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Library of Congress – Federal Research Division

Country Profile: Kazakhstan, December 2006

GEOGRAPHY

Location: Kazakhstan is located in the center of the continent of Asia, with a coastline only on the landlocked Caspian Sea. Russia forms its entire northern border.

Size: At 2,717,000 square kilometers, Kazakhstan’s area is about four times that of Texas, making Kazakhstan the ninth largest nation in the world. Some 47,500 kilometers of the total area is occupied by bodies of water.

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Land Boundaries: Kazakhstan has common borders with the following countries: China (1,533 kilometers), Kyrgyzstan (1,051 kilometers), Russia (6,846 kilometers), Turkmenistan (379 kilometers), and Uzbekistan (2,203 kilometers).

Disputed Territory: Post-Soviet border disputes with China and Kyrgyzstan have been settled, but numerous points along the Uzbekistan border remained in dispute in 2006. Kazakhstan has signed seabed distribution treaties with Azerbaijan and Russia on resource exploitation in the Caspian Sea. Remaining unresolved in 2006 was the distribution of the Caspian Sea water column among the littoral states.

Length of Coastline: Kazakhstan’s only coastline runs 1,894 kilometers along the landlocked Caspian Sea.

Maritime Claims: Jurisdiction over oil, natural gas, and other resources in the Caspian Sea is in dispute with other littoral states.

Topography: Kazakhstan’s topography varies considerably by region. In the east and northeast, about 12 percent of its territory is occupied by parts of the Altay and Tian Shan mountain ranges with elevations of up to 6,995 meters. More than three-quarters of the country is desert or semi- desert, with elevations less than 500 meters. Along the Caspian Sea, elevations are below sea level.

Principal Rivers: Seven of Kazakhstan’s rivers are 1,000 kilometers or more in length: the Chu, Emba, Ili, Irtysh, Ishim, Syr Darya, and Ural. The Irtysh and Ural rivers flow partly through Kazakhstan and partly through Russia. The Ili River flows from China into Lake Balkhash in eastern Kazakhstan. The Syr-Darya flows from eastern Uzbekistan across Kazakhstan into the Aral Sea.

Climate: Because Kazakhstan has no exposure to maritime weather patterns, the entire country has a continental climate featuring cold winters and hot summers. Rainfall, which varies from 100 to 200 millimeters per year, generally is heaviest in the south and in the eastern mountains.

Natural Resources: In 2006 Kazakhstan’s estimated reserves of oil and natural gas were 35 billion barrels and 1.9 trillion cubic meters, respectively. Future exploration of offshore fields in the Caspian Sea is expected to significantly raise the oil estimate. The country is believed to

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