The area north and west of this is the vast Kazakh steppe.Life on the steppe is harsh, with extreme temperatures and intense winds.
The decreasing nature of Kazakhstan's population (-.09 percent in 1999) is due, in part, to low birth-rates and mass emigration by non-Kazakhs, mainly Russians and Germans (Kazakhstan's net migration rate was -7.73 migrants per 1,000 people in 1999).
Five nations border current-day Kazakhstan: China to the east; Russia to the north; the Caspian Sea to the west; and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to the south.
A pair of beautiful mountain ranges, the Altay and the Tien Shan, with peaks nearly as high as 22,966 feet (7,000 meters), runs along Kazakhstan's southeastern border.
In recent years the sea has severely decreased in size and even split into two smaller seas due to environmental mismanagement. The very south experiences hot summers, with temperatures routinely over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).
The very north, which is technically southern Siberia, has extreme winters, with lows of well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius), with strong winds, making the temperature feel like -50 to -60 degrees Fahrenheit (-46 to -51 degrees Celsius).