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Kazakhstan, Republic of Kazakhstan » History

The earliest records found are of the 6th century AD when Turkic Kaganate or Gokturk, Kokturk state was established by the Ashina clan. In 766, the Qarlugs, an association of Turkic tribes founded a state which is now a part of eastern Kazakhstan. Few parts of Kazakhstan were taken over by the Arabs in 8th and 9th centuries. Islam was introduced during this time. Till 11th century, the Oghuz Turks ruled the western part of Kazakhstan and the Kimak and Kipchak ruled the eastern part.

In the middle of 12th century, Khorazm, was separated from Karakitai. Mongols took over Karakitai in 1219 and Kazakhstan came under the control of Mongolian Golden Horde. In 1456, Kazakh Khanate was established on the banks of Zhetisu. From 1511 to 1523, under the ruling of Kasym Khan, Kazakh Khanate grew significantly.

In 17th century, Cossacks captured the cities of Oral (Ural'sk) and Atyrau (Gur'yev). In 1730, Abul Khayr took help of Russians against the Kalmyks, thereby allowing the Russians to acquire a permanent control of the Lesser Horde. By 1798, the Russians had taken over the control of the Middle Horde. In 1820, the Khans of the Great Horde, while expanding Kokand Khanate to the south, chose to take Russian protection, thereby making it easier for the Russians to control the Great Horde.

Kazakh under Soviet Rule

For a brief period of time, Kazakhstan enjoyed independence, during the Alash Autonomy. But this did not last long and the collapse of Russian Empire led to Kazakhstan’s surrender to Soviet rule. The revolt ok Kazakh people bore no fruits and between the years 1926 to 1939, the population of the country reduced by 22% due to various reasons such as mass emigration, starvation and violence. Kazakhstan’s rich cultural background took a backseat; when on Stalin’s order, many poets, writers, politicians and historians were beheaded. Population inflow due to mass deportation from Siberia and other Soviet regions led to the formation of large labor camps where they were held under captivity. KSSR was an important part of the Soviet Union’s share in World War II. In fact, in 1947, two years after the war ended, nuclear weapon test site was unearthed at Semey.

During World War II Kazakhstan’s economy improved in some measures with industrialization and mineral extraction in defense of war purposes. After Stalin’s death, things improved when in 1953 Nikita Khrushchev started the “Virgin lands” project to convert Kazakhstan’s pastures into agricultural lands. The country which was already dependent heavily on agriculture for sustenance, this turned out to be a promising project. Even if the “Virgin Lands” project brought mixed results, later on under the rule of Leonid Brezhnev, agricultural production got its needed push.

Tensions between the Soviet rule and Kazakh people were already increasing day by day, the major reason being the nuclear weapon test at Semey in 1949 by Lavrentii Beria. This disastrous test had a long lasting biological and ecological effect which was felt generations later, bringing to a boil the anger of Kazakh people towards the Russians. The Jeltoksan riot by young Kazakh’s in 1986 against the replacement of Dinmukhamed Konayev in favor of Gennady Kolbin, was suppressed by the Soviet’s. Many protesters were killed, while others were jailed. Even during the declining Soviet rule, protest and discontent continued to grow.

Independence of Kazakhstan

While still being under the rule of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Kazakhstan declared sovereignty in October 1990. After the Soviet Union was dissolved and Soviet Republic sought their independence, Kazakhstan was the last country to declare it, on December 16 1991.

After Nursultan Nazarbayev became President in 1991, situation improved and economy of the country started stabilizing. Petroleum and mineral reserves found in the 20th century showed the way to a considerable economic growth.