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The Persian suffix -stan means "land" or "place of", so Kazakhstan can be literally translated as "land of the wanderers".Though traditionally referring only to ethnic Kazakhs, including those living in China, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and other neighbouring countries, the term "Kazakh" is increasingly being used to refer to any inhabitant of Kazakhstan, including non-Kazakhs.The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by Turkic nomads who trace their ancestry to many Turkic states such as Turkic Khaganate etc.In the 13th century, the territory joined the Mongolian Empire under Genghis Khan.During the 17th century, the Kazakhs fought Oirats, a federation of western Mongol tribes, including the Dzungar.The beginning of the 18th century marked the zenith of the Kazakh Khanate.Kazakhstan has an estimated 18 million people as of 2014 Given its large land area, its population density is among the lowest, at less than 6 people per square kilometre (15 people per sq mi).The capital is Astana, where it was moved in 1997 from Almaty, the country's largest city.

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The current President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been leader of the country since then, and is characterised as authoritarian, with a government history of human rights abuses and suppression of political opposition.Archaeologists believe that humans first domesticated the horse (i.e. Central Asia was originally inhabited by the Scythians.According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, areas of Bactria (southern Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan) were also inhabited earlier by a Semitic race of Aramaeans, the sons of Gather.By the 16th century, the Kazakh emerged as a distinct group, divided into three jüz (ancestor branches occupying specific territories).The Russians began advancing into the Kazakh steppe in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century, they nominally ruled all of Kazakhstan as part of the Russian Empire.

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