Kazakhstan, formally the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a nation in Central Asia that is mostly comprised of the former Soviet Union. It shares borders with Russia in the north and west, China in the east, and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan in the south, as well as with the Russian Federation. Nur-Sultan, previously known as Astana, is the country's capital. Astana was once the capital of Kazakhstan until 1997, when Almaty, the country's biggest city, was chosen as the new capital. Besides being the world's biggest landlocked nation and the world's largest Muslim-majority country by geographical area (and the northernmost), Kazakhstan ranks ninth in terms of population and is the ninth-largest country on Earth. In addition to having a population of 18.8 million people, it also boasts one of the world's lowest population densities, with less than 6 people per square kilometre (15 people per sq mi).
Kazakhstan is the most powerful country in Central Asia, both economically and politically, accounting for 60 percent of the region's gross domestic product (GDP), which is mostly derived from its oil and gas sector. It also has a significant amount of mineral resources. Officially, it is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a broad cultural history that is home to a diverse population. Kazakhstan is a member of the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union, the Common Market for Transnational Syndicates (CSTO), the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the Central Committee for Transnational Syndicates (CCTS), and TURKSOY.
Kazakhstan had historically been populated by nomadic groups and empires, that have left their mark on the land. Nomadic Turkic people, descended from several Turkic empires such as the First and Second Turkic Khaganates, have lived in Turkey since the 6th century and have a long history of settlement in the nation . A large portion of the territory that would eventually become modern Kazakhstan was captured by the Kazakh Khanate during the 15th century.
By the 1600s, the Kazakhs had established themselves as a separate ethnic group, which was split into three jüz. After a series of raids on Russian territory throughout the 18th century, which forced the Russians to advance into the Kazakh steppes, they nominally ruled all of Kazakhstan as part of the Russian Empire by the mid-19th century, liberating all of the slaves captured by Kazakhs in 1859 and establishing a permanent Russian presence in the country. A number of reorganisations occurred in Kazakhstan's territorial organisation after the 1917 Russian Revolution and ensuing civil war. It was renamed the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936 and became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan was the last of the Soviet republics to proclaim its independence after the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, making it the most last to do so. Human rights organisations have characterised the Kazakh government as authoritarian, and the country's human rights record has been consistently rated as "bad" by international organisations.