|c. 18 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Kazakhstan 12,212,645 (2018)|
|United Arab Emirates||5,000|
|Kazakh, Russian, Chinese, Mongolian, and other languages|
|Predominantly Sunni Muslim, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Turkic peoples and Mongols|
The Kazakhs (also spelled Kazaks, Qazaqs; Kazakh: Қазақ, Qazaq, قازاق /qɑ'zɑq/ (help·info), Qazaqtar, Қазақтар, قازاقتار /qɑzɑq'tɑr/ (help·info); the English name is transliterated from Russian) are a Turkic people who mainly inhabit the Ural mountains and northern parts of Central Asia (largely Kazakhstan, but also parts of Uzbekistan, China, Russia and Mongolia), the region also known as the Eurasian sub-continent. Kazakh identity is of medieval origin and was strongly shaped by the foundation of the Kazakh Khanate between 1456 and 1465, when several tribes under the rule of the sultans Zhanibek and Kerey departed from the Khanate of Abu'l-Khayr Khan.
The Kazakhs likely began using this name during either the 15th or 16th century. There are many theories on the origin of the word Kazakh or Qazaq. Some speculate that it comes from the Turkish verb qaz ("to wander"), because the Kazakhs were wandering steppemen; or that it derives from the Proto-Turkic word khasaq (a wheeled cart used by the Kazakhs to transport their yurts and belongings).
Another theory on the origin of the word Kazakh (originally Qazaq) is that it comes from the ancient Turkic word qazğaq, first mentioned on the 8th century Turkic monument of Uyuk-Turan. According to Turkic linguist Vasily Radlov and Orientalist Veniamin Yudin, the noun qazğaq derives from the same root as the verb qazğan ("to obtain", "to gain"). Therefore, qazğaq defines a type of person who seeks profit and gain.
Kazakh was a common term throughout medieval Central Asia, generally with regard to individuals or groups who had taken or achieved independence from a figure of authority. Timur described his own youth without directory authority as his Qazaqliq ("Qazaq-ness"). At the time of the Uzbek nomads' Conquest of Central Asia, the Uzbek Abu'l-Khayr Khan had differences with the Chinggisid chiefs Giray/Kirey and Janibeg/Janibek, descendants of Urus Khan.
These differences probably resulted from the crushing defeat of Abu'l-Khayr Khan at the hands of the Qalmaqs. Kirey and Janibek moved with a large following of nomads to the region of Zhetysu/Semirechye on the border of Moghulistan and set up new pastures there with the blessing of the Moghul Chingisid Esen Buqa, who hoped for a buffer zone of protection against the expansion of the Oirats. It is not explicitly explained that this is why the later Kazakhs took the name permanently, but it is the only historically verifiable source of the ethnonym. The group under Kirey and Janibek are called in various sources Qazaqs and Uzbek-Qazaqs (those independent of the Uzbek khans). The Russians originally called the Kazakhs 'Kirgiz' and later Kirghiz-Kaisak to distinguish them from the Kyrgyz proper.
In the 17th century, Russian convention seeking to distinguish the Qazaqs of the steppes from the Cossacks of the Imperial Russian Army suggested spelling the final consonant with "kh" instead of "q" or "k", which was officially adopted by the USSR in 1936.
The Russian term Cossack probably comes from the same Kypchak etymological root: wanderer, brigand, independent free-booter.
Due to their nomadic pastoral lifestyle, Kazakhs kept an epic tradition of oral history. The nation, which amalgamated nomadic tribes of various Kazakh origins, managed to preserve the distant memory of the original founding clans. It was important for a Kazakh to know his or her genealogical tree for no less than seven generations back (known as şejire, from the Arabic word shajara – "tree").
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In modern Kazakhstan, tribalism is fading away in business and government life. Still it is common for a Kazakh man or woman to ask another one which tribe he or she belongs to when getting acquainted with each other. Nowadays, it is more of a tradition than necessity. There is no hostility between tribes. Kazakhs, regardless of their tribal origin, consider themselves one nation.
Those modern-day Kazakhs who yet remember their tribes know that their tribes belong to one of the three Zhuz (juz, roughly translatable as "horde" or "hundred"):
There is much debate surrounding the origins of the Hordes. Their age is unknown so far in extant historical texts, with the earliest mentions in the 17th century. The Turkologist Velyaminov-Zernov believed that it was the capture of the important cities of Tashkent, Yasi, and Sayram in 1598 by Tevvekel (Tauekel/Tavakkul) Khan that separated the Qazaqs, as only a portion of the Century possessed the cities. This theory suggests that the Qazaqs then divided among a wider territory after expanding from Zhetysu into most of the Dasht-i Qipchaq, with a focus on the trade available through the cities of the middle Syr Darya, of which Sayram and Yasi belonged. The Junior juz originated from the Nogais of the Nogai Horde.
The Kazakh language is a member of the Turkic language family, as are Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Uyghur, Turkish, Azeri, Turkmen, and many other living and historical languages spoken in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Xinjiang, and Siberia.
Kazakh belongs to the Kipchak (Northwestern) group of the Turkic language family. Kazakh is characterized, in distinction to other Turkic languages, by the presence of /s/ in place of reconstructed proto-Turkic */ʃ/ and /ʃ/ in place of */tʃ/; furthermore, Kazakh has /ʒ/ where other Turkic languages have /j/.
Kazakh, like most of the Turkic language family lacks phonemic vowel length, and as such there is no distinction between long and short vowels.
Kazakh was written with the Arabic script during the 19th century, when a number of poets, educated in Islamic schools, incited revolt against Russia. Russia's response was to set up secular schools and devise a way of writing Kazakh with the Cyrillic alphabet, which was not widely accepted. By 1917, the Arabic script was reintroduced, even in schools and local government.
In 1927, a Kazakh nationalist movement sprang up but was soon suppressed. At the same time the Arabic script was banned and the Latin alphabet was imposed for writing Kazakh. The native Latin alphabet was in turn replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet in 1940 by soviet interventionists. Today, there are efforts to return to the Latin script.
Kazakh is a state (official) language in Kazakhstan. It is also spoken in the Ili region of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China, where the Arabic script is used, and in western parts of Mongolia (Bayan-Ölgii and Khovd province), where Cyrillic script is in use. European Kazakhs use the Latin alphabet.
Ancestors of modern Kazakhs believed in Shamanism and Tengrism, then Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Christianity including Church of the East. Islam was first introduced to ancestors of modern Kazakhs during the 8th century when the Arab missionaries entered Central Asia. Islam initially took hold in the southern portions of Turkestan and thereafter gradually spread northward. Islam also took root due to the zealous missionary work of Samanid rulers, notably in areas surrounding Taraz where a significant number of Turks accepted Islam. Additionally, in the late 14th century, the Golden Horde propagated Islam amongst the Kazakhs and other tribes. During the 18th century, Russian influence toward the region rapidly increased throughout Central Asia. Led by Catherine, the Russians initially demonstrated a willingness in allowing Islam to flourish as Muslim clerics were invited into the region to preach to the Kazakhs whom the Russians viewed as "savages" and "ignorant" of morals and ethics. However, Russian policy gradually changed toward weakening Islam by introducing pre-Islamic elements of collective consciousness. Such attempts included methods of eulogizing pre-Islamic historical figures and imposing a sense of inferiority by sending Kazakhs to highly elite Russian military institutions. In response, Kazakh religious leaders attempted to bring religious fervor by espousing pan-Turkism, though many were persecuted as a result. During the Soviet era, Muslim institutions survived only in areas where Kazakhs significantly outnumbered non-Muslims due to everyday Muslim practices. In an attempt to conform Kazakhs into Communist ideologies, gender relations and other aspects of the Kazakh culture were key targets of social change.
In more recent times however, Kazakhs have gradually employed a determined effort in revitalizing Islamic religious institutions after the fall of the Soviet Union. Some Kazakhs continue to identify with their Islamic faith, and even more devotedly in the countryside. Those who claim descent from the original Muslim soldiers and missionaries of the 8th century command substantial respect in their communities. Kazakh political figures have also stressed the need to sponsor Islamic awareness. For example, the Kazakh Foreign Affairs Minister, Marat Tazhin, recently emphasized that Kazakhstan attaches importance to the use of "positive potential Islam, learning of its history, culture and heritage."
Pre-Islamic beliefs—the worship of the sky, of the ancestors, and of fire, for example—continued to a great extent to be preserved among the common people, however. The Kazakhs believed in the supernatural forces of good and evil spirits, of wood goblins and giants. To protect themselves from them, as well as from the evil eye, the Kazakhs wore protection beads and talismans. Shamanic beliefs are still widely preserved among the Kazakhs, as well as belief in the strength of the bearers of this worship—the shamans, which the Kazakhs call bakhsy. In contradistinction to the Siberian shamans, who used drums during their rituals, the Kazakh shamans, who could also be men or women, played (with a bow) on a stringed instrument similar to a large violin. At present both Islamic and pre-Islamic beliefs continue to be found among the Kazakhs, especially among the elderly. According to 2009 national census 39,172 Kazakhs are Christians.
According to mitochondrial DNA studies (where sample consisted of only 246 individuals), the main maternal lineages of Kazakhs are: D (17.9%), C (16%), G (16%), A (3.25%), F (2.44%) of Eastern Eurasian origin (58%), and haplogroups H (14.1), T (5.5), J (3.6%), K (2.6%), U5 (3%), and others (12.2%) of western Eurasian origin (41%). An analysis of ancient Kazakhs found that East Asian haplogroups such as A and C did not begin to move into the Kazakh steppe region until around the time of the Xiongnu (1st millennia BCE), which is around the onset of the Sargat Culture as well (Lalueza-Fox 2004).
According to a large-scale Kazakhstani study (1294 persons) published in 2017, Kazakh males belong to the following Y-DNA haplogroups :
|C2-M217||50.85%, including 24.88% C-M401, 17.39% C-M86, 6.18% C-M407, and 2.40% C-M217(xM401, M48, M407)||C-M407 was found predominantly among members of the Qongyrat tribe (64/95 = 67.37%)|
|R-M207||12.13%, including 6.03% R1a-M198, 3.17% R1b-M478, 1.62% R1b-M269, 1.00% R2-M124 (predicted), and 0.31% R-M207(xM198, M478, M269, M124)||R1b-M478 was found predominantly among members of the Qypshaq tribe (12/29 = 41.38%)
R1a-M198 was found with notable frequency among members of the Suan (13/41 = 31.71%) and Oshaqty (8/29 = 27.59%) tribes and among members of the Qoja caste of Islamic scholars and gentlemen (6/30 = 20.00%), although C-M401 was more common than R1a-M198 among members of the Suan and Oshaqty tribes (25/41 = 60.98% and 11/29 = 37.93%, respectively)
|O-M175||10.82%, including 9.43% O-M134, 0.70% O-M122(xM134), and 0.70% O-M175(xM122)||O-M134 was found predominantly among members of the Naiman tribe (102/155 = 65.81%),|
|J-M304||8.19%, including 4.10% J2a-M410 (predicted), 3.86% J1-M267 (predicted), and 0.23% J-M304(xJ1, J2a)||J1-M267 (predicted) was found predominantly among members of the Ysty tribe (36/57 = 63.16%)|
|N-M231||5.33%, including 3.79% N-M46, 1.24% N-P43, and 0.31% N-M231(xP43, M46)||N-M46 was found predominantly among members of the Syrgeli tribe (21/32 = 65.63%)|
|G-M201||4.95%, including 3.40% G1-M285, 1.39% G2-P287, and 0.15% G-M201(xM285, P287)||G1-M285 was found predominantly among members of the Argyn tribe (26/50 = 52.00%)|
|Q-M242||3.17%||Q-M242 was found predominantly among members of the Qangly tribe (27/40 = 67.50%)|
|I-M170||1.55%, including 0.85% I2a-L460 (predicted), 0.39% I1-M253 (predicted), and 0.31% I2b-L415 (predicted)|
The distribution was inhomogeneous for some Y-DNA haplogroups: because of this lack of homogeneity among Kazakhs in regard to Y-chromosome DNA, the real percentage of present-day Kazakhs who belong to each Y-DNA haplogroup may differ from the percentages found in this study depending on the proportion of each tribe in the total population of Kazakhs.
Historical population of Kazakhs: 
In Russia, the Kazakh population lives primarily in the regions bordering Kazakhstan. According to latest census (2002) there are 654,000 Kazakhs in Russia, most of whom are in the Astrakhan, Volgograd, Saratov, Samara, Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Altai Krai and Altai Republic regions. Though ethnically Kazakh, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, these people acquired Russian citizenship.
|356 646||0.33||382 431||0.33||477 820||0.37||518 060||0.38||635 865||0.43||653 962||0.45|
Kazakhs, called Hāsàkè Zú in Chinese (哈萨克族; literally "Kazakh people" or "Kazakh tribe") are among 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. Thousands of Kazakhs fled to China during the 1932–1933 famine in Kazakhstan.
From Northern Xinjiang over 7,000 Kazakhs fled to the Tibetan-Qinghai plateau region via Gansu and were wreaking massive havoc so Ma Bufang solved the problem by relegating the Kazakhs into designated pastureland in Qinghai, but Hui, Tibetans, and Kazakhs in the region continued to clash against each other.[when?] Tibetans attacked and fought against the Kazakhs as they entered Tibet via Gansu and Qinghai.[when?] In northern Tibet Kazakhs clashed with Tibetan soldiers and then the Kazakhs were sent to Ladakh.[when?] Tibetan troops robbed and killed Kazakhs 400 miles east of Lhasa at Chamdo when the Kazakhs were entering Tibet.[when?]
In 1934, 1935, and from 1936–1938 Qumil Eliqsan led approximately 18,000 Kerey Kazakhs to migrate to Gansu, entering Gansu and Qinghai.
In China there is one Kazakh autonomous prefecture, the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and three Kazakh autonomous counties: Aksai Kazakh Autonomous County in Gansu, Barkol Kazakh Autonomous County and Mori Kazakh Autonomous County in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Many Kazakhs in China are not fluent in Standard Chinese, instead speaking the Kazakh language. "In that place wholly faraway", based on a Kazakh folk song, is very popular outside the Kazakh regions, especially in the Far Eastern countries of China, Japan and Korea.
At least one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang have been detained in mass detention camps, termed "reeducation camps", aimed at changing the political thinking of detainees, their identities, and their religious beliefs.
In the 19th century, the advance of the Russian Empire troops pushed Kazakhs to neighboring countries. In around 1860, part of the Middle Jüz Kazakhs came to Mongolia and were allowed to settle down in Bayan-Ölgii, Western Mongolia and for most of the 20th century they remained an isolated, tightly knit community. Ethnic Kazakhs (so-called Altaic Kazakhs or Altai-Kazakhs) live predominantly in Western Mongolia in Bayan-Ölgii Province (88.7% of the total population) and Khovd Province (11.5% of the total population, living primarily in Khovd city, Khovd sum and Buyant sum). In addition, a number of Kazakh communities can be found in various cities and towns spread throughout the country. Some of the major population centers with a significant Kazakh presence include Ulaanbaatar (90% in khoroo #4 of Nalaikh düüreg, Töv and Selenge provinces, Erdenet, Darkhan, Bulgan, Sharyngol (17.1% of population total) and Berkh cities.
400,000 Kazakhs live in Karakalpakstan and 100,000 in Tashkent province. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the vast majority of Kazakhs are returning to Kazakhstan, mainly to Manghistau Oblast. Most Kazakhs in Karakalpakstan are descendants of one of the branches of "Junior juz" (Kişi juz) - Adai tribe.
Iranian Kazakhs live mainly in Golestan Province in northern Iran. According to ethnologue.org, in 1982 there were 3000 Kazakhs living in the city of Gorgan. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the number of Kazakhs in Iran decreased due to emigration to their historical motherland.
Afghan Kypchaks are Aimak (Taimeni) tribe of Kazakh origin that can be found in Obi district to the east of the western Afghan province of Herat, between the rivers Farāh Rud and Hari Rud. Afghan Kypchaks, together with the Durzais and Kakar, two other tribes of Pushtun origin, constitute the Taymani tribe. There are approximately 440,000 Afghan Kipchaks.
Turkey received refugees from among the Pakistan-based Kazakhs, Turkmen, Kirghiz, and Uzbeks numbering 3,800 originally from Afghanistan during the Soviet–Afghan War. Kayseri, Van, Amasya, Çiçekdağ, Gaziantep, Tokat, Urfa, and Serinyol received via Adana the Pakistan-based Kazakh, Turkmen, Kirghiz, and Uzbek refugees numbering 3,800 with UNHCR assistance.
The Kazakh Turks Foundation (Kazak Türkleri Vakfı) is an organization of Kazakhs in Turkey.
One of the most commonly used traditional musical instruments of the Kazakhs is the dombra, a plucked lute with two strings. It is often used to accompany solo or group singing. Another popular instrument is kobyz, a bow instrument played on the knees. Along with other instruments, these two instruments play a key role in the traditional Kazakh orchestra. A notable composer is Kurmangazy, who lived in the 19th century. After studying in Moscow, Gaziza Zhubanova became the first woman classical composer in Kazakhstan, whose compositions reflect Kazakh history and folklore. A notable singer of the Soviet epoch is Roza Rymbaeva, she was a star of the trans-Soviet-Union scale. A notable Kazakh rock band is Urker, performing in the genre of ethno-rock, which synthesises rock music with the traditional Kazakh music.
A group of Kazakhs, originally numbering over 20000 people when expelled from Sinkiang by Sheng Shih-ts'ai in 1936, was reduced, after repeated massacres by their Chinese coreligionists under Ma Pu-fang, to a scattered 135 people.
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