While many Americans first became aware of Kazakhstan after comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen's character Borat hit the big screen, the country celebrates a far more serious contribution to history today.


A former Soviet republic, Kazakhstan, used to be home to several to several controversial projects -- including the Semipalatinsk-21, the USSR's primary testing site for nuclear weapons. The country of about 16 million people shut down the site on Aug. 29, 1991 and officially declared its independence later that year.


The United Nations General Assembly in 2009 adopted Aug. 29 as International Day Against Nuclear Tests. Today marks the second celebration of the international day and the 20th anniversary of the site's closure.


Kazakhstan's unanimous support for International Day Against Nuclear Tests in the UN was a clear reflection of the international community’s concerns about the potential dangers tied to nuclear weapons tests.


"A world free of nuclear weapons would be a global public good of the highest order," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.

"Every day, more and more people are viewing both nuclear tests and nuclear weapons as dangerous relics of the Cold War, long overdue for permanent retirement," he added.