Kyrgyzstan (or Kirgizstan), both, a country in Central Asia. It is bordered by Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and China. The area is 76,641 square miles (198,500 km 2 ). Kyrgyzstan is very mountainous; the Tien Shan covers most of the country. At 24,406 feet (7,439 m), Victory Peak is the highest point. Issyk Kul is the largest of several large mountain lakes. The Naryn River, which flows through the central part of Kyrgyzstan, is an important source of hydroelectric power.
|Facts in brief about Kyrgyzstan|
|Official languages: Kyrgyz and Russian.|
|Area: 76,834 mi2. (199,000 km2). Greatest distances—east-west, 580 mi. (935 km); north-south, 270 mi. (435 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—Peak Pobedy, 24,406 ft. (7,439 m) above sea level. Lowest—Naryn river at the western border, 1,640 ft. (500 m) above sea level.|
|Population: Current estimate—5,336,000; density, 69 persons per mi2 (27 per km2); distribution, 65 percent rural, 35 percent urban. 1999 census—4,822,938.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—cattle, cotton, eggs, fruit, goats, grain, milk, vegetables, wool. Manufacturing—construction materials, food products, machinery, metals, textiles. Mining—antimony, mercury.|
|Flag: Kyrgyzstan's flag has a yellow sun centered on a red background. The sun bears a yellow disk with two intersecting sets of three curved, red bands.|
|Money: Basic unit—Kyrgyz som. One hundred tyin equal one Kyrgyz som.|
Agriculture, especially livestock raising, is the most important economic activity. Sheep, goats, and cattle are raised in the valleys; yaks are bred in the higher elevations. Silkworms and horses are also raised. Crops grown in Kyrgyzstan include wheat, cotton, sugar beets, tobacco, and fruits and vegetables. Mining, especially of antimony, mercury, lead, zinc, and coal, is also an important economic activity. Kyrgyzstan's industry is based largely on the processing of its agricultural products and mineral resources. Manufactured products include processed foods, leather goods, textiles, and machinery. Kyrgyzstan's basic currency unit is the som.
Kyrgyzstan is served by a fairly extensive road system and several railways. The largest airport is in Bishkek, the capital.
The Kyrgyz people, of Turkic-Tatar origin, form a little more than half the population. The remainder is made up chiefly of Russians, Uzbeks, and Ukrainians. The Kyrgyz State University is in Bishkek.
Kyrgyzstan has a parliamentary form of government with an elected president. The president nominates a prime minister and a cabinet. Members of the country's parliament are elected by the people and serve five-year terms.
The Kyrgyz moved from the steppes of the upper Yenisey River region to their present homeland during the 16th and 17th centuries. The area came under Russian control as part of Turkestan during 1855–76. Kyrgyzstan became an autonomous republic of the Soviet Union in 1926 and a union republic in 1936. During 1990–91, rising nationalism throughout the union republics gradually eroded authority of the Soviet central government. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan became independent. Also in 1991, Kyrgyzstan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States, a confederation of former Soviet republics.
Despite some limitations on freedom of the press, Kyrgyzstan became one of the most democratic and economically successful of the former Soviet Central Asian republics in the years following independence. In 2005, Kurmanbek Bakiyev was elected president after President Askar Akayev was forced to resign following widespread protests over voting irregularities in parliamentary elections.