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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 culture is still developing as the people
try to define themselves after years of Soviet rule. However, the Soviet rule also
saw the immigration of many ethnic Russians, making the culture more similar to
that of Russia in many ways. In the recent past the country's daily way of life
was fairly stagnant, but in recent years there's been a 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 so the people are searching out their new path
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. In many ways 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 culture 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. Some people fought the changes, while others had no choice but to accept
this new lifestyle. In order to help prevent arguments from the region as a whole,
ethnic Russians were 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,
although most Kazakhs love the outdoors and the vast lands around them.
Today the Kazakh way of life is not dissimilar to much of the world as the people
are generally urbanized and 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. Even today the traditional dress,
language, religion and foods are rooted in this past, although in a creative and
modern city like Astana it may be difficult to find.
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