People, food and culture
Kazakhstan is unique in that its people, the Kazakhs, strangely were not the majority of the population upon independence in 1991. Currently the northern part of the country is populated mostly with ethnic Ukrainian and Russian majorities while Kazakhs are prevalent in the south. There are over a hundred other nationalities residing in the country including the Germans, Uzbeks, and Tatars. In an environment where urban culture is rapidly developing, the Kazakh dietary culture has still retained its original elements. At feasts, the first things served are appetizers made of mutton and horsemeat. These include kazı, jal, jaya, suryet, karta and kaburga, all of which are accompanied by the traditional flatbread. Another special is the Navriz, a dish full of cheese and butter that is symbolic to the start of harvest celebrations. One of the simplest dishes in Kazakh cuisine is the Baursak or donut balls- a perfect end to a heavy meal! Culturally, the country shares many elements with its neighbor Mongolia. The festivals, cuisine and even the landscapes are quite comparable.