Kazakhstan, situated between eastern Europe and Asia, is the 9th biggest country (bigger than Western Europe) and the biggest country without a seaport. It has a population of 16.4 million, 65% being of Kazakh origin, 25% Russian and 10% from other minorities.Kazakhistan is a very active member of the Association of Turkish States (Turkic Konsiye,) together with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. Since its independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has developed what is known as a multisectoral foreign policy, with the target of establishing good relations with both Russia and China, and with the US and the western democracies. This policy has shown good results, especially in the oil and gas sectors, where US, Russian, Chinese and European firms have invested in different areas from extraction to transportation. Kazakhstan has established a customs union with Russia and Bielorussia, which will soon be transformed into a common economic space. Like other CIS countries, Kazakhstan has followed the path from the state-controlled economy of the former USSR to a market economy. Since 2000 the country has experienced significant economic growth, helped by its important reserves of natural gas, petroleum and minerals. Apart from these, the country has an important farming sector and produces significant quantities of cereals and textiles. Kazakhstan is also the world’s biggest producer of uranium. Although the economy showed good performance over the first half of the last decade, the financial crisis of 2008-2009 has exposed some weaknesses in the country’s economy. Year-on-year GNP fell 19.81% in 2008. The four main banks had to be rescued by the Government in 2008 and real estate prices fell drastically. However, the country successfully came back to positive figures from 2010 to 2016 when the GDP growth was more than 5%
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