A newly-emerged country, once republic of the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan is a country with huge tourism potential. In the south, the country features monuments of the past, Islamic mosques and madrassahs. Almaty, the southern capital, is a busy political and financial center, a city with buzzing nightlife and lots of attractions. In the north, the Baikanur Cosmodrome, attracts visitors who wish to view the impressive launches of Russian spacecrafts.
The past centuries have given the lands of Kazakhstan many historical monuments. The mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi in the city of Turkestan is a unique example of medieval architecture. Numerous rooms are grouped around a square mausoleum hall, covered by one of the largest domes in Central Asia, eighteen meters in diameter. The majestic building is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Such historical and cultural monuments and mausoleums as Abat-Baytak and Aisha-Bibi, a necropolis of Karaman-Ata, palace complexes of Akyrtas and Baba-Ata, the ancient settlements of Koylyk, Issyk, and Berel are of considerable interest for touristrs. In total, Kazakhstan has more than 25 thousand monuments of history, archeology, architecture and monumental art. Kazakhstan is a lowland country, bordered by mountains. An example of such relief is the city of Almaty, where the windows of the houses have a view on the peaks of the Trans-Ili Alatau. This is a popular district of the Tien Shan, famous for its beauty of the mountain forests and alpine landscapes. Covering the area of nearly a thousand square miles, there is the Almaty Reserve located here. Almaty neighborhood is well-known for its orchards where amazingly big apples ripen. Among the sports facilities, one can mention the famous ice skating rink Medeo in the mountains.
Lake Balkhash is a unique natural phenomenon, being half fresh and half salty, 600 kilometers in length and surrounded by sand dunes and desert pastures. Another peculiar natural attraction is Lake Burabaj, admired for its relict pine forests, bizarre sculptures carved from granite by rain and wind. In the middle of the lake, there rises above the water surface a rocky island called Zhumbaktas. Its coast is overgrown with pine and birch forests. The combination of mountains, pine forests and the lake creates special climatic conditions, therefore a resort known for curative mud and mineral waters has been opened here.
Kazakhstan is not just an open air museum, but also a country with beautiful natural attractions, such as alpine meadows of the mountains, the majestic scenery of the Charyn River Canyon, and Lake Burabaj, mentioned in myths and legends. One of the most beautiful corners of Kazakhstan is Bayanaul National Park created to protect the unique flora and fauna of the north-eastern part of the country.
The most beautiful city of Kazakhstan is Almaty. Located near the Trans-Ili Alatau Mountains, it is characterized by original architectural ensembles that combine the elements of traditional style with the latest building structures. Chimbulak mountain sports base in the suburbs of Almaty attracts mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, seeking the ski slopes with a considerable vertical drop.
One of the most spectacular wonders of the country is the Charyn River. Along the river one will find a deep and picturesque canyon, while the forests of this vast desert oasis make a lasting impression on the traveler. The water, wind, and heat have given the banks of the river wonderful shapes, resembling the walls of the ancient city. Diverse flora and fauna, with giant ashes and poplars, over 300 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians and more than 800 arthropods give this place a unique appearance.
On the banks of the Ili river, there is a wonderful monument of nature, the Singing Dune. Located between the two mountain ranges, the dune is influenced by the winds in such a way that the sand remains in one place all the time, without moving anywhere. The sand produces a humming sound so powerful that its 'singing' can be heard for several kilometers.