Kazakhstan extends 1700 km from north to south and 3000 km from east to west. Most of the republic consists of plains, but in the southeast and east higher mountains penetrate. The vast lowland surrounding the Caspian Sea in the north consists of an almost completely flat plain, which is largely below sea level. Two countersinks, 131 muh. and 70 muh., is lower than the surface of the Caspian Sea (28 muh.). The lowlands drain through Ural and Emba, both of which flow into the Caspian Sea. The Mugodzhary Heights (656 masl), the southernmost extension of the Ural Mountains, separate the Caspian lowlands from the Turan lava (Turan plain) east and north of the Aral Sea. Parts of the Ustjurt Plateau between the Aral Sea and the Caspian Sea, approx. 300 m high, flat and golden plateau, belongs to Kazakhstan.
Kazakh Highlands, a heavily eroded hinterland approx. 500-1000 meters above sea level, forms the heart of Kazakhstan. This highland forms the watershed between the rivers that drain north to the Arctic Ocean through Irtysh with bees, and those that flow to the interior. Ili flows into Balkhash, Syr-Darja in the Aral Sea, and the Nura river flows into Lake Tengiz. Between Lower Syrian Darja and Balkhasj lies the Betpak-Dala or Golodnaja steppes, the ‘Hunger steppes’, and to the south of this lies a desert landscape. Several mountain chains, including Altaj, Tarbagatai and Tian Shan, extend into the eastern and southeastern parts of Kazakhstan. The peaks reach altitudes of between 3000 and 4000 meters. The peak reaches Pik Talgar (4951 meters) in Tian Shan, just south of Almaty.
With its 2.7 million square kilometers, Kazakhstan is roughly the size of Western Europe. It is the ninth largest country in the world, and the largest country in the world without a coast.
Plant life in Kazakhstan
Vegetation is mostly grassland in the north and semi-desert in the south. On the hillsides there is some pine forest with pine and precious fir species.
Wildlife in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan has a mammalian fauna of 178 species. Many large species have declined in number due to environmental damage: half-seals, argalisau, Capricorn, Persia gas and saiga or steppe antelope. Cheetah and dollops are extinct and snow leopards are found only in the Tian Shan Mountains.
Of predators otherwise mentioned bear, lynx, manul or steppe cat and sand cat. The country houses many carnivores: badgers, snow mice, steppes and tigers – or marbles. Rodents are numerous and include Siselen or ground grain, gerbils, hoppemus, springmus and hamsters. The Kazakh Seven sovereign, which is found in the area around Lake Balkhasj in the east, is the only species in its family.
Caspisel is the site of the Caspian Sea.
More than 485 bird species are registered. The birds of prey include vultures, hawks and eagles, including a stock of the rare imperial eagle. In the wetlands, white-headed and marble ducks, curly pelicans, steppe gulls and sea eagles live. Threatened species such as snowbirds, dwarf goats and dwarf swans are resting here during the move. Lake Alacol is one of only two known breeding sites for Mongolian gulls.
The rest of the fauna consists of more than 100 species of fish, 49 reptiles, 12 amphibians and an estimated 50,000 insect species.