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Keeping the 'Stans Straight, part 2: Kazakhstan
Location: Central Asia, northwest of China and south of Russia; the ninth-largest country in the world
In a nutshell: This oil-rich ex-Soviet republic has been experiencing an economic boom recently, thanks to its wealth of oil and natural gas deposits. Though the economic conditions might be improving and president Nursultan Nazarbayev has been lauded by some for his reforms, Kazakhstan's government is still plagued by corruption and many freedoms are still curtailed.
How you know it: Fictional home of Borat Sagdiyev.
Interesting factoid: Kazakh officials recently purchased a four-page ad in the New York Times to combat its backward, Borat-inspired reputation.
See also: Part 1 of this series, Kyrgyzstan.