Learn more about Kazakhs
|Total population||11,000,000 (est.)|
|Regions with significant populations||Kazakhstan - 8,300,000|
|Religion|| Sunni Islam <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">other Turkic people
The Kazakhs (also spelled Kazaks or Qazaqs), (in Kazakh: Қазақтар [qɑzɑqtar]; in Russian: Казахи; English term is the transliteration from Russian) are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia (largely Kazakhstan, but also found in parts of Russia and China). They have been famous in the past for the fierce love of freedom, skillful horse riding, hunting with semi-domesticated eagles, and currently (as of 2003), for the rapid economic growth of the independent state of Kazakhstan. The word "Kazakh" was included in a Turkish-Arabian dictionary of the 13th century AD. The meaning of this word was given as "independent" or "free." The true meaning of the word is a matter of debate: some say it is related to "Aq qaz", which means "white goose." The name Kazakh, both for the people and for the nation itself, is said to reference the horseback culture and is related to the term "cossack" that takes its origin from the same Turkic word. Other theories exist as well.
Mostly, Kazakhs belong to one of three Jüz (Жүз): Higher juz (Ulı jüz), Middle juz (Orta jüz), and Junior juz (Kişi jüz). There are tribes (taypa) and clans (rw) in every juz. There are also three groups outside juz system: töre (direct descendants of Genghis Khan), qoja (descendants of Arabian missionaries and warriors), and töleñgit (descendants of Oirat captives).
Persian, Mongol, Russian and to a lesser degree Arab cultures influenced the current Kazakh traditions. Modern Kazakhstan is the location of Sarmatians described in a segment of the PBS "Secrets of the Dead" series, "Warrior Amazon Women"
 The area of Kazakhstan has been a place of interaction of many ethnic layers during a historically long period. Mongolian tribes, Turkic-speaking populations from Siberia and Altai, and Indo-Iranians from Near East, took part in the formation of Kazakhs. Modern Kazakhs are descendants of Western Eurasian Turkic tribes (Cumans and Kipchaks), Mongol groups (Oirats, Naimans, etc.) and ancient Indo-Iranians tribes (Wusun, Sarmatians, Scythians), which populated the territory between Siberia and Black Sea and remained in Central Asia when the Turkic and Mongol groups started to invade and conquer the area between the 5th and 13th centuries A.D.
Due to their complex history Kazakhs display phenotypical diversity. Kazakhs exhibit predominantly Mongoloid features. Fair to light-brown skin tends to be the norm. Among physical traits are aquiline noses, epicantic fold and high cheekbones. Hair colour varies from prevalent among Kazakhs jet black to red and sandy brown. Hazel, green and blue eyes are not uncommon
The Kazakh language is a member of the Turkic language family, as are Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Uighur, Turkish, Azeri, Turkmen, and many other living and historical languages spoken in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Xinjiang, and Siberia.
Kazakh belongs to Kipchak (Northwestern) group of the Turkic language family. Kazakh is characterized, in distinction to other Turkic languages, by the presence of /s/ in place of reconstructed proto-Turkic */š/ and /š/ in place of */ç/; furthermore, Kazakh has /j/ (alveodental affricate) where other Turkic languages have /y/ (glide). These are just some of the many phonological differences between Kazakh and other Turkic languages.
Kazakh, like most of the Turkic family languages lacks phonemic vowel length, and as such there is no distinction between long and short vowels.
Kazakh was first written with the Arabic script during the 19th century when a number of poets, educated in Islamic schools, incited revolt against Russia. Russia's response was to set up secular schools and devise a way of writing Kazakh with the Cyrillic alphabet, which was not widely accepted. By 1917, the Arabic script was reintroduced, even in schools and local government.
In 1927, Kazakh nationalist movement sprang up but was soon suppressed. At the same time the Arabic script was banned and the Latin alphabet was imposed for writing Kazakh. The Latin alphabet was in turn replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet in 1940.
Kazakh is one of the principal languages spoken in Kazakhstan, along with Russian. It is also spoken in the Ili region of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China, where the Arabic script is still used, and parts of Mongolia.
 Kazakh tribalism
Due to their nomadic pastoral lifestyle Kazakhs kept an epic tradition of oral history. They had to develop phenomenal memories in order to keep an account of their history. The nation, which amalgamated nomadic tribes of various origin Kazakhs, managed to preserve the distant memory of the original founding clans. It was important for a Kazakh to know his or her genealogical tree for no less than seven generations back.
Kazakh's marriage system was exogamous, with marriage between individuals with a common ancestor within seven generations considered taboo. In intertribal marriage, paternal descent is decisive.
In modern Kazakhstan, tribalism is officially prohibited, practically almost negligible, and definitely fading away in business and government life. Still it is common for Kazakhs to ask which tribe they belong to when they meet each other. Nowadays, it is more of a tradition than necessity. There is no hostility between tribes. Kazakhs, regardless of their tribal origin, consider themselves one nation.
 Kazakhs in China
Kazakhs, called Hāsàkè Zú in Chinese (哈萨克族; literally "Kazakh people" or "Kazakh nationality") are among 55 minority groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China (PRC). In the PRC there are one Kazakh autonomous prefecture, the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and three Kazakh autonomous counties, Aksai Kazakh Autonomous County in Gansu, Barkol Kazakh Autonomous County and Mori Kazakh Autonomous County in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Many Kazakhs in China are not fluent in Standard Mandarin, China's official language, instead speaking the Kazakh language. Many are also skilled in the performance of Kazakh traditional songs. A popular accompanying instrument is the dombra a two-string plucked lute.
Since the early 21st century, Mamuer Rayeskan, a young Kazakh musician from Qitai, Xinjiang now living in Beijing, has achieved some renown for his reworking of Kazakh folk songs with his group IZ, with which he sings and plays guitar, dombra, and Jew's harp.
- See also: Kazakh exodus from Xinjiang
 Kazakhs in RussiaRussia the Kazakh population lives in the regions bordering Kazakhstan. The 2002 Russian census recorded 655,000 Kazakhs.
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de:Kasachen eo:Kazaĥoj es:Kazajo (etnia) fi:Kazakit fr:Kazakhs it:Kazaki ja:カザフ ka:ყაზახები kk:Қазақтар ko:카자흐족 nl:Kazachen pl:Kazachowie ru:Казахи sh:Kazasi sr:Казаси sv:Kazaker tr:Kazaklar ug:قازاق zh:哈薩克族