Library of Congress – Federal Research Division
Country Profile: Kazakhstan, December 2006
possess about 1 percent of the world’s total reserves of natural gas and petroleum. Also present are significant reserves of chromium, coal, copper, gold, lead, tungsten, and zinc. Substantial amounts of good agricultural land are present, although Soviet and post-Soviet agricultural practices have greatly reduced the extent of that land.
Land Use: In 2005 some 8.3 percent of land was rated as arable, a reduction from the 1998 estimate of 11.2 percent. Less than 0.1 percent of that land was under permanent crops. About 4.8 percent is forest and woodland. The remainder is pastureland, meadows, desert, and mountains. In 2003 irrigated land totaled an estimated 35,560 square kilometers.
Environmental Factors: Most of Kazakhstan’s water supply has been polluted by industrial and agricultural runoff and, in some places, radioactivity. The Aral Sea, which is shared with Uzbekistan, has shrunk to three separate bodies of water because of water drawdowns in its tributary rivers. A Soviet-era biological weapons site is a threat because it is located on a former island in the Aral Sea that is now connected with the mainland. The reduction in the Aral Sea’s water surface has exacerbated regional climatic extremes, and agricultural soil has been damaged by salt deposits and eroded by wind. Desertification has eliminated substantial tracts of agricultural land. Plants in industrial centers lack controls on effluents into the air and water. The Semey region in the northeast has long-term radiation contamination from Soviet-era weapons testing. The Ministry of Environmental Protection is underfunded and given low priority. Some new environmental regulation of the oil industry began in 2003, but expanding oil operations on Kazakhstan’s Caspian coast add to that sea’s already grave pollution. International programs to save the Aral and Caspian seas have not received meaningful cooperation from Kazakhstan or other member nations.
Time Zones: Kazakhstan has three time zones, which are, respectively, five, six, and seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Population: In 2006 Kazakhstan’s population was estimated at 15,233,244, of which about 52 percent was female. Population density was 5.9 persons per square kilometer. Some 56 percent of the population lives in urban areas, and the population is heavily concentrated in the northeast and southeast. In the early 2000s, economic growth brought significant movement from rural to urban areas. Because the annual growth rate has been negligible in the early 2000s, population growth is a critical issue for policy makers. Although in recent years a large number of legal and illegal immigrant workers have come to Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, in 2006 the estimated net migration rate was –3.33 individuals per 1,000 population.
Demography: In 2006 some 23 percent of the population was younger than 15 years of age, and 8.2 percent was older than 64. The birthrate was 15.8 births per 1,000 population, and the death rate was 9.4 per 1,000 population. The overall fertility rate was 1.9 births per woman. The infant mortality rate was 28.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth was 61.6 years for males and 72.5 years for females.