Kazakhstan, a Central Asian country and former Soviet republic, extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at its eastern border with China and Russia. Its largest metropolis, Almaty, is a long-standing trading hub whose landmarks include Ascension Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church, and the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, displaying thousands of Kazak artifacts.Unexplored by many, Kazakhstan is an intriguing and little-known land of vast plains, mountainous horizons and beautiful culture.South Kazakhstan is a focus of Central Asian history, featuring many famous monuments. It is a scenically diverse region where the snow-capped peaks, lakes and glaciers of the Tian Shan range give way to steppe and desert. The desert is home to the Singing Barkhan – a sand dune 3.2km (2 miles) long, which, as it crumbles, produces a peculiar singing sound. Archaeological excavations indicate that the south of Kazakhstan was inhabited by man as early as the Palaeolithic Era and tribes were breeding cattle and producing bronzeware by the middle of the second millennium BC. By the beginning of the first millennium BC, the Saks tribe occupied the territory of the steppes, the Savromat tribe the north and west of Kazakhstan, the Kangues the Syr-Daria River area and the Usuns (whose writing, weapons and jewellery have been preserved) the south. Later, the Huns, who bred cattle, made handicrafts and possessed a well-organised army, occupied Kazakhstan. By the fourth century AD, most of the Saks and Usuns had moved west and new individual states began to appear, such as Westturkic Khanate, which was established by Turkish tribes trading on the Silk Road. Continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Although Kazakhstan has some of the highest peaks in the CIS, the climate is fairly dry. The hottest month is July (August in mountain regions). Continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Although Kazakhstan has some of the highest peaks in the CIS, the climate is fairly dry. The hottest month is July (August in mountain regions). Most towns in Kazakhstan have a limited supply of reasonable accommodation. It is advisable to make reservations in advance, either directly or through a travel agency. Most hotels deliver a basic level of comfort, although Western standards should not be expected.