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  • Overview

    Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world and thelargest landlocked country in the world, with a landmass thatnearly eclipses Western Europe. Although little visited byoutsiders, its rich cultural history speaks to its diversedemographics. Bordered by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan,and Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan's magnificent natural landscape hasbecome home to many people from neighbouring nations, resulting ina friendly and hospitable, albeit reserved, society.

    Kazakhstan was formerly a Soviet Republic, but gainedindependence in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union,becoming the last nation to leave the Union. The rugged terrain ofthe country boasts diverse natural beauty, ranging from the arid,treeless steppes of the centre to the snow-capped peaks andglaciers of the Tian Shan mountain range, and down to the canyons,turquoise lakes, and alpine meadows of the Almaty area.

    Rich in natural resources such as oil, natural gas and minerals,Kazakhstan has huge economic potential. Although there is stillwidespread poverty in the country, and unemployment and inflationare rife, oil exports have caused massive economic growth in recentyears.

    Nur-Sultan is the capital of Kazakhstan and is one of the maincommercial hubs, home to many major government organisations andforeign businesses. Leafy Almaty, situated in the fertilefruit-producing region in the southeast is the former capital ofKazakhstan and is the largest city in the country. Famed for itsbeautiful architecture, grand ballet and opera houses, publicsculptures, and market stalls, Almaty is the cultural centre ofKazakhstan and well worth a visit.

    Other activities in Kazakhstan include skiing, visiting theBaikonur Cosmodrome (the prominent spaceport launch site), birdwatching in Korgalzhyn, and visiting one of the country's manystriking nature reserves where visitors can see bears, ibex, andraptors.

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    The lack of moderating bodies of water make Kazakhstan's climateextremely continental and very dry. Seasonal temperatures arepolarised and vary depending on the region. The best time to visitKazakhstan is in spring (April to June) or autumn (September toOctober) when temperatures are mild. In spring the desert comesinto flower and autumn is harvest time, when market tables areladen with freshly picked fruit.

    Average winter temperatures during the day are 3°F to -1°F(-16°C to -18°C) in the far north and about 21°F (-6°C) in thesouth; summer temperatures average 70°F (21°C) in the north and81°F (27°C) in the south. Snow starts to fall around November andthe mountain passes fill with snow until April, sometimes even May.Climbers are advised to visit in summer when the mountaintemperatures are at their best.

    Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport
    Location: The airport is located 12 miles (19km) southeast fromAstana.
    Time: GMT +6
    Getting to the city: There is a bus service from the airport to the city.
    Car Rental: Car rental offices are located on the first floor of Terminal2.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis operate at the airport.
    Fascilities: There are shops, restaurants, coffee bars, a duty free, a lostand found, ATMs, a currency exchange, an information desk, and apharmacy.
    Almaty International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 14 miles (23km) north of the citycentre.
    Time: GMT +6.
    Getting to the city: Local buses run regularly from the airport terminal to the city,as do taxis, and private car hire is available at the airport.
    Car Rental: Avis provide rental services at Almaty Airport.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are easily available at the airport. Travellers shouldremember that it's wise to agree on a fee upfront, or book with oneof the popular companies beforehand, as not all taxis havemeters.
    Fascilities: Facilities include bureaux de change, cafeterias, bars,duty-free shopping and an information desk, as well as a chemist atthe departures terminal.
    Parking There are parking facilities available at hourly rates and thefirst 15 minutes are free.

    The official currency is the Kazakhstani Tenge (KZT), which isdivided into 100 tiyin. ATMs are generally accessible inKazakhstan, with major European and international credit cards,such as Diners Club and Visa, accepted in central hotels, shops,and restaurants.


    Kazakh, spoken by about 65 percent of the population, isthe state language and Russian is an official language used forbusiness, administration, and cross-culturalcommunication.


    Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The Europeanround two-pin plugs are standard (Type C & F).

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival inKazakhstan. No visa is required for stays of up to 30 days.

    British citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrivalin Kazakhstan. No visa is required for stays of up to 30 days.

    Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrivalin Kazakhstan. A visa is required for stays longer than 30days.

    Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid onarrival in Kazakhstan. A visa is required for visits longer than 30days.

    South African citizens must have a passport that is valid onarrival in Kazakhstan. A visa is required.

    Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival inKazakhstan. A visa is required for stays longer than 30 days.

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival inKazakhstan. No visa is required for stays of up to 30 days.

    New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid onarrival in Kazakhstan. A visa is required for stays longer than 30days.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Most foreign passengers require a visa to enter Kazakhstan.Holders of a letter of invitation (issued by either an organisationor a national of Kazakhstan) can obtain a single-entry visa onarrival, for a stay of up to one month, provided that (i) the visais pre-arranged by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and (ii) theyare arriving at Aktau, Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Atyrau or Uralskairports. The visa fee is approximately USD 80. Additionally,foreign visitors holding tourist visas (i) must be in possession ofhotel vouchers covering their period of stay in Kazakhstan, and(ii) if staying longer than 90 days in Kazakhstan, must registerthemselves at the OVIR (Upravlenie Passportno Visovoi RabotyRegistration Office)- it is best to confirm (ii) with their travelagent. Failure to do so will result in penalties upon departure.OVIR offices can be found in large cities in Kazakhstan. Note thatif visitors are holding a transit visa, it is also required thatthey hold onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentationfor their next destination. A yellow fever vaccination certificateis required to enter Kazakhstan, if arriving within six days ofleaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highlyrecommended that travellers' passport has at least six months'validity remaining after the intended date of departure from theirtravel destination. Immigration officials often apply differentrules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    All travellers arriving from a yellow fever area are required tohave a certificate of inoculation. It is recommended thattravellers to Kazakhstan immunise themselves against hepatitis Aand B, typhoid, and update their MMR (mumps-measles-rubella)vaccines. Medical care in Kazakhstan is extremely limited andshortages of essential medical supplies are common, so travellersshould take along their own set of essentials. Doctors andhospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of travel healthinsurance. Blood screening is inadequate and HIV/AIDS is a risk dueto contaminated blood or inadequate sterilisation of instrumentsand needles. Travellers should make sure to have an updated andsigned letter from their physician, providing detailed informationon what medications they carry and why they need them.


    Tipping is not customary in Kazakhstan, as a service charge isincluded in hotel and restaurant bills. However, as more touristsarrive tipping is becoming more common. There is also a fixedcharge on taxi and railway transport, so many taxi drivers won'ttake tips unless travellers insist repeatedly.

    Safety Information:

    The general rules of safety in Kazakhstan are the same as in anyother developing country. There are the normal risks of pickpocketsand petty crime, and travellers are advised to be cautious ofcorrupt police. Travellers are advised to be cautious at night inand around clubs and bars. Kazakhstan is generally a very friendlycountry and foreigners are respected.

    Local Customs:

    Kazakh people are known for their hospitality, respect forelders, as well as a peaceful and tolerant nature. Generosity andcordial behaviour are common in both social and business fields.Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative and travellersshould take care not to offend. Greetings between opposite gendersshould remain verbal and same sex friends may shake hands, or ifvery close, greet one another with a hug.

    Possession and use of drugs is illegal and if found guilty,could bring about a lengthy prison sentence. Same sex couples arediscouraged from openly showing their affection, because, whilesame-sex relations are legal, cultural norms prohibit and evenactively discriminate against homosexuality.


    An experienced and proficient interpreter can be of greatassistance at business meetings. Kazakhstan's hierarchal socialstructure translates into the business environment, so high rankingofficials and partners will wish to meet with their equals. It iscustomary to shake hands and call people by their first names andlast names at business meetings, as well as at informal gatheringsand small talk commonly precedes any business negotiations.

    Business attire is generally a suit and tie for men, and a suitor business dress for women; even at informal gatherings formalattire is often expected. The respective parties often give smallgifts (pens, company logo pins or books) at the end of an initialmeeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are widelydistributed, with Russian and English translations. Many people inKazakhstan are Muslim and therefore often take breaks from workduring the day for prayer; so visitors should consider prayer timeswhen scheduling meetings.


    The international dialling code for Kazakhstan is +7. The citycode for Nur-Sultan is 7172. Inexpensive SIM cards are availableand are an easy way to communicate both locally andinternationally. Free wifi is available in cafes, restaurants andhotels in main towns and cities.

    Duty Free:

    The following goods may be imported into Kazakhstan withoutincurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 200g oftobacco products; three litres of alcoholic beverages; a reasonablequantity of perfume for personal use and gifts to the value of€1500 for personal use only. On entering the country, tourists mustcomplete a customs declaration form, which must be retained untildeparture. This allows the import of articles intended for personaluse, including currency and valuables, which must be registered onthe declaration form. They must be exported at the end of the stay.Customs inspections can be long and thorough. It is advisable tokeep receipts for items bought in Kazakhstan in order to avoiddifficulties on departure.

    Useful Contacts:

    Kazakhstan Embassies:

    Kazakhstan Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 2325488.

    Kazakhstan Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible forIreland): +44 207 925 1757.

    Kazakhstan Embassy, Toronto, Canada: +1 613 695 8055.

    Kazakhstan Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 460 0086.

    Kazakhstan Embassy, Singapore (also responsible for Australia):+65 6536 6100.

    Kazakhstan Embassy, Singapore (also responsible for NewZealand): +65 6536 6100.

    Foreign Embassies in Kazakhstan :

    United States Embassy, Nur-Sultan: +7 7172 70 21 00.

    British Embassy, Nur-Sultan: +7 7172 556 200.

    Canadian Embassy, Nur-Sultan (also provides limited assistanceto Australia): +7 7172 475 577.

    Irish Embassy, Moscow, Russia (also responsible for Kazakhstan):+7 495 937 5911.

    New Zealand Embassy, Moscow, Russia (also responsible forKazakhstan): +7 495 956 3579.

    Kazakhstan Emergency Numbers : 102 (Police); 103 (Ambulance)