Survive and Thrive in Kazakhstan

(75E and 45N) Between Lake Balkash & Almaty in SE Kazakhstan

Climate

Weather Conditions and Patterns: The climate in Kazakhstan is characterized as continental, with temperatures averaging 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and -4 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Winter can be as long as anywhere between November and March, the coldest month being January (temperatures in the south normally do not fall below 2 degrees Fahrenheit). Snowfall can pile up as much as 30cm high during this time. Summer begins in May and can last as long as winter (up to 5 months long), with the warmest month being July (in the southeast, it is mostly just warm and rainy rather than hot and humid). There are usually strong winds and thunderstorms in the beginning of summer. The weather in Kazakhstan can be completely different at times, depending on where you are. When the weather begins to grow warmer, it usually takes a month or a month and a half for the warmer temperatures to spread north. The weather in Kazakhstan varies so much because of its location. It is remote from oceans and is between Middle Asia, which is extremely hot, and Siberia, which is extremely cold. The two opposite climates meet in the middle in Kazakhstan.

Dominant Species & Their Adaptations

Biome Classification: Desert & Xeric Shrublands / Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, & Shrublands


Animals (Varies by Region): Include saiga antelope, gazelle, elk, wolves, foxes, jackals, brown bears, snow leopard, ermine, sable, etc. Species living primarily in the north, such as the snow leopard, must adapt to the bitter cold environment. They have a layer of woolly underfur beneath the rest of their fur and they have an enlarged nasal cavity that allows them to warm the air they breathe before it enters their lungs. The saiga antelope also share the enlarged nasal cavity adaptation.


Plants: Include wormwood, tamarisk, and feather grass. A special adaptation for these plants is drought resistance. Coniferous trees such as spruce, larch, cedar, and juniper are also common in the far southeast.

Geology

Kazakhstan has an abundance of oilfields and gasfields and is rich in minerals, which are mined throughout the country. It has extensive reserves of chromite, lead, zinc, and uranium, as well as significant amounts of bauxite, copper, gold, iron ore, manganese, natural gas, and petroleum. The economy of Kazakhstan is hugely dependent on these industries. Geologists in Kazakhstan are currently trying to improve and develop the geological industry there and are launching geological explorations.

Demographic Information

Population: 17,522,010


Age Structure: 0-14 years (24.4%), 15-24 years (17.7%), 25-54 years (42.4%), 55-64 years (8.6%), 65 years & older (6.7%)


Gender Ratio (Total Population): .92 males/female


Life Expectancy: (Males) 64.34 years, (Females) 74.59 years


Nationality: Kazakhstani


Religion: Muslim (47%), Russian Orthodox (44%), Protestant (2%), other (7%)


Language: Kazakh (64.4%), Russian (95%)


*All figures are estimates as of 2012

Environmental Concerns

There are multiple environmental concerns in Kazakhstan that pose severe health risks for humans and species living in the area. Among these concerns are the radioactive and toxic chemical sites dispersed throughout the country, pollution in the Caspian Sea, industrial pollution in cities, and soil pollution. The soil pollution was caused by salination due to poor infrastructure, wasteful irrigation practices, and the overuse of agricultural chemicals. In addition, the Aral Sea is drying up (the two main inlet rivers have been diverted for irrigation purposes) and leaving behind a dangerous layer of chemical pesticides and natural salts, which are swept up by the wind and turned into noxious gas storms. Common natural hazards in the region include earthquakes and mudslides.

Agriculture

Agriculture remains a very minor part of the economy in Kazakhstan. However, more than 70% of the land in Kazakhstan is used for agriculture. Majority of the agricultural land in Kazakhstan is permanent pastureland, with a small percentage being used as cropland. The primary crop grown is wheat, which is a major export of Kazakhstan, and other crops include barley, cotton, sugar beets, sunflowers, flax, and rice. Potatoes, other vegetables, and melon are also grown.

In Kazakhstan, farmers use a reduced-tillage system on 60% of their land, and hope to increase the use of a reduced-tillage system to 80% of their land. On the land where a conventional tillage system is used, the farmers practice a four-crop rotation followed by a year of "clean fallow", during which time no crops are planted. These are sound practices that are good for the soil and do not wear it out. On the other hand, there are a few agricultural practices that Kazakhstan should change. Rather than using mineral fertilizer, they should use the animal waste from the pasturelands to fertilize their crops. This would be more cost-efficient and more beneficial to the crops. Also, the output of crops annually is dependent on the weather, especially in the cold northern regions, and certain crop regions are not irrigated well. The farmers should look into GMO's that are resistant to colder temperatures and drought, and they should also look into a larger irrigation system.