About a quarter of Kazakhstan's workers are farmers and herders. They produce wheat, cotton, wool, meat and milk. Another quarter of the workforce is employed in industry. Kazakhstan's factories produce petroleum products, steel, farm machinery, fertilizer, electric motors and construction materials. Kazakhstan also has rich deposits of coal, iron, copper, nickel and other minerals and important oil and gas reserves. Among the many metals Kazakhstan produces are bismuth, cadmium and thalium. They are essential to high-tech industries such as electronics, nuclear engineering and rocketry.
Workers make leather products and manufacture clothing from wool and astrakhan (curly lamb's wool). Kazakhstan artisans also make carpets for export. This tradition comes from the nomadic peoples who use carpets to line the floors and walls of their tents.

 An economic crisis followed the end of Soviet rule. Prices soared, there were problems harvesting crops, and many skilled workers emigrated. To help their economy recover, Kazakhstanis began to permit private ownership of land and businesses. They replaced the Russian ruble with their own currency, the tenge. Foreign investment in Kazakhstan's resource industries has brought more money into the country. Inflation has slowed down, more people are able to find jobs, and the economy has improved. However, unemployment remains high.

  Did you know?
The Russian space program is based at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in central Kazakhstan. The Soviet Union was first to send into space a satellite, a lunar probe, astronauts (the first man in space in 1961 and the first woman two years later) and a space station. Russia still runs the centre, but pays rent for it to Kazakhstan.