Kazakhstan is located in central Asia and is surrounded by Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and the Caspian Sea. The coastline along the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan stretches over 1100 miles. This country is the site of the main Soviet nuclear weapons testing range, which has not been in use since 1992. It is also the home of the Russian space flight launching pad, the Baikonur Soviet Cosmodrome.
A region with high mountain plateaus and expansive hilly plains, Kazakhstan was part of the former Soviet Union. It is roughly four times the size of Texas and is the ninth largest country in the world. Kazakhstan declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and it was the second-largest state to emerge from the Soviet Union.
Historically, the indigenous Kazakh people were Turkish nomads who migrated to the area seasonally to farm the land. Although many citizens fought against it, Russia eventually overtook the region in the 18th century. After Kazakhstan declared its independence from Russia in the early 1990s, Kazakh became the country's official language, although about 40 percent of the people who live there name Russian as their native language. In relation to other countries and within its own borders, most business and government affairs in Kazakhstan are conducted in Russian.