decreased to 16.2% of GDP in 2003. In 2000, Kazakhstan adopted a new tax code in an effort to consolidate these gains. On November 29, 2003 the Law on Changes to Tax Code was adopted, which reduced tax rates-- value added tax from 16% to 15%, social tax from 21% to 20%, and personal income tax from 30% to 20%. Kazakhstan furthered its reforms by adopting a new land code on June 20, 2003 and a customs code on April 5, 2003.

Oil and gas is the leading economic sector. Production of oil and gas condensate in Kazakhstan amounted to 51.2 million tons in 2003, which was 8.6% more than in 2002. Kazakhstan raised oil and gas condensate exports to 44.3 million tons in 2003, 13% higher compared to 2002. Gas production in Kazakhstan in 2003 amounted to 13.9 billion cubic meters, up 22.7% compared to 2002, including natural gas production of 7.3 billion cubic meters, Kazakhstan holds about 4 billion tons of proven recoverable oil reserves and 2 trillion cubic meters of gas. Industry analysts believe that planned expansion of oil production, coupled with the development of new fields, will enable the country to produce as much as 3 million barrels per day by 2015, lifting Kazakhstan into the ranks of the world's top 10 oil-producing nations. Kazakhstan's 2003 oil exports were valued at more than $7 billion, representing 65% of overall exports and 24% of GDP. Major oil and gas fields and their recoverable oil reserves are Tengiz (7 billion barrels); Karachaganak (8 billion barrels and 1,350 billion cubic meters of natural gas); and Kashagan (7-9 billion barrels).

Kazakhstan instituted an ambitious pension reform program in 1998. As of January 1, 2003 the pension assets were about $2.6 billion. There are 16 saving pension funds in the republic. State Accumulating Pension Fund is the only state fund, which is planned to be privatized in 2004. The National Bank oversees and regulates the pension funds. The pension funds' growing demand for quality investment outlets triggered rapid development of the debt securities market. Pension fund capital is being invested almost exclusively in corporate and government bonds, including Government of Kazakhstan Eurobonds. The Kazakhstani banking system is developing rapidly. The banking system's capitalization now exceeds $1 billion. The National Bank has introduced deposit insurance in its campaign to strengthen the banking sector. Several major foreign banks have branches in Kazakhstan, including ABN-AMRO, Citibank, and HSBC.

Agriculture accounted for 13.6% of Kazakhstan's GDP in 2003. Grain (Kazakhstan is the sixth-largest producer in the world) and livestock are the most important agricultural commodities. Agricultural land occupies more than 84.6 million hectares. The available agricultural land consists of 20.5 million hectares of arable land and 61.1 million hectares of pasture and hay land. Chief livestock products are dairy goods, leather, meat, and wool. The country's major crops include wheat, barley, cotton, and rice. Wheat exports, a major source of hard currency, rank among the leading commodities in Kazakhstan's export trade. In 2003 Kazakhstan harvested 17.6 million tons of grain in gross, 2.8% higher compared to 2002.

Natural Resources
Oil, gas, and mineral exports are key to Kazakhstan's economic success and have attracted most of the over $18.4 billion in foreign investment in Kazakhstan since 1993. Kazakhstan has significant deposits of coal, iron, copper, zinc, uranium, and gold.

Kazakhstan has stable relationships with all of its neighbors. Kazakhstan is a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and North Atlantic Cooperation Council. It also is an active participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace program. Kazakhstan also is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization along with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan established the Eurasian Economic Community in 2000 to re-energize earlier efforts at harmonizing trade tariffs and the creation of a free trade zone under a customs union.

The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan, on December 25, 1991, and opened its Embassy in Almaty in January 1992. In the years since Kazakhstan's independence, the two countries have developed a wide-ranging bilateral relationship. The current Ambassador is John Ordway, who assumed his post in September 2004.

U.S.-Kazakhstani cooperation in security and non-proliferation has been a cornerstone of the relationship. Kazakhstan showed leadership when it renounced nuclear weapons in 1993. The United States has assisted Kazakhstan in the removal of nuclear warheads, weapons-grade materials, and their supporting infrastructure. In 1994, Kazakhstan transferred more than a half-ton of weapons-grade uranium to the United States. In 1995 Kazakhstan removed its last nuclear warheads and, with U.S. assistance, completed the sealing of 181 nuclear test tunnels in May 2000. Kazakhstan has signed the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (1992), the START Treaty (1992), the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1993), the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2001). Under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the United States has spent $188 million to assist Kazakhstan in eliminating weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass destruction-related infrastructure.

Economic Relations
American companies have invested more than $6 billion in Kazakhstan since 1993. These companies are concentrated in the oil and gas, business services, telecommunications, and electrical energy sectors. Kazakhstan has made progress in creating a favorable investment climate although serious problems, including arbitrary enforcement of laws, remain. A U.S.-Kazakhstan Bilateral Investment Treaty and a Treaty on the Avoidance of Dual Taxation have been in place since 1994 and 1996, respectively. In 2001, Kazakhstan and the United States established the U.S.-Kazakhstan Energy Partnership. In 2002, the two governments entered into the U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Development Partnership, otherwise known as the "Houston Initiative."

Sections 402 and 409 of the United States 1974 Trade Act require that the President submit semi-annually a report to the Congress on continued compliance with the Act's freedom of emigration provisions by those countries, including Kazakhstan, that have been determined to satisfy the criteria of the Trade Act's Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Bilateral trade increased by 87% to $939.3 million in 2002, boosted significantly by U.S. exports of civilian aircraft and telecommunications equipment.

U.S. Assistance
Between 1992 and 2001, the United States has provided roughly $874.3 million in technical assistance and investment support in Kazakhstan. The programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, and democratic society.

Since 1993, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has administered technical assistance programs to support Kazakhstan's transition to a market economy, fully integrated into the world trade system. These programs include cooperation in privatization, fiscal, and financial policy; commercial law; energy; health care; and environmental protection. The U.S. Commercial Service provides U.S. business internships for Kazakhstanis, supports Kazakhstani businesses through a matchmaker program, disseminates information on U.S. goods and services, and has recently implemented a good governance program. The Peace Corps has more than 120 volunteers working throughout Kazakhstan in business education, English teaching, and the development of environmental non-governmental organizations.

The United States supports increased citizen participation in the public arena through support for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Dozens of grants have been provided to support NGOs that promote an independent media, legal reform, women's rights, civic education, and legislative oversight. USAID also has provided training courses for leaders and professionals.

[Fact sheet on FY 2004 U.S. Assistance to Kazakhstan.]

Military Cooperation
Kazakhstan's military participates in the U.S.'s International Military Education and Training program, Foreign Military Financing, as well as NATO's Partnership for Peace program. The U.S. Central Command conducted 22 joint military-to-military engagement events in 2002 with Kazakhstan. These events ranged from information exchanges to military exercises.

Environmental Issues
Kazakhstan has identified a number of major ecological problems within its borders--desiccation of the Aral Sea, protection of the fragile Caspian ecosystem, remediation of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing range, cleanup of the Baykonur launching facility, extremely polluted cities, desertification, and development of mechanisms for regional transboundary water management.

To address the water management problem of the Syr Darya River, Kazakhstan and other basin states, with technical assistance from USAID/Central Asia, established the 1998 Framework Agreement on the Use of Water and Energy Resources of the Syr Darya Basin. Kazakhstan became a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1999.

The United States and the European Union worked together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection to establish an independent, nonprofit, and nonpolitical Regional Environmental Center (REC) in Almaty in 2001. The mission of the REC is to strengthen civil society and support sustainable development by promoting public awareness and participation in environmental decisionmaking among the countries of Central Asia. In 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Embassy, and Ministry of Environmental Protection signed a memorandum of understanding to provide the REC with funding for its grants program.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--John M. Ordway
Secretary--Jan van der Zalm
Deputy Chief of Mission--Mark Asquino
Political-Economic Officer--Deborah Mennuti
Public Affairs Officer--Ann Welden
Senior Commercial Officer--Mitch Auerbach
Management Counselor--Russell Jones
Astana Embassy Branch Office Principal Officer--Lynne Tracy
Consul--Jeffrey Lodinsky
Regional Security Officer--Elizabeth Murphy
Defense Attach´┐Ż--COL Matthew Brand
USAID Mission Director--George Deikun
Peace Corps Director--Kristin Besch
Security Assistance Officer--MAJ Ted Donelly
Centers for Disease Control Director--Dr. Michael Favorov
Regional Medical Officer--Dr. Kim Ottwell

U.S. Embassy Contact Information
U.S. Embassy Almaty (Chancery)
99/97A Furmanova St.
Almaty, Kazakhstan 480091
Tel: 7-(3272) 50-48-02; Fax: 7-(3272) 50-24-77
U.S. Commercial Service / Public Affairs Section
Samal 2, 97 Zholdasbekov St., 11th Floor
Almaty, Kazakhstan 480099
Tel: 7-(3272) 50-49-50; Fax: 7-(3272) 50-49-67, 50-48-74
E-mail: almaty.office.box@mail.doc.gov

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
41 Kazybek Street
Almaty, Kazakhstan 480100
Tel: 7-(3272) 50-76-12, 50-76-17; Fax: 7-(3272)50-76-36

Peace Corps
100 Shevchenko St., 5th floor
Almaty, Kazakhstan 480072
Tel: 7-(3272) 69-29-84; Fax: 7-(3272) 58-23-15

Business Customs
In terms of business customs, Kazakhstan is more European than Asian. It is customary to shake hands and call people by their first names at business meetings, as well as at informal get-togethers. However, men generally do not shake women's hands in company. Business attire is generally a suit and tie for men and a suit or business dress for women. Small gifts--pens, company logo pins, memo, and books--are frequently given at the end of an initial meeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are the norm, often in both Russian and English.

Kazakhstani business people are generally less direct than American business people, and what can be accomplished in a few meetings in the United States might take more in Kazakhstan, requiring patience and discipline on the part of the U.S. business people. An experienced and competent interpreter can add invaluable context to your business meetings.

It is common in Kazakhstan to have dinner with business contacts, but usually only after establishing business contacts in a more formal setting. Business attire is worn. Usually diners share a bottle of vodka or cognac and offer toasts, stating their desire for a fruitful business relationship and warm personal relations between partners. After-hours informal meetings, dinners and toasts, as well as weekend hunting and barbecues can be very important to forge business relations.

More Information
Entry requirements. A valid passport and visa are required. The Kazakhstani Embassy in Washington, DC and the Kazakhstani Consulate in New York issue visas. As of February 2004, an invitation is no longer required for single-entry business and tourist visas, but multiple-entry visas require an invitation from an individual or organizational sponsor in Kazakhstan. The U.S. Embassy in Almaty does not issue letters of invitation to citizens interested in private travel to Kazakhstan. All travelers, even those simply transiting Kazakhstan for less than 72 hours, must obtain a Kazakhstani visa before entering the country. Travelers should be aware that overstaying the validity period of a visa will result in fines and delays upon exit. Travelers may be asked to provide proof at the border of their onward travel arrangements. Travelers transiting through Kazakhstan are reminded to check that their visas allow for sufficient number of entries to cover each transit trip and to check the length of validity of the visa. Crossing the land border to and from the neighboring Kyrgyz Republic can result in delays or demands from border officials to pay fines. For complete information concerning entry requirements, U.S. citizens should contact the Kazakhstani Embassy at 1401 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036, tel. (202) 232-5488, fax (202) 232-5845, e-mail kazakh.consul@verizon.net, or homepage http://www.kazakhembus.com. Contact also the Kazakhstani Consulate at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 586, New York, NY 10017, tel. (212) 888-3024, fax (212) 888-3025, e-mail kzconsulny@un.int, or see the homepage http://www.kazconsulny.org.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure. All children adopted in Kazakhstan after May 2003 must obtain exit stamps from both the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs before departing.

OVIR registration. There are local Kazakhstani registration requirements. All travelers staying for more than 5 calendar days must register with the Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR) within that time period. OVIR offices are located in Almaty, Astana, and all other major cities. Visitors who do not register may have to pay fines upon departure and their departure may be delayed. All visitors who plan to stay more than 30 days also must present to the OVIR office within 30 days of arrival a certificate indicating a negative HIV test conducted no more than 1 month before registration. Evidence of an HIV test performed abroad is acceptable. Testing also may be done at the Center for the Prevention and Control of AIDS (7 Talgarskaya Street, Almaty).

Registration/embassy location. Americans living in or visiting Kazakhstan are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy Consular Section in Almaty and obtain updated information on travel and security within Kazakhstan. Registration with the Embassy is different from Kazakhstani OVIR registration. It can help the U.S. Embassy contact you in case of an emergency, and it can streamline replacement of a lost or stolen passport. The U.S. Embassy in Almaty is 11 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. The Embassy Consular Section is located at 97 Zholdasbekova, Samal-2, Almaty 480099, tel. 7-3272- 50-48-02, fax 7-3272-50 -48-84, e-mail ConsularAlmaty@state.gov or web site http://www.usembassy-kazakhstan.freenet.kz/consular/index.html.