COUNTRYAAH, Kazakhstan can be geographically divided into four main
areas: the Kyrgyz steppes in the northwest, the highlands in
the northeast, the lowlands north of the Aral Sea and
northeast of the Caspian Sea in the south, and the mountain
areas on the border with Kyrgyzstan and China in the
The Kirgiz steppe is on the whole a low lying area with
black soils to the north and chestnut soils further south.
The area, like most of Kazakhstan, has a marked continental
climate. The Astrachan, just outside the area, in the
Russian Federation, has an average temperature in January of
−7 ～ C and in July of 25 ～ C; the annual rainfall is only
150 mm. The area, which was originally overgrown by a sparse
steppe vegetation, was subjected to cultivation attempts in
the 1950s. The erosion of the vegetation-covered steppe led
to increased evaporation and dehydration. Within 15 years, 3
million ha were transferred to naked sand.
The highlands of Kazakhstan occupy most of the Republic's
surface. The area is on the whole a pen plane, where the
Paleozoic bedrock had already broken down at the beginning
of the Triassic into a slightly undulating plain. Vegetation
is predominantly grassland in the north and peninsula in the
Even drier are the lowlands in the south, where the
annual rainfall can be less than 100 mm. The irrigation
around Syr-Darja is one of the causes of the Aral Sea's
catastrophically sinking water level.
The mountain areas in the south-east have metamorphic and
pleated bedrock. in Altaj with peaks exceeding 3,000 m.
wolf, brown bear and snow leopard. In this area is also the
country's largest city Alma-Ata, whose name, 'the father of
apples', testifies to an important garden culture.
There are three national parks in Kazakhstan. The largest
are Altun Emel and Ele Alatau, both of which became national
parks in 1996. Several other nature-protected areas are
considerably larger, among other things. Andasaysky,
Alma-Atinskij in the mountains near the capital, and
Pribalchashsky on Lake Balchasj.
Astana, 1961-92 Tselinograd, 1992-98 Akmola, the capital of Kazakhstan;
835,200 residents (2014). The name means 'capital' in Kazakh. The city replaced
Almaty (formerly Alma Ata) as its capital in 1997; since then it has been
characterized by economic and population growth and great construction activity.
The original city is on the right bank of the river Ishim (tributary to Irtysh),
but new neighborhoods have been shot up on the left bank.
Founded by Cossacks in 1830, the town was under the name of the Akmolinsk
trade and service town for a huge and quite fertile steppe area. The fact that
the city, located 900 km NW of Almaty, was designated as the capital, must
include: is seen as a desire to bring Kazakhstan closer to Russia and Europe.
Astana is a major railway hub with a 1990 railway station and connections to the
rest of Central Asia, China and Russia.