A small and mountainous landlocked state in central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is one of the least urbanized ex-Soviet republics, and was slow to develop its own sense of cultural identity.

Geography: The mountainous spurs of the Tien Shan range contain glaciers, alpine meadows, forests, and narrow valleys. Semidesert in the west.

 Climate: Varies from permanent snow and cold deserts at high altitudes, to hot deserts in low regions.

 People & Society: Ethnic Kyrgyz have only been in the majority since the late 1980s – due to a high birth rate and the emigration of ethnic Russians. Wary of losing skills vital to the economy, the government has attempted to deter Russians from leaving; concessions include making Russian an official language. There are some tensions between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, and a trend toward greater Islamization, particularly in the poorer south.

 The Economy: Mainly still under state control; corruption issues. Agriculture employs half of the labour force. Cotton, wool, meat, and tobacco exports. Mercury, gold, and antimony are mined. Great potential for hydroelectric power.

 Insight: Kyrgyz folklore is based around the 1000-year-old poem, Manas, which takes a week to recite


 Official Name: Kyrgyz Republic

 Date of Formation: 1991

 Capital: Bishkek

 Population: 5.48 million

 Total Area: 76,641 sq. miles (198,500 sq. km)

 Density: 72 people per sq. mile

 Languages: Kyrgyz*, Russian*, other

 Religions: Muslim (mainly Sunni) 70%, Orthodox Christian 30%

 Ethnic Mix: Kyrgyz 65%, Uzbek 14%, Russian 13%, other 6%, Dungan 1%, Ukrainian 1%

 Government: Presidential system

 Currency: Som = 100 tyiyn

DX Countries


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