Welcome to Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is double the size of the other four Central Asian “stans” combined and the distance from the West of the country to the East is as far as London to Istanbul. Its multi-ethnic population of only 18 million people enjoys the highest standard of living in Central Asia thanks to abundant oil, gas and mineral reserves. Just like its brother nation Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan was originally inhabited by nomadic tribes that were forced to settle under Soviet rule. Today’s culture is an interesting mix of Russian and western influence coupled with a revival of nomadic hospitability, traditions, and customs.
Kazakhstan’s travel highlights are its vast steppes with its unique fauna and flora, trekking in the Tien Shan (“celestial mountains”) near Almaty, admiring modern architecture in the capital Astana, and strolling through Kazakhstan’s biggest city and former capital, Almaty. Visitors also get a sense of Central Asian Sufism at the ancient and beautiful Yasaui Mausoleum in Turkestan and can visit places that offer a reminder of the tragedies of the Soviet Union, such as the Stalinist labor camps (“Gulags”) memorial Alzhir nearby Astana. Travelers from most western countries enjoy a visa-free regime for stays of up to 30 consecutive days in Kazakhstan.