Country Profile: Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan, a mountainous country in Central Asia, shares a folk Islam and Russian Orthodox heritage. Kazakhstan covers a vast area of steppe with a population of only 16 million, of which 60% are ethnic Kazakhs, a Turkic people group who used to be animist nomads. They often have only a superficial commitment to Islam and live side by side with many Russians and a small minority of Uighurs. The country is enjoying an economic boom thanks to the huge reserves of oil being exploited by western companies.
Folk Islam predominates in Kazakhstan. There are more than 10,000 Kazakh believers and twenty official fellowships. However, church growth has slowed down since 2000 and Christian witness is largely limited to larger towns. Currently the government is tolerant of evangelical Christians although proposed new laws, tightening the requirements for churches, may limit freedoms in the future.