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With a surface area of 1,000,000 square miles – matching that of the whole of Western Europe – Kazakhstan is a vast and diverse country located in Central Asia. Its landscape varies from flatlands to canyons, snow-capped mountains and even deserts, offering many areas of astounding beauty and a haven for lots of endangered animals.
It’s an exciting time to move to this previously little-explored country. With more and more tourists and expatriates choosing to visit or live there, the main cities are experiencing rapid growth with lots of new exciting restaurants, social clubs and businesses springing up all the time.
The Kazakhstanis are no strangers to foreigners; in fact, over 120 different nationalities call the country home. There is a strong sense of community and people are very warm and hospitable, even in the cities, and you’ll feel very welcome from the moment you arrive.
The burgeoning population and booming economy means there is a good choice of apartment accommodation available in the cities. Both Astana and Almaty have lots of options for renting. These are mainly Soviet-style apartment blocks but, in Almaty in particular, every block will usually have some kind of green space and children’s play area attached to it.
There are also larger houses available within city boundaries, which often come with their own private gardens and pools, but these are obviously much more expensive.
Mandatory education in Kazakhstan consists of primary, from the ages of 6 to 10, and then lower secondary, up until the age of 15. There are then different options for upper secondary education, ranging from continued academic teaching to vocational training.
There are quite a few international schools available in the big cities, with the highest concentration found in Almaty. These are popular with international and local students alike and can become over-subscribed so it is worth looking into them as early as possible.
Despite being such a large country, Kazakhstan is one of the least populated in the world with lots of vast open expanses. The core of Kazakh culture comes from their original pastoral nomadic lifestyle, and much significance is still given to the nomadic way of life. ‘Kazakh’ comes from an ancient Turkic word meaning ‘to wander’.
Although the temperature can plummet in winter, Kazakhstan is fully prepared for this and life goes on as before with roads cleared promptly and social activities still taking place. You’ll also enjoy warm, sun-filled summers there too.
Sharing its largest border with Russia, the influence of Russians who’ve made their home there is apparent. Russian is one of its official languages, alongside Kazakh, and by far the most widely spoken. Not surprising, therefore, that drinking strong Vodka is one of the Kazakhstani’s favourite ways to socialise too!
Kazakhstan has a very low crime rate and Astana is considered one of the safest capital cities in the world.
There are many festivals and events held throughout the year across Kazakhstan, with the largest celebration taking place on 16th December to mark independence from the Soviet Union.
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