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Kyrgyzstan

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Kyrgyzstan officially the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyz: Кыргыз Республикасы Kyrgyz Respublikasy; Russian: Кыргызская Республика Kyrgyzskaya Respublika), formerly known as Kirghizia, is a landlocked country located in Central Asia. Landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the south west and China to the east. Its capital and largest city is Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan’s history spans over 2,000 years, encompassing a variety of cultures and empires. Although geographically isolated by its highly mountainous terrain – which has helped preserve its ancient culture – Kyrgyzstan has historically been at the crossroads of several great civilizations, namely as part of the Silk Road and other commercial and cultural routes. Though long inhabited by a succession of independent tribes and clans, Kyrgyzstan has periodically come under foreign domination and attained sovereignty as a nation-state only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Since independence, Kyrgyzstan has officially been a unitary parliamentary republic, although it continues to endure ethnic conflicts,revolts, economic troubles, transitional governments and political party conflicts. Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Turkic Council, the TÜRKSOY community and theUnited Nations.

Ethnic Kyrgyz make up the majority of the country’s 5.7 million people, followed by significant minorities of Uzbeks and Russians. The official language, Kyrgyz, is closely related to the other Turkic languages, although Russian remains widely spoken, a legacy of a century-long policy of Russification. The majority of the population (64 percent) are non-denominational Muslims. In addition to its Turkic origins, Kyrgyz culture bears elements of Persian, Mongolian and Russian influence.

“Kyrgyz” is believed to have been derived from the Turkic word for “forty”, in reference to the forty clans of Manas, a legendary hero who united forty regional clans against the Uyghurs. Literally, Kyrgyz means We are forty. At the time, in the early 9th century AD, the Uyghurs dominated much of Central Asia (including Kyrgyzstan), Mongolia, and parts of Russia and China.

The 40-ray sun on the flag of Kyrgyzstan is a reference to those same forty tribes and the graphical element in the sun’s center depicts the wooden crown, called tunduk, of a yurt – a portable dwelling traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.

According to David C. King, Scythians were early settlers in present-day Kyrgyzstan.

The Kyrgyz state reached its greatest expansion after defeating the Uyghur Khaganate in 840 A.D. From the 10th century the Kyrgyz migrated as far as the Tian Shan range and maintained their dominance over this territory for about 200 years.

In the twelfth century the Kyrgyz dominion had shrunk to the Altay Range and Sayan Mountains as a result of theMongol expansion. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the thirteenth century, the Kyrgyz migrated south. The Kyrgyz peacefully became a part of Mongol Empire in 1207.

Chinese and Muslim sources of the 7th–12th centuries AD describe the early Kyrgyz as red-haired with white skin and blue eyes, which is indicative of ancient Indo-European tribes like the Slavic peoples. The descent of the Kyrgyz from the autochthonous Siberian population is confirmed on the other hand by the recent genetic studies. Because of the processes of migration, conquest, intermarriage, and assimilation, many of the Kyrgyz peoples that now inhabit Central and Southwest Asia are of mixed origins, often stemming from fragments of many different tribes, though they now speak closely related languages.

Issyk Kul Lake was a stopover on the Silk Road, a land route for traders, merchants and other travelers from the Far East to Europe.

Kyrgyz tribes were overrun in the 17th century by the Mongol Oirats, in the mid-18th century by the Manchu Qing Dynasty, and in the early 19th century by the Uzbek Khanate of Kokand.

In the late nineteenth century, the majority part of what is today Kyrgyzstan was ceded to Russia through two treaties between China (then Qing Dynasty) and Russia. The territory, then known in Russian as “Kirgizia”, was formally incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1876. The Russian takeover was met with numerous revolts against Tsarist authority, and many of the Kyrgyz opted to move to the Pamir Mountains and Afghanistan.

In addition, the suppression of the 1916 rebellion against Russian rule in Central Asia caused many Kyrgyz later to migrate to China. Since many ethnic groups in the region were (and still are) split between neighboring states at a time when borders were more porous and less regulated, it was common to move back and forth over the mountains, depending on where life was perceived as better; this might mean better rains for pasture or better government during oppression.

Soviet Kyrgyzstan

Soviet power was initially established in the region in 1919, and the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast was created within the Russian SFSR (the phrase Kara-Kirghiz was used until the mid-1920s by the Russians to distinguish them from the Kazakhs, who were also referred to as Kirghiz). On 5 December 1936, the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic was established as a full republic of the Soviet Union.

During the 1920s, Kyrgyzstan developed considerably in cultural, educational and social life. Literacy was greatly improved, and a standard literary language was introduced by imposing Russian on the populace. Economic and social development also was notable. Many aspects of Kyrgyz national culture were retained despite the suppression of nationalist activity under Joseph Stalin, who controlled the Soviet Union from the late 1920s until 1953.

The early years of glasnost had little effect on the political climate in Kyrgyzstan. However, the Republic’s press was permitted to adopt a more liberal stance and to establish a new publication, Literaturny Kirghizstan, by the Union of Writers. Unofficial political groups were forbidden, but several groups that emerged in 1989 to deal with the acute housing crisis were permitted to function.

According to the last Soviet census in 1989, ethnic Kyrgyz made up only 22% of the residents of the northern city of Frunze (now Bishkek), while more than 60% were Russians, Ukrainians, and people from other Slavic nations (only 36 percent of Bishkek residents surveyed said Russian was their first language).

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on a modern Kyrgyzstan stamp

In June 1990, ethnic tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz surfaced in the Osh Oblast (southern Kyrgyzstan), where Uzbeks form a minority of the population. Attempts to appropriate Uzbek collective farms for housing development triggered the Osh Riots. A state of emergency and curfew were introduced and Askar Akayev, the youngest of five sons born into a family of collective farm workers (in northern Kyrgyzstan), was elected President in October of that same year.

By then, the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement (KDM) had developed into a significant political force with support in Parliament. In December 1990, the Supreme Soviet voted to change the republic’s name to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. (In 1993, it became the Kyrgyz Republic.) The following January, Akayev introduced new government structures and appointed a new government composed mainly of younger, reform-oriented politicians. In February 1991, the name of the capital, Frunze, was changed back to its pre-revolutionary name of Bishkek.

Despite these political moves toward independence, economic realities seemed to work against secession from the Soviet Union. In a referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union in March 1991, 88.7% of the voters approved the proposal to retain the Soviet Union as a “renewed federation”. Nevertheless, secessionist forces pushed Kyrgyzstan’s independence through in August of that same year.

On 19 August 1991, when the State Emergency Committee assumed power in Moscow, there was an attempt to depose Akayev in Kyrgyzstan. After the coup collapsed the following week, Akayev and Vice President German Kuznetsov announced their resignations from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and the entire bureau and secretariat resigned. This was followed by the Supreme Soviet vote declaring independence from the Soviet Union on 31 August 1991 as the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

Independence

In 2005, a popular uprising known as the “Tulip Revolution”, took place after the parliamentary elections in March 2005, forced President Askar Akayev’s resignation on 4 April 2005. Opposition leaders formed a coalition, and a new government was formed under President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Prime Minister Feliks Kulov. The nation’s capital was looted during the protests.

Political stability appeared to be elusive, however, as various groups and factions allegedly linked to organized crime jockeyed for power. Three of the 75 members of Parliament elected in March 2005 were assassinated, and another member was assassinated on 10 May 2006 shortly after winning his murdered brother’s seat in a by-election. All four are reputed to have been directly involved in major illegal business ventures. On 6 April 2010, civil unrest broke out in the town of Talas after a demonstration against government corruption and increased living expenses. The protests became violent, spreading to Bishkek by the following day. Protesters attacked President Bakiyev’s offices, as well as state-run radio and television stations. There were conflicting reports that Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongatiyev had been beaten. On 7 April 2010, President Bakiyev imposed a state of emergency. Police and special services arrested many opposition leaders. In response, protesters took control of the internal security headquarters (formerKGB headquarters) and a state television channel in the capital, Bishkek. Reports by Kyrgyzstan government officials indicated that at least 75 people were killed and 458 hospitalized in bloody clashes with police in the capital.Reports say that at least 80 people died as a result of clashes with police. A transition government, led by former foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, by 8 April 2010 had taken control of state media and government facilities in the capital, but Bakiyev had not resigned from office.

President Bakiyev returned to his home in Jalal-Abad and stated his terms of resignation at a press conference on 13 April 2010. On 15 April 2010, Bakiyev left the country and flew to neighboring Kazakhstan, along with his wife and two children. The country’s provisional leaders announced that Bakiyev signed a formal letter of resignation prior to his departure.

Prime Minister Daniar Usenov accused Russia of supporting the protests; this accusation was denied by Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin. Opposition members also called for the closing of the US-controlled Manas Air Base. Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev ordered measures to ensure the safety of Russian nationals and tighten security around Russian sites in Kyrgyzstan to protect them against possible attacks.

The 2010 South Kyrgyzstan ethnic clashes occurred between the two main ethnic groups—the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz—in Osh, the second largest city in the country, on 11 June 2010. The clashes incited fears that the country could be heading towards a civil war.

Finding it difficult to control the situation, Otunbayeva, the interim leader, sent a letter to the Russian president, Dimitry Medvedev, asking him to send Russian troops to help the country control the situation. Medvedev’s Press Attaché, Natalya Timakova, said in a reply to the letter, “It is an internal conflict and for now Russia does not see the conditions for taking part in its resolution”. The clashes caused a shortage of food and other essential commodities with more than 200 killed and 1,685 people hurt, as of 12 June 2010. The Russian government, however, said it would be sending humanitarian aid to the troubled nation.

According to local sources, there was a clash between two local gangs and it did not take long for the violence to spread to the rest of the city. There were also reports that the armed forces supported ethnic Kyrgyz gangs entering the city, but the government denied the allegations.

The riots spread to neighboring areas, and the government declared a state of emergency in the entire southern Jalal-Abad region. To control the situation, the interim government gave special shoot-to-kill powers to the security forces. The Russian government decided to send a battalion to the country to protect Russian facilities.

Otunbayeva accused the family of Bakiyev of “instigating the riots”. AFP reported “a veil of smoke covering the whole city”. Authorities in neighboring  said at least 30,000 Uzbeks had crossed the border to escape the riots. Osh became relatively calm on 14 June 2010, but Jalal-Abad witnessed sporadic incidents of arson. The entire region was still under a state of emergency as Uzbeks were reluctant to leave their houses for fear of attacks by the mobs. The United Nations decided to send an envoy to assess the situation.

Temir Sariyev, deputy chief of the interim government, said there were local clashes and that it was not possible [for the government] to fully control the situation. He added that there were not sufficient security forces to contain the violence. Media agencies reported on 14 June 2010 that the Russian government was considering a request by the Kyrgyz government. An emergency meeting of Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) was held on the same day (14 June) to discuss the role it could play in helping to end the violence. Ethnic violence waned, according to the Kyrgyz government, by 15 June 2010 and Kyrgyz president Roza Otunbayeva held a news conference that day and declared that there was no need for Russia to send in troops to quell the violence. There were at least 170 people left dead by 15 June 2010 but Pascale Meige Wagner of the International Committee of the Red Cross said the [official] death toll was an underestimate. The UN High Commissioner told reporters in Geneva that evidence suggested that the violence seemed to have been staged up. Ethnic Uzbeks threatened to blow up an oil depot in Osh if they failed to get guarantees of protection. The United Nations said it believed that the attacks were “orchestrated, targeted and well-planned”. Kyrgyz officials told the media that a person suspected to be behind the violence in Jalal-Abad had been detained.

Children of Kyrgyzstan

On 2 August 2010, a Kyrgyz government commission began investigating the causes of the clashes. Members of the National Commission, led by former parliament speaker Abdygany Erkebaev, met with people from the predominantly ethnic Uzbek villages of Mady, Shark, and Kyzyl-Kyshtak in the Kara-Suu district of Osh Oblast. This National Commission, including representatives of many ethnic groups, was established by a presidential decree.

President Roza Otunbayeva also said in August 2010 that an international commission would also be formed to investigate the clashes.

The commission’s report, released in January 2011, concluded that the events in southern Kyrgyzstan constituted a “planned, large-scale provocation, oriented towards the splitting of Kyrgyzstan and disrupting the unity of its people.” Responsibility for this provocation was seen as lying with “nationalistically-minded leaders of the Uzbek community”. In the aftermath of the turmoil, on 5 August 2010, Kyrgyz forces arrested party leader Urmat Baryktabasov on suspicion of plotting an overthrow of the government, after troops allegedly fired blank rounds into a crowd trying to join mass demonstrations near the Parliament in the capital Bishkek. Acting President Roza Otunbayeva said security forces seized firearms and grenades from him and 26 supporters.

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked nation in Central Asia, west of the People’s Republic of China. Less than a seventh the size of Mongolia, at 199,951 square kilometers,Kyrgyzstan is one of the smaller Central Asian states. The national territory extends about 900 kilometers from east to west and 410 kilometers from north to south.

Kyrgyzstan is bordered on the east and southeast by China, on the north by Kazakhstan, on the west by Uzbekistan and on the south by Tajikistan. The borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the Ferghana valley are rather difficult. One consequence of the Stalinist division of Central Asia into five republics is that many ethnic Kyrgyz do not live in Kyrgyzstan. Three enclaves, legally part of the territory of Kyrgyzstan but geographically removed by several kilometers, have been established, two in Uzbekistan and one in Tajikistan.

The terrain of Kyrgyzstan is dominated by the Tian Shan and Pamir mountain systems, which together occupy about 65% of the national territory. The Alay range portion of the Tian Shan system dominates the southwestern crescent of the country, and, to the east, the main Tian Shan range runs along the boundary between southern Kyrgyzstan and China before extending farther east into China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Kyrgyzstan’s average elevation is 2,750 meters, ranging from 7,439 meters at Peak Jengish Chokusu to 394 meters in the Fergana Valley near Osh. Almost 90% of the country lies more than 1,500 meters above sea level.

Topography and drainage

This MODIS true-color image shows portions of Kazakhstan (top) and Kyrgyzstan at the bottom. The lake at the top of the image is Lake Balkash.

Topography

The mountains of Kyrgyzstan are geologically young, so that the physical terrain is marked by sharply uplifted peaks separated by deep valleys. There is also considerable glaciation with the largest glacier being the Engilchek Glacier. Kyrgyzstan’s 6,500 distinct glaciers are estimated to hold about 650 cubic kilometers of water and cover 8,048 square kilometers (5,000 square miles) or 4.2% of Kyrgyzstan. Only around the Chuy, Talas, and Fergana valleys is there relatively flat land suitable for large-scale agriculture.

Because the high peaks function as moisture catchers, Kyrgyzstan is relatively well watered by the streams that descend from them. None of the rivers of Kyrgyzstan are navigable, however. The majority are small, rapid, runoff streams. Most of Kyrgyzstan’s rivers are tributaries of the Syrdariya, which has its headwaters in the western Tian Shan along the Chinese border. Another large runoff system forms the Chui River, which arises in northern Kyrgyzstan, then flows northwest and disappears into the deserts of southern Kazakhstan. Ysyk-Köl is the second largest body of water in Central Asia, after the Aral Sea, but the saline lake has been shrinking steadily, and its mineral content has been rising gradually. Kyrgyzstan has a total of about 2,000 lakes with a total surface area of 7,000 km², mostly located at altitudes of 3,000 to 4,000 meters. Only the largest three, however, occupy more than 100 km² each. The second- and third-largest lakes, Songköl and Chatyr-Köl (the latter of which also is saline), are located in the Naryn River Basin.

Natural disasters have been frequent and varied. Overgrazing and deforestation of steep mountain slopes have increased the occurrence of mudslides and avalanches, which occasionally have swallowed entire villages. In August 1992, a severe earthquake left several thousand people homeless in the southwestern city of Jalal-Abad.

Climate

See also: Climate
Kyrgyzstan map of Köppen climate classification.

The country’s climate is influenced chiefly by the mountains, Kyrgyzstan’s position near the middle of the Eurasian landmass, and the absence of any body of water large enough to influence weather patterns. Those factors create a distinctly continental climate that has significant local variations. Although the mountains tend to collect clouds and block sunlight (reducing some narrow valleys at certain times of year to no more than three or four hours of sunlight per day), the country is generally sunny, receiving as much as 2,900 hours of sunlight per year in some areas. The same conditions also affect temperatures, which can vary significantly from place to place. In January the warmest average temperature (−4 °C or 25 °F) occurs around the southern city of Osh, and around Ysyk-Köl. The latter, which has a volume of 1,738 cubic kilometers (417 cu mi), does not freeze in winter. Indeed, its name means “hot lake” in Kyrgyz. The coldest temperatures are in mountain valleys. There, readings can fall to −30 °C (−22 °F) or lower; the record is −53.6 °C (−64.5 °F). The average temperature for July similarly varies from 27 °C (80.6 °F) in the Fergana Valley, where the record high is 44 °C (111 °F), to a low of −10 °C (14 °F) on the highest mountain peaks. Precipitation varies from 2,000 millimeters (78.7 in) per year in the mountains above the Fergana Valley to less than 100 millimeters (3.9 in) per year on the west bank of Ysyk-Köl.

Football is the most popular sport in Kyrgyzstan. The official governing body is the Football Federation of Kyrgyz Republic, which was founded in 1992, after the split of the Soviet Union. It administers the Kyrgyzstan national football team.

Wrestling is also a very popular sport in Kyrgyzstan. In the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, two athletes from Kyrgyzstan won medals inGreco-Roman wrestling: Kanatbek Begaliev (silver) and Ruslan Tyumenbayev (bronze).

Ice hockey has not been as popular in Kyrgyzstan, until the first Ice Hockey Championship was organized in 2009. In 2011, the Kyrgyzstan men’s national ice hockey team won 2011 Asian Winter Games Premier Division dominating in all six games with six wins. It was the first major international event that Kyrgyzstan’s ice hockey team took part in. The Kyrgyzstan men’s ice hockey team joined the IIHF in July 2011.

Bandy is becoming increasingly popular in the country. The Kyrgyz national team took Kyrgyzstan’s first medal at the Asian Winter Games, when they captured the bronze. They played in the Bandy World Championship 2012, their first appearance in that tournament.

The school system in Kyrgyzstan includes primary (grades 1 to 4) and secondary (grades 5 to 11 (or sometimes 12)) divisions within one school. Children are usually accepted to primary schools at the age of 7. It is required that every child finishes 9 grades of school and receives a certificate of completion. Grades 10–11 are optional, but it is necessary to complete them to graduate and receive a state-accredited school diploma. To graduate, a student must complete the 11-year school course and pass 4 mandatory state exams in writing, maths, history and a foreign language.

There are 77 public schools in Bishkek (capital city) and more than 200 in the rest of the country. There are 55 higher educational institutions and universities in Kyrgyzstan, out of which 37 are state institutions.

Higher educational institutions in Kyrgyzstan include:

  • International University Of Kyrgyzstan
  • University of Central Asia
  • American University of Central Asia
  • Bishkek Humanities University
  • International Atatürk-Alatoo University
  • University of Economy and Enterprise
  • Kyrgyz State University of Construction, Transport and Architecture n.a. N. Isanov
  • Kyrgyz National University
  • Kyrgyz Technical University
  • Kyrgyz State Pedagogical University, formerly Arabaev Kyrgyz State University
  • Kyrgyz Russian Slavonic University
  • Kyrgyz-Russian State University
  • Kyrgyz-Turkish MANAS University
  • Social University (previously Kyrgyz-Uzbek University)
  • Moskov Institute Of Law And Enterprise
  • Osh State University
  • Osh Technological University
  • Plato University of Management and Design
  • International School of Medicine

Transport in Kyrgyzstan is severely constrained by the country’s alpine topography. Roads have to snake up steep valleys, cross passes of 3,000 m (9,843 ft) altitude and more, and are subject to frequent mud slides and snow avalanches. Winter travel is close to impossible in many of the more remote and high-altitude regions. Additional problems are because many roads and railway lines built during theSoviet period are today intersected by international boundaries, requiring time-consuming border formalities to cross where they are not completely closed. The horse is still a much used transport option, especially in rural and inaccessible areas, as it does not depend on imported fuel.

The Kyrgyz Railway is currently responsible for railway development and maintenance in the country. The Chuy Valley in the north and theFergana Valley in the south were endpoints of the Soviet Union’s rail system in Central Asia. Following the emergence of independent post-Soviet states, the rail lines which were built without regard for administrative boundaries have been cut by borders, and traffic is therefore severely curtailed. The small bits of rail lines within Kyrgyzstan, about 370 km of 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in) broad gauge in total, have little economic value in the absence of the former bulk traffic over long distances to and from such centers as Tashkent, Almaty and the cities of Russia.

There are vague plans about extending rail lines from Balykchy in the north and/or from Osh in the south into the People’s Republic of China, but the cost of construction would be enormous.

Rail links with adjacent countries

  • Kazakhstan – yes – Bishkek branch – same gauge
  • Uzbekistan – yes – Osh branch – same gauge
  • Tajikistan – no – same gauge
  • China – no – Break of gauge 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in)/1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

 

Highways

Most of the intercity travelers having switched from the big state-run buses to minivans, the palatial halls of Bishkek’s West Bus Terminal remain mostly deserted

With support from the Asian Development Bank, a major road linking the north and southwest from Bishkek to Osh has recently been completed. This considerably eases communication between the two major population centers of the country—the Chuy Valley in the north and the Fergana Valley in the South. An offshoot of this road branches off across a 3,500 meter pass into the Talas Valley in the northwest. Plans are now being formulated to build a major road from Osh into the People’s Republic of China.

The total length of the road network in Kyrgyzstan is approximately 34,000 km. Of them, 18,810 km are public roads directly subordinated to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and 15,190 km – other roads (village, agricultural, industrial,etc.). By their status the roads of the Ministry of Transport and Communications are classified as:

  • international roads: 4,163 km
  • state roads: 5,678 km
  • local roads: 8,969 km

By nature of surface there can be distinguished:

  • hard-surfaced roads: 7,228 km (including 11 km of cement concrete roads, 4,969 km – bituminous concrete surface, 2,248 km – road-mix pavement)
  • gravel roads: 9,961 km
  • earth roads: 1,621 km

Frequent bus and, more commonly, minibus, service connects country’s major cities. Minibuses provide public transit in cities and between cities to neighboring villages.

 

Airports

Kyrgyzstan Air Company Antonov AN-24 in Jalal-Abad Airport prepares for flight to Bishkek, March 7, 2010.

At the end of the Soviet period there were about 50 airports and airstrips in Kyrgyzstan, many of them built primarily to serve military purposes in this border region so close to China. Only a few of them remain in service today.

There are four airports with international flights, namely in Bishkek, Osh, Tamchy and Karakol.

  • Manas International Airport near Bishkek is the main international terminal, with flights to Moscow, Tashkent, Dushanbe, Istanbul, Baku and London.
  • Osh Airport is the main air terminal in the south, with daily connections to Bishkek and beyond.
  • Jalal-Abad Airport is linked to Bishkek by daily flights operated by Kyrgyzstan Air Company, Avia Traffic Company, Air Bishkek and Sky Bishkek on BAe-146 and Saab-340 as well as weekly flights to Aksy District and Toguz-Toro District.
  • Issyk-Kul International Airport is linked to Almaty in summers by flights operated by SCAT on Yakovlev YAK-42 Bishkek, Jalal-Abad and Osh.
  • Karakol International Airport is linked to Almaty in winters by flights operated by SCAT on Antonov AN-24.
  • Kazarman Airport is linked to Jalal-Abad, Osh and Bishkek by flights operated by Sky Bishkek on Saab-340.
  • Kerben Airport is linked to Jalal-Abad and Bishkek by flights operated by Sky Bishkek on Saab-340.
  • Other airports, aerodromes and landing strips are located in Toktogul, Kanysh-Kiya, Ala-Buka, Sakaldy in Nooken District, Batken,Isfana, Kyzyl-Kiya, Naryn, Talas, Pokrovka, Cholpon-Ata, Tamga, Tokmok, Aravan and many other places.
  • Other facilities built during the Soviet era are either closed down, used only occasionally or restricted to military use (e.g., Kant airbase, now a Russian air base near Bishkek).

Airports – with paved runways:
total: 21
over 3,047 m: 1 (Bishkek-Manas)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (Osh, Kant and Tokmok)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11 (Jalal-Abad, Karakol International, Kerben, Kazarman, Isfana, Batken, Naryn, Talas, Issyk-Kul International, Kyzyl-Kiya and Cholpon-Ata)
under 914 m: 6 (Tamga, Toktogul, Kanysh-Kiya, Pokrovka, Aravan and Sakaldy) (2012)

Airports – with unpaved runways (mostly in disuse):
total: 29
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (Gulcha, Daroot-Korgon, Ala-Buka, At-Bashy, Suzak and Chatkal)
under 914 m: 15 (2012)

See also:

  • List of airports in Kyrgyzstan

See also

  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Turkestan–Siberia Railway
  • Eurasian Land Bridge
  • Trans-Asian_Railway

If sitting inside a hotel room while you’re in Bishkek seems boring to you, step out into the city and explore Bishkek’s many dance halls and nightclubs.  Even cafes and restaurants that are quiet in the afternoon are transformed into lively hangout spots in the evening.  Live music, delicious cocktails, and DJs take over Bishkek at night.

Clubs in Bishkek are separated by genre, price range, and age of clientele.  If you’re a fan of rock, jazz, blues, techno, or pop music, you’re sure to find a club that suites your tastes.

The average cost of a trip to a nightclub is about $8 and drinks at the bar will cost you an average of between $25-30 per night.  Of course, tips for the waiters and staff are at your discretion.  Most waiters and bartenders are familiar with at least basic English and can easily take orders and carry on a conversation.

Although Bishkek locals are usually very friendly, don’t forget to take some basic precautions while out in the city at night.  Try not to carry around large sums of money or flash money around.  Some people, recognizing that you aren’t a local, might try to take advantage of you by establishing a quick friendship and then trying to lift documents/money off of you.  While this doesn’t happen everywhere, be aware that situations like this are known to happen in Bishkek.  If you’re going to a club and think you might need a ride home, take a business card with you of the hotel where you are staying so your taxi driver can make sure you get back to the right place at the end of the night.  The cost of a taxi ride from any hotel to any club in the city shouldn’t be more than about $8.

Nightclubs in Bishkek are usually very popular with visitors to Kyrgyzstan.  People go to meet new people, strengthen friendships, and just kick back and relax. So while you’re in Bishkek, check out the city’s nightlife and see what appeals to you!

TRADITIONAL KYRGYZ CUISINE

Oromo is my all-time favorite dish.  Once finished, it comes out as layers of dough that have been filled with finely cut chunks of meat, fat, and whatever else the cook feels like adding – carrots, onion, potato, or pumpkin.  It’s steamed in a special multi-layered pot and is excellent when eaten with a side of ketchup.  Although I’ve seen this in a few restaurants around Kyrgyzstan, it’s not the most common restaurant dish.  You’re more likely to see it served in Kyrgyz homes.

Besh Barmak is the most traditional Kyrgyz dish eaten by nomads.  You take shaved lamb and dump it on top of a pile of steaming noodles and onions served with a broth/sauce.

Borsok is dough that is cut into little squares and then fried so that they’re airy inside.  Borsok is a staple food served during holidays.  Try them dipped in some fresh cream – they’re delicious!

Gulchitai and Kazy Karta are both horse meat dishes.  In Gulchitai, the meat is shaved (like in besh barmak) and in Kazy Karta, you’ll see it in medallions.

ADOPTED DISHES

Monty is meat, onion, and fat filled dumplings that are usually steamed, but you can also get them fried.  They’re usually served in clusters of 5 and you should be able to get them at almost any restaurant- unless they’ve sold out!

Lagman is meat, vegetables and noodles served in a broth.  It’s a little messy to eat as thenoodles are long and tend to fling broth if you’re not careful, but tasty. Boso Lagman is the same ingredients fried, but without the broth.  Boso lagman is my go-to wintertime meal because it’s really filling and satisfying when it’s cold outside.

Plov is originally Uzbek and can be served in different variations in Kyrgyzstan.  Basically, it’s fried onions and carrots mixed into spiced rice served with chunks of tender, boiled meat on top.

Samsy is what I consider Kyrgyz fast food.  I’m not talking McDonald’s fast food; they’re literally just quick and easy little pockets of meat, onions, and fat you can pick up on the side of the road.  They’re cooked in a tandoor and make a filling snack or meal depending on how many you get.

Ashlyam Fu is a cold, spicy soup made up of meat, vegetables (some of which I don’t even know what they are), and noodles.  From my experience, you either love it or you hate it. For the best ashlyam fu, stop in Karakol.

You’ll see other dishes listed on Kyrgyz menus, but these are some of the staples.  If you want to learn how to make Kyrgyz food, there are also classes available in Bishkek so you can make them at home.  Whatever you do though, treat yourself to as many as you can so you can taste the full range of Kyrgyz cuisine!

1)The Ala Archa National Park

The Ala Archa National Park is an alpine national park in the Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan, established in 1976 and located approximately 40 km south of the capital city of Bishkek.

1-Ala-Archa CanyonAla-Archa Canyon5 (1)Ala-Archa Canyon4Ala-Archa Canyon4 (1)Ala-Archa Canyon3

2)Burana Tower

The Burana Tower is a large minaret in the Chuy Valley in northern Kyrgyzstan. It is located about 80 km east of the country’s capital Bishkek, near the town of Tokmok

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SONY DSC

Burana-tower-near-Issyk-Kul

3)Ala Too Square

Ala-Too Square is the central square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The square was built in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Kyrgyz SSR, at which time a massive statue of Lenin was placed in the square’s center.

Ala Too Square

4)SULEIMAN TOO

This five-peaked rocky crag seems to loom above the city wherever you go. It has been a Muslim place of pilgrimage for centuries, supposedly because the Prophet Mohammed once prayed here. Its slopes are indented with many a cave and crevice each reputed to have different curative or spiritual properties (many detailed on photo-boards in the Cave Museum ). One such is fertility mini-cave Ene-Beshik , its rocks worn smooth by young ladies slithering in to aid their motherly aspirations. You’ll see it right beside the path to the Cave Museum as you descend westward from Suleiman Too’s main viewpoint. On that crag lies the one-room Dom Babura , a 1989 reconstruction of a historic prayer-room whose tradition dates back to 1497, when 14-year-old Zahiruddin Babur of Fergana built himself a little prayer-retreat here. Later famed as progenitor of the Mogul Dynasty, Babur’s place of worship later became highly revered but subsequent incarnations have been destroyed notably by both earthquake (1853) and, in the 1960s, by a ‘mysterious’ explosion.

Allow around 20 minutes’ sweaty climb on the hairpin stairway to Dom Babura from Suleiman Too’s main entrance, which is beside the strange silver-domed building that looks like an alien fairy cake , but actually contains a photography salon. Inside newlyweds can be snapped on honeymoon at the Taj Mahal without actually bothering to leave Osh.

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5)DOM BABURA

The one-room Dom Babura is a 1989 reconstruction of an historic prayer-room whose tradition dates back to 1497. In that year the 14-year-old Zahiruddin Babur of Fergana built himself a little prayer-retreat here. Later famed as projenitor of the Mogul Dynasty, Babur’s place of private worship became highly revered but various incarnations have been destroyed notably by earthquake (1853) and, in the 1960s, by mysterious explosion. Most local people are convinced that the latter was a Soviet attempt to halt ‘superstition’, ie Islamic pilgrimage.

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6)Lake Sary-Chelek

Sary-Chelek is a mountain lake located in Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve in Jalal-Abad Province in Western Kyrgyzstan. It is north of Arkit at the eastern end of the Chatkal Range. There are a number of smaller lakes in the area.

saray chelek

7)Karaköl

Karaköl is a city in Jalal-Abad Region of Kyrgyzstan. Population 18,843. Located on the Naryn River, downstream of the Toktogul Dam, the city was built in the 1960s to house the construction workers for the dam, and granted city status in 1977.

karakol

8)Arslanbob

Arslanbob is a village, sub district, valley, mountain range, and a large wild walnut forest in the Jalal-Abad Region of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan’s first known export to Europe was the Arslanbob walnut.

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