Kazakhstan is situated in Central Asia, north of Uzbekistan and is bordered by the Russian Federation, the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. It is half the size of the USA and is the second largest state in the Commonwealth of Independent States. The official language is Kazakh, a Turkic language closely related to Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Turkmen and Turkish and its capital is Astana.
The country’s landscape is mainly composed of steppe with the sand massives of Kara Kum and the desert of Kizilkum. To the southeast the mountains of Tian Shan and Altai create a natural frontier, scattered with thousands of rivers and lakes. Lake Balkhash and the Aral Sea are the biggest water basins in the country and the country has been for centuries the home of nomads and still remains sparsely populated.
There are historical sites to be found in the south, testimonials of the Central Asian history, with several famous monuments in a backdrop of snow-capped mountain peaks, lakes and glaciers of the Tian Shan range. Near this region an interesting site is the Singing Barkhan a sand dune that makes a singing sound as it crumbles.
Almaty was until very recently the former capital of Kazakhstan and it enjoys a beautiful setting between mountains and plains. It is a city of modern architecture, cool fountains, parks and spectacular mountain views.
The country has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Although Kazakhstan has some of the highest peaks in the CIS, the climate is fairly dry. The hottest month is July (August in mountain regions).