If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

Kazakhstan’s population in 1917-1939

Historical and demographic trends in Kazakhstan's population during the Soviet Period

In the beginning of the 20th century social and demographic situation in Kazakhstan developed under the condition of the presence of the Russian Federation and was shadowed by the previous period: penetration of Russian and foreign capital, colonization of lands favorable for agriculture, displacement of Kazaks from their lands and decomposition of their traditional economy continued.

In 1917 the population of the region increased to 6228,3 thousand people or, compared with 1897, — to 50,2%. The national compositions of Kazakhstan’s population changed as well: the number of the Russians increased in 2,4 times while their specific weight came to 17,5%; the number of the Ukrainians increased in 8,2 times while their specific weight reached 10,4%. Territorial housing of the Russians and Ukrainians distinguished by its unevenness.

In the years ahead spontaneous migration to Kazakhstan didn’t stop. In 1922-1925 peasants from Russian and Ukrain as well as the Kazakhs from different corners of the country moved to Kazakhstan. According to the Decree about the Land, refugees from the Eastern Kazakhstan received piece of land. In 1920 in Semirechie region 10 167 Kazakh and Kirghiz farms took back 123 thousand tithes of land; 1,5 thousand families arrived to Zaisan district.

Urban population, in general, consisted of the Russians (52,8%) and the Ukrainians (5,9%). The Kazakhs formed only 14,5% of city dwellers. Their share in total population was represented irregularly: from 1,6% in Kostanay district to 70,1% in Adai district (12,8% — in Akmolinsk province, 13,7% — in Aktubinsk province, 21,6% — in Semipalatinsk province, 21,9% — in Syrdariya district, 18,8% — in Uralsk district, 6,9% — in Dzhetysuisk district). Uneven settlement of the Kazakhs in the cities of Kazakhstan influenced the cities of the Southern region which were divided into two parts: “new city” where primarily the Russians and representatives of other nationalities lived and “old city” where the Kazakhs settled — these were outskirts located close to the steppe.

Rural population of the republic was greater in number than the urban and formed 91,6% of all inhabitants of Kazakhstan. The Kazakhs were, primarily, agrarian ethnos. Their share in the composition of population of the rural are formed, in general, 61%, including 97,4% — in Adai district, 81% — in Syrdaria district, 73,3% — in Uralsk district, 72,1% — in Aktubinsk district, 67,7% — in Dzhetusuisk district, 58,2% — in Semipalatinsk district. The lowest unit weight of the Kazakhs among rural population in Kustanai district was 33,8%.

In the end of 1920-1930s Kazakhstan became one of the strategic parts of the strategy of Bolsheviks on transformation of the Soviet Union from agrarian country into industrial. In this strategy Kazakhstan obtained the role of main industrial and raw foundation of the country. In this regard, reconstruction of agriculture was planned and measures for including natural and energetic resources into economic circle were designed.

High speed of economic development required permanent inflow of labor force. The problem of manpower resources was solved, on the one hand, by the destruction of traditional nomadic way of life of the Kazakh ethnos during sedentarization and collectivization and, from the other hand, by the activation of migration policy and organization of various institutions subordinate to the GULAG (Main Camp Administration), special labor settlements, prisons, labour training camps and colony.