West-Kazakhstan oblast is located in northwest Kazakhstan in the basin of the middle reaches of the Ural River. At the southern outskirts of the oblast are northern territories of Caspian Lowland. In the north-west of oblast are spurs of the Obshchii Syrt and north-east to the Ilek River is an extensive area of the Subural Plateau.
The total area of the oblast is 151.3 thousand sq. km, which makes 5.6% of the territory of Kazakhstan. The oblast population as of 1 January 2014 is 624.001 thousand people.
The total length of the border is 2247 km, including international line with Russia of 1400 km. The oblast borders on Aktobe and Atyrau oblasts of Kazakhstan, and in the north and west it shares borders with five Russian oblasts: Orenburg, Saratov, Samara, Volgograd and Astrakhan.
The oblast has a rich and ancient history. Men mastered those lands starting from the Mesolithic age. Later on, here was formed one of the centers of development of the Bronze culture. In the 1st millennium BC, the culture of the early Nomads - Prokhorovskaya culture of Savromat and Sarmatian was formed here and became the basis for forming one of the important centers of the Nomadic civilization. The Kazakhs constituting at present the indigenous population of the oblast became successors to the centuries-old history and culture of the Nomads.
In the territory of the oblast there are numerous historical and cultural monuments, unique natural objects which are under the state protection. 2280 objects have been entered into the State List of historical and cultural monuments, of which 1996 monuments are archaeological ones. About 200 natural monuments refer to natural heritage objects.
Uralsk is an administrative center of West-Kazakhstan oblast. The city is situated on both banks of a great river Ural (Zhaiyk). The city proved to be in the center of many historical and cultural processes and events that had a significant impact on the further development of not only the region, but of the entire Kazakhstan too.
The city has a glorious and ancient history. Recent archaeological discoveries made it possible to establish a new and more accurate date of formation of urban settlements at location of the present Uralsk. It was the 13th c., the period of existence of the Golden Horde during which the first permanent settlement was formed. For a long time this settlement remained an administrative and political, trade and handicraft, and military center, ulus (camp) of the Golden Horde and, subsequently, Shiban Ulus and the Nogai Horde. The city was destroyed in the 15 cc. after the breakup of nomadic empires. The memory of this stage in Uralsk history is captured in archaeological materials and toponymical data.
The revival of the city began in the late 16th - early 17th cc. when free settlers and runaway people appeared on the banks of the Yaik River. Later they gave birth to the Yaik Cossacks. It was the beginning of the Cossack period in the history of Uralsk. The participation of the Yaik Cossacks and the Kazakhs of a Junior Zhuzh in the Peasants’ War led by Yemelyan Pugachev was a glorious page in the history of that time. The most powerful Peasants’ war in the Russian history has left its mark in the history of Uralsk by numerous historical monuments, legends, and documentary evidence. In order to erase those years from people's memory, Catherine II re-named Yaitsky town into Uralsk and the Yaik River into the Ural River.
After the reforms of 1868-1869 yrs., Uralsk became a center of a vast Uralsk oblast which has absorbed the entire territory of the modern Western Kazakhstan including West-Kazakhstan, Atyrau, and a part of Aktobe oblasts. At this particular period Uralsk became a city, as such, with brick buildings, central wide streets and well-developed socio-cultural and economic structure. According to the census of 1897 Uralsk was the largest city in Kazakhstan with a population of about 40 thousand people.
In the 20 century the city became one of the centers of the revolutionary life of Kazakhstan. In 1905 the All-Kazakh Congress was held here, which created a unified political movement of the Kazakh people, the first one in the history of the country and established a branch of the Russian Cadet Party in Kazakhstan. At the same time there appeared the first printing house which published The Iskra, press organ of the Bolshevik Party. After the revolution of 1917, a fierce social confrontation occurred here. The Soviet period in the history of the city begins with establishing of the new power. Industrialization, the Great Patriotic War, post-war reconstruction, development of virgin lands changed the face of Uralsk which has become a major industrial and cultural center of Kazakhstan.
The present stage in the development of the city is associated with the establishment of an independent and sovereign state - the Republic of Kazakhstan. At present there are more than 200 historical and cultural monuments in the city including the objects of archeology, architecture and monuments erected in honor of modern history. There are also monuments of natural heritage in the territory of the city. All the objects are of great natural and cultural value. They give a peculiar original aura to the city and create a favorable atmosphere for tourists and visitors of Uralsk.
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