Kazakhstan: The country of the Great Steppe

With the advent of globalization, the tourism industry has become an economic sector that further leads to incorporation into the global market as well as provides a platform for international corporations. In the international arena, the tourism market works on a competitive tourist complex that is designated by its sustainable building and evolutionary development. The beneficial effects boost the infrastructure of the country with the generation of job revenues in addition to the foreign capital influx.

The current century marked the beginning of a new great game declaring the Central Asian states as the real winners of this game. By opening the door to the outside world they therefore not only elevated the significance of this geographical region in the international arena but also created a new area of revenue for the Central Asian Republics.

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Kazakhstan, with a culturally rich history and a nascent political system, has inherited a natural flair that the country can utilize into becoming a leading world tourist market. Geostrategically analyzing, Kazakhstan shares a border with two economic giants of the world, Russia and China. Kazakhstan nicknamed the “land of the Great Steppe” due to its polyglot nature and multiethnic diversity is a host to around 20 million people inhabiting 2,724,900 square kilometers of a vast territory.

The interior of the country is a true reflection of its “peace founding” nature between the East and the West. Their wide-open street as well as the futuristic architectural designs of the cities presents both a glimpse into its ancient culture and a new narrative of the state unfolding. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, a place where you can feel the touch of two continents, it stretches between the great Caspian Sea and Altay mountains. It is the homeland of all the natural wonders like the Rocky Mountains for climbers and dense forests which have inhabited the wildlife alive.

Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan is named to honor the former President Nursultan Nazarbayev and to symbolize its independence from the Soviet legacy into a new-fangled capital that reflects both its history and modernistic approach toward new beginnings. Unlike all the capitals in the world, Nur-Sultan presents the spectators with sky-high glass buildings clean as a whistle and the northern light buildings which by nightfall dance in greenish-blue light, like that of Aurora Borealis.

Nur-Sultan not only attracts tourists for its mesmerizing beauty but also holds pertinence in the Global World as a business and political center. The capital hosted international summits and resolved diplomatic ties such as the OSCE Summit, and the Congress of Leaders of World Religions, and carried out negotiations on the peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict. It also served as an emcee for the international tourism exhibition EXPO-2017.

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The Rome of Kazakhstan is geographically located in the Southeastern part, the center of tourist destination Almaty. Due to its eye-catching beauty and centuries-old myths and tales, it is called the “Garden of Eden”. The largest ski resort in Central Asia built on advanced designs, Shymbulak adds worth its weight in gold to the scenic landscape of the city of Almaty. A city of mountains and valleys, where the centuries-old streets, monuments, and trees each tell tales of its complex past. What distinguishes Almaty from the rest of the cities is its mystical air and calmness of life there from another busy world. The largest Botanical Garden centered in the Almaty city planted the entire world’s known plant species. A place dedicated to ecological conservation that depicts still in the technological era, Kazakhstan remains an eco-friendly state.

Mountains encircling the entire city as nature itself is protecting the majestic beauty from the outside world. Eagle’s eye view of the city can be captured by climbing Kok-tobe Mountain. This Blue hill is an attraction for climbers who climb the mountain to grasp the breathtaking view of the whole city. Further added to a bucket list, Charyn Canyon monumental rocks along the Charyn River are a habitat of animals and special species of plants dating back to the era of the Ice Age. “The Pearl of the Northern Tien Shan”, the title itself describes the beauty of Kolsay lake, three lakes connected by a trail with unmatched scenery, a place of destination for the admirers of God’s remarkable beauty.

Traveling towards the north, Lake Burnaby engulfed in coniferous forests is a perfect place on earth for horse riding in addition to places to relax and admire nature on the beaches of Burabai, Shchuchye, Bolshoy, and Malaya Chebachye lakes. Speaking of nature, the green oases of Shymkent and Taraz, the largest cities in the south are the perfect places to meditate and connect with Mother Earth.

As it is well said that the past has a connection with the present, the ancient past of the Republic is well preserved under the country-initiated program, “Sacred Kazakhstan”, a learning center designed to explore the ancient symbols and monuments. Sacred Mount Aulietau holds significance not only for tourists but also for religious devotees as it is home to ancient tombs of the prophet Zarathustra, Zhoshy Khan, Alash Khan, Tokhtamysh Khan, and Biya Edige.

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Traveling to the west of Kazakhstan, apart from the clear crystal sea like its name the Caspian Sea, there are other spectacular places to visit. Like the underground mosques Beket-Ata, Shopan-Ata, and Karaman-Ata, the mausoleum of Omar and Tura, the necropolis of the Mangyshlak Peninsula, the complex of monuments “Bokeevskaya Orda” and the ancient settlement “Saraishyk”.

The famous silk trade worth of gold currency in the past was made along the Kazakh Steppes, the great Silk Road a linchpin where the international trade was generated. Its significance is brought back to life by preserving the ancient city of Turkestan, a project to protect the old town planning ways and caravan roads.

The story of Kazakhstan further unfolds with the revival of the Silk Road. As the Silk Road attracted merchants and traders from all across the world, the beauty of the Republic of Kazakhstan serves as an apple of the eye for tourists. This Heartland state is worth visiting not only for its beauty but also for its hospitality.

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This op-ed has been contributed by Zaman Bajwa. He is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist and writes about Central Asia, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter: @zamanbajwaa

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