H.E. Ambassador Yerkin Akhinzhanov celebrated the occasion of the National Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan with colleagues and friends on October 24, 2023, at the Pretoria Country Club.

Welcoming Members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of DIRCO, honorable guests, and ladies and gentlemen, H.E. Mr. Akhinzhanov shared the history of how Kazakhstan declared its sovereignty back on October 25, 1990.

The declaration was more than a political statement; it signaled the nation’s commitment to determine its own destiny. Kazakhstan is a comparatively young state, but at the same time, an ancient land. It has witnessed the rise and decline of various civilizations and has been a crossroad for the ancient Silk Road, a major link of civilizations during those times.

With the new, modern Silk Road, over 80% of all land cargo trade between China and Europe now transits Kazakhstan.

Some interesting facts about Kazakhstan include the history of apples. They originated in Kazakhstan, in central Asia east of the Caspian Sea. Alma Ata, the capital of Kazakhstan until 1997, means “full of apples.” By 1500 BC, apple seeds had been carried throughout Europe.

Another interesting fact is the wild tulips. Wild tulip types originated in Kazakhstan. The country is home to nearly 40 out of approximately 100-120 wild species known to date. Eighteen of Kazakhstan’s tulip species are included in the Red Book, while 12 are endemic, meaning they only grow in the country.

Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world and the largest landlocked country. For the last 30 plus years, Kazakhstan has managed to turn its landlocked status into land connectivity, just as their ancestors did many centuries ago.

Kazakhstan has managed to build a vibrant, young democracy, with special emphasis placed on cherishing multicultural diversity in society, ensuring that the more than 100 ethnic communities find their voice and representation in the nation’s political fabric.

Today, Kazakhstan stands tall as the largest economy in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus, having grown ninefold in the last 30 years, with its GDP reaching 230 million USD.

The decision to move the capital was made on July 6, 1994, by the Supreme Council of Kazakhstan, which adopted the decree “On the transfer of the capital of Kazakhstan.” After the capital was moved from Almaty to Akmola on December 10, 1997, the city was consequently renamed Astana in 1998. This was not just a political act but also turned out to be one of the most successful infrastructure mega projects.

The Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) plays a key role as a regional center for business and finance, connecting the economies of Central Asia, the Caucasus, the EAEU, Western China, Mongolia, the Middle East, and Europe. There are over 2,100 registered companies and 79 countries represented.

The financial success of Astana led to Mastercard opening a regional office in the country.

Relations between Kazakhstan and South Africa were established over 30 years ago. There have been various high-level visits over the past years, sharing the same approach on the international agenda and supporting each other on a multilateral forum. There was a 35% increase in trade between the two countries last year.

Chief Director of DIRCO Sindiswa Mququ congratulated Kazakhstan on behalf of Minister Naledi Pandor. She reiterated that South Africa and Kazakhstan still have much to offer each other as interactions gain momentum.

Minister Mququ congratulated Kazakhstan on the successful hosting of the Astana International Forum in June 2023, with the theme for this year being “Overcoming challenges through dialogue: towards cooperation, development, and progress.”

A beautiful photo display gave the guests an opportunity to experience the vast and diverse landscape of Kazakhstan, as well as historical sites.

By Marion Kate