To the begining of 2015 year the population of Kazakhstan is officially estimated at 17,417,673 people (www.stat.gov.kz).

 

More than 130 ethnicities reside in Kazakhstan. According to the 2009 cencus, native ethnic group of Kazakhs makes up 63,07% of the population. Other larger ethnic groups are Russians – 23,7%, Uzbeks – 2,85%, Ukrainians - 2,08%, Uighurs - 1,4%, Tatars - 1,28%, Germans - 1,11%.

 

Due to immigration and a high birth rate, the population of Kazakhstan is growing steadily, by 500-600 thousand people annually. Kazakhstan receives almost 150 000 immigrants annually. Most of those immigrants are Kazakhs living outside Kazakhstan (Russia, Kyrgyzstan and China), Russians (from Russia and Uzbekistan), and Uzbeks (from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan).

 

Since 1991 Kazakhstan has received about 750 000 ethnic Kazakh repatriates. The highest concentration of them is in Mangystau region, South Kazakhstan region, Almaty region, Almaty, Astana and Taraz cities.

 

Currently Kazakhs live in over 40 countries, while the majority of them reside in neighboring states of Kazakhstan. According to the latest data, half a million Kazakhs live in Uzbekistan. Approximately the same number lives in China and about a million of Kazakhs live in Russia. 100 000 Kazakhs reside in Turkmenistan, 800 000 remain in Mongolia, 45 000 Kazakh people live in Kyrgyzstan. Large number of Kazakh people also densely populates Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Kazakhs that live in Europe and America are small in numbers.

 

The largest percentages of ethnic Kazakhs that live abroad are the descendants of those who left the Soviet Union in the 20-30 years of the last century. They strived to escape political persecution, repression, forced collectivization and hunger. Almost 200 000 Kazakhs left the Soviet Union during that period, moving mainly to China, Mongolia, India, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey. The number of Kazakhs in the countries neighboring the Soviet republics increased by 2.5 times, amounting to more than 794 000 people between 1926 and 1930.

«Slavic» immigration that started in the 18th century turned into mass migration and forced deportation of many other ethnic groups to Kazakhstan in the 19th century. As a result, Kazakhs became a minority on their own native land. Kazakhstan became a Soviet republic with the lowest proportion of representatives of its ethnic group. According to census in 1959, the share of Kazakh population amounted to 30% of the total population of the Kazakh SSR and totaled 9.3 million people. Despite the fact that in the coming years the share of Kazakhs increased continuously, only in 1989 the number of Kazakhs exceeded the population of Russians living in Kazakhstan.

 

The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev decided to increase the number of repatriated families from 15 000 to 20 000 families annually starting from 2009.

 

Kazakhstan firmly follows the principle of equality of all nations living in the country. Equal opportunity and right for national and cultural self-expression are provided for every citizen of Kazakhstan. In the areas of dense concentration of Uighur, Uzbek, Tajik, Ukrainian, German, Polish and other nationalities, schools teaching in corresponding languages can be found. The Sunday schools, ethnic-cultural associations receive government support and are usually organized in a mother tongue. Currently, 170 Sunday schools and three schools of national revival teach 23 languages ​​of ethnic groups in Kazakhstan. Tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect help promote the country’s identity as a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural state.