Perhaps unfairly the butt of a few jokes in recent years due to a certain popular comedy character, Kazakhstan’s growing reputation as a country rich in culture is something to take very seriously. A former Soviet republic, the minerals and oil found in this Central Asian country have led to much development in the past couple of decades. This is undoubtedly most obvious in Astana, the city which was only named the country’s capital in 1997. Stunning contemporary architecture can be found everywhere, with the futuristic Bayterek observation tower and the Pyramid of Peace and Reconciliation perhaps being the most high-profile examples. For something a touch more traditional, Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty is home to the impressive Ascension Cathedral and the Central State Museum. Away from the cities, there is also much to enjoy including the breathtaking landscape of the Tian Shan mountains, which a range of fantastic wildlife can also be found.