About Kyrgyzstan-General Information

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Kyrgyzstan is located in the very heart of Central Asia on the Great Silk Road, and has been praised by many poets and philosophers of the East


outhern outskirts of Bishkek

in the Chuy Valley   

 

 Kyrgyz people represent the title nation of the Kyrgyz Republic, which is one of the most ancient people in the world. The first written evidence of the Kyrgyz people as a nation is found in Chinese chronicles dated as far back as 2,000 BC. They emerged from many ethoses who settled in South Siberia and Central Asia. In the 4-3 centuries BC, the ancient Kyrgyz were part of strong nomadic tribal unions, which proved to be a serious distress to China. It was at this time that construction of the Great Wall of China began

Official Name: Kyrgyz Republic
Capital: Bishkek (Current local time)
Government Type: Republic

Geography: area 198.500 sq. km, mountains 94% (high mountains 70%), valleys 6%. The highest peaks: Peak Pobeda (7439 m), Peak Lenin (7134 m), Peak Khan-Tengri (7010 m).
The biggest lakes: Issyk-Kul (6236 sq. km), Son-Kul (278 sq. km), Chatyr-Kul (170.6 sq. km). The longest rivers are: the Naryn River (535 km long), the Chatkal River (205 km long), and the Chu River (221 km long).

Climate: Continental - the temperature in January varies between -4 to -14 C; in July varies between +12 to +40C. 
Time: 5 hours ahead of GMT
Population: 4.500.000
Nationalities: 66,9% Kyrgyz, 10,65% Russian, Uzbek 14,2% Contemporary Kyrgyzstan is a tolerant country. More than 80 ethnic groups live in it, creating the variety of cultures and traditions.
Religions   :  Islam, 75%; Russian Orthodox, 20%; other, 5%
Capital: Bishkek, 800.000 inhabitants
Language: Kyrgyz - official, Russian - widely used
National currency: 1Som = 100 Tyins
Neighboring countries: China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan

Geografic

KYRGYZSTAN is a mountainous country in Central Asia - 93% of the land area is in fact mountainous. The vast peaks of the Tien-Shan Mountain Range stretch away across the border into the heart of China. It has the 2nd largest high-altitude lake in the world - the almost mythical Issyk-Kul Lake.
Kyrgyzstan is truly one of the last wilderness on Earth. It is possible to see herds of magnificent wild ponies, horses, yaks and even camels. This country of wild, free nomads was literally the crossroads of Asia, being crossed by four routes along the Great Silk Road. The nomadic influence is still very strong, despite the years of Soviet urbanization. In rural areas, many Kyrgyz still live in their Yurtas - the traditional felt tents of the nomadic shepherds.
The scenery varies between lush, fertile, cultivated valley bottoms to some of the world's highest peaks - of the 7 peaks in the world over 7.000 m, 3 are in Kyrgyzstan. There are fast-flowing mountain rivers full of snow-melt from the high glaciers cutting their way through steep-sided valleys, often tumbling over waterfalls and through beautiful Alpine meadows awash with multi-colored carpets of blooms in Spring. In the South it is still possible to see forests of indigenous walnuts. The Kyrgyz people are very friendly and who are still very proud of their traditions of hospitality and handicrafts.
 
Because of differences in elevation and degree of shelter, the climate of the Republic differs widely. In the summer months, travellers can spend part of a single day in a sunny valley, in a flowering meadow high in the mountains, and in glaciers above the clouds. Extensive mountain ranges featuring ridges, deep gorges, wide steppe valleys and virgin forests are complemented by more than 40,000 rivers and streams that provide irrigation and a vast potential for hydroelectricity production.

Climate

The climate of Kyrgyzstan is varied depending on elevation. In the lower elevations, it is dry continental, while in the high Tien Shan it approaches polar. Summers in the valleys are hot and dry, 82 F (or 28 C) in July with an average January temperature of -0.5 F (or -18 C). Annual rainfall, too, varies from 7.1 inches in the eastern Tien Shan to about 35 inches in the mountains around Ferghana.

History

Stone implements found in the Tian Shan mountains indicate the presence of human society in what is now Kyrgyzstan as many as 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. The first written records of a Kyrgyz civilization appear in Chinese chronicles beginning about 2000 B.C. In 2003 Kyrgyzstan marked the 2200 anniversary of its state system and the long history of country is evident to visitors of Kyrgyzstan on the rock paintings near the Issyk-kul Lake and Burana tower.
The first Kyrgyz state, the Kyrgyz Khanate, existed from the sixth until the thirteenth century A.D., expanding by the tenth century southwestward to the eastern and northern regions of present-day Kyrgyzstan and westward to the headwaters of the Ertis (Irtysh) River in present-day eastern Kazakstan. In this period, the khanate established intensive commercial contacts in China, Tibet, Central Asia, and Persia.The Mongols' invasion of Central Asia in the fourteenth century devastated the territory of Kyrgyzstan, costing its people their independence and their written language. The son of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, Dzhuchi, conquered the Kyrgyz tribes of the Yenisey region, who by this time had become disunited.
   The Kyrgyz began efforts to gain protection from more powerful neighboring states in 1758, when some tribes sent emissaries to China. A similar mission went to the Russian Empire in 1785.The defeats strengthened the Kyrgyz willingness to seek Russian protection. Even during this period, however, the Kyrgyz occupied important positions in the social and administrative structures of the khanate, and they maintained special military units that continued their earlier tradition of military organization; some Kyrgyz advanced to the position of khan.
In 1876 Russian troops defeated the Quqon Khanate and occupied northern Kyrgyzstan.
   Within five years, all     Kyrgyzstan had become part of the Russian Empire, and the Kyrgyz slowly began to integrate themselves into the economic and political life of Russia. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, increasing numbers of Russian and Ukrainian settlers moved into the northern part of present-day Kyrgyzstan. Russian specialists began large-scale housing, mining, and road construction projects and the construction of schools. In the first years of the twentieth century, the presence of the Russians made possible the publication of the first books in the Kyrgyz language; the first Kyrgyz reader was published in Russia in 1911.
Following a brief period of independence after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution (see Glossary) toppled the empire, the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan was designated the Kara-Kyrghyz Autonomous Region and a constituent part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union) in 1924. In 1926 the official name changed to the Kyrgyz Autonomous Republic before the region achieved the status of a full republic of the Soviet Union in 1936.
    In the late 1980s, the Kyrgyz were jolted into a state of national consciousness by the reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and by ethnic conflict much closer to home. As democratic activism stirred in Kyrgyzstan's cities, events in Moscow pushed the republic toward unavoidable independence.
  Democratic activists erected tents in front of the party headquarters, maintaining pressure with a series of hunger strikes and highly visible public demonstrations. The continuing atmosphere of crisis emboldened CPK members, who also wished to get rid of the reactionary Masaliyev. Four months later, in a presidential election prescribed by Gorbachev's reform policies, Masaliyev failed to win the majority of Supreme Soviet votes required to remain in power.
   With none of the three presidential candidates able to gain the necessary majority in the 1990 election, the Supreme Soviet unexpectedly selected Askar Akayev, a forty-six-year-old physicist, who had been serving as head of the republic's Academy of Sciences
  In the first two years of his presidency, Akayev seemed to work effectively with the Supreme Soviet that had put him in office. By 1992, however, Akayev's good relations with the legislature had fallen victim to the rapidly declining economy.

Government

The Republic of Kyrgyzstan was an early leader in the post-communist transition. The country's pro-reform leader, Askar Akaev, a scientist and former president of the republic's Academy of Sciences, quickly established an impressive record of encouraging political and economic liberalization. The Kyrgyz government liberalized most prices, established a national currency, began privatization and financial sector reform, and introduced the legal and regulatory framework for open trade with its neighbors. Non-tariff barriers were removed, and export taxes were eliminated on all goods between 1994 and 1997. In December 1998, the Kyrgyz Republic became the first former communist country to qualify for entrance to the World Trade Organization.

Kyrgyzstan's legal system is based on the continental legal system. Kyrgyzstan's constitution was adopted in 1993. The constitution recognizes a separation of powers among 3 branches of government: an accountable executive, a deliberative legislative, and an independent judiciary. The constitution has provisions to ensure checks and balances, competitive elections, and judicial independence. The judiciary consists of Constitutional Court (to decide issues of constitutional import), the Supreme Court, an arbitration court to resolve commercial disputes. There is a system of lower courts. The constitution was amended in February 1996 by a popular referendum that substantially expanded the powers of the president.

The Kyrgyzstan political system is formally a competitive system. Officials are popularly elected in multi-candidate elections. The country's president is elected by popular vote for a 5-year term. Kyrgyzstan president Askar Akaev was first elected in October 1990 and reelected in December 1995 and December 2000. High officials such as the prime minister and other top cabinet officials are appointed by the president and submitted for approval to the Kyrgyzstan legislature, the Zhogorku Kenesh. There are numerous parties and political movements. The officially registered political parties are the Agrarian Party, the Agrarian Party of Kyrgyzstan, the ASABA party, the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan, the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan, the Dignity Party, the Fatherland Party, the Justice Party, Kyrgyzstan Erkin Party, the Movement for the People's Salvation, the Ashar Party, the National Unity Democratic Movement, the Peasant Party, the Republican Popular Party of Kyrgyzstan, and the Social Democratic Party.

The Kyrgyzstan government has sought to limit the size of the public sector to enable greater opportunities for the growth of private industry and services. Accordingly the government has sought to reduce the total government revenue as a percentage of the GDP. However, after the 1998 economic crisis, tax collection fell behind anticipated levels. Tax revenue collection relies heavily on industry. Poor industrial performance contributed to the shortfall in tax revenue. Yet during the economic crisis total government expenditures were higher than anticipated in recent years due to the increased costs of social protection programs. International financial institutions urged the Kyrgyzstan government to maintain a tight monetary policy, reduce government spending, and increase revenue collection. Yet the Kyrgyzstan government was reluctant to adopt these politically unpopular measures.

 Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of President Askar AKAYEV, who had run the country since 1990. Subsequent presidential elections in July 2005 were won overwhelmingly by former prime minister Kurmanbek BAKIYEV. The political opposition organized demonstrations in Bishkek in April, May, and November 2006 resulting in the adoption of a new constitution that transferred some of the president's powers to parliament and the government. In December 2006, the Kyrgyz parliament voted to adopt new amendments, restoring some of the presidential powers lost in the November 2006 constitutional change. By late-September 2007, both previous versions of the constitution were declared illegal, and the country reverted to the AKAYEV-era 2003 constitution, which was subsequently modified in a flawed referendum initiated by BAKIYEV. The president then dissolved parliament, called for early elections, and gained control of the new parliament through his newly-created political party, Ak Jol, in December 2007 elections.

Natural resources

Kyrgyzstan has at least sixty types of chemical materials. However, the republic has neither the funds nor the necessary expertise to extract, process, and market its abundant resources. For instance, the coal reserve of the republic is estimated at 25 billion tons, but only a small fraction of it is actually extracted and used. The other major raw materials of Kyrgyzstan are gold, lead, zinc, coal, oil, mercury, antimony, polymetalic ores, natural gas, cotton, sugar beets, tobacco, and various types of grain.
The Government placed a great deal of importance on the development of hydroelectric energy. The potential of the Naryn River, currently supplying about 92 percent of the republicís energy needs, is tremendous, as is the potential of the Kara Dariya, a major river, yet to be exploited for hydroelectric power production.

Economy

Over half of Kyrgyzstan's population is engaged in agriculture and herding. There is rich pasturage for sheep, goats, cattle, and horses. Most of the cultivated area is irrigated. Cotton, tobacco, potatoes, sugar beets, vegetables, grapes, fruits, and berries are grown; sericulture is carried on, and grain crops are cultivated in the nonirrigated areas.

Kyrgyzstan has deposits of gold, rare earth metals, coal, oil, natural gas, nepheline, mercury, bismuth, lead, zinc, and uranium. Industries include food processing, nonferrous metallurgy, forestry, and the manufacture of agricultural machinery, textiles, appliances, furniture, and electric motors. In addition, the Kyrgyz are also noted for such traditional handicrafts as wood carving, carpet weaving, and jewelry making.

The nation's leading exports are cotton, wool, meat, tobacco, metals (particularly gold, mercury, and uranium), natural gas, hydropower, and machinery; the chief imports are oil and gas, machinery and equipment, chemicals, and foodstuffs. The main trading partners are China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kazakhstan.
general assessment: telecommunications infrastructure is growing; fixed line penetration remains low and concentrated in urban areas
domestic: 4 mobile cellular service providers with growing coverage
international: country code - 996; connections with other CIS countries by landline or microwave radio relay and with other countries by leased connections with Moscow international gateway switch and by satellite; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intersputnik, 1 Intelsat); connected internationally by the Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line
  According to the assessment of the international organizations, the volume of gold production and export will gradually decrease, and the opportunities for further growth in agricultural production will be limited due to the low production and isolation of small farms, and the lack of a developed market system of purchase, storage and processing of agricultural products. Considering these factors the new Government intends to diversify the economy, promote increased agricultural production and large scale farming, and to develop the manufacturing industry. Rich in water resources in a water impoverished Central Asia, the government is also keen on improving hydro power capacities with the aim to export energy to its neighbors.
   The Kyrgyz Republic's close proximity to three fast growing countries (China, Russia and Kazakhstan) has provided an opportunity for the expansion of exports. Even after a decade and a half transition, production in the Kyrgyz Republic is mostly concentrated in non-manufacturing groups: primary agricultural goods (cotton, tobacco, hides and skins), services, and extractive industries (gold). The Kyrgyz export supply has not adapted well to the increasing demand in these markets for high quality food and manufacturing products. Instead, a steady and growing flow of labour migrants has led to significant remittance flow into the Kyrgyz economy, mainly from Russia and Kazakhstan.According to the 2005 Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (BEEPS), 59% of businesses cited corruption as a significant obstacle to doing business. Many of the potential benefits of a market economy have not been realized as businesses are subject to numerous inspections and requirements, with often different agencies inspecting the same aspect of the business.

Tourism

No whistles and bells, just friendly faces and some mighty big mountains. What Kyrgyzstan lacks in gracious buildings and fancy cakes it makes up for with nomadic traditions such as laid-back hospitality, a healthy distrust of authority and a fondness for drinking fermented mare's milk. It is perhaps the most accessible and welcoming of the Central Asian republics.

Many travelers find Kyrgyzstan the most appealing, accessible and welcoming of the Central Asian republics, particularly as it contains the central Tian Shan and Pamir Alay ranges, Central Asia's finest mountains. It's doing more than any Central Asian republic to encourage tourism and streamline bureaucratic procedures for visitors

The territory of Kyrgyzstan is almost entirely mountainous, making it a perfect destination for many different kinds of trekking. Kyrgyzstan's mountains also boast many natural hot springs, and Lake Issyk-Kul, the second largest alpine lake in the world (after Lake Titicaca) offers many beautiful beaches for relaxing and swimming during the summer.

Kyrgyzstan is made up of seven different regions, Chui, where the capital, Bishkek, is located, Talas, Issyk- Kul, Naryn, Jalal-Abad, Osh and Batken. Culturally, Chui and Issyk-Kul - are by far the most Russified areas of the country. Naryn and Talas contain the most traditionally Kyrgyz populations, while Jalal-Abad, Osh and Batken enjoy a strong Uzbek influence on both their culture and language

Visas: Many Kyrgyz embassies now issue visas without letters of support. If you arrive with only a Russian or Kazak visa, you can stay 72 hours, during which time you might be able to get a Kyrgyz visa in Bishkek. All foreigners staying in the country for more than three days are expected to register with the Office of Visas & Regulations, preferably in Bishkek. A stamp from Bishkek is good for the whole country and normally lasts a month.

Events

Public holidays include Constitution Day (5 May), a commemoration of the end of WWII on Victory Day (9 May), Armed Forces Day (29 May) and Kyrgyzstan Independence Day (31 August). The spring festival of Navrus ('New Days') is an Islamic adaptation of pre-Islamic vernal equinox or renewal celebrations. It can include traditional games, music and drama festivals, street art and colourful fairs. Important Muslim holy days, scheduled according to the lunar calendar, include Ramadan, the month of sunrise to sunset fasting; Eid-ul-Fitr (or Orozo Ait), the celebrations marking the end of Ramadan; and Eid-ul-Azha, the feast of sacrifice, when those who can afford to, slaughter an animal and share it with relatives and the poor.

Legends  

 

 

 


              

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