Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic

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Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
Казахская Советская Социалистическая Республика
Қазақ Кеңестік Социалистік Республикасы

Flag Coat of arms
Anthem of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
Location of the Kazakh SSR (red) within the Soviet Union.
Capital Alma-Ata (Almaty)
Languages Kazakh
Government Soviet Socialist Republic
President of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
 -  1990–1991 Nursultan Nazarbayev
 -  Established 1936
 -  Disestablished 1991
Area 2,717,300 km² (1,049,155 sq mi)
 -  est. 16,711,900 
     Density 6.2 /km²  (15.9 /sq mi)
Calling code +7 31/32/330/33622

The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (Kazakh: Қазақ Кеңестік Социалистік Республикасы, Qazaq Keñestik Socïalïstik Respwblïkası; Russian: Казахская Советская Социалистическая Республика, Kazakhskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika) abbreviated to KSSR (Russian: КССР, tr. KSSR), also known as the Kazakh SSR, was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union (USSR).

At 2,717,300 square kilometres (1,049,200 sq mi) in area, it was the second largest republic in the USSR, after the Russian SFSR. Its capital was Alma-Ata (today known as Almaty). Today it is the independent state of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. During its existence it was led by the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR.

The country is named after the Kazakh people, Turkic-speaking former nomads who sustained a powerful khanate in the region before Russian and then Soviet domination. The Soviet Union's spaceport, now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome, was located in this republic at Tyuratam, and the secret town of Leninsk (now known as Baikonur) was constructed to accommodate its personnel.


Established on August 26, 1920, it was initially called Kirghiz ASSR (Kirghiz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic) and was a part of the Russian SFSR. On April 15–19, 1925, it was renamed Kazak ASSR (subsequently Kazakh ASSR) and on December 5, 1936 it was elevated to the status of a Union-level republic, Kazakh SSR. During the 1950s and 1960s Soviet citizens were urged to settle in the Virgin Lands of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. The influx of immigrants, mostly Russians, skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives. As a result, the use of the Kazakh language declined but has started to pick up again since independence, both as a result of its resurging popularity in law and business and the growing proportion of Kazakhs. The other nationalities included Ukrainians, Germans, Jews, Belarusians, Koreans and others; Germans at the time of independence formed about 8% of the population, the largest concentration of Germans in the entire Soviet Union. Independence has caused many of these newcomers to emigrate.

On December 10, 1991 the Kazakh SSR was renamed the Republic of Kazakhstan. It became independent on December 16, becoming the last republic to secede before the final collapse of the Soviet Union.


Kazakhstan’s remoteness from oceans, its vastness, and its mountainous features result in a sharply continental climate with very marked zonality. Solar radiation is considerable because of the southern location and low degree of cloudiness. The sun shines 2, 000 hours a year in the north to 3, 000 hours in the south. Overall radiation increases from 100 kilocalories per sq cm (kcal/cm2) in the north to 140 kcal/cm2 in the south. In the north the winter is cold and long; in the central region, moderately cold; in the south, basically moderately mild and brief; and in the extreme south, mild.

The average January temperature rises from −18°C in the north to −3°C in the extreme southern portion of the flat country. In winter, frosts down to −45°C in the north and central regions and sometimes down to −35°C in the south occur as a result of the penetration of cold continental arctic air masses from the north and northwest. On the plains the summer is long and dry; in the north, it is warm; in the center, very warm; and in the south, hot.

The average July temperature increases from 19°C in the north to 28°–30°C in the south. In the mountains, summers are brief and moderate; winters are comparatively warm. There is little precipitation anywhere. Average annual precipitation in the forest-steppe is 300–400 mm, in the steppe it decreases to 250 mm, in the Kazakh melkosopochnik it rises to 300–400 mm, and in the semidesert and desert it drops to 200–100 mm. Precipitation is particularly low (less than 100 mm per year) in the area adjoining Lake Balkhash, the southwestern part of the Kyzylkum adjoining the Aral Sea, and the southern Ustiurt. In the foothills and mountains, annual precipitation is 400–1, 600 mm. In the north and center, most of the rain comes during the summer months; in the south, in early spring. Strong winds are characteristic of almost all of Kazakhstan. In winter, southwesterly winds predominate in the north and northeasterly winds in the south; in summer, northerly winds prevail everywhere.

The growing season lasts 190–200 days in the north and 230–290 days in the south.[1]


According to the 1897 census, the earliest census taken in the region, Kazakhs constituted 81.7% of the total population (3,392,751 people) within the territory of contemporary Kazakhstan. The Russian population in Kazakhstan was 454,402, or 10.95% of total population; there were 79,573 Ukrainians (1.91%); 55,984 Tatars (1.34%); 55,815 Uyghurs (1.34%); 29,564 Uzbeks (0.7%); 11,911 Mordovans (0.28%); 4,888 Dungan (0.11%); 2,883 Turkmen; 2,613 Germans; 2,528 Bashkir; 1,651 Jews; and 1,254 Poles.
Table: Ethnic Composition of Kazakhstan (census data)[2]


One of the greatest factors that shaped the ethnic composition of Kazakhstan was 1920s and 1930s famines, caused by Collectivization in the Soviet Union. According to different estimates only in famine of 1930s, up to 40% of Kazakhs (indigenous ethnic group) either died of starvation or fled the territory.[3] Official government census data report the contraction of Kazakh population from 3.6 million in 1926, to 2.3 million in 1939.

Kazakhstan demographics 1897-1970. Major ethnic groups. Famines of 1920s and 1930s are marked with shades.
Nationality 1926 1939 1959 1970 1979 1989
Kazakh 58.5 37.8 30.0 32.6 36.0 40.1
Russian 18.0 40.2 42.7 42.4 40.8 37.4
Ukrainian 13.88 10.7 8.2 7.2 6.1 5.4
Byelorussian (Belarusian) 0.51 1.2 1.5 1.2 1.1 0.8
German 0.82 1.50 7.1 6.6 6.1 5.8
Tatar 1.29 1.76 2.1 2.2 2.1 2.0
Uzbek 2.09 1.96 1.5 1.7 1.8 2.0
Uyghur 1.01 0.58 0.6 0.9 1.0 1.1
Korean 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.6



The Kazakh people have long had a distinctive dance culture. Like other forms of national art, dance was part of the way of life of the nomadic cattle raisers, and all aspects of that way of life were communicated in dance images. This is confirmed by the folk dances that have survived, including work dances (the ormek bi, or weavers’ dance), hunting dances (the koian bi, or the golden eagle’s hunt for the hare, and kusbegi-dauylpaz, or training of the hunting falcon), dance competitions (utys bi), comic, satirical, and humorous dances (nasybaishi), and dances imitating animals (orteke, the jumping goat; kara zhorga and tepenkok, the dance of the racehorse, or the trotter’s race; and aiu bi, the dance of the bear).

In musical folklore there were lyrical dramatized dances with singing and round dances. Festivals based on the calendar of the work year were particularly popular. Competitive dances were performed at these festivals— dances displaying agility and endurance, as well as dance games, and night round dances about campfires. Wedding rites lasted several days and were vividly dramatized presentations in pantomime and comic dances. There were religious dances, performed only by shamans to cure the sick and “drive out the evil spirit.” In contrast to the Uzbeks, Tadzhiks, and other Eastern Muslim peoples, the Kazakhs had pair dances performed by boys and girls (koian berkut).

There were no schools for dance instruction, as there were in India, Japan, China, and other countries of the East; dancers transmitted their art from generation to generation. In the patriarchal-feudal society, each clan had its own professional masters who had the status of court jesters or belonged to the ranks of folk jester-comics, the ku. There were no definitive folk dance forms among the Kazakhs. Improvisation was an indispensable condition of dance folklore. The most characteristic features of dance were expressiveness of execution, abruptness of movement, mobility of the shoulders, “playing” of the joints, tension and agility of the body, and flexibility, which enables the dancers to execute complex acrobatic movements. The combination of vivid emotionality and diverse choreographic patterns was also typical, particularly in the dance competitions (utys bi and sylk-yma).

The dance on horseback was most specific, but it was not bareback riding. All Kazakhs knew how to ride bareback, but it was only the professionals who danced while standing in the saddle; their horses also followed the rhythm. Dance was accompanied by the dombra or drum. The clear and energetic rhythm of the bi kiui (dance melodies) regulated the rhythm and tempo of the dance.

Prejudices hindered the development of dance culture; the art of dance did not spread as widely as music. During the feudal period, dancing for the enjoyment of the people was considered a “contemptible occupation,” the domain of the indigent. With the decay of the patriarchal-clan system and economic and social changes age-old customs and traditions fell into decline; ancient forms of folk dance were degraded, and by the end of the 19th century they had disappeared almost entirely.[4]


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