The People of Kazakhstan, Ethnic Groups
predominant ethnic group, Crimean Tatars, Belarusians, Uzbeks, Uighurs
Kazakhs do not constitute a majority of Kazakhstan’s population, but they do constitute a plurality: with 46 percent of the population, they are the single largest ethnic group. The next largest ethnic group in Kazakhstan is Russians, with 35 percent of the population. Russians are concentrated in the north and in large urban areas, whereas Kazakhs are the predominant ethnic group in rural areas. Other ethnic groups in Kazakhstan include Ukrainians, Germans, Uzbeks, Uygurs (Uighurs), Tatars, and Belarusians.
Kazakhstan was the only Soviet republic in which the titular nationality (or ethnic group for which a republic was named) constituted less than 50 percent of the population. Large numbers of Russians and Ukrainians settled in Kazakhstan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, after Central Asia became part of the Russian Empire. During World War II (1939-1945), the Soviet authorities deported Germans, Crimean Tatars, Koreans, and others to Kazakhstan from other parts of the Soviet Union. Another wave of large-scale immigration of Russians and other Slavs into Kazakhstan began in 1954 as part of a Soviet program to increase the amount of cultivated land in northern Kazakhstan. By 1959 Russians outnumbered Kazakhs in the republic. During the 1980s this demographic trend reversed. Birth rates were higher among Kazakhs, and the immigration of other ethnic groups abated. By 1989, when the last Soviet census was conducted, Kazakhs outnumbered Russians, although only by a slim margin. After Kazakhstan became an independent republic in 1991, the proportion of Kazakhs continued to increase because many Germans, Russians, and members of other ethnic groups left Kazakhstan, while a significant number of Kazakhs moved into the republic from the neighboring Central Asian states and from Mongolia.
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