Kazakhstan is a central Asian republic that was conquered by Russia in the 18th century, became a Soviet Republic in 1936, and achieved independence in 1991. The population is a mix of several ethnic groups, including Kazakh (53.4 percent) and Russian (30 percent, primarily migrants during the Soviet period); 47 percent of the population are Muslim and 44 percent Russian Orthodox. Kazakhstan has the largest economy of any other central Asian state and enjoys vast natural resources and political stability. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008 was $11,500, up from $10,400 in 2006. The population is about 15.4 million, with a median age of 29.6 years: the population growth rate is about 0.4 percent with a total fertility rate of 1.88 per woman. Life ...

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