Kyrgyzstan country profile

  • 4 October 2015
  • From the section Asia
Map of Kyrgyzstan

A Central Asian state bordering China, Kyrgyzstan became independent with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

It has some oil and gas and a developing gold mining sector, but relies on imports for most of its energy needs.

Resentment at widespread poverty and ethnic divisions between north and south have spilled over into violence, and the country's first two post-Soviet presidents were swept from power by popular discontent.

Settled by Kyrgyz tribes from southern Siberia in the 17th century, the area was ruled by various regional powers before coming under Russian, and then Soviet, rule.

Most of its six million people are Turkic-speaking Muslims.

In 2014 Kyrgyzstan shut a US military base which had supplied US troops in Afghanistan with personnel and cargo since 2001. Russia retains a military airbase in the country.


Kyrgyz Republic

Capital: Bishkek

  • Population 5.4 million

  • Area 199,900 sq km (77,182 sq miles)

  • Major languages Kyrgyz, Russian

  • Major religions Islam, Christianity

  • Life expectancy 64 years (men), 72 years (women)

  • Currency som

Getty Images


President: Almazbek Atambayev

Image copyright Getty Images

Almazbek Atambayev, a businessman and former prime minister, won more than 60% of votes in the October 2011 presidential election, trouncing his nationalist rivals.

His inauguration marked the first peaceful transfer of presidential power in Kyrgyzstan's post-Communist history.

Under pro-Russian Mr Atambayev, Kyrgyzstan joined the Russian-dominated Eurasian Customs Union.

He also refused to extend the lease on the US air base at Manas - a logistics hub for the Afghan conflict - in 2012, soon after accepting a loan from Russia; the base closed in 2014.



1685 - Kyrgyz people settle in the area that is now Kyrgyzstan; area conquered by the Oirats, a Mongol people, after centuries of Turkic rule.

1758 - Oirats defeated by Chinese Manchus and Kyrgyz become nominal subjects of Chinese empire.

Early 19th century - Kyrgyz come under the jurisdiction of the Uzbek khanate of Kokand, to the west.

1876 - Russian forces incorporate what is now Kyrgyzstan into the Russian empire.

1991 - Kyrgyzstan acquires its present name, and declares independence. Askar Akayev is president.

2005 - Mass protests force President Akayev from office in the Tulip Revolution.

2010 - Opposition protests sweep President Kurmanbek Bakiyev from power.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kyrgyzstan hopes to attract tourists to its wild mountain landscapes

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