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With its strategic location in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan served as an important stop along the historic Silk Road trade route that ran between Europe and the East. By the 19th century, the Kyrgyz had been overtaken by the Oirats, the Qing Dynasty, and the Uzbek Khanate of Kokand.
The ethnic Kyrgyz were discriminated against by the Soviet rulers, and were forced out of cities, sparking protests in 1989. The ethnic conflicts persisted between the Kyrgyz and the Uzbeks, causing riots and the growth of the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement. This group voted to create the Republic of Kyrgyzstan in 1990, in its first step toward independence. The Republic of Kyrgyzstan declared independence in 1991, soon joining the Commonwealth of Independent States with other Central Asian Republics. In 1992, the country became the Kyrgyz Republic. The next decades saw instability and civil unrest, and continued conflict between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz ethnic groups.
Kyrgyzstan shares borders with Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- Bishkek (capital)
Located in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country, farthest from any major body of water than any other country. The terrain of Kyrgyzstan is mountainous, with the Tian Shan extending over 80% of the country. The highest point in Kyrgyzstan is located in the Kakshaal-Too Mountain Range, with Jengish Chokusu Peak standing 7,439 meters (24,406 feet) above sea level.
Though Kyrgyzstan does not have any rivers flowing to the sea, its rivers are created from melting snow packs in its mountains. The main river in Kyrgyzstan is called Kara Darya, flowing westward to Uzbekistan, flowing into the Naryn River. Another river in Kyrgyzstan is the Chu River, flowing to Kazakhstan. The largest lake in the country is Issyk-Kul Lake in the northeast.
Points of Interest
Most of the population resides around the capital, Bishkek, which is home to the Ala Aarcha National Park. The Tian Shan or Heavenly Cloud Mountains are an important attraction in Kyrgyzstan, with beautiful scenery, and so is the nearby Issyk Kul, the country's impressive saline lake, situated up in the mountains, and known as the Pearl of Central Asia for its serene blue beauty. Mountain expeditions and staying in yurts are popular ways to experience Kyrgyzstan.
The second largest city in Kyrgyzstan is Osh, which offers historic sites from up to 3,000 years ago, and cultural experiences including its markets, particularly the Osh Bazaar. Another historic site is the Burana Tower, which was an important landmark along the Silk Road.
The main airport in Kyrgyzstan is Manas International near Bishkek, which serves Moscow, London, and locations across Asia. Other significant airports include Issyk-Kul International and Karakol International, as well as Osh Airport.
Because of the country's mountainous terrain, getting around Kyrgyzstan can be challenging. A road between Bishkek and Osh is the major connection between the north and south, and it does have other connected roads to Talas Valley. The road does not currently allow traffic into China, but will in the future. There are buses and minibuses available for transportation across the country between the cities. Taxis can also generally be used in cities as well as between them, and are much faster than the trains.
A train system, the Kyrgyz Railway, is also in place, constructed during the Soviet Union's rule, though since Kyrgyzstan became independent the service has been cut off in many locations. Trains from Moscow are often available, but take about 3 days.
Last Updated On : November 21, 2013
Official LanguageKyrgyz (State) and Russian (official)
Major ReligionMuslim: 80%Russian Orthodox: 17%Others: 3% (Christianity, Catholicism, Buddies)
Form of GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic
Prime MinisterDjoomart Otorbaev
GDP$13.125 billion 2011 estimate
Time ZoneKGT (UTC+5 to +6)