Kazakhstan has a long border with Russia in the north and north-west. Its length is 7 591 km. It is the longest continuous land border in the world. The eastern border with China stretches over 1 783 km, Kazakhstan borders with the countries of Central Asia in the south, such as Uzbekistan - 2 351 km, Kyrgyzstan - 1 242 km and Turkmenistan - 426 km; Kazakhstan is bounded by the Caspian Sea in the west. The overall length of land boundaries is 13 200 kilometers.
Nature and landscape of Kazakhstan are very diverse and represented by high mountains in the east and low plains in the west. More than a quarter of Kazakhstan’s territory is steppe terrain; half of it is desert and as well as semi-desert terrain and the rest is comprised of mountains, seas and rivers. From north to south, the territory is divided into a number of climatic zones including forest steppe, steppe, semi-desert, desert, foothill and mountain zones.
Altitudes in the country vary from the vast lowland below sea level to high mountain ridges and peaks that can reach 5000 meters above sea level. In the southern and south-eastern parts of Kazakhstan, the steppe meets the Tien Shan mountain range which stretches for 2 400 km, the majority of which is situated in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan’s water resources mostly depend on rivers and lakes. Ice flows are the main sources of river water. In total there are about 3 000 ice flows in Kazakhstan, almost half of which are in the Dzungarian Alatau Mountains.
Lakes are divided into 2 types: tectonic and exogenous. The Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea and Lakes Balkhash, Teniz, Alakol and Markakol are situated in tectonic basins. 85 022 rivers and streams flow across the territory of Kazakhstan, including 84 694 rivers up to 100 km long, 305 rivers up to 500 km long and 23 rivers up to 1000 km long. The most significant rivers are the Ural, Ishim, Tobol, Ilek, Shu, Torgai, Sarysu, Talas, Nura and Emba. Kazakhstan is the largest country in the world that doesn't have any direct access to global ocean.
The climate in Kazakhstan is extremely continental. It is characterized by an uneven distribution of rainfall in different regions. The average temperature in January is in the range from -19°Cto -4°C, the average July temperature varies from +19°C to +26°C. The lowest winter temperature falls to -45°C, the highest temperature reaches +47°C. Summers are hot in the country and dry while winters are cold and snowy.
Apart from its variety of notable natural sites, Kazakhstan has immense reserves of mineral resources.
99 out of 105 elements listed in Mendeleyev’s periodic table are found in Kazakhstan, with reserves of 70 of them having been explored and more than 60 are being used in industrial production. About 6 000 mineral deposits have been discovered in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is among the top 10 countries in the world on reserves of oil. The country takes first place on explored reserves of zinc, tungsten, and barites. Kazakhstan’s uranium deposits are the second largest in the world. Kazakhstan also has the sixth largest global gold reserve.
Flora and Fauna
The Republic of Kazakhstan has a unique landscape and rich biological diversity. Its natural areas are landscapes from northern deserts to alpine meadows and everlasting snow. There are about 6 000 species of plants in the country.
Wildlife of Kazakhstan is diverse too. There are 853 species of vertebrates on its territory (mammals – 178, birds - 512, reptiles - 49, amphibians - 12 fish and cyclostomes - 102 species). The invertebrate fauna is also diverse; there are at least 50 000 species, of which 30 000 are insects. The herds of koulans and gazelles (Atlantic antelope) pasture within the steppes. The tops of the mountains are inhabited by snow leopards. The voice of blue birds and the Indian thrushes are heard at the foot of the mountains. Such unique species as endangered marmots, Ustyurt wild sheep, Turkestan lynxes, Tien Shan brown bears, flamingos and swans inhabit Kazakhstan. 125 species and sub-species of vertebrates, 96 species of invertebrates and 303 species of plants are listed in the Red book of Kazakhstan.