Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia and Eastern Europe at Coordinates: . With an area of about 2,724,900 square kilometers, Kazakhstan is more than twice the combined size of the other four Central Asian states and 60% larger than Alaska. The country borders Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to the south; Russia to the north; Russia and the Caspian Sea to the west; and China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the east.
There is considerable topographical variation within Kazakhstan. The highest point is the top of the mountain Khan Tengri, on the Kyrgyz border in the Tian Shan range, with an elevation of 7,010 m (23,000 ft) above sea level; the lowest point is the bottom of the Karagiye depression at 132 m (433 ft) below sea level, in the Mangystau province east of the Caspian Sea. Most of the country lies at between 200–300 m (660–980 ft) above sea level, but Kazakhstan's Caspian shore includes some of the lowest elevations on Earth. The peak Khan Tengri in the Tian Shan Mountains (and on the border with Kyrgyzstan and China) is Kazakhstan highest elevation at 6,995 m (22,949 ft) (7,010 m (23,000 ft) with ice cap).
Many of the peaks of the Altay and Tien Shan ranges are covered with snow, year-round, and their runoff is the source for most of Kazakhstan's freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes.
Except for the Tobol, Ishim, and Irtysh rivers (the Kazakh names for which are, respectively, Tobyl, Esil, and Ertis), portions of which flow through Kazakhstan, all of Kazakhstan's rivers and streams are part of landlocked systems. They either flow into isolated bodies of water such as the Caspian Sea or simply disappear into the steppes and deserts of central and southern Kazakhstan. Many rivers, streams, and lakes are seasonal, evaporating in summer. The three largest bodies of water are Lake Balkhash, a partially fresh, partially saline lake in the east, near Almaty, the Caspian Sea, and the Aral Sea, all of which lie partially within Kazakhstan.
Some 9.4 percent of Kazakhstan's land is mixed prairie and forest or treeless prairie, primarily in the north or in the basin of the Ural River in the west. More than three-quarters of the country, including the entire west and most of the south, is either semidesert (33.2 percent) or desert (44 percent). The terrain in these regions is bare, eroded, broken uplands, with sand dunes in the Qizilqum ("The Red Sands"; in the Russian form, Kyzylkum) and Moyunqum (in the Russian form, Muyunkum (Муюнкум)) deserts, which occupy south-central Kazakhstan.
The Climate in Kazakhstan is continental, maybe a little arid. In summer the temperatures average more than 30 °C (86 °F) and in winter average −20 °C (−4.0 °F).
The climatic charts seen below are some noteworthy examples of the country's differing climates, taken from two contrasting cities (with their respective tables) representing two different parts of the country; Aktau and the Caspian Sea shore on the country's west having a distinct cold desert climate and cold semi-arid climate, while Petropavl features a climate typical to the rest of the country; an extreme variation of the humid continental climate known for its uneven rainfall distribution and drastic temperature ranges between seasons.
Despite the nation's relatively low precipitation rates and arid geography (at most of its parts at least), spring floods that can occasionally be brought on by heavy rainfall and melting snow, are not unusual in the northern and central regions of the country. In April 2017, following a winter which had left snow volumes exceeding the average by 60 percent, heavy rains wrought widespread damage and temporarily displaced thousands of people.
|Aktau (Caspian Sea shore)|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
|Petropavl (North Kazakhstan)|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The environment of Kazakhstan has been badly damaged by human activity. Most of the water in Kazakhstan is polluted by industrial effluents, pesticide and fertilizer residue, and, in some places, radioactive elements. The most visible damage has been to the Aral Sea, which as recently as the 1970s was larger than any of the Great Lakes of North America save Lake Superior. The sea began to shrink rapidly when sharply increased irrigation and other demands on the only significant tributaries, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya (the latter reaching the Aral from neighboring Uzbekistan), all but eliminated inflow. During the Soviet Era, Kazakhstan received water from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan provided oil and gas for these two nations in return. However, after the collapse of the USSR this system had collapsed and no plan to replace this system has been put in place. According to research conducted by the International Crisis Group, there is little political will to solve this problem despite Central Asia's need for mutual resource-sharing.By 1993 the Aral Sea had lost an estimated 60 percent of its volume, in the process breaking into three unconnected segments. Increasing salinity and reduced habitat have killed the Aral Sea's fish, hence destroying its once-active fishing industry, and the receding shoreline has left the former port of Aral'sk more than seventy kilometers from the water's edge. The depletion of this large body of water has increased temperature variations in the region, which in turn have affected agriculture. A much greater agricultural impact, however, has come from the salt- and pesticide-laden soil that the wind is known to carry as far away as the Himalaya Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Deposition of this heavily saline soil on nearby fields effectively sterilizes them. Evidence suggests that salts, pesticides, and residues of chemical fertilizers are also adversely affecting human life around the former Aral Sea; infant mortality in the region approaches 10 percent compared with the national rate of 2.7 percent in 1991.
By contrast, the water level of the Caspian Sea has been rising steadily since 1978 for reasons that scientists have not been able to explain fully. At the northern end of the sea, more than 10,000 square kilometres of land in Atyrau Province have been flooded. Experts estimate that if current rates of increase persist, the coastal city of Atyrau, eighty-eight other population centers, and many of Kazakhstan's Caspian oil fields could be submerged soon.
Wind erosion has also affected the northern and central parts of the republic because of the introduction of wide-scale dryland wheat farming. During the 1950s and 1960s, much soil was lost when vast tracts of Kazakhstan's prairies were plowed under as part of Khrushchev's Virgin Lands agricultural project. By the mid-1990s, an estimated 60 percent of the republic's pastureland was in various stages of desertification.
Industrial pollution is a bigger concern in Kazakhstan's manufacturing cities, where aging factories pump huge quantities of unfiltered pollutants into the air and groundwater. The former capital, Almaty, is particularly threatened, in part because of the postindependence boom in private automobile ownership.
The gravest environmental threat to Kazakhstan comes from radiation, especially in the Semey (Semipalatinsk) region of the northeast, where the Soviet Union tested almost 500 nuclear weapons, 116 of them above ground. Often, such tests were conducted without evacuating or even alerting the local population. Although nuclear testing was halted in 1990, radiation poisoning, birth defects, severe anemia, and leukemia are thought to be very common in the area.[ citation needed ]
With some conspicuous exceptions, lip service has been the primary official response to Kazakhstan's ecological problems. In February 1989, opposition to Soviet nuclear testing and its ill effects in Kazakhstan led to the creation of one of the republic's largest and most influential grass-roots movements, Nevada-Semipalatinsk, which was founded by Kazak poet and public figure Olzhas Suleymenov. In the first week of the movement's existence, Nevada-Semipalatinsk gathered more than two million signatures from Kazakhstanis of all ethnic groups on a petition to Mikhail Gorbachev demanding the end of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan. After a year of demonstrations and protests, the test ban took effect in 1990. It remained in force in 1996, although in 1995 at least one unexploded device reportedly was still in position near Semey.
Once its major ecological objective was achieved, Nevada-Semipalatinsk made various attempts to broaden into a more general political movement; it has not pursued a broad ecological or "green" agenda. A very small green party, Tabigat, made common cause with the political opposition in the parliament of 1994.
The government has established a Ministry of Ecology and Bioresources, with a separate administration for radioecology, but the ministry's programs are underfunded and given low priority. In 1994 only 23 percent of budgeted funds were actually allotted to environmental programs. Many official meetings and conferences are held (more than 300 have been devoted to the problem of the Aral Sea alone), but few practical programs have gone into operation. In 1994 the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency agreed to give Kazakhstan $62 million to help the country overcome ecological problems.
According to CIA World Factbook estimates:
According to CIA World Factbook estimates:
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Azerbaijan is a country in the Caucasus region, situated at the juncture of Europe and Western Asia. Three physical features dominate Azerbaijan: the Caspian Sea, whose shoreline forms a natural boundary to the east; the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north; and the extensive flatlands at the country's center. About the size of Portugal or the US state of Maine, Azerbaijan has a total land area of approximately 86,600 square kilometers, less than 1% of the land area of the former Soviet Union. Of the three Transcaucasian states, Azerbaijan has the greatest land area. Special administrative subdivisions are the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which is separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by a strip of Armenian territory, and the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, entirely within Azerbaijan. The status of Nagorno-Karabakh is disputed.
The Amu Darya is a major river in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Rising in the Pamir Mountains, north of the Hindu Kush, the Amu Darya is formed by the confluence of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers, in the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve on the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and flows from there north-westwards into the southern remnants of the Aral Sea. In its upper course, the river forms part of Afghanistan's northern border with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. In ancient history, the river was regarded as the boundary of Greater Iran with "Turan", which roughly corresponded to present-day Central Asia.
Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region. Situated at the juncture of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the east by Azerbaijan. Georgia covers an area of 69,700 square kilometres (26,900 sq mi).
The vast territory of Kazakhstan spans across 2,700,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi). The population density is low in Kazakhstan, and the centers of industry and agriculture are spread out and remote from world markets.
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked nation in Central Asia, west of the People's Republic of China. Less than a seventh the size of Mongolia, at 199,951 square kilometers, Kyrgyzstan is one of the smaller Central Asian states. The national territory extends about 900 km (560 mi) from east to west and 410 km (250 mi) from north to south.
Russia, the world's largest country, comprises much of northern Eurasia, and stretches over a vast expanse of Europe and Northern Asia. Due to its size, Russia displays both monotony and diversity. As with its topography, its climates, vegetation, and soils span vast distances. From north to south the East European Plain is clad sequentially in tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed and broadleaf forests, grassland (steppe), and semi-desert as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate. Siberia supports a similar sequence but is predominantly taiga. The country contains forty UNESCO biosphere reserves.
Tajikistan is nestled between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the north and west, China to the east, and Afghanistan to the south. Mountains cover 93 percent of Tajikistan's surface area. The two principal ranges, the Pamir Mountains and the Alay Mountains, give rise to many glacier-fed streams and rivers, which have been used to irrigate farmlands since ancient times. Central Asia's other major mountain range, the Tian Shan, skirts northern Tajikistan. Mountainous terrain separates Tajikistan's two population centers, which are in the lowlands of the southern and northern sections of the country. Especially in areas of intensive agricultural and industrial activity, the Soviet Union's natural resource utilization policies left independent Tajikistan with a legacy of environmental problems.
Turkmenistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea to the west, Iran and Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the north-east, and Kazakhstan to the north-west. It is the southernmost republic of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the loose federation created at the end of 1991 by most of the Post-Soviet states.
Uzbekistan is a country of Central Asia, located north of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. With an area of 447,000 square kilometers, Uzbekistan stretches 1,425 km (885 mi) from west to east and 930 km (580 mi) from north to south. Bordering Turkmenistan to the southwest, Kazakhstan to the north, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the south and east.
The transport in Azerbaijan involves air traffic, waterways and railroads. All transportation services in Azerbaijan except for oil and gas pipelines are regulated by the Ministry of Transportation of Azerbaijan Republic.
Geographically, Iran is located in West Asia and borders the Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Gulf of Oman. Its mountains have helped to shape both the political and the economic history of the country for several centuries. The mountains enclose several broad basins, on which major agricultural and urban settlements are located. Until the 20th century, when major highways and railroads were constructed through the mountains to connect the population centers, these basins tended to be relatively isolated from one another.
The Aral Sea was an endorheic lake lying between Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south which began shrinking in the 1960s and had largely dried up by the 2010s. The name roughly translates as "Sea of Islands", referring to over 1,100 islands that had dotted its waters. In the Mongolic and Turkic languages aral means "island, archipelago". The Aral Sea drainage basin encompasses Uzbekistan and parts of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
The Syr Darya, historically known as the Jaxartes, is a river in Central Asia. The name, a borrowing from the Persian language, literally means Syr Sea or Syr River, and sometimes it is referred to in this way. It originates in the Tian Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan and eastern Uzbekistan and flows for 2,256.25 kilometres (1,401.97 mi) west and north-west through Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan to the northern remnants of the Aral Sea. It is the northern and eastern of the two main rivers in the endorheic basin of the Aral Sea, the other being the Amu Darya (Jayhun). In the Soviet era, extensive irrigation projects were constructed around both rivers, diverting their water into farmland and causing, during the post-Soviet era, the virtual disappearance of the Aral Sea, once the world's fourth-largest lake. The point at which the river flows from Tajikistan into Uzbekistan is, at 300 m (980 ft) above sea level, the lowest elevation in Tajikistan.
Karakalpakstan, officially the Republic of Karakalpakstan, is an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan. It occupies the whole northwestern end of Uzbekistan. The capital is Nukus. The Republic of Karakalpakstan has an area of 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 sq mi). Its territory covers the classical land of Khwarezm, which in classical Persian literature the area was known as Kāt (کات).
The Caspian Depression or Pricaspian/Peri-Caspian Depression/Lowland is a low-lying flatland region encompassing the northern part of the Caspian Sea, the largest enclosed body of water on Earth. It is the larger northern part of the wider Aral-Caspian Depression around the Aral and Caspian seas.
Kazakhstan, has serious environmental issues such as radiation from nuclear testing sites, the shrinking of the Aral sea, and desertification of former agricultural land. These issues are due in large part to Kazakhstan's years under the Soviet Union.
The Aydar Lake is part of the man-made Aydar-Arnasay system of lakes, which covers 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 mi2). This has 3 brackish water lakes, deep basins of the south-eastern Kyzyl Kum. The lakes are expansive reservoirs of Soviet planning.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Kazakhstan:
The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central Asia, south of the fertile plains of Southern Russia in Eastern Europe, and north of the mountainous Iranian Plateau of Western Asia. It covers 371,000 km2 (143,000 sq mi) and a volume of 78,200 km3 (19,000 cu mi). It has a salinity of approximately 1.2%, about a third that of average seawater. It is bounded by Kazakhstan from mid-north to mid-east, Russia from mid-north to mid-west, Azerbaijan to the southwest, Iran to the south and adjacent corners, and Turkmenistan along southern parts of its eastern coast.
Waste management in Kazakhstan is an important concern within the country, considering the billions of tons of industrial waste produced yearly, the currently less-than-optimal state of solid waste management, and existing toxins remaining from both pollutants and Kazakhstan's historical position as the USSR's testing grounds for rockets and nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan has very few services for recycling solid waste, and waste management is currently dealt with using regional programs.
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