Kazakhstan’s biggest national holiday since 1991 has naturally been its Independence Day, celebrated on December 16. What makes it even bigger is the fact that it is often celebrated across two days — December 16 and 17. Not just that, if December 16 falls on a weekend, the following Monday is considered a holiday. The Kazakhs set up yurts, indulge in delicacies, and dance the night away to folk music! They also dress up in traditional fashion for the ceremony at Ak Orda Presidential Palace. They sure know how to celebrate; would you want to join in the revelry too?
History of Kazakhstan Independence Day
Situated on the Eurasian Steppe, Kazakhstan is the biggest country in the region. As a result, it has been a melting pot of cultures, peoples, empires, and more. Neanderthals and their ancestors were also present in central Kazakhstan hundreds of thousands of years ago. After centuries of changes in weather, terrain, and rulers, Kazakhstan has turned out to be the beautiful country we know today. It’s a shame that it was only a couple of decades ago that the nation gained independence.
So, how did they gain independence after all? It all happened in the year 1991. Hoping to maintain unity within the Soviet Union, a referendum that March resulted in Kazakhstan voting 95% in favor of forming a new Union of Sovereign States. In August, communists of the Soviet Union made a failed attempt, the infamous August Coup, to take control of the country from Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet President at the time. Eventually, the Supreme Soviet – or ‘supreme council’ — of Kazakhstan then passed the Constitutional Independence Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan in December, finally declaring independence.
Kazakhstan was the last of the Soviet states to declare its independence, even though the Soviet Union collapsed rather swiftly. Soon after this, the Alma-Ata Protocol was put in place to form the Commonwealth of Independent States. This independence was marked by the era of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who established not only a new capital but also a new two-house parliamentary system. He would rule the newly independent Kazakhstan for nearly three decades.
Kazakhstan Independence Day timeline
Kazakhstan gains independence on December 16, 1991.
Kazakhstan becomes a member of the United Nations in March of 1992.
The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan is adopted on August 30, 1995.
Amendments to the Constitution are made to modify Kazakhstan’s basic laws on May 18, 2007.
The Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy is introduced on December 14, 2012.
Kazakhstan Independence Day FAQs
How did Kazakhstan gain independence?
In 1991, a referendum in March resulted in Kazakhstan voting majorly in favor of forming a new Union of Sovereign States. After the failed August Coup, the Supreme Soviet of Kazakhstan passed the Constitutional Independence Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan in December, finally attaining independence.
Who did Kazakhstan declare independence from in 1991?
The last republic to leave the USSR, the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic was renamed the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1991. The Soviet Union was disbanded later in December by the Soviet of the Republics.
Why did Kazakhstan leave the USSR?
With the collapse of the Communist Party seemingly inevitable, there really wasn’t any USSR left to be a part of. With Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus having withdrawn, Kazakhstan really didn’t have much reason to remain.
How to Celebrate Kazakhstan Independence Day
The Kazakhs tend to celebrate the occasion indoors, in yurts or otherwise, owing to the harsh cold of the winter season in the region.
Indulge in delicacies
Many villages set up these yurts, which are a form of traditional tents, under which local delicacies are served.
Dance with joy
The Astana Opera takes it upon itself to organize live concerts, featuring national orchestras that perform traditional music.
5 Facts About The Republic Of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan hosts close to 120 ethnic groups and nationalities.
The border that Kazakhstan shares with Russia is the longest continuous land border in the world, stretching a whopping 4,660 feet.
Kazakhstan is the world’s largest country that doesn’t have direct access to the ocean.
No ocean access, but Kazakhstan has the second-largest uranium reserves in the world.
The chimney of Ekibastuz GRES-2 power station is the highest in the world, standing 1,377 feet tall.
Why Kazakhstan Independence Day is Important
Activists often use the occasion to remind the Russian government of its attempted genocide of the Kazakh population during the famine of 1932. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin also forcefully displaced the Kazakh population for more than two decades.
It is also used as a day of remembrance of the 1986 Jeltoqsan protests against Gennady Kolbin’s government, which took place on the same date at Republic Square. By the 1980s, democratization in the Soviet Union started to rise owing to these protests.
Obviously, every independence day of any country is ultimately important for the freedom of its people. After all, they are the ones who make the country.
Kazakhstan Independence Day dates