With a highway system that includes some 103,272 kilometers (64,123 miles) of paved highways, Kazakhstan ranks favorably in terms of miles of road per inhabitant. Many quite developed countries in the world have much less roadway per inhabitant. Kazakhstan's main form of transport infrastructure for haulage and
|Country||Newspapers||Radios||TV Sets a||Cable subscribers a||Mobile Phones a||Fax Machines a||Personal Computers a||Internet Hosts b||Internet Users b|
|a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.|
|b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( http://www.isc.org ) and are per 10,000 people.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
freight is rail. Kazakhstan's main railway system includes 14,400 kilometers (8,948 miles) of track. Kazakhstan's transport infrastructure also includes oil and gas pipelines. Kazakhstan has 2,850 kilometers (1,770 miles) of crude oil pipelines, 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) for refined oil products, and 3,480 kilometers (2,162 miles) of natural gas pipelines. In early 2001 a new pipeline was opened to carry crude oil from Kazakhstan's northwestern oil fields through Russia to western markets. Kazakhstan has major port facilities at the Caspian harbors of Aqtau and Atyrau, as well as ports on the navigable Irtysh River at Oskemen, Pavlodar, and Semey. There are 10 major airports in the country, with international airports at Astana and Almaty.
Kazakhstan's railway system was integrated into the Soviet system. Connections allowed for shipment of freight throughout the Eurasian landmass. However, the access to markets in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East is through rail connections that now pass through the territory of Russia. Kazakhstan's highway system is in a poor state of maintenance but otherwise is adequately developed. The highway system allows for truck freight traffic through all bordering countries.
Kazakhstan is the largest of the 5 post-Soviet Central Asian countries (in addition to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). All the Central Asian countries are highly interdependent with respect to energy resources, transportation infrastructure, and markets. The greatest source of wealth in the region is natural resources, particularly gas and oil. The Caspian region's major oil and gas reserves are located in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Much of the oil wealth is located in the shallow coastal regions of the Caspian Sea or in the remote regions of western Kazakhstan. The potential for increasing oil and gas production in the region is great. Oil industry analysts expect that the region could be exporting as much as 2 million barrels a day by 2010. But because all the region's oil-producing countries are landlocked, routes to the market invariably involve shipment through third party countries. As a consequence, the complexities of the region's geography and the differing national interests of the countries make access to market a matter of mutual agreement.
Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet period a telecommunications system that was exceptionally poor. In 1995 Kazakhstan had slightly fewer than 2 million phone lines in use. The number of mobile cellular lines in the country was quite small (4,600 according to U.S. government official estimates). Most cities and small towns rely on deteriorating fixed copper wire phone systems that are comparable to what was used in the United States in the 1940s. Inter-city communications take place through landline and microwave radio relay. However, the system is being modernized. The cities of Almaty and Astana have had recent telecommunications upgrades.
In 1999 the cellular and digital phone revolution arrived in Kazakhstan. Like many developing countries with aging fixed copper wire systems, a steep drop in the cost of cellular services made it possible to bypass over the existing copper service. Statistics are not available concerning the extent to which cellular phones are in common use, but observations on the street would suggest that soon the copper wire fixed system may be replaced by reliance upon new mobile phones. International phone connections are possible with other countries by satellite and by the Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic cable, as well as by earth-to-satellite-to-earth stations.