Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country and, as the world's ninth biggest country by area, is the largest of the former states of the former Soviet Union apart from Russia itself. It has borders with Russia, China, and the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan which it dwarfs.
Its lack of significant historical sites and endless, featureless steppe repel as many visitors as are captivated by the emptiness and mystery of this goliath state. Kazakhstan is the richest country in the region due to its large oil and natural gas reserves.
Sex Scene and Prostitution
In Kazakhstan prostitution itself is legal, but acts facilitating prostitution, such as operating a brothel or prostitution ring, are illegal. Forced prostitution and prostitution connected to organized crime are prohibited. Prostitution is a serious problem. NGOs reported that criminal prostitution rings often included local law enforcement officials.
Prostitution became widespread in many big cities lately. Usually prostitutes work in hotels, night clubs or saunas. Also, local classified newspapers typically have a whole section dedicated to escort services. Many sex workers in Kazakhstan are in fact from neighbouring less economically developed states such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
| Almaty Province |
the ex-capital, treks into Tian Shan, historic towns, ancient petroglyphs
| Kazakhstani North |
cold steppes home to the national capital, the country's Russian minority, and industrial cities
| Kazakh Desert |
ancient desert cities dotting the Silk Road
| Altai |
remote and beautiful alpine scenery
| Caspian Basin |
Caspian beaches and oil industry, and where local tribal affiliations still run strong
| Central Highlands |
endless and sparsely populated steppes
- Astana (previously, Aqmola) — second largest city, and capital since December 1998. Worth visiting but you only need a few days to get to the most worthwhile sights. This city is brand new and being built very rapidly. If you want to see what Akmola (Astana previous name) looks like, you need to do it now as the old city is disappearing very rapidly.
- Aktau; a city of approximately 200,000 citizens located on the banks of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.
- Atyrau — oil capital of Kazakhstan, with large onshore Tengiz and offshore Kashagan oilfields nearby
- Almaty — largest city, and capital prior to December 1998. Definitely a must-see. Beside the Soviet-style city, you may want to go to the Medeu and other places in the nearby mountains.
- Pavlodar — Kazakh city in the very north of the country, founded in 1720, closed until 1992 for its military significance in tank production, and home to one very impressive mosque, as well as other interesting Orthodox churches and various memorials
- Semey (Semipalatinsk) — university city notorious for the atomic bomb testing site near by
- Shymkent — Kazakhstan's third largest city, very crowded with Uzbek people, it is an old market town located near Tashkent and some beautiful mountains; now booming with oil exploration,
- Turkestan — another ancient city, long a border town between the Persian culture to the south and the Turkic nomadic culture to the north, now majority Uzbek and home to several important cultural-historical monuments
- Ust-Kamenogorsk — mining city in the Altai mountains that's majority Russian speaking
Gay & Lesbian
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Kazakhstan face legal challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Kazakhstan, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
In 2009, Kazakhstan co-sponsored the opposing statement to the United Nations Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
Kazakhstan is a country where the population has a long history of balanced, harmonious, multi-ethnic social interaction, where both guests and locals are treated with respect during everyday life, with certain exceptions (described below in more detail). Visitors will experience hospitality and warmth in this lovely country. However, your personal safety may vary from very safe to relatively unsafe depending on the location, time of the day, circumstances, and your personal behaviour. Unlike other former Soviet Union countries, black, South Asian and Middle Eastern people should feel comfortable.
Generally, Kazakh cities are safe during the day, but certain parts of major cities should be avoided at night to reduce risk (e.g. (i) all parts of Almaty below Tashkentskaya street and all microdistrict areas within these zones, certain other remote microdistricts, and areas with high concentration of shabby private houses (such as Shanyrak); (ii) in smaller towns, e.g. Taraz, Balkhash, Shymkent, Taldykorgan, Uralsk, Semey and Ust-Kamenogorsk, going out at night should not present a significant risk, though infrequent muggings do occur; and (iii) all smaller towns such as Shar, Stepnogorsk, and Temirtau may present a higher risk of mugging and violent crime).