Kazakhstan is a former Soviet state and the largest and richest of the Central Asian countries. Its transition from Soviet state to independent republic has been a story of mixed success. It has enormous economic potential based on its wealth of natural resources. It is the world's largest exporter of uranium and newly exploited coalfields and oilfields have prompted rapid growth in recent years, but the process has been hindered by widespread corruption and persistent inflation. The economic reforms that took place in the conversion from communism to capitalism mostly served to make a small minority very rich while a large majority gained little to no benefit. The health of the population is also still affected by Soviet-era waste dumping and nuclear testing.
As Kazakhstan continues to modernise, its cultural output will continue to increase. Currently, media is heavily restricted, with many of the country's newspapers owned by the state, and independent news sources likely to be suppressed or closed if they publish criticism of the government. The growth of the internet and access to blogs and social media present a new opportunities for freedom of expression.
The area has been the subject of significant travel literature; representing a link between the Middle East and Asia and a melting pot of European, Arabic, Russian and Asian cultures. Christopher Robbins gives a fabulous account of his journey through the Kazakh land in his book In Search of Kazakhstan. Michael Fergus presents a positive future of the country in Kazakhstan: Coming of Age, detailing the country's potential.
Kazakhstan has produced notable films, including the expensive Nomad, among others such as Mongol, Kelin, Tulpan and Seker. Kazakhstan has been made infamous by Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy Borat, though the film is certainly not an authentic representation of life in Kazakhstan.