Kazakhstan is an Asian nation that has the distinction of being the largest landlocked nation in the world. The Kazakh economy is one of the best developed in the world. In 2017, the Kazakh gross domestic product was roughly $159.4 billion which was an increase from the 2016 gross domestic product of $137.3 billion. Kazakhstan's economic success can be attributed to the ambitious government policies as well as the country's wealth of natural resources that include arable land, minerals, and beautiful scenery.
One of Kazakhstan's most important natural resources is its beautiful scenery which attracts significant numbers of tourists to the country. According to the Kazakhstan government, in 2016, more than 6.5 million tourists visited the country. Most of the tourists who visited Kazakhstan in 2016 were from Uzbekistan and Russia which can be attributed to the fact that citizens of those countries can visit the country without a visa for a limited time. One of the country's most popular tourist destinations includes the capital Astana which is mainly popular due to the presence of the Bayterek Tower and the Ak Orda Presidential Palace. The city of Almaty is also considered one of Kazakhstan's most beautiful regions, and it receives large numbers of tourists each year. Despite the significant number of tourists who visit the country, the tourism sector is one of Kazakhstan's smallest industries since it only contributed 3% of the country's gross domestic product in 2014. The Kazakhstani government has put in place several measures to ensure the growth of the country's tourism sector for it to contribute more to the country's economy. The Kazakhstani government planned to invest more than $4 billion in the tourism industry to grow the tourism. Experts believe that growing Kazakhstan's tourism industry would add more than 300,000 jobs to the country's economy.
In 2015, data from the World Bank indicated that forests covered roughly 1.23% of Kazakhstan's area. The data showed that Kazakhstan's forest cover has been decreasing at a rapid rate and from 1990 to 2010 Kazakhstan lost 3.3% of its forests. The decline in Kazakhstan's forest cover is mainly due to the utilization of the woods for timber. Kazakhstan's forests are primarily crucial because they provide a home to more than 700 species of animals 6% of which are considered threatened. The decline in Kazakhstan's forest cover poses a significant threat to the continued existence of the country's wildlife. According to the Kazakhstani government, illegal logging was the most significant threat facing forests in the country. The government of Kazakhstan has set aside huge sums of money to protect the country's forests. A large portion of the money that the Kazakhstan government set aside would be used to purchase firefighting equipment to protect the country's forests from forests fires which are common during the dry months. The Kazakhstan government partnered with the World Bank to protect the country's forests.
Even though Kazakhstan is a landlocked nation, fish are some of its most important natural resources. Since ancient times, fishing has been vital to the Kazakhstani people. Most of the commercial fishing in Kazakhstan takes place in the country's lakes and rivers such as the Irtysh River, the Ural River, and Lake Balkash. Kazakhstani fishers also rely on the fish within the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea. Within the Ural-Caspian basin that includes the Ural River and the Caspian Sea, some of the fish that are often caught include pikeperch and sturgeons. In the Aral-Syrdarya basin that covers the Aral Sea and the Syr-Darya River, some of the most common fish species include the catfish, asp, and white eye bream. According to the Kazakhstan government, most of the fishermen in the country used vessels that were constructed before the country achieved independence. In 2007 there were roughly 710 fishing vessels registered in the state more than half of which belonged to private citizens and organizations. According to the Kazakhstan government, the fishing sector employed more than 17,000 people in 2006. During the late 20th century, particularly in the 1980s, the fishing sector provided work to more than 60,000 people. The Kazakhstani government identified illegal fishing as the most significant challenge facing the country's fishing sector. According to the government, more than two-thirds of the fish caught in Kazakhstan are not reported.
According to the World Bank, in 2014, roughly 10.89% of the country's land area was classified as arable. The data indicated that since 2008, the amount of arable land in Kazakhstan has been increasing at a gradual rate. The agricultural sector is one of Kazakhstan's most important sectors as it contributed roughly 4.8% of the country's gross domestic product in 2017. The Kazakhstani labor department estimated that the agricultural sector employed roughly 18% of the country's labor force. Kazakhstani farmers grow a wide variety of crops such as cotton, rice, and barley. In the mountains of Kazakhstan, farmers grow grapes which are used in the production of Kazakh Wine. The Kazakh government estimated that the country produced roughly 6 million gallons of wine each year. Despite the vast quantities of wine that the country produces, most of the wine that the Kazakhstani people consume is bought from other nations.
Oil and Gas
Kazakhstan's most essential natural resources are oil and gas, and the country has the potential to be one of the leading oil exporters in the region. Kazakhstan's oil reserves are estimated to be the 11th largest in the world. On the other hand, Kazakhstan has more than 80 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas. During the 21st century, Kazakhstan's oil and gas industry has grown exponentially mainly due to investments from other nations which have been encouraged by the government. The most significant challenge facing the Kazakhstan oil and gas industry is the fluctuation of prices in the international market.
Kazakhstan has been blessed with a variety of minerals such as uranium and salt which are some of its most important natural resources. Kazakhstan's uranium reserves are the second largest in the world. Kazakhstan also has significant deposits of coal which are of great economic significance to the country.
Challenges Facing the Kazakhstan Economy
One of the most significant challenges that faced the Kazakhstani economy was the collapse of the Soviet Union which significantly reduced the market for the country's goods. In the modern era, the most significant challenge facing the Kazakhstani economy is the fluctuating prices of oil and gas.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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