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Overview

Jag shemesh! - Welcome to Kazakhstan. Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat may have been the world's worst ever cultural ambassador, but he has at least helped turn the inquisitive gaze of adventurous travelers to this huge but young country, the size of Western Europe. Much of the continental-sized country is flat Eurasian steppe, tied to Russia by language, culture and history, a place of exile, nuclear test sites, cosmodromes and environmental disaster, home to a mix of former nomads and oil workers. But there's more on offer here. Almaty, the former capital and biggest city, is Central Asia's most cosmopolitan metropolis, flush ...

Jag shemesh! - Welcome to Kazakhstan. Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat may have been the world's worst ever cultural ambassador, but he has at least helped turn the inquisitive gaze of adventurous travelers to this huge but young country, the size of Western Europe. Much of the continental-sized country is flat Eurasian steppe, tied to Russia by language, culture and history, a place of exile, nuclear test sites, cosmodromes and environmental disaster, home to a mix of former nomads and oil workers. But there's more on offer here. Almaty, the former capital and biggest city, is Central Asia's most cosmopolitan metropolis, flush with petrodollars. South and east are the "heavenly mountains" of the Tian Shan, offering superb alpine trekking and mountain climbing on the borders with China and Kyrgyzstan. Beyond here, grass roots community tourism projects across the country unlock the door to local Kazakh hospitality and homestays, as well as horse riding and hiking in several lovely nature reserves. More than anything, Kazakhstan will appeal to fans of off-beat travel, drawn to the strange new capital of Astana, the remains of the Aral Sea or the remoter corners of the Altai Mountains. And you'll likely have it to yourself.

Bradley Mayhew
About the Expert

Bradley Mayhew is the author of more than 25 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, including Central Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Jordan, and is coauthor of the Odyssey guide to Uzbekistan.

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Bradley Mayhew for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Asia, Kazakhstan borders Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and China.
  • Language: Kazakh, Russian, English
  • Currency: Tenge
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall