Kazakstan inherited a decaying but still powerful manufacturing and processing capacity from the centrally managed Soviet system. In that system, among Kazakstan's designated products for the general all-union market were phosphate fertilizer, rolled metal, radio cables, aircraft wires, train bearings, tractors, and bulldozers. Kazakstan also had a well-developed network of factories producing military goods that supplied about 11 percent of the total military production of the Soviet Union. In some areas of military production, Kazakstan had a virtual monopoly. In the post-Soviet era, much of the defense industry has stopped or slowed production; some plants now produce nonmilitary electronic equipment and machines.
Most of the republic's manufacturing, refining, and metallurgy plants are concentrated in the north and northeast, in Semey, Aqmola, Petropavl, and Aqtbe (see fig. 5). In south-central Kazakstan, the most important industrial centers are Shymkent (chemicals, light industry, metallurgy, and food processing), Almaty (light industry, machine building, and food processing), and Zhambyl (chemicals, machine building, and food processing).
Structure of Industry
The energy sector is the most productive component of Kazakstan's industrial structure, accounting for about 42 percent of total output. Metallurgy generates about one-quarter of industrial output, divided equally between the processing of ferrous and nonferrous metals (see table 8, Appendix). Engineering and metalworking account for 6.2 percent of industrial output, chemicals and petrochemicals for 3.6 percent, and construction materials for 2.7 percent. Kazakstan's entire light industry sector accounts for only 4.8 percent of industrial output. In the Soviet era, the republic had more than fifty military-industrial enterprises, employing as many as 75, 000 workers. Because Baykonur, one of the world's two largest spaceports, was located in Kazakstan, as were 1, 350 nuclear warheads, the prosperity of this sector was assured during the Soviet period. Military-related enterprises produced or processed beryllium, nuclear reactor fuel, uranium ore, heavy machine guns, antiship missiles, torpedoes, chemical and biological weapons, support equipment for intercontinental ballistic missiles, tactical missile launcher equipment, artillery, and armored vehicles.