A country in central Asia bounded by Kazakhstan on the north and north-west, Uzbekistan on the south-west, and Tajikistan on the south.
On the south-east the Tian Shan range of mountains, which rise to 7439 m (24,406 feet), span the border with China. Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country with many snowfields, glaciers, and deep lakes. Its lower plains are exposed to hot desert winds. Its middle reaches are forested, while the lower slopes provide pasture for millions of sheep.
Kyrgyzstan has substantial mineral reserves, including gold and coal. Reserves of petroleum and natural gas have not been fully prospected or exploited. Industry is based largely on mineral extraction and processing, but manufacturing and light industry have expanded rapidly in recent years. Agriculture is based on livestock-raising and crops such as fruit, cereals, cotton, sugar beet, tobacco, and opium poppies.
Absorbed into the Russian empire during the 19th century, Kyrgyzstan became an autonomous province of the Soviet Union in 1924 and the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936. In 1990 Askar Akayev, a supporter of reforms and of independence for Kyrgyzstan, was elected President. He survived an attempted coup in 1991 and resigned from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Kirghiz Communist Party then dissolved itself and the country became independent as Kyrgyzstan. New constitutions were adopted in 1993 and 1994 and the first multiparty elections were held in 1995. Akayev remained President and continued to introduce economic reforms; however, in 2005 he was forced out of office by popular demonstrations after disputed parliamentary elections. Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the leader of the opposition, was elected President by a large majority.
Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)
198,500 sq km (76,460 sq miles)
1 som = 100 tyiyn
Sunni Muslim; Eastern Orthodox
Kirghiz 64.9%; Uzbek 13.8%; Russian 12.5%; Ukrainian and Tatar minorities
Kirghiz, Russian (both official); minority languages
OSCE; UN; Commonwealth of Independent States; Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council; WTO