Capital City: Astana
Population: 17,522,010 (July 2012 est.)
Area: 2,724,900 sq km
GDP per capita: $13,000
Literacy Rate: 99.5%
Life Expectancy: 69.63 years
Religion: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%
Borders: China 1,533 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,224 km, Russia 6,846 km, Turkmenistan 379 km, Uzbekistan 2,203 km
Natural Resources: Major deposits of petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, manganese, chrome ore, nickel, cobalt, copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, bauxite, gold, uranium.
Native Kazakhs are a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the 13th century. The area was conquered by Russia in the 18th century and Kazakhstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936.
During the 1950s and 1960s as part of the agricultural “Virgin Lands” program, Soviet citizens were encouraged to help cultivate Kazakhstan’s northern pastures. This influx of immigrants (mostly Russians, but also some other deported nationalities) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber native Kazakhs.
Independence in 1991 resulted in many of these newcomers to emigrate back to their home nations. Kazakhstan’s economy is larger than those of all the other Central Asian states combined, mainly owing to the country’s vast natural resources and a recent history of political stability.
Capital City: Ulaanbaatar
Population: 3,179,997 (July 2012 est.)
Area: 1,564,116 sq km
GDP per capita: $4,500
Literacy Rate: 97.8%
Life Expectancy: 68.63 years
Religion: Buddhist Lamaist 50%, Shamanist and Christian 6%, Muslim 4%, none 40%
Borders: China 4,677 km, Russia 3,543 km
Natural Resources: Oil, coal, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, fluorspar, gold, silver, iron.
The Mongols gained fame in the 13th century when under Chinggis Khan they established a huge Eurasian empire through conquest. After his death the empire was divided into several powerful Mongol states, but these broke apart in the 14th century.
The Mongols eventually returned to their original steppe homelands, and in the late 17th century came under Chinese rule. Mongolia won its independence in 1921, with Soviet backing, and a Communist regime was installed in 1924. The modern country of Mongolia, however, represents only a part of the Mongols’ historical homeland; more Mongols live in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China than in Mongolia.
Following a peaceful democratic revolution, the ex-communist Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) won elections in 1990 and 1992, but was defeated by the Democratic Union Coalition (DUC) in the 1996 parliamentary election. The MPRP won an overwhelming majority in the 2000 parliamentary election, but lost seats in the 2004 election, and shared power with democratic coalition parties in 2004-08. The MPRP regained a solid majority in the 2008 parliamentary elections but, nevertheless, formed a coalition government with the Democratic Party that lasted until January 2012. In 2010, the MPRP voted to retake the name of the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), a name it used in the early 1920s.
* – Information on this page sourced from the CIA World Factbook