The newly independent state of Kazakhstan emerged in 1991 out of the former Soviet Union as the ninth-largest country on earth. It stretches from the snow-capped peaks of the Tian Shan and Altay mountains in the east, across great expanses of flat steppe to the Caspian in the west. Rich in natural resources, Kazakhstan is a major supplier of oil and of a huge range of minerals. The state has 5 neighbouring countries, namely Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The capital of the country is Astana city. Recently it was renamed into Nur-Sultan. The largest city in the country is Almaty with a population of around 2,5 million inhabitants. Around 18 million people live in Kazakhstan. Altho the country is multiethnic, the people in general are divided into 2 major groups - the majority Kazakhs and the minority Russians. Based on that, there 2 main languages spoken - Kazakh being a state language and Russian being an official language. On the basis of ethnicity, 2 world religions are practiced - Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodox Christianity.
Kazakhstan is a big state. Covering an area of more than 2,7 million square kilometers, it is the 9th largest state in the world, and equivalent in size to the whole of Western Europe. It has the disadvantage and misfortune of being the world’s largest landlocked country. The 18 million strong population gives Kazakhstan the low density of fewer than six people per square kilometer.