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Life in Kazakhstan

Life in Kazakhstan

The world’s ninth biggest country and largest landlocked nation, Kazakhstan has a vast and diverse landscape which includes flatlands, steppes, hills, deltas, canyons, lakes, mountains, and deserts. A former Soviet state, life in Kazakhstan has changed dramatically since the communist era. Rich in oil and gas resources, it now ranks among the most economically free countries in Central Asia and has attracted much attention from Fortune 500 countries seeking to expand their businesses. The country has many modern cities, of which the two most important remain Almaty and Astana.
Originally, the Kazakhs were a nomadic tribe – and though much has changed, visitors may notice some lingering traces of nomadic traditions, especially in more rural regions, where agriculture remains among the largest employers. Perhaps the most memorable characteristic of Kazakhs is their tremendous tradition of hospitality, which means guests are always treated with great respect – and are likely to be offered a large meal! For those who choose to study in Kazakhstan, this means a warm welcome and no shortage of helpful faces along the way to help you get settled.
Find out more about life in Kazakhstan’s major student cities:


Having taken on the role of capital city in 1998, Astana has been a hive of activity over the past few decades, with some of the world’s most striking modern buildings emerging in the midst of its more traditional grand structures. Among the most iconic is the Baiterek Tower, an immense structure supporting a huge sphere. Then there’s the pyramid-shaped Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, the imposing Ak Orda Presidential Palace, the multi-layered Central Concert Hall, and Khan Shatyry Entertainment Centre – a 150m-high transparent ‘tent’ covering an area greater than 10 football stadiums.
There’s little doubt that Kazakhstan is serious about its ambition of making Astana a capital not just for the nation, but the entire Central Asian region. Higher education is playing a central role in the city’s development, and one central symbol of this is the new Nazarbayev University, which opened in 2010. Teaching is entirely in English and courses are being developed and delivered with support from prestigious universities around the world – including the UK’s UCL and Cambridge University; the National University of Singapore; and the US’s Duke University and Carnegie Mellon University, among others.
Astana is also the location of L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, one of the country’s highest ranked, and the science and technology-focused S. Seifullin Kazakh Agro Technical University.


In the south of Kazakhstan, close to the border with Kyrgyzstan, Almaty is in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, which provide a dramatic backdrop to the city. Almaty remains Kazakhstan’s largest city, and a thriving hub for business, culture and education. In all spheres of life, it has plenty to offer – fine dining, extensive transport links, museums, theaters, shops, clubs, bars, and even ski resorts.
There’s also a long list of universities in Almaty to choose from, including many of the country’s highest ranked institutions. These include Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU)Kazakh-British Technical UniversityKazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations and World LanguagesKazakh National Pedagogical University AbaiKazakh National Technical University (KazNTU).
Almaty is also home to the independent KIMEP University, which offers an American-style education in English.


Situated in the southern part of the country near the border with Uzbekistan, Shymkent is the third most populous city in Kazakhstan. A major cultural and industrial center, it has strong transport connections to other cities and towns within Kazakhstan, as well as an international airport. The climate is typically noticeably warmer here than in Almaty and Astana, and there’s plenty to do and see, from sports events at the Hippodrome to bargain-hunting in the local markets, or simply relaxing by the outdoor swimming pool in summertime. Shymkent is home to one of Kazakhstan’s most prestigious universities, South Kazakhstan State University.

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