Kazakhstan, officially Republic of Kazakhstan, is located on the junction of two continents — Europe and Asia. It borders on Russia in the north and west, China in the east, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan in the south. The territory of Kazakhstan stretches almost 3000 km from the Volga and the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east; the distance from west Siberian plain in the north to the Tien Shan Mountains in the south is about 1700 km. The south-west territory of Kazakhstan borders isolated reservoirs of a significant part of the Caspian Sea and Aral Sea. Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world. Climate is continental, with cold winters and hot summers, arid and semi-arid.
Kazakhstan is country with a rich historical background. Located in the center of Eurasia, Kazakhstan has found itself at the crossroads of the world’s most ancient civilization and trade routes, social and economic, cultural and ideological relations between East and West, North and South, Europe and Asia. Around 40-12 thousand years ago – appearance of modern human Homo Sapiens. Formation of races and the clan (with the matriarchal basis), development of art, Archaic Homo Sapiens probably had speech, tools, and buried their dead.
Ancient settlements of Kazakhstan: Aschisayskaya (Southern Kazakhstan), Betpak, Carabas (Central Kazakhstan) and Shulbinka (East Kazakhstan). At IV-III millennium BC — appearance of copper wares. About 100 settlements with foundries were found . At the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC – beginning of VIII century BC — in Central Kazakhstan extraction of ore. Nomadic pastoralism arises. The collapse of the matriarchy. Andronovo culture — the worship of the sky, sun and fire.
Nomadic pastoralism — one of the earliest forms of world civilization historically formed in the northern steppe zone of Central Asia. A significant achievement of the Neolithic period in Central Asia was a horsemanship. The nomadic tribes that inhabited the vast steppes territory from Mongolian mountains to Dnieper and Danube were known as the Saks by the Persians and by the Greeks as the Scythians. Herodotus in the «History» gave a description of the Sakas (VII-III centuries BC) and mentioned their neighborhood with Achaemenid Iran, as well as their struggle against of the Persian conquerors, the kings Cyrus, Darius I.
In the middle of the 1-st millennium in the vast steppes from Mongolia Mountains till the Caspian Sea started formation an ancient union of nomadic tribes and emergence of statehood.
In VII-VIII centuries AD the interests of Chinese Tang Dynasty and the Arab Abbasid Caliphate for control of the Syr – Darya River clashed in the battle of the Talas River. Arabians gained a victory by support of karluks. After borrowing Chinese secret of paper-making, process of penetration and wide spread Islam and Arabic script in south region was started.
Joining of Kazakhstan was part of a centuries-old territorial and political expansion of Russia in the adjacent territories.
It is significant that, after the actual collapse of the USSR (on December 8, 1990 was signed «Belovezhskoe agreement») Kazakhstan declared itself an independent country on December 16, 1991, the last of the Soviet republic to do so.
Kazakhstan recognized as independent state first by Turkey, next by the United States and then a neighboring China. Now, in Central of Eurasia five post-Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan – and Turkey again, as it is were for centuries ago, combine into a Turkic belt from China to the Bosporus.
National clothes of Kazakhs absorbed all the best that could create art and talent of craftsmen for centuries. Nomadic lifestyle reflected in traditional Kazakh outer clothes allowed free movement during long trips in the saddle, were warm and not heavy in the winter and cool in the summer. In contrast to the traditional clothing of some other nations, the Kazakh costume is simple in composition, is appropriate and has a strong elegance due to the fur trimming, embroidery and inlay. It can not be found abundance of ornament and dazzling diversity of colors. Of course, ornament plays a certain role in creating of the image, but not major. It also should be note that various ornaments have appeared in Kazakh costume, not just for beauty, but in order to be able to determine a person’s position in nomadic society, belonging to a certain social group. In Kazakh national dress, national skills and creativity are clearly reflected.
For men’s clothing is chapan (caftan; a robe with a belt), which is mainly made of velvet, soft felt skull-caps, high hats – kalpak and caps of fox fur – malakay.
National clothing of Kazakh women — is dress of white cotton or colored silk dress and velvet waistcoat heavily ornamented by embroidery and silk headscarf or cap. The women’s dress was more colorful and detailed. Married women had various head covers. Till the birth of the first child, the wife wore her marriage head cover, which was tall (up to 70 cm), cone-shaped, and decorated with precious stones and fur. In the past this head cover showed her social position. After the birth of the first child till she died, the wife had a special head cover of white cloth, made of two parts: the lower, kimeshek, had an opening for the face, and the upper part was a turban. In some areas of Kazakhstan, the kimeshek was replaced by a white shawl with a turban, with varying forms in different regions. Kazakh women’s wedding head coverings, called saukele — tall cone-shaped with owl feathers and abundance of ornaments are notable.
In Kazakh national cuisine is the best reflected particular lifestyle of the nomads, their customs and traditions. An order of plate service preserved since ancient times. Traditionally, Kazakhs cuisine starts with milk beverages — guests are offered koumiss (fermented mare’s milk), shubat (base on camel milk) or airan. One of the most delicious meals of any dastarkhan is Kazakh style cooked meat. The main national dish of Kazakhs is beshbarmak. Beshbarmak is prepared from mutton, horse meat or beef. Flavorful meat is eaten with boiled and thinly rolled out pieces of dough. Next important part of meals is a tea with milk or cream, baursaki (fried doughnuts), irimshik, kurt, raisins, nuts and dried pitted and halved apricot. Kazakhstan cuisine includes not only traditional national Kazakhstan dishes but the best dishes of Uzbek, Russian, Tatar, Korean and meals of the representatives of other nationalities living in Kazakhstan.
Kazakh musical instruments.
At the present time there are more than 50 kinds of Kazakh musical instruments. Each instrument has a peculiar only to its sound and traditional methods of execution. In process of creation of musical instruments has been used: wood, reed, cane, leather, bone, horn, horse hair. Kazakh popular singers — poets, akyn or zhyrshi — at all times were maters of improvisation, participated in public competition (aityses) accompanied by folk musical instruments: dombra (long-necked lute) and kobyz (an ancient Kazakh string instrument).
Traditional games: an indispensable attribute of Kazakh holidays. Among of the most popular of them is national struggle kazaksha-kures, baiga (horse races for various distances – at the 25, 50, 100 km, kokpar (riders try to grab and pull each other’s goat carcass), kyz-kuu («catch a girl»), and alty bakan (a swing on six pillars).
Culture of Kazakhstan and national traditions
Kazakhstan culture is interesting and varied. The country has a surprising combination of current technology, promotion of cultural heritage and modernity. In today’s Kazakhstan, it is warm feelings towards the national culture and national traditions. Culture of Kazakhstan is rich with historical traditions and national cultural elements.
Art of Kazakhstan
The ancient craft of Kazakhs is a hand weaving of carpets. Anciently and nowadays it is popular to decorate walls of the houses with traditional handmade carpet — syrmak.
Ornamental mastery has been developed in smith-craft. Wicker works of art from jiji grass existed. Since ancient times, embroidery is known in Kazakhstan. Unhackneyed design in embroidery is created with colored threads and beads, bugle beads, pearls and precious stones with using different materials made on fabric, leather, felt and others. Carving and engraving with wood, stone, bone – often used as decoration of household items (dishes, furniture), architectural structures. It is often combined with colorful toning, coloring, inlay with bone and metal. Carving of bone is used in combination with wood-carving.
Nature of Kazakhstan
It is probably, possible endlessly talk about magnificence of Kazakhstan’s nature. For over 1,800 kilometers, that separate southern border of Kazakhstan from the north, is replaced by several landscape areas: forest-steppe, steppe, semi desert and desert.
Territory of Kazakhstan is vast area extremely variegated and contrast: deserts with temperature contrasts, the largest natural inland water reservoirs and rivers, lost in desert plains, the highest mountains, covered with snow and ice caps, and deepest depressions below the sea level more than 100 m. Everything here is graceful, wonderful and unique.
Over 6 000 kinds of plants are growing in Kazakhstan (515 from them — only here), on its open spaces it is possible to meet about 500 kinds of birds, 178 kinds of animals, 49 kinds of reptiles, 12 kinds of amphibians, and in the rivers and lakes — 107 kinds of fishes. A variety of invertebrate animals here is even more: not only there are more then thousand kinds of insects. Mollusks, worms, spiders, crustaceous and others living in Kazakhstan are not less than 30 thousand kinds.
Region combined of common historical and cultural development of its peoples, as well as the predominant types of economic use of the territory. Since ancient times, in the foothill plain and in basins of large rivers a developed combination of agricultural oasis and unique culture of nomadic pastoralists in the vast steppes and semi- desert areas were formed. Blossomed and came into city-state’s decline of in fertile valleys, and appeared powerful powers collapsing nomads of the Great Steppe, the various ethnic groups gradually took on shape of modern nations. Despite some periods of decline and neglect, peoples knew and loved their land, were able to save and knew how to restore its natural wealth. And over the centuries have not been interrupted in the region of high culture tradition of farming and cattle-breeding, and unique crafts connected with it.
The tenge is the official currency of Kazakhstan. The tenge was brought into circulation in 1993. The ISO-4217 code is KZT. In 2007 the National Bank of Kazakhstan approved a graphical symbol for the tenge: . At present, on the territory of Kazakhstan banknote: 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10 000, as well as coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 tenge participate in the cash turnover. Currency exchange at a favorable rate is best and safely carried out in the bank or proven exchange offices.
Public holidays in the Republic of Kazakhstan
January 1-2 – New Year
January 7 – Eastern Orthodox Christmas
March 8 – International Women’s Day
March 21 through 23 – Nauryz Meyramy
May 1 – Kazakhstan People’s Unity Day
May 7 – Fatherland Defender’s Day
May 9 – Great Patriotic War against Fascism Victory Day
July 6 – Capital City Day
August 30 – The Republic of Kazakhstan Constitution Day
October 25 – Republic Day
December 16 — 17 – Independence Day
Last day of Hajj – Qurban Ayt – 10th day of 12th month of a Muslim lunar calendar of Zulhidzh – Arabic term – Eid al-Adha, Festival of Sacrifice.