Taraz is a city and a center of the Jambyl Province in Kazakhstan. It is located in the south of Kazakhstan, near the border with Kyrgyzstan, on the Talas River (Taraz River). It has a population of 330,100 (1999 census), up 9% from 1989, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, after Astana and Türkistan.
One of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan and in Transoxania, Taraz celebrated its official 2000 anniversary (recognized by UNESCO) in 2001.The city was first recorded under the name "Talas" in 568 CE by Menander Protector, the medieval city of Talas was a major trade centre along the Silk Road.
Numerous archaeological finds and monuments in the foothills of Karatau and in Talas-Assin oasis show the antiquity of settlements in the Talas River valley, supporting Taraz' claim to being the most ancient city in Kazakhstan. The history of the city is composed of several historical periods, interrupted by destruction and depopulation.