Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Chapter 17: Kazakhstan
Sandra Pennewiss 1. Introduction Kazakhstan is often described as featuring lunar landscapes, for a country with an impressive 2.7 million sq km (making it the ninth biggest country in the world, larger than Western Europe) of which vast areas consist of mountains and never ending steppes, that might be a befitting term. However, the Kazakhs have always known how to prosper and make use of the lands and its riches. Kazakhstan, in an almost reluctant move, was the last province of the former Soviet Union to break away and declare independence on 16 of December 1991. Immediately afterwards the country fell into a staggering recession. Supply and export chains crumbled, economic insecurity and political immaturity threw the country into a period of uncertainty. The country’s future was so much unpredictable that The Economist suggested the region could turn to Islamic Fundamentalism (Dana, 2002). Today Kazakhstan is amongst the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and has developed a custom Western-style approach to democracy and economic systems. Having introduced its own currency the Kazakh Tenge, the country joined the International Monetary Fund in July 1996, reached rank 56 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) in 2006 and was admitted to the United Nations in 1992. Aiding this runaway economic growth are the country’s vast resources of fossil fuels and mineral deposits, such as the world’s third largest oil reserves, amongst other scarce metals and gasfields. Also rather handy is the ownership of one of the world’s biggest...
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