April 30th, 2012
11:14 PM ET

Zakaria: Borat's gift to Kazakhstan

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

When the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan premiered in 2006, Kazakhstan's government banned the film and threatened to sue its star. Six years later, Kazakhstan's foreign minister is thanking Borat, crediting the film with a large tourism boost. He called it a 'great victory' as the number of applications for tourist visas to Kazakhstan has grown tenfold.

Travelers can't look to Borat as an accurate depiction of the country.  So how should they prepare for a trip?

Well, they could watch a 67-minute promotional film about the glorious country's history and recent achievements entitled In the Stirrups of Time. This one stars a different Brit, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The film features carefully selected clips from an interview with Blair who applauds the nation's diversity and progress.

It proudly celebrates Kazakhstan's recent accomplishments - political, educational, industrial, economic. Grab your passports, you are now an expert on Kazakhstan.

There were a few statistics that could not fit into the 67-minute video.

Kazakhstan ranks 172nd out of 196 countries in terms of press freedoms, 120 out of 183 in terms of corruption, 137 of 167 in The Economist's 2011 democracy index. Kazakhstan's president won the election with over 95% of the vote.

On second thought, maybe there is a Lonely Planet guide out there somewhere.

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Topics: From Fareed • GPS Show • Last Look

soundoff (72 Responses)
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  2. PRIMO

    Mr Zakaria, Please say something in your show about the election/masquerade in Algeria, it's in the US strategic interest to be on the right side of history.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Reply
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