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Additional Thoughts on Kazakhstan

View Central Asia 2019 on Bob Brink's travel map.

This should have been part of my first post, but since I forgot to include it the first time, I will post it separately.

The Soviet Union used Kazakhstan as a convenient out of the way place to test nuclear weapons and launch rockets into space.

On the list of Historic Events and Loss of Kazakh people is a line that says, “1949-1989 Nuclear Testing on the Semipalatinsk range” with a loss of life of 23,500. The number is almost certainly understated as the tests were done in the open air.

From Wikipedia: “The general consensus of health studies conducted at the site since it was closed is that radioactive fallout from nuclear testing had a direct impact on the health of about 200,000 local residents. Specifically, scientists have linked higher rates of different types of cancer to post-irradiation effects. Likewise, several studies have explored the correlation between radiation exposure and thyroid abnormalities. A BBC program claimed in 2010 that in the worst affected locations one in 20 children born were with genetic defects.”


The Russian space program still operates out of The Baikonur Cosmodrome which is located in an area of southern Kazakhstan. With the sudden disolution of the Soviet Union, the location of the cosmodrome in the newly independent Kazakhstan was of great concern to both the Russian and US space programs. It is currently leased to Russia until 2050, although it has been a source of contention between the two governments. With the rockets travelling over land, there has been an environmental impact on the people and livestock living in the flight path, especially after some failed launch attempts which spilled toxic rocket fuel over Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is my first of the "5 Stans", newly independent states that were part of the Soviet Union for almost 70 years. Kazakhstan is lucky to have an abundance of oil and gas, but it still must get along with its giant neighbour, including allowing the continuation of the rocket launches.

Posted by Bob Brink 07:37 Archived in Kazakhstan Tagged kazakhstan astana nur_sultan

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