Regions of Kazakhstan

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Karem Abdalla pointed me to a new source of data for Kazakhstan. I got the areas of the regions from source [1], as well as the 2009 census figures rounded to the nearest 100. Source [2] had exact population figures, which agreed with source [1] up to rounding, so I used the exact figures.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on 2003-04-03 that the Kazakh leadership was considering reorganizing Kazakhstan into five regions: Central, Eastern, Northern, South, and Western Kazakhstan.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-4, dated 2002-12-10, deletes Bayqongyr city from the list of subdivisions.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-3 was published on 2002-08-20. It corrects the spelling of the Kazakh name for Kazakhstan from Quazaqstan to Qazaqstan in four places.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. It adds one division to the list of divisions of Kazakhstan. The new division is Astana city. It also changes the spellings of a number of names, all of them transliterated into the Roman alphabet. I have added the ISO code for Astana to the table below.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on 1998-12-15. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Kazakhstan, the draft standard showed nineteen oblasts (regions) and two independent cities. The final standard has dropped five of those regions. The ISO codes for the remaining divisions were unchanged, except as explained below (1).

The U.S. government standard, FIPS PUB 10-4, has also appeared with a revised list of divisions of Kazakhstan in Change Notice 1, dated 1998-12-01. The FIPS and ISO standards are now in agreement.

Country overview: 

ISO codeKZ
LanguageKazakh (kk)
Time zone(see table)


Kazakhstan is the northern part of the old governor-generalship of Turkestan under the Russian Empire. During the Russian Revolution, the status of the Central Asian lands was unresolved for a time. On 1920-08-26, the Kirghiz A.S.S.R. was formed, followed by the Turkestan A.S.S.R. on 1921-04-11. In the fall of 1924, the Central Asian republics were reorganized to match nationalities more closely. The northern part of Turkestan was annexed to Kirghiz. In 1925-04, its name was changed from Kirghiz to Kazakh, and on 1936-12-05, it became an S.S.R. (Kazakhskaya Sovyetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika), with very nearly its modern boundaries. It remained a republic of the Soviet Union until the Union broke up in 1991. (S.S.R. = Soviet Socialist Republic; A.S.S.R. = Autonomous S.S.R. The former was a top-level division of the Soviet Union. A.S.S.R.s were generally subordinate to S.S.R.s.)

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Kasakhstan
  2. Dutch: Kazachstan, Republiek Kazachstan (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Kazakhstan (formal)
  4. Finnish: Kazakstan
  5. French: Kazakhstan m, Kazakhie (variant)
  6. German: Kasachstan n
  7. Icelandic: Kasakstan
  8. Italian: Kazakistan m
  9. Kazakh: Kazak Respublikasy (formal)
  10. Norwegian: Kasakhstan, Republikken Kasakhstan (formal)
  11. Portuguese: Cazaquistăo m, República f do Cazaquistăo m (formal)
  12. Russian: Республика Казахстан (formal)
  13. Spanish: Kazajistán m, Kazajstán, Kazakstán (variant)
  14. Swedish: Kazakstan
  15. Turkish: Kazakistan Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

land of the Kazakhs, ethnic name from Turkish kazak: free

Primary subdivisions: 

Kazakhstan is divided into fourteen oblysy (oblasts under the Soviet Union: regions) and three galasy (cities with regional status).

Almaty [City]cKZ.ACALAKZ020561,365,6321,130,068300100Almaty
Bayqonyr (1)cKZ.BYBAYKZ086 Bayqonyr
East KazakhstanrKZ.EKVOSKZ150761,396,5931,530,792283,200109,300Öskemen
North KazakhstanrKZ.NKSEVKZ16156596,535725,93298,00037,800Petropavlovsk
South KazakhstanrKZ.SKYUZKZ101662,469,3571,976,689117,30045,300Shymkent
West KazakhstanrKZ.WKZAPKZ07095598,880617,624151,30058,400Oral
17 divisions16,009,59714,952,4202,724,9001,052,100
  • Typ: r = region, c = city.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Region codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a global
    context, prefix "KZ-" to the code (ex: KZ-KUS represents Qostanay).
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
  • Pc: First two digits of postal codes for region.
  • Time: Time zone for the region (hours later than GMT).
  • Pop-2009: 2009-02-25 census.
  • Pop-1999: 1999-02-26 census.


The ISO code for Bayqonyr has been withdrawn, and is shown as a historical relic.

Postal codes: 

For some time after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazahkstan continued to use the Soviet-era postal codes, six-digit numbers beginning with '4' (or, rarely, '6'). After the reorganization of 1997, a new system of pochtovye indeksy (postal indexes) was developed, and came into force on 2004-12-01. The numbers are still six digits. The first two digits represent a region; the first four, a rayon.

Further subdivisions:

See the Rayons of Kazakhstan page.

The secondary subdivisions of Kazakhstan are rayons and maslikhat.

Territorial extent: 

The UN LOCODE page  for Kazakhstan lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Almaty: Kazakh for "grown with apple trees", formerly Alma-Ata from alma: apple, ata: father.
  2. Aqmola: Kazakh for white sacred place.
  3. Aqtöbe: Kazakh for white hill.
  4. Atyrau: river delta.
  5. Chimkent, Shymkent: green city.
  6. Kökshetau: sky-colored mountain.
  7. Pavlodar: Russian for gift of Paul.
  8. Petropavlovsk: city of Peter and Paul, named for the church of Saints Peter and Paul there.
  9. Qaraghandy: place rich in acacia.
  10. Qyzylorda: Kazakh kzyl: red, orda: camp.
  11. Semey: shortened from former Semipalatinsk, Russian syem: seven, palata tribunal, "city of seven chambers".
  12. Semirechensk: from Russian syem: seven, ryeki: rivers.
  13. Taldyqorghan: poplar castle.
  14. Tselinograd: from Russian tselina: virgin soil, gorod: city.
  15. Zhambyl, Dzhambul: after Dzhambul Dzhabayev (1846-1945), Kazakh poet.

Change history: 

  1. 1920-08-26: Kirghiz A.S.S.R. (Orenburg) formed from Akmolinsk (Petropavlovsk), Semipalatinsk (Semipalatinsk), Turgay (Kustanay), and Ural'sk (Ural'sk) regions, and the northern part of Transcaspian territory (Ashkhabad) (capitals in parentheses).
  2. 1921-04-11: Turkestan A.S.S.R. formed from Amu-Darya (Petro-Alexandrovsk, modern Turtkul'), Ferghana (Skobelev), Pamir, Samarkand (Samarkand), Semirechensk (Verniy), and Syr Darya (Tashkent) regions, and the southern part of Transcaspian. Name of capital of Semirechensk changed from Verniy to Alma-Ata.
  3. 1924-10: Most of Semirechensk and Syr Darya merged with Kirghiz A.S.S.R.
  4. 1925: Capital of Kirghiz A.S.S.R. moved from Orenburg to Kzyl-Orda.
  5. 1925-04: Name of Kirghiz A.S.S.R. changed to Kazakh.
  6. 1927-04-03: Capital of Kazakh legally changed from Kzyl-Orda to Alma-Ata. The actual transition took place in 1929.
  7. 1936-12-05: Status of Kazakh changed to S.S.R. The republic was divided into 16 regions. Name of capital of Dzhambul region changed from Auliye-Ata to Mirzoyan.
  8. 1938: Name of capital of Dzhambul region changed from Mirzoyan to Dzhambul.
  9. ~1957: Taldy-Kurgan region merged with Alma-Ata.
  10. 1960: Tselinny kray (region) created by merging Akmolinsk, Kokchetav, Kustanay, North Kazakhstan, and Pavlodar regions. It was split up into its components again in 1971.
  11. 1961: Name of capital of Tselinny region changed from Akmolinsk to Tselinograd.
  12. 1962: Name of South Kazakhstan region changed to Chimkent.
  13. ~1973: Dzhezkazgan region split from Karaganda; Mangyshlak region split from Atyrau; Taldy-Kurgan region split from Alma-Ata; Turgay region split from Kustanay.
  14. ~1980: Alma-Ata [City] split from Alma-Ata region.
  15. 1991-12-08: Soviet Union ceased to exist. Kazakhstan became an independent country. Westerners began to use the Kazakh, rather than the Russian, version of place names. Name of Chimkent region restored to South Kazakhstan. At this point, the divisions of Kazakhstan were as shown in this table.
Almaty [City]ALAKZ021,006,000AlmatyAlma-Ata
East KazakhstanVOSKZ15897,00097,00037,500ÖskemenUst'-Kamenogorsk
North KazakhstanSEVKZ16586,00044,00017,000PetropavlovskPetropavlovsk
South KazakhstanYUZKZ091,644,000116,00044,800ShymkentChimkent
West KazakhstanZAPKZ06599,000151,00058,300OralUral'sk
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 1982-01-01 estimate
  • Russian: Russian name of capital
  1. 1991-12-10: Official name of country changed from Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic to Republic of Kazakhstan.
  2. 1997-01-08: Name of capital of Zhambyl region changed from Zhambyl to Taraz. Taraz was an important city at the same location from the 7th to the 13th century, if not longer (the city has celebrated its 2000th anniversary). The name of the region has not changed from Zhambyl.
  3. 1997-04-22: Taldyqorghan region merged with Almaty; Torghay region merged with Qostanay.
  4. 1997-05-03: Kökshetau region merged with North Kazakhstan; Semey region merged with East Kazakhstan; Zhezqazghan region merged with eastern part of Qaraghandy region to form a new Qaraghandy; western part of old Qaraghandy region merged with Aqmola.
  5. 1997: Bayqonur city split from Qyzylorda region (? see note below); Astana city split from Aqmola.
  6. 1997-12-10: Capital of country officially moved from Almaty to Aqmola.
  7. 1998-05-06: Capital of country renamed from Aqmola to Astana.
  8. 1999-04-10: Enbekshil`derskiy, Shuchinskiy, and Zerendinskiy raions transferred from North Kazakhstan region to Aqmola region. Capital of Aqmola moved from Astana to Kokshetau.
  9. 2001-04-14: Capital of Almaty region moved from Almaty to Taldykorgan.

Note 1: There is some confusion about Bayqonur. In the draft ISO standard, one of the independent cities is Leninsk, with a code of LEN. In the final standard, Leninsk is gone and Bayqonyr (alternate names Baykonyr, Bajkonyr) occupies its place. In the FIPS standard, the name of the corresponding city is spelled "Bayqongyr". In the Soviet era, Tyuratam, in the Qyzylorda region, was the headquarters of missile and rocket research at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It's not shown on Soviet maps for security reasons. Tyuratam was renamed Leninsk around 1988. The CIA World Factbook 2001 says, "In 1995 the Governments of Kazakhstan and Russia entered into an agreement whereby Russia would lease for a period of 20 years an area of 6,000 sq km enclosing the Bayqongyr (Baykonur) space launch facilities and the city of Bayqongyr (formerly Leninsk)." Source [5] says, "The city of Leninsk—now Turatam—serving the Baikonur space centre, and formerly one of Kazakhstan's administrative units, was transferred to Russian jurisdiction in August 1995, for a period of 20 years."

What I make of it is that Bayqonyr (or its spelling variants) is the name of the launch facility and the entire area of the Russian lease. The main city in that lease area is Turatam (Tyuratam), which was known as Leninsk for a short period. To be consistent, the standards should treat the Bayqonyr lease as they treated the Panama Canal Zone or Hong Kong when those were leased territories: it should be given its own country code. However, I find it more fitting to treat it as part of Kazakhstan, with a note about its current status.

Other names of subdivisions: 

Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, western sources normally used transliterations from Russian names rather than Kazakh names. The standard form of the Russian names of the regions invariably ends in -ская область. I have listed this form only when the suffix -skaya alters the root name. Where region names are the same as capital names, these are also variant names of the capitals.

  1. Almaty: Alma-Ata (obsolete); Алма-Ата, Алма-Атинская область (Russian-obsolete); Алматы, Алматинская область (Russian)
  2. Aqmola: Tselinograd (obsolete); Акмола (Russian); Целиноград (Russian-obsolete)
  3. Aqtöbe: Актюбинск (Russian)
  4. Astana: Astaná (Spanish)
  5. Atyrau: Gur'yev (obsolete); Атырау (Russian); Гурьев (Russian-obsolete)
  6. East Kazakhstan: Shyghys Qazaqstan (Kazakh); Восточно-Казахстан (Russian)
  7. Kökshetau: Кокчетав (Russian)
  8. Mangghystau: Мангышлак (Russian)
  9. North Kazakhstan: Soltustik Qazaqstan (Kazakh); Северо-Казахстан (Russian)
  10. Pavlodar: Павлодар (Russian)
  11. Qaraghandy: Караганда, Карагандинская область (Russian)
  12. Qostanay: Кустанай (Russian)
  13. Qyzylorda: Кызыл-Орда, Кзыл-Орда, Кзыл-Ординская область (Russian)
  14. Semey: Semipalatinsk (obsolete); Семипалатинск (Russian)
  15. South Kazakhstan: Chimkent (obsolete); Ongtüstik Qazaqstan (Kazakh); Шымкент, Чимкент (Russian-obsolete); Южно-Казахстан (Russian)
  16. Taldyqorghan: Талды-Курган, Талдыкорган (Russian)
  17. Torghay: Тургай (Russian)
  18. West Kazakhstan: Batys Qazaqstan (Kazakh); Уральск, Западно-Казахстан (Russian)
  19. Zhambyl: Джамбул (Russian)
  20. Zhezqazghan: Джезказган (Russian)


  1. [1] Regions of Kazakhstan , Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Statistics (retrieved 2011-02-06).
  2. [2] Population Statistics of Eastern Europe , Tim Bespyatov (retrieved 2011-02-06).
  3. [3] Kazakhstan Mission to the U.N.  website provided some information for Change history. When retrieved (2005-05-10), it listed only two cities with regional status: Almaty and Leninsk (or Bayqonyr).
  4. [4] "General information on the Republic of Kazakhstan", Kazakh Embassy fact sheet at (dead link, retrieved 2003-07-27).
  5. [5] Europa World Year Book 2001. Europa Publications, London, 2001. Vol. 2, p. 2265.
  6. [6] Atlas Avtomobil'nykh Dorog SSSR. Moscow, 1968.
  7. [7] Atlas SSSR v Desyatoy Pyatiletke. Moscow, 1977.
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