Kazakhstan, officially referred to as the Republic of Kazakhstan is a transcontinental county located in Central Asia and extends to parts of Eastern Europe. It is 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 countries. Kazakhs are the largest ethnic group, followed by Russians who make up 23.7% of the population. Other ethnic groups include the Uzbeks, Germans and Ukrainians.
Major Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan
The Kazakhs are the largest ethnic group in Kazakhstan with an estimated population of 11 million people as of 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.
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.
Most Uzbeks in Kazakhstan 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 largest minority groups. 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.
Other Ethnic Groups Of Kazakhstan
Other minorities living in the country include Germans and Ukrainians.