Kazakhstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and now has central Asia’s largest economy ($461 billion GDP in 2016). It is the largest landlocked country in the world and is rich in uranium and oil. Bloomberg Innovation Index ranked Kazakhstan in 2017 as the 48th most innovated economy in the world. Kazakhstan moved from 47th to the 32nd place in the 2017 IMD World Competitiveness ranking. In 2001, 47% of the population lived in poverty and in 2013 poverty was measured at 3%. In December of 2015, the Kazakhstan Government approved a new privatization plan for 2016-2020. It’s a large scale privatization program that continues the privatization of 2014 and includes 60 major state-owned companies. Recently, a trade route has been established between Kazakhstan and the United States. The route now makes up 54% of the World’s salt imports and exports by volume (350,000 tonnes per year).
Travel Note: The Guardian describes tourism in Kazakhstan as, “hugely underdeveloped,” despite the attractions of the country’s dramatic mountain, lake and desert landscapes. Factors preventing tourism are high prices and logistical difficulties of travel in this geographically enormous country.