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Geography of Kyrgyzstan

Learn Information about the Central Asian Country of Kyrgyzstan


Kyrgyzstan Flag

The Kyrgyzstan flag is red with a yellow sun in the center having 40 rays representing the 40 Kyrgyz tribes; in the center of the sun is a red ring crossed by two sets of three lines, a stylized representation of the roof of the traditional Kyrgyz yurt.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated June 16, 2010

Population: 5,508,626 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Bishkek
Area: 77,201 square miles (199,951 sq km)
Bordering Countries: China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
Coastline: Landlocked
Highest Point: Jengish Chokusu at 24,406 feet (7,439 m)
Lowest Point: Kara-Daryya at 433 feet (132 m)

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country located in Central Asia. Much of the country is within the Tien Shan Mountain Range and as such most of its land area is very rugged and undeveloped. Kyrgyzstan is known for its beautiful landscapes and its long history of nomadic peoples. Some of the country is developed however and Kyrgyzstan's largest cities are its capital, Bishkek, and Osh. The country is also known for its many ethnic clashes and tensions between its native Kyrgyz people, Uzbeks, and other nationals from its neighboring countries.

History of Kyrgyzstan

The history of Kyrgyzstan dates back to 201 B.C.E. and its earliest people were the Kyrgyz who were believed to be descended from Turkish peoples. The Kyrgyz first lived in the northeastern portion of the country in what is present-day Mongolia. They later migrated south to the Yenisey River in today's southern Siberia and lived there from the 6th to the 8th century. In the 12th century, Islam became the most dominant religion in the area and in the 13th century, the Kyrgyz migrated south with the rise of the Mongol Empire.

In the 15th and 16 centuries the Kyrgyz Republic was formed and it independently until the 19th century. In 1876, the territory became a part of the Russian Empire which caused many conflicts and revolts. During Russian control many native Kyrgyz migrated to China and Afghanistan.

In 1918, the Soviet Union established itself in the area of present-day Kyrgyzstan and in 1924, it became a part of the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast. In 1926, its name again changed to the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and in 1936 it changed again to the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic (KSSR) and became a Union Republic within the Soviet Union.

During Soviet control, the KSSR grew economically and socially and in 1924, the Kyrgyz introduced a new Arabic alphabet that was later dropped in favor of Latin script in 1928. The Kyrgyz alphabet then changed again in 1941 when a Cyrillic script was adopted.

In June 1990 the KSSR saw instability when ethnic tensions between the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz grew in the Osh Oblast. In that same year, the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement was started and in October 1990 Askar Akayev became president. Shortly thereafter, the government changed the republic's name to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

In 1993, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan changed its name to the Kyrgyz Republic after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, there was instability in the government and complaints that the democratic government was not truly democratic in that its elections were not free and fair. Today, elections are still not free of irregularities and ethnic tensions between the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz continue. In June 2010 conflicts again arose and hundreds of people were killed.

Government of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan's government today is considered a republic with a unicameral legislative branch comprised of the Supreme Council. The country also has an executive branch that is made up of a chief of state and a head of government. The judicial branch is comprised of a Supreme Court, a Constitutional Court, the Higher Court of Arbitration and local courts. Kyrgyzstan is divided into seven provinces for local administration.

Economics and Land Use of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous, landlocked country and as such it is relatively poor and has an economy based on agriculture. Its main agricultural products are tobacco, cotton, potatoes, vegetables, grapes, fruits, sheep, goats, cattle and wool. The small industries present in Kyrgyzstan are textiles, food processing, cement, shoes, sawn logs, refrigerators, furniture, electric motors, gold and other metals.

Geography and Climate of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan's topography is dominated by the western part of the Tien Shan Mountain Range. The portions of the country that are not at high elevations consist of deep valleys, mountain plateaus and basins. The Fergana Valley in the southeast is the largest lowland in the region. This area is also where the most agricultural production takes place. Kyrgyzstan's climate is considered dry continental in the mountains and subtropical in the Fergana Valley. There is also a temperate zone in the northern foothills.

More Facts about Kyrgyzstan

• The country's official languages are Kyrgyz and Russian
• Life expectancy in Kyrgyzstan is 68.2 years
• Kyrgyzstan's literacy rate is 97%

To learn more about Kyrgyzstan, read "Kyrgyzstan Facts and History" from Asian History at About.com.


Central Intelligence Agency. (27 May 2010). CIA - The World Factbook - Kyrgyzstan. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kg.html

CNN Wire Staff. (14 June 2010). "Armed Ethnic Clashes Rage in Kyrgyzstan; Thousands Flee." CNN. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/06/13/kyrgyz.violence/index.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Kyrgyzstan: History, Geography, Government and Culture - Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107698.html

United States Department of State. (26 October 2009). Kyrgyzstan. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5755.htm

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