UK Trade & Investment

Country Profile


Key Facts
Language Kazakh is the state language but Russian also has an official status and is widely spoken.
Local currency Local currency
Dialling code from UK 00 7 + (3272) Almaty city code or (3172) Astana city code
GDP In 1999 the GDP grew 1.6-1.7 per cent (the rate of inflation was 17.8 per cent). In nominal terms, the GDP amounted approximately US$ 13,477 million. (Source: Kazakh Economics Minister's press conference, 19 January 2000).


The Kazakh British Trade and Industry Council (KBTIC) was founded in 1995 and facilitates contact between UK companies with an interest in Kazakhstan and decision makers in the Kazakh government. KBTIC's main activity is to organise round table meetings between UK and Kazakh members in order to discuss issues of mutual interest. Typically, these include market access, tax and other regulatory matters, specific business opportunities expected to emerge in Kazakhstan and Kazakh plans to develop the economy.

The UK side of KBTIC is chaired by Charles Bland (Executive Vice President, Policy and Corporate Affairs, BG Group) while the Kazakh co-chairman is Mr Masimov (Deputy Prime Minister). KBTIC membership is open to companies of all sizes with an interest in Kazakhstan. UK companies such as Britsh Aerospace, British Gas and British Airways are members of KBTIC.

Membership is free. Contact: David Matthews

Kazakhstan declared independence from the USSR in December 1991. Since then the country has been headed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan has made good progress in introducing the necessary legal and business framework for a market economy including price liberalisation. Privatisation is also well advanced. Considerable foreign participation is encouraging the development of good corporate governance. The country is also the first in the CIS to try to convert its current pension system into a fully funded system.

The country is helped considerably by substantial reserves of oil and gas and commercial deposits of most of the elements in the periodic table. Economically it therefore has great potential. Difficulties with basic infrastructure including pipeline routes makes realising this potential more problematic. Macroeconomic indicators have improved and the economic situation in Kazakhstan is more favourable than had been expected.

Economic priorities include:

  • encouraging additional foreign investment necessary for the development of pipeline routes
  • continuing with large-scale privatisation in order to prevent serious budgetary pressures, and increase stock market activity
  • fully implementing laws related to pension reform
  • rehabilitation and modernisation of production and processing sectors.

The following are priority sectors for British companies:

  • oil and gas
  • metals and minerals (mining)
  • financial services
  • manufacturing
  • telecommunications
  • transport, road, rail, aviation
  • construction
  • power.

In addition opportunities exist in the following sectors:

  • agriculture
  • food processing and packaging
  • environment.

Additional information

Local currency

Denominations of tenge in circulation are: 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000.

It is best to take small denomination US dollar bills avoiding notes that are more than two years old, as most places will only accept notes in good condition.

Hard currency can be exchanged at (the many) licensed money exchanges, banks and major hotels.

Principle Religions


Capital city

Astana, 300,000.

The principal city is Almaty which is also the commercial centre. At the end of 1997 the capital was moved from Almaty to Astana . Other major cities are Shymkent, Karaganda, Atyrau and Pavlodar.


The population of Kazakhstan is 14.9 million (1999 census).

Public / Statutory holidays

New Year's Day 1st January
Women's Day 8th March
Spring Holiday (Nauruz Meirami)22nd March
Unity Day of the People of Kazakhstan1st May
Victory Day 9th May
Constitution Day 30th August
Republic Day 25th October
Independence Day 16th December

Most British travel agents are able to book flights and holidays to Kazakhstan.

Weights and measures


UK Trade & Investment Contact:
Publication date: 02/06/2004

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