Kazakhstan, a Central Asian country and former Soviet republic, extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at its eastern border with China and Russia.
Its largest metropolis, Almaty, is a long-standing trading hub whose landmarks include Ascension Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church, and the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, displaying thousands of Kazakh artifacts.
It is believed that apples originated in Kazakhstan.
The city of Almaty, which means ‘father of apples’ in Kazakh, has long-claimed the honour of being the birthplace of the apple which was recently confirmed by DNA tests.
Horseriding is a large part of Kazakh culture, including traditional sport kyz kuu, literally translated as “girl chasing”.
It is essentially a race between a man and woman, both on horseback, that either ends up with the man kissing the woman (a victory for the man) or the woman beating the man with a whip (a victory for the woman).
Kazakhs were the first ever to domesticate and ride horses, also, horse meat is a big part of their cuisine.
Unesco World Heritage sites
Kazakhstan has three Unesco World Heritage sites; the Saryarka plains, a world-famous birdwatching site; Tamgaly, home to 5,000 ancient rock carvings, and the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi.
The mausoleum in the city of Turkistan is incomplete, having been started in 1389, and work halted in 1405.
The ancient Scythian warriors, originally from the steppes of Kazakhstan and southern Russia, may have been the inspiration for the ancient Greek myth about the tribe of female warriors known as the Amazons.
Though not a truly matriarchal society, the Skythians were much more fluid in terms of who could hold power.
Burials sites of female warriors found in the past few decades have helped to corroborate this theory.
World’s tallest chimney
The world’s tallest chimney is in Kazakhstan.
The GRES-2 Power Station chimney at Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan, is reputed to be the tallest in the world at 419m.
First man in space
The first man in space and the first satellite were both launched from Kazakhstan.
The Baikonur Cosmodrome was where Sputnik 1, Earth’s first artificial satellite, was launched in 1957.
The rocket that took Yuri Gagarin, the first human in orbit, was also launched from Baikonur in 1961.
The launch complex is still in use today.
The Balkhash Lake in Kazakhstan is the 12th largest lake of the world.
This lake has confused personality because half of the lake consist fresh water and another half having salt water.
It maintains this unlikely balance in part because the two halves are joined by a narrow strait that is 3.5 kilometres wide and six meters deep.
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