President Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev since 1991.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Karim Masimov since 2014.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin continental plugs are standard.
Unexplored by many, Kazakhstan is an intriguing and little-known land of vast plains, mountainous horizons and beautiful culture.
South Kazakhstan is a focus of Central Asian history, featuring many famous monuments. It is a scenically diverse region where the snow-capped peaks, lakes and glaciers of the Tian Shan range give way to steppe and desert. The desert is home to the Singing Barkhan - a sand dune 3.2km (2 miles) long, which, as it crumbles, produces a peculiar singing sound.
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.
Last updated: 18 December 2014
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
There is a general threat from terrorism.
You can travel to most places in Kazakhstan, but travel to any closed area requires advance permission from the Kazakh government. Some military/restricted areas are not clearly marked. Take care when travelling away from normal routes.
With the exception of Air Astana, all Kazakh airlines are refused permission to operate services to the EU because they do not comply with internationally accepted safety requirements.
You must get a visa in advance of your visit. Make sure it covers the entire duration of your stay.
Most visits to Kazakhstan are trouble-free, but crime against foreigners does sometimes occur.
You must carry your original passport at all times.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.