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name comes from two words: the Persian word stan means "place of"
or "country" and the word kazakh. Kazakh is an ancient
Turkic word that means "independent" or "free spirit," referring
to the nomadic culture of the people.
Қазақстан / Казахстан
Life in Kazakhstan is confusing and their daily way
of life is under a stagnant, then rapid transition as the people seek out who they
are and what they want. Unlike many countries, the lifestyle of Kazakhstan is a
relatively recent phenomenon due to the destruction of the old culture and lifestyle.
Historically the lands of Kazakhstan were essentially
uninhabited as the cold proved too much for most people to handle. In fact the only
people who called the land home were nomadic, shifting with the seasons to make
the most of the weather and in order to feed their grazing wildlife. This is truly
the core of Kazakh culture even today.
The Kazakh flag is on a blue background,
which represents the culture and ethnicity of the people, the sky, and is also of
religious importance to the people. In the center of the flag is a sun, which symbolizes
the source of life and energy and exemplifies wealth and plenitude; the rays on
the sun are shaped like grain, which is an important crop in the country. Beneath
the sun is an eagle, which represents freedom, power, and flight to the future and
has long been a symbol of Kazakh tribes. The vertical design is the national pattern
called koshkar-muiz, which means "horns of the ram."
Name: Republic of Kazakhstan
Independence: December 16, 1991
Population: 17,736,896 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Kazakh, Russian, & others
Language: Qazaq (Kazakh) & Russian
Religion: Muslim & Russian Orthodox
Although the Kazakh lifestyle is based on a nomadic
lifestyle of raising animals and finding seasonal foods, much of this past was destroyed
when the Soviets arrived in the early 1900s. To this new government, the nomadic
life may have proved enough to sustain life, but didn't prove profitable so
the Soviets forced the people to settle in cities as industrialization was forced
upon the people.
The Soviets demanded the building of high rise apartment buildings, stressed education,
improved healthcare, expanded infrastructure, and essentially urbanized the entire
country. This was truly culture shock on the people as many fought the changes,
while others had no choice but to accept this new lifestyle. In order to help prevent
arguments ethnic Russians were also sent into the region
to run these new factories and other industries.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the people are unsure of what they want
or who they are. They seek their traditional culture and identity, but also realize
many of the advantages of the new technology that the Soviets introduced. The people
claim to be descendants of nomads, but don't want the lifestyle themselves and
love the outdoors and the vast lands around them, but refuse to give up their comfortable
lives in the cities.
Today the Kazakh way of life is not dissimilar to
much of the world as the people are generally urbanized who work for larger and
larger companies. They get their food from the same shops and struggle with issues
any other person struggles with, but they also struggle with who they want to be.
Their culture, unlike their way of life, is still very much rooted in their past
as nomads roaming the vast unknown freely as they live off the land and their animals,
which are so important to their survival.
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