/div>Country, Central Asia. Area: 1,052,090 sq mi (2,724,900 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 15,881,000. Capital: Astana
. Kazakhs, a Turkic-speaking people who are the region's original inhabitants, make up more than half of the population; Russians constitute nearly one-third, as do small minorities of Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Germans, and others. Languages: Kazakh, Russian. Religions: Islam (mostly Sunni), Christianity. Currency: tenge. From the steppe and desert lands of western and central Kazakhstan, the terrain rises to high mountains in the southeast along the border with Kyrgyzstan and China. Its highest point is Mount Khan-Tengri, 22,949 ft (6,995 m) high. The country is intensively developed agriculturally, but much of the land area is used for pasture, with sheep and goats as the main livestock. Manufacturing includes cast iron and rolled steel; mining and oil drilling are also important. Kazakhstan is a unitary republic with a parliament consisting of two chambers; its head of state and government is the president, assisted by the prime minister. The area came under Mongol rule in the 13th century. The Kazakhs consolidated a nomadic empire in the 15th–16th century. Under Russian rule by the mid-19th century, it became part of the Kirgiz Autonomous Republic formed by the Soviets in 1920, and in 1925 its name was changed to the Kazakh Autonomous S.S.R. Kazakhstan obtained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. After several years of economic troubles, it began a period of sustained growth.