Although the Kazakh culture is based on a nomadic lifestyle of raising animals and
finding seasonal foods, much of this past was destroyed when the Soviets arrived
in the early 1900s. To this new government, the nomadic life may have proved enough
to sustain life, but didn't prove profitable so the Soviets forced the people
to settle in cities as industrialization was forced upon the people.
The Soviets demanded the building of high rise apartment buildings, stressed education,
improved healthcare, expanded infrastructure, and essentially urbanized the entire
country. Some people fought the changes, while others had no choice but to accept
this new lifestyle. In order to help prevent arguments from the region as a whole,
ethnic Russians were sent into the region to run these new factories and other industries.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the people are unsure of what they want
or who they are. They seek their traditional culture and identity, but also realize
many of the advantages of the new technology that the Soviets introduced. The people
claim to be descendants of nomads, but don't want the lifestyle themselves,
although most Kazakhs love the outdoors and the vast lands around them.
Today the Kazakh way of life is not dissimilar to much of the world as the people
are generally urbanized and work for larger and larger companies. They get their
food from the same shops and struggle with issues any other person struggles with,
but they also struggle with who they want to be. Their culture, unlike their way
of life, is still very much rooted in their past as nomads roaming the vast unknown
freely as they live off the land and their animals. Even today the traditional dress,
language, religion and foods are rooted in this past, although in a creative and
modern city like Astana it may be difficult to find.