The territory of Eastern Kazakhstan was inhabited since ancient times. This is evidenced by the remains of ancient mining works, irrigation canals, ruins of fortresses and settlements that have survived to the present day in Altay, in Zaisan hollow, along the slopes of Saur and Tarbagatay.
Here hordes of nomads swept from the steppes of Mongolia and southern Siberia to the west to Volga, and further - to the Black, Caspian and Mediterranean seas. From the south, from Central Asia, the regiments of "invincible" on the orders of Chingiz Khan, and later the Great Tamerlan, came to punish freedom-loving Naimans.
Through the steppes of Chingiz and Kalba, Altay foothills the Northern branch of the Great Silk Road passed, where caravans brought exotic goods.
However, at the beginning of the fifteenth century the basin of the upper Irtysh was captured by the Dzungars, who pushed the Kazakhs to the west, into the hills. But from the middle of the XVIII century after the defeat of the Dzungar Khanate, the Kazakhs of the Middle Zhuz began to move again to the valley of Irtysh, the foothills of Altay and Tarbagatay. Even at the beginning of the eighteenth century, long before the defeat of the Dzungars, Russians began to penetrate into Eastern Kazakhstan. And Irtysh fortified line was created. Along this line there were Russian Cossack villages with fortresses and outposts. Most of them were built on the right bank of Irtysh. There also appeared peasant villages. However, the mass displacement of peasants from Russia to East Kazakhstan began after the construction of the Great Siberian Railway back at the end of the nineteenth century. Most of people settled in Irtysh valley and its right tributaries. By the beginning of the twentieth century the peasant settlements appeared on the left bank of Irtysh.
Here, in the territory of East Kazakhstan, different nations, different cultures met. East and West met.
Nomads from Central Asia had the century-long traditions. Their traditions helped them not only to survive in these conditions, but also successfully resettled the great steppe territories. They had an ascetic, original culture, which contains absolute rationalism whether it is housing, clothing, transport and language.
And the European, which brought mining and metallurgy, advanced agriculture, beekeeping, maral breeding, gardening, manufacturing, education, science.
Such union of two nations, formed after the voluntary entry of part of the Middle Zhuz (union of tribes) of the Kazakhs into the Russian Empire at the beginning of the XVIII allowed to protect successfully the Kazakhs from the expansion of the Jungars and Chinese in the west, and the Central Asian khans in the south.
Outstanding people lived on the land of East Kazakhstan, the pride of our country. This is primarily Abay, a poet, a philosopher who personifies Kazakhstan as well as Pushkin-Russia, Shakespeare-England, or Goethe-Germany. Chokan Valikhanov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ahmet Baitursynov, Sultanmakhmut Turaygyrov, Kanysh Satpayev are scientists, poets, writers, singers.
The population of Eastern Kazakhstan, as well as the size of its territory, is on the last, fifth place among the economic regions of the Republic. Here lives less than 11% of the population of Kazakhstan. But the average population density here is higher than in republic as a whole - 6.3 people per 1 sq.km. The most populated are the north-western foothills and valleys of Rudny Altay, where almost all the most important industrial centers of the region are located. There are large villages in this thinly populated areas.
There are thinly inhabited high mountains of Altay and vast areas of melkosopochnik to the west of the Turkestan-Siberian Railway. Small, often seasonal settlements with livestock farms are common here. In the post-war years, the urban population in eastern Kazakhstan has greatly increased. But it represents only half the total number of population of the region. The share of the urban population in the eastern, industrial, mountainous part of the region is higher. There, in the foothills of the Rudny Altay, many small towns and urban settlements have grown near mines, concentrating factories and metallurgical plants.
Kazakhs and Russians are strongly dominated in national composition of population. Besides Ukrainians, Germans and Koreans represent a significant percent of population.
East Kazakhstan is the most important region of mining, metallurgical (polymetallic) industry and the production of cheap hydroelectric power in Republic. Prominent in the economy of the region is also a developed agro-industrial complex with its main branches - livestock, plant growing and agro processing. The territory of East Kazakhstan is the smallest in republic - only 10% of the territory of Kazakhstan.
Rudny Altay has a prominent place in the history of the development of East Kazakhstan economy. This part of the Altay mountains in Kazakhstan got its name because of the wealth of minerals and metals. It is the first in terms of development of mining area in Kazakhstan, as some deposits of non-ferrous metals were discovered here and began to be developed in the 1820, soon after the founding of Russian fortresses on Irtysh - Semipalatinsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk. The mines of the Kazakh part of Altay for a long time served as the main raw material base for the silver-smelting industry of Altay, the main supplier of silver for the coinage in Russia.
For the pre-war and post-war years, East Kazakhstan has become one of the most industrialized regions of the Republic with diversified agriculture. In the rapid development of the economy of East Kazakhstan, the construction of roads and railways, the integrated use of its most valuable mineral and hydroelectric resources, as well as the development of fertile lands for sowing of grain and industrial crops and rich pastures for the development of livestock production played a decisive role.
In the economy of modern East Kazakhstan, a well-developed heavy industry is coupled with an equally developed agro-industrial complex. The profiling industries are lead and zinc, and the production of energy-intensive non-ferrous metals - titanium and magnesium. This specialization of the region's industry is connected not only with the wealth of subsoil with multicomponent non-ferrous metals, but also with the existence of an appropriate energy base. On Irtysh and its right tributaries, a number of hydroelectric power stations have been built, generating cheap electric power. The most powerful of them are Bukhtarma, Shulbinskaya and Ust-Kamenogorsk HPP. In addition, thermal power plants operate in a number of cities. They are connected by high-voltage lines and together with hydroelectric power stations form a powerful Altay energy system. The main consumer of a huge amount of electricity in the region is the polymetallic industry. It is represented here at all stages of the serial processing of ore, from its extraction to the production of lead, zinc, copper, cadmium, other rare metals and sulfuric acid. Machine building, which mainly produces mining equipment, capacitors and appliances for power plants, is also closely connected with non-ferrous metallurgy. From imported raw materials titanium and magnesium are smelted. Coal is mined in significant industrial quantities.
In East Kazakhstan, there are many different building materials: building stone, gypsum, mineral paints, limestone. There are a lot of lakes in the region, the largest ones are Zaysan, Markakol, Alakol, Sasykol, which are of fishing importance. Some lakes in the northwest are rich in mineral salts, in particular, with salt.
The share of forest and woodworking industry is much more in the industrial complex of East Kazakhstan than in other regions of our republic. Because of forest reserves and logging our region occupies an almost monopoly position in Kazakhstan. A large furniture factory works in Ust-Kamenogorsk.
Livestock sector plays the leading role in the agro-industrial complex of Eastern Kazakhstan. The development of this industry is favored by extensive steppe and partly mountain pastures.
The main branch of livestock breeding in the region is meat-sheep breeding. It is most developed along the left bank of Irtysh, in Zaisan hollow, the foothills of the Southern Altay, Saur and Tarbagatay, populated mainly by Kazakhs. In the foothills of Altay and on the southern slopes of Tarbagatay, where many honey plants grow, beekeeping is developed. Mountain honey of Altay for its aroma, taste and medicinal qualities is considered one of the best in the world. The specific branch of livestock in the high-mountainous part of the region is the maral breeding. Horse breeding is also developed. Pig breeding is of some importance.
The agriculture of East Kazakhstan has mainly a grain direction. The main agricultural areas are in the Prirtysh steppes, foothills and valleys of the Rudny Altay, the Kalbin Range and the Tarbagatay.
Sunflower is the main crop of the technical crops. Here are the main crops of this culture in the republic.
A large Semipalatinsk industrial center has grown on the processing of agricultural raw materials. The leading enterprises of this region are the meat plant and connected with it the leather and fur combine.
In East Kazakhstan, there are more than thirty cities and towns of urban type. The development of almost all these settlements is associated with the development of minerals.
Ust-Kamenogorsk is the center of the East Kazakhstan region, the largest industrial and transport hub of Rudny Altay. The city appeared in 1720 as a fortress Ust-Kamennaya at the confluence of the rivers Ulba with Irtysh under the order of Peter the Great. A military expedition under the command of Major Ivan Mikhailovich Likharev defended the borders of Russian possessions in the range of the Cossack line. In three or four decades, when the role of Ust-Kamenogorsk as a fortress lost its importance, its role as a trans-shipment and trade center increased. It was called "the gateway of the Rudny Altay", because all expeditions were sent through it to study and develop Rudny and South Altay. From here the trade routes to Mongolia and China went. Later, cargoes were transported through Ust-Kamenogorsk, mainly ore concentrate, sent by boat or steamers along Irtysh to the metallurgical plants of Barnaul and to Central Russia. In 1918 the Soviet power was proclaimed in the city. It was finally established in 1919.
In 1968, Ust-Kamenogorsk was given the status of a city.
To the beginning of XX century Ust-Kamenogorsk becomes the center of the gold mining industry in the Kazakh part of Altay. Alluvial and indigenous deposits are being intensively developed.
According to official reports, about 700 tons of gold were extracted, including a nugget weighing 27.57 kg.
Modern Ust-Kamenogorsk is one of the major centers of non-ferrous metallurgy. Its lead-zinc plant produces a significant part of lead and zinc, smelted in the Rudny Altay. The plant smelts gold, silver, cadmium, gallium, tellurium. The main energy source of the plant is Ust-Kamenogorsk and Bukhtarma HPP. A titanium-magnesium plant was built not far from the city. In addition to non-ferrous metallurgy, there are metalworking and machine building enterprises in the city, food, light and woodworking industries are developing.
Ust-Kamenogorsk is the capital of Eastern Kazakhstan.
This is undoubtedly the most interesting city for tourists, first of all, thanks to its capital status, which determined the concentration of historical and other events on its territory.