Society

Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan

Almost two-thirds of citizens are ethnic Kazakhs, while Russians comprise by far the largest ethnic minority.

Kazakhstan, officially referred to as the Republic of Kazakhstan is a transcontinental county located in the northern Central Asia and extends to parts of Eastern Europe. It is considered the largest landlocked country in the world covering approximately 1,052,100 square miles. It is the most developed nation in Central Asia and generates close to 60% of the GDP of the region. It has a population of 18 million and a population density of roughly 6 people per square mile, making it one of the most sparsely populated country. The Kazakhs are the largest ethnic group, the Russians make up 23.7% of the population, Other ethnic groups include the Uzbeks, Germans and Ukrainians.

Major Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan

Kazakhs

The Kazakhs are the largest ethnic group in Kazakhstan with an estimated population of 11 million people as at 2007. They use the Kazakh language which is written in Cyrillic, but some Kazakhs living in China use an Arabic-derived alphabet. In 2006, the president of Kazakhstan proposed a shift from the use of Cyrillic to Latin. The attempt failed with critics arguing that this would erode the rich history of the community and the country as a whole. The ancestors of the community belonged to Tengrism religion and later converted to Christianity. Islam was introduced later when Islam missionaries entered Central Asia. Islam took root and is now the predominant religion among the community members. There are many prominent Kazakhs in Kazakhstan including a large number of the heads of state of the country. Other include businessmen like Timur Kulibayev and Olag Novachuk.

Russians

Russians were first reported in the country in the 16th century as traders. The Russian army under the Soviet Union later invaded and colonized the country after defeating the Kazakhs who were at the time in the war with Kalmyks. In the early 1990s, the majority of Russians opted to go back to Russia citing lack of economic opportunities in Kazakhstan. The government also set up policies which sought to reaffirm the position of the Kazakhs as the real owners of the country. For example, the Kazakh language was made a national language. The Russian language was made to be an inter-ethnic language but was stripped the status of the national or official language. In 200, the Russian president met with a representative of the Russian community living in the country and a proposal for the departure of the remaining Russians back to their countries of origin was drafted. However, the proposal is yet to see the light of the day as the Russian government has not offered the necessary resources for repatriation.

Uzbeks

The Uzbeks live in Chimkent Oblast which is in the southern parts of the country. They are the third largest ethnic group in the country making them one of the major minorities. They are believed to have come from Iran and are predominantly Sunni Muslims. The history of the Uzbeks in the country can be traced back in the 13th century following the Mongol invasion in central Asia. The Kazakhs and the Uzbeks have been in constant cold wars due to their different lifestyles with the Kazakhs being xenophobic towards the Uzbeks sedentary lifestyles. This rivalry has continued up to date with reports that there are deliberate efforts to drive Uzbeks from all leadership roles including in religious leadership. This I true even in the southern parts of the country where they are the majority. Schools that teach the Uzbek language have to obtain permission from the state and receive very minimal monetary support.

Other Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan

Other minorities living in the country include Germans and Ukrainians. These are however not native communities in Kazakhstan.

Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan

RankEthnic GroupsShare of Population in Kazakhstan, 2009 Census
1Kazakhs63.1%
2Russians23.7%
3Uzbeks2.8%
4Ukrainians2.1%
5Germans1.1%

Other Peoples7.2%

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