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National Symbols

Kazakhs have a clear definition of their historic background and that of their land, along with the values that connected them. Discount the period of colonisation by Russia and the suffering of the Stalinist period, and the history of the Kazakhs is that of free and independent nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes within an all but limitless steppe landscape. Symbols of this way of life are the yurt, the horse, the wide turquoise sky, the sun and the steppe eagle. Therefore, one finds on the gleaming turquoise national flag the golden sun, and under it the eagle with its wings spread. These symbols stand for peace and unity, honesty, loyalty and hope, wealth and generosity, vigilance and the free flow of thought. The symbolic markings on the left edge of the flag show the ever-recurring motif of animal horns intertwined with plant tendrils.

The national heraldry of Kazakhstan shows the profiles of two winged unicorn steeds. Between them is the roof opening of a yurt (the shangyrak), symbol of homely peace and hospitality. The winged Linicorns stand for immortality, development and spiritual riches of the peoples who in Kazakhstan live together tinder a single shangyrak. Connecting the unicorns and the shangyrak are a multitude of sunbeams. An equally popular symbol on display is the very rare snow leopard, known as irbis in Kazakh or bars in Russian. It stands for independence, wisdom, persistence and the power to leap forward. Sculptures of the irbis are found everywhere, most frequently in Astana. The most well-known snow leopard statue sits atop a high column on Republic Square in Almaty. In particular the irbis symbolises the jump into the future that is supposed to occur by the year 2030. The strategic Programme "Kazakhstan 2030" was developed at the instigation of President Nazarbayev in 1990s, at a time when there was a communal lack of vision.