KZTG - Inside




The history of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan was settled by humans tens of thousands of years ago. The area was dominated by a variety of nomadic tribes during this time span. A look at the DNA evidence suggests that horses may actually have first been domesticated in this region. Apples are also evolved here, from which they were then spread to other areas by human cultivators.

During the historical times, people such as the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Kyrgyz, the Gokturk, the Uyghur and also the Karluks, have ruled the steppes of the country. In 1206, the Mongols under the leadership of Genghis Khan conquered and ruled over Kazakhstan until 1368. The Kazakh people were eventually united under the leadership of Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan in 1465, creating a new breed of people. They exerted their power over the area, naming themselves the Kazakh Khanate.

This Kazakh Khanate persisted until 1847. During the early 16th century, the people of Kazakh had the foresight to ally themselves with Babur, who then went on to found the Mughal Empire in India. By the early 17th century, Kazakhstan frequently found itself as war with the powerful Khanate of Bukhara in the south. The two khanates warred over control of Samarkand and Tashkent, the two major cities along the Silk Road in Central Asia.

Come mid-18th century and the Kazakhs faced encroachment from Tsarist Russia to the north and the Qing China in the east. To fend off the threatening Kokand Khanate, the Kazakhs accepted Russian ‘aid’ in 1822. The Russians ruled through puppets until the passing of Kenesary Khan in 1847, and then exerted direct power over Kazakhstan.

The country resisted its colonization by the Russians. Between 1836 to 1838, the Kazakhs rose up under the leadership of Makhambet Utemisuly and Isatay Taymanuly, but were unable to overthrow Russian domination. An even more serious attempt led by Eset Kotibaruli turned into an anti-colonial war that would last from 1847, when the Russians imposed direct control, through 1858. Groups of nomadic Kazakh warriors fought running skirmishes with the Russian Cossacks, as well as with other Kazakhs allied with Tsar forces. This war took hundreds of Kazakh lives, civilians as well as warriors but Russia did make some concessions to Kazakh demands in 1858 for peace settlement.

By the 1890s, the government of Russia began to settle thousands of their own farmers onto Kazakh land, and as a result, breaking up the pasture and interfered with traditional nomadic patterns of life. Come 1912 and there were more than 500,000 Russia owned farms dotting Kazakh lands and displacing the nomads, causing mass starvation. In 1916, Tsar Nicholas II ordered the conscription of all Kazakh and also other Central Asian men to join the fight in World War I. This conscription sparked the Central Asian Revolt which saw thousands of Kazakhs and other Central Asians being killed, and tens of thousands fled to Western China or Mongolia for refuge.

Amidst the chaos following the Communist takeover of Russia in 1917, the Kazakhs took the opportunity to claim their independence and established the short-lived Alash Orda, an autonomous government. But the Soviets were able to retake control of Kazakhstan in 1920. Five years later, they set up the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Kazakh SSR), with the capital at Almaty. It became a (non-autonomous) Soviet republic in 1936.

During World War II, the Soviets used Kazakhstan as a dumping ground for potentially subversive minorities such as Germans from the Western edge of Soviet Russia, Crimean Tatars, Muslims from the Caucasus and Poles. As they tried to fee all these new-comers, the already dwindling food supplies of the Kazakhs were stretched again. Almost half of these deportees eventually died of starvation or disease.

After the World War II, the country became the least-neglected among Central Asian Soviet Republics. Ethnic Russians flooded the country to work in industry, and Kazakhstan’s coal mines helped in supplying energy to all of USSR. The Russians also built one of their major space program sites, the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan.

During 1989, an ethnic-Kazakh politician by the name Nursultan Nazarbayev became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, replacing an ethnic-Russian. On December 16, 1991, the Republic of Kazakhstan declared its independence from the rubble of Soviet Union. Today, the Republic of Kazakhstan has a budding economy thanks to its huge reserves of fossil fuels