The Kazakh SSR, also called Kazakhstan, was the second largest constituent republic of the Soviet Union, in Central Asia. It was 2,717,300 square kilometres (1,063,200 square miles) in area and its capital was Alma-Ata.
The country is named after the Kazakh people, Turkic-speaking nomads who sustained a powerfull khanate in the region before Russian and then Soviet domination. The Soviet Union's spaceport, now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome was located in this republic at Tyuratam, with the secret town of Leninsk being constructed to accommodate the workers at the Cosmodrome.
Background: During the 1950s and 1960s Soviet citizens were urged to help settle the "Virgin Lands" of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. The influx of immigrants (mostly Russians, but including some deported minority nationalities) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives. Independence has caused many of these newcomers to emigrate. Current issues include: resolving ethnic differences; speeding up market reforms; establishing stable relations with Russia, China, and other foreign powers; and developing and expanding the country's abundant energy resources.