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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kyrgyzstan


GeoFact of the Day Blog Map of Kyrgyzstan

Officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic, KYRGYZSTAN (Кыргызстан) is a mountainous, central Asian country and was a former socialist republic of the Soviet Union until its 1991 independence. The country is located west of China, south of Kazakhstan, northeast of Tajikistan, and east of Uzbekistan. Kyrgyzstan's currency is the Kyrgyzstani Som, and its ISO 4217 currency code is KGS. Kyrgyzstan achieved independence from the Soviet Union on August 31st, 1991.

Rounded flag of Kyrgyzstan

 People and Places 
Home to about 1 million residents in 2017, the capital and largest city of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek. Based on GeoFact of the Day's 2017 population estimates, the five cities with at least 50,000 inhabitants are Dzhalal-Abad (Jalal-Abad), Kara-Balta, Karakol, Osh (population: 250,000), and Tokmak (Tokmok). For basic geographic info about these cities, view my Kyrgyzstan's largest cities post — this link opens in a new tab or window. Other communities in Kyrgyzstan include Balykchy (Ysyk-Köl), Daroot-Korgon, Kyzyl-Kyya, Naryn, Ozgon, Sülüktü, Talas, and Terek-Say. Major languages used for communicating throughout the country include Dungan, Kyrgyz (national), Northern Uzbek, Russian (official), and Tajik or Tajiki. According to Ethnologue (↗), languages used by immigrants include but are not limited to Chechen, Crimean Tatar, Dargwa, Erzya, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kazakh, Korean, Lezgi, North Azerbaijani, Northern Kurdish, Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Ukrainian, and Uyghur. About 65% of Kyrgyz citizens are Muslims, followed by Russian Orthodox Christians (20%), Buddhists (0.5%), adherents to ethnic religions (0.5%), and Zoroastrians (0.05%).

Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites (↗) pay homage to Kyrgyzstan's Silk Road-era history and the land's varied landscape. They are the Western Tien-Shen mountain range system (this large site is shared with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan), Silk Roads and Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor (shared with China and Kazakhstan), and Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain. Other interesting places to see and visit throughout the country — with the city, village, or region location in parentheses — include Ak-Sai Glacier (Bishkek), Ala-Too Square (Bishkek), Altyn Arashan (Karakol) glacial valley with hot springs, Arslanbob Waterfalls (Arslanbob), Arslanbob Walnut Forest (Arslanbob), Burana Tower (Tokmok), Dungan Mosque (Karakol), Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral (Karakol), Irkeshtam Pass (Osh), Konorchek Canyons (Bishkek), Museum of Fine Arts (Bishkek), Museum of Petroglyphs (Cholpon Ata), Nikolai Przhevalsky Museum (Karakol), Panfilov Park (Bishkek), Saimaluu-Tash Reserve Museum (Karakol), State History Museum (Bishkek), Uzgen Archaeological-Architectural Museum Complex (Uzgen), and various gorges/valleys. Read the Land Features section below for a succinct list of major mountain ranges, lakes, and rivers to explore.

 Land Features 
Translations to English
darıya or darya (Kyrgyz) = river
khrebet (Russian) = mountain range
ozero (Russian) = lake
vodokhranilishche (Russian) = reservoir

Kyrgyzstan is quite mountainous; almost 70% of the country features mountain ranges belonging to the Pamir and dominant Tien Shan mountain-range groupings. The country's highest mountain — Jengish Chokusu, once commonly known as Pik Pobedy or Victory Peak — stands 7,439 meters and 24,406 feet in elevation. It is part of the Tien Shan range near the eastern tip of Kyrgyzstan. Mountain ranges include Alayskiy Khrebet (Alay or Alai) in southwestern Kyrgyzstan, Chatkal’skiy Khrebet (Chatkal) in the northwest, Ferganskiy Khrebet (Fergana) in the south, Khrebet Talasskiy Alatau (Talas Ala-Too) in the northwest, Khrebet Terskey Alatau (Terskey Ala-Too) in the northeast, Kirgizskiy Khrebet (Kirghiz) in the north, Kokshaal-Too in the southeast, and Zaalayskiy Khrebet (Trans-Alay) in the south.

Major rivers include Chu in the north, Kara Darya in the south, Naryn in the center, Talas in the northwest, and Vakhsh (Kyzyl-Suu) in the south. Known as Kyrgyzstan's longest river, Naryn flows for about 535 miles and 860 kilometers from the eastern highlands to the west toward Uzbekistan. Western Kyrgyzstan is home to one of the world's most-fertile regions: the Fergana Valley. Predominantly in Uzbekistan, the valley forms an arch along Kyrgyzstan's west border. Communities in this valley — see the detailed map below — include Dzhalal-Abad, Osh, and Uzgen. Kyrgyzstan's largest lakes and reservoirs include Ozero Chatyr-Kul' in the south, Ozero Issyk-Kul' in the northeast, Ozero Song-Köl in the north, and Toktogul'skoye Vodokhranilishche (Toktogul Reservoir). Containing about 1,738 cubic kilometers and 417 cubic miles of water, Issyk-Kul' is one of the world's largest lakes by volume.


My hand-drawn map of Kyrgyzstan was created on computer printer paper, featuring the mediums of pen and colored pencils

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