Overview website for Kyrgyzstan
The Kyrgyz Republic is a landlocked state in Central Asia bordering Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the south-west and the …
Kyrgyzstan tourism and travel information including facts, maps, history, culture, … Find popular places to visit in Kyrgyzstan – Lonely Planet.
Provides overview, key facts and events, timelines and leader profiles along with current news about Kyrgyzstan.
Located in Central Asia on the historical Silk Road, Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country famous for its natural heritage including its high peaks, glaciers, lakes, …
Kyrgyzstan is a remote, landlocked country with inadequate trade and transportation infrastructure . Kyrgyzstan’s economy heavily emphasizes agriculture and …
Modern day Kyrgyzstan lies on the historic path of the Silk Road. It was therefore a route followed by population groups as well as invaders, which partially explains its population makeup. For much of its history after the 13th century the territory of Kyrgyzstan was under the control of Mongol khanates after Kyrgyz tribes were conquered by the son of Genghis Khan, Juche.
They subsequently regained their freedom in the 16th century, only to be overrun in the next century by the Kalmyks, by the Manchus in the 18th century, and the Uzbeks in the 19th century. It was then to be absorbed by Russia in 1876 – and then the Soviet Union – until it declared independence in August 1991. The last two periods of occupation – by the Russians and Uzbeks – and the geographic proximity of Russia and Uzbekistan are reflected by the presence of these large population groups in modern Kyrgyzstan.
Tensions between the majority Kyrgyz and minority groups erupted before independence. In 1990, minority Uzbeks and Kyrgyz violence broke out in the city of Osh, in the Ferghana valley.. These tensions remain since Kyrgyz nationals have sought to confirm their pre-eminence in the new state, increasingly replacing Russians and asserting their dominance by establishing Kyrgyz as the main language of government.
While Kyrgyzstan’s first president, Askar Akayev, was seen as a moderate leader in his first term of office, criticisms emerged in the latter part of the 1990s as he began to show increasingly autocratic tendencies and began cracking down on opposition groups.
The increasing prominence of the Kyrgyz language, (though Russian remains as a ‘language of inter-ethnic communication’) signaled that the Russian-speaking minority were facing growing obstacles accessing rights, for example to employment, and particularly in the civil service. At the same time, there has been no recognition for the use of Uzbek language, speakers of which have surpassed the Russian minority. Tensions therefore have remained high in the Ferghana valley where Uzbeks are concentrated and there have been demonstrations by Uzbeks against the lack of status of their language and the limitations on their economic and employment opportunities.
As for the Russian minority, the diminishing prestige of their language coupled with limited employment opportunities and a sense that Kyrgyzstan was to be – increasingly – the country of Kyrgyzs led many of them and other Slavs to emigrate: perhaps half of the approximately 916,000 members of the Russian minority left the country between 1991 and 2005.
Parliamentary and presidential elections in the 1990s were seen as flawed, while those in 2000 were deemed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) not to have been free and fair. Pressure from the government on independent media and opposition politicians increased. Further elections in 2005 were again – despite some improvements – deemed not to have been free and fair by outside observers. Large demonstrations on 24 March 2005 led to President Akayev fleeing the country and eventually resigning on 4 April 2005 in what is sometimes known as the Tulip Revolution.
Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev won the presidential elections of 10 July 2005 with 88.9% of the vote. His popularity, however, declined amid accusations that his administration was unable to tackle Kyrgyzstan’s problems of corruption, and concerns over the assassination of a number of parliamentarians. There were large opposition demonstrations in 2006 and April 2007 in the capital Bishkek accusing the president of not fulfilling his electoral promises to transfer some of his powers to Parliament. |In July 2009, Bakiev returned to office, having reportedly gained 85% of the vote in national elections. The elections were widely criticized by international monitors. In April 2010, deadly clashes erupted between police and thousands of protestors demonstrating against corruption and rising prices. The popular revolts ousted Bakiyev from power and an interim government was formed under the leadership of former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva. A new constitution was passed by referendum in late June 2010, which included provisions to enable the country to transition to a parliamentary democracy. Parliamentary elections were held in October 2010. Elections were held on 10 October, with 29 parties participating and five winning seats. Although a coalition government was formed in mid-December, state policy towards interethnic relations remained uncertain. Roza Otunbayeva acts as interim president until Presidential elections are held in October 2011.
The instability which followed the overthrow of President Bakiyev saw a rise in interethnic tension in Chuy province, with anti-government protests escalating into attacks against ethnic Uighur and Dungan businesses. Interethnic violence erupted once again in June 2010 in the south of the country, as clashes took place between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh and Jalalabad. At least 418 people died in the violence, with some reports suggesting that casualties could be as high as 2000. Most of the victims were ethnic Uzbeks. Destruction of property overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, targeted ethnic Uzbek areas and Uzbek-owned establishments.
Set in the heart of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is often called as the Switzerland of Central Asia. Blessed with stunning landscapes and a rich heritage, the country has gradually gained importance in the travel industry and is seen by several visitors. The topography of Kyrgyzstan is quite varied and from snow-capped mountains to pine forests and open plains, visitors can find a number of interesting sites to visit.
The area of Kyrgyzstanwas initially inhabited by the Scythsand was exposed to Islam by the Turkic tradersin the 7th century. It was an important stopover in the Silk Road route. Kyrgyzstan was later under the Soviet power in the early 20th century and gained independence in 1991.
Standing at a cross road of different cultures, Kyrgyzstanis home to people of over 80 different nationalities. Visitors are welcomed with traditional Central Asian hospitality. The capital city of Bishkek has some typical soviet-style buildings especially the Philharmonia concert hall, Historic Museum and the Monument for the Great War of the Native Country. There are also some modern Kyrgyz monuments representing the traditional culture of the area. Bishkek is a relaxed city with clean parks, views of snow-capped mountains and wide boulevards.
From Bishkek you can take a day trip to the AlaArcha Canyon that presents alpine meadows and pine forests. There are fast-flowing streams in the area and rising mountain peaks. Enjoy some nature watching at the shores of the IssykKul Lake. On the western shore of the lake is the city of Balykchy, which is the best base to explore the surroundings of the lake. You can also stay in the city of Karakolor if you are looking for some resort-style adventure, then there are plenty of resorts at Cholpon Ata. There are also some old petroglyphs in Cholpon Ata that you would love to visit.
Though smaller than the IssykKul Lake, the Song-kol Lake is beautiful lake surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. South of Karakol is the Karakol Valley, which is excellent for trekking. Within easy reach of Bishkek is the AlaArcha National Park home to gorgeous Tian Shan alpine landscapes.
The markets in Bishkek, Osh and Alamedin are known for fresh foods and lots of handicrafts. At Chui and Manas Avenue there are several art shops and shops selling traditional Kyrgyz products. One of the best things to take back from Kyrgyzstanis an embroidered shyrdak, which is a traditional Kyrgyz rug. To buy some authentic souvenirs head towards the Osh Bazaar.
Kyrgyzstan is a predominantly Muslim country. Still developing, the country has a number of masaajid that can be easily located. The Bishkek Central Masjid is the main masjid in the capital. Today even small village and towns have masaajid.
Halal food can be found across Kyrgyzstan. Beshbarmak by far is the most popular dish eaten in the country. Ashlam-fo is another popular dish made of spicy noodles. Visitors will definitely note a Russian and Uzbek influence along with the traditional Kyrgyz flavor.
The cities of Bishkek, Osh, Jalalabad and Batkenare connected by flight. Minibuses and taxis are a convenient of option to travel within Kyrgyzstan.