Kazakhstan’s 20 Years of Independence When Kazakhstan became independent after the collapse of Soviet Union in December 1991, many experts had predicted the collapse of the Central Asian nation under the burden of economic and social problems. But 20 years since then, the country of over 16 million people has become the largest economy in the Central Asian region due to its enormous oil, gas and uranium reserves and bold market economic reforms and political stability in the nation of 130 ethnic groups.
According to official figures, Kazakhstan’s GDP per capita grew from $700 in 1994 to more than $9,000 last year. In fact the growth was five years ahead of the schedule, and faster than in any other country in the first 20 years of its independence. Kazakhstan held year-long celebrations across the nation to celebrate its success and look towards what needs to be done to maintain the growth curve. The rapid economic and industrial growth of the oil and energy rich nation is attributed to Kazakhstan’s concerted efforts to create a stable, investor-friendly environment.
Despite the 2008 economic downturn, Kazakhstan retained and attracted a remarkable inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI). Last year, the nation scored among the the top 10 nations attracting FDI in the entire world. According to official figures, the country has attracted $132 billion in FDI in the last 20 years. Officials attribute the reasons to the economic growth to the political stability in the country and some of the bold decisions by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Nazarbayev moved the capital from Almaty to Astana in December 1997 which has proven to be a critical moment.
The new capital has come up as a dynamic centre of a rapidly growing nation and a modern 21st century city of some 750,000 people. The model of inter-ethnic relations that has preserved peace and harmony in the ethnically and religiously diverse society of Kazakhstan is another cause for the countries strong growth. On the political front, Kazakhstan is now moving towards multi-party democracy with the parliament elections to be conducted in January next year. Kazakhstan was the chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010 and hosted the OSCE summit at Astana in December.
An Astana Commemorative Declaration was signed, renewing commitment to a better cooperation within the organization of 56 participating states from North America, Europe and Eurasia. In 2011, Kazakhstan also chaired the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, seeking to strengthen it as a critical instrument of promoting multi-faceted cooperation among its six members. And in June, Kazakhstan assumed the one-year presidency in the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation seeking to promote peace, cooperation and development.
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