Kyrgyzstan

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Posted by pompos 04/28/2009 @ 18:13

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Kyrgyzstan's counter-drug strategy - Times of Central Asia (subscription)
BISHKEK (TCA) -- Kyrgyzstan has been highly praised for its anti-drug policy and unwavering commitment to a three component strategy of Harm Reduction, which includes demand reduction, supply reduction, and reduction of negative consequences of illicit...
Nimrodel in deal to acquire stake in Kyrgyzstan uranium project - Creamer Media's Mining Weekly
JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Nimrodel Resources has signed a heads of agreement with UK-based Pangaea Energy for the option to buy 80% of the Kamushanovskoe uranium project, located near the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek....
Kyrgyzstan to improve tobacco yield, ban advertising - Times of Central Asia (subscription)
BISHKEK (TCA) – Kyrgyzstan's tobacco industry needs to enhance the quality of tobacco if it is to compete with producers from China and India in the international market. Their produce is currently sold at a lower price than the tobacco from Kyrgyzstan...
Two largest plants in southern Kyrgyzstan face hard time - Times of Central Asia (subscription)
BISHKEK (TCA) – The two largest factories in Southern Kyrgyzstan are facing difficult times. The Haidarkan Mercury Plant in the Batken oblast has been out of operation for some time and the Government now intends to sell 99.98 percent of its shares....
Evaluating Methadone Substitution Therapy In Kyrgyzstan - eMaxHealth.com
Both internationally and in Kyrgyzstan, the Methadone Substitution Therapy Programme has proved its effectiveness in reducing illicit drug use, risk behaviour (needle and syringe sharing) and criminal activity. Furthermore, it has proven to increase...
Malaysia's parliamentary delegation arrived in Kyrgyzstan - Times of Central Asia (subscription)
Official delegation of Malaysia's parliament led by speaker of the parliament Pandikar Amin Mulia has arrived in Kyrgyzstan at the invitation of the Kyrgyz parliament's speaker Aytibai Tagaev. Vice-speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh Azizbek Tursunbaev,...
WB, DFID, KfW Missions take trips through Kyrgyzstan - Times of Central Asia (subscription)
Missions of the World Bank, UK Department for International Development and German Development Bank KfW took trips through regions of Kyrgyzstan, ARIS -Agency for Associations' Development and Investment says. Two delegations- Mission of the World Bank...
Slavic Writing and Culture Days to run in Kyrgyzstan - Times of Central Asia (subscription)
Days of Slavic Writing and Culture will take place in Kyrgyzstan, Sardarbek kyzy Nuraiym, Dean of Russian and Slavic Philology Department of the Kyrgyz National University named after J. Balasagyn said. The main aim of the organizers is to draw...
Kyrgyz language exam for presidential nominees starts in Kyrgyzstan - 24
Doctor Jenishbek Nazaraliev, who should sit the examination today, has informed the Central Election Commission of Kyrgyzstan that he fell ill. The CEC decided to postpone the examination of Jenishbek Nazaraliev. Kuttubek Asylbekov, leader of the Farm...
Kyrgyzstan Registers 18 Preliminary Presidential Candidates - RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
BISHKEK -- Eighteen people have been preliminary registered as presidential candidates with Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports. Election commission chairwoman Jamila Alymbekova told RFE/RL that three of the...

Kyrgyzstan

Flag of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan (pronounced /ˈkɝːɡɪstæn/; KUR-gi-stan; Kyrgyz: Кыргызстан ; Russian: Киргизстан ), officially the Kyrgyz Republic, is a country in Central Asia. Landlocked and mountainous, it is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east. The ethnonym "Kyrgyz", after which the country is named, is thought to originally mean either "forty girls" or "forty tribes", presumably referring to the epic hero Manas who, as legend has it, unified forty tribes against the Mongols. According to popular interpretations, the 40-ray sun on the flag of Kyrgyzstan symbolizes the forty tribes of Manas.

Chinese and Muslim sources of the 7th–12th centuries AD describe the Kyrgyz as red-haired with fair complexion and green (blue) eyes. The Kyrgyz state reached its greatest expansion after defeating the Uyghur Khanate in 840 A.D. Then Kyrgyz quickly moved as far as the Tian Shan range and maintained their dominance over this territory for about 200 years. In the twelfth century, however, the Kyrgyz domination had shrunk to the Altay Range and the Sayan Mountains as a result of the Mongol expansion. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the thirteenth century, the Kyrgyz migrated south.The Kyrgyz were conquered by Genghis Khan’s son Jöchi in 1207. The area became part of the Qing dynasty of China in the mid-18th century.Because of the processes of migration, conquest, intermarriage, and assimilation, many of the Kyrgyz peoples that now inhabit Central and Southwest Asia are of mixed origins, often stemming from fragments of many different tribes, though they speak closely related languages.

In the early nineteenth century, the southern part of what is today Kyrgyzstan came under the control of the Khanate of Kokand. The territory, then known in Russian as "Kirgizia", was formally incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1876. The Russian takeover was met with numerous revolts against tsarist authority, and many of the Kyrgyz opted to move to the Pamirs and Afghanistan. In addition, the suppression of the 1916 rebellion in Central Asia caused many Kyrgyz to migrate to China. Since many ethnic groups in the region were (and still are) split between neighbouring states at a time when borders were more porous and less regulated, it was common to move back and forth over the mountains, depending on where life was perceived as better; this might mean better rains for pasture or better government after oppression.

Soviet power was initially established in the region in 1919, and the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast was created within the Russian SFSR (the term Kara-Kirghiz was used until the mid-1920s by the Russians to distinguish them from the Kazakhs, who were also referred to as Kirghiz). On December 5, 1936, the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic was established as a full republic of the Soviet Union.

During the 1920s, Kyrgyzstan developed considerably in cultural, educational and social life. Literacy was greatly improved, and a standard literary language was introduced by imposing Russian on the populace. Economic and social development also was notable. Many aspects of the Kyrgyz national culture were retained despite the suppression of nationalist activity under Stalin, and, therefore, tensions with the all-Union authorities were constant.

The early years of glasnost had little effect on the political climate in Kyrgyzstan. However, the Republic's press was permitted to adopt a more liberal stance and to establish a new publication, Literaturny Kirghizstan, by the Union of Writers. Unofficial political groups were forbidden, but several groups that emerged in 1989 to deal with the acute housing crisis were permitted to function.

In June 1990, ethnic tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz surfaced in the Osh Oblast, where Uzbeks form a majority of the population. Violent confrontations ensued, and a state of emergency and curfew were introduced. Order was not restored until August 1990.

The early 1990s brought considerable change to Kyrgyzstan. By then, the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement (KDM) had developed into a significant political force with support in Parliament. In an upset victory, Askar Akayev, the liberal President of the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences, was elected to the Presidency in October 1990. The following January, Akayev introduced new government structures and appointed a new government composed mainly of younger, reform-oriented politicians.

On August 19, 1991, when the State Emergency Committee assumed power in Moscow, there was an attempt to depose Akayev in Kyrgyzstan. After the coup collapsed the following week, Akayev and Vice President German Kuznetsov announced their resignations from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and the entire bureau and secretariat resigned. This was followed by the Supreme Soviet vote declaring independence from the Soviet Union on August 31, 1991.

In October 1991, Akayev ran unopposed and was elected president of the new independent Republic by direct ballot, receiving 95% of the votes cast. Together with the representatives of seven other Republics that same month, he signed the Treaty of the New Economic Community. Finally, on December 21, 1991, Kyrgyzstan joined with the other four Central Asian Republics to formally enter the new Commonwealth of Independent States. In 1992, Kyrgyzstan joined the UN and the OSCE.

The "Tulip Revolution," after the parliamentary elections in March 2005, forced President Akayev's resignation on April 4, 2005. Opposition leaders formed a coalition, and a new government was formed under President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Prime Minister Feliks Kulov. The nation's capital was also looted during the protests.

Political stability appears to be elusive, however, as various groups and factions allegedly linked to organized crime are jockeying for power. Three of the 75 members of Parliament elected in March 2005 were assassinated, and another member was assassinated on 10 May 2006 shortly after winning his murdered brother's seat in a by-election. All four are reputed to have been directly involved in major illegal business ventures.

Current concerns in Kyrgyzstan include privatization of state-owned enterprises, expansion of Western influence, inter-ethnic relations and terrorism.

The 1993 constitution defines the form of government as a democratic republic. The executive branch includes a president and prime minister. The parliament currently is unicameral. The judicial branch comprises a Supreme Court, a Constitutional Court, local courts and a Chief Prosecutor.

In March 2002, in the southern district of Aksy, five people protesting the arbitrary arrest of an opposition politician were shot dead by police, sparking nationwide protests. President Akayev initiated a constitutional reform process which initially included the participation of a broad range of government, civil and social representatives in an open dialogue, leading to a February 2003 referendum marred by voting irregularities. The amendments to the constitution approved by the referendum resulted in stronger control by the president and weakened the parliament and the Constitutional Court. Parliamentary elections for a new, 75-seat unicameral legislature were held on February 27 and March 13, 2005, but were widely viewed as corrupt. The subsequent protests led to a bloodless coup on March 24, after which Akayev fled the country and was replaced by acting president Kurmanbek Bakiyev (see: Tulip Revolution).

Interim government leaders are developing a new governing structure for the country and working to resolve outstanding constitutional issues. On July 10, 2005, acting president Bakiyev won the presidential election in a landslide, with 88.9% of the vote, and was inaugurated on 14 August. However, initial public support for the new administration substantially declined in subsequent months as a result of its apparent inability to solve the corruption problems that have plagued the country since its independence from the Soviet Union, along with the murders of several members of parliament. Large-scale protests against president Bakiyev took place in Bishkek in April and November 2006, with opposition leaders accusing the president of failing to live up to his election promises to reform the country's constitution and transfer many of his presidential powers to parliament.

While it cannot really be described as an exodus, more and more ethnic white Russians want to leave Kyrgyzstan for Russia. The surge in the numbers of those seeking the necessary permits can be explained by the March events and the continuously shaky situation in Kyrgyzstan, both economically and politically. The Russians are increaisngly pessimistic and concerned about an increasing lawlessness in Bishkek (where almost 50% of the country’s Russian population lives. Interfax reported on 8 February 2006 that if the current trend persists, more than half of Kyrgyzstan’s Russian population will have left within the next ten years. Besides the uncertain outlook for the future, there are signs of growing nationalism and even xenophobia in a country that was always known for one of the most tolerant populations in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In December, 2008 the state-owned broadcaster UTRK announced that it would require prior submission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty programmes, which UTRK are required to retransmit according to a 2005 agreement. UTRK had stopped retransmitting RFE/RL programming on October 2008, a week after it failed to broadcast an RFE/RL programme called 'Inconvenient Questions' which covered the October elections, claiming to have lost the missing material. President Bakiyev had criticised this programme in September 2008, while UTRK told RFE/RL that its programming was too negative. Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Kyrgyzstan 111th equal out of 173 countries on its Press Freedom Index, strongly criticised the decision.

On 3 February 2009, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the imminent closure of the Manas Air Base, the only US military base remaining in Central Asia. The closure was approved by Parliament on 19 February 2009 by 78-1 for the government-backed bill.

Kyrgyzstan is among the twenty countries in the world with the highest perceived level of corruption: the 2008 Corruption Perception Index for Kyrgyzstan is 1.8 on a scale of 0 (most corrupt) to 10 (least corrupt).

Kyrgyzstan is divided into seven provinces (sing. oblast (область), pl. oblasttar (областтар)) administered by appointed governors. The capital, Bishkek, and the second large city Osh are administratively independent cities (shaar) with a status equal to a province.

Each province comprises a number of districts (raions), administered by government-appointed officials (akim). Rural communities (ayıl ökmötü), consisting of up to 20 small settlements, have their own elected mayors and councils.

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, bordering Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The mountainous region of the Tian Shan covers over 80% of the country (Kyrgyzstan is occasionally referred to as "the Switzerland of Central Asia", as a result), with the remainder made up of valleys and basins. Lake Issyk-Kul in the north-western Tian Shan is the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan and the second largest mountain lake in the world after Titicaca. The highest peaks are in the Kakshaal-Too range, forming the Chinese border. Peak Jengish Chokusu, at 7,439 m (24,400 feet), is the highest point and is considered by geologists (though not mountaineers) to be the northernmost peak over 7,000 m (23,000 feet) in the world. Heavy snowfall in winter leads to spring floods which often cause serious damage downstream. The runoff from the mountains is also used for hydro-electricity.

The climate varies regionally. The south-western Fergana Valley is subtropical and extremely hot in summer, with temperatures reaching 40°C (104°F.) The northern foothills are temperate and the Tian Shan varies from dry continental to polar climate, depending on elevation. In the coldest areas temperatures are sub-zero for around 40 days in winter, and even some desert areas experience constant snowfall in this period.

Kyrgyzstan has significant deposits of metals including gold and rare earth metals. Due to the country's predominantly mountainous terrain, less than 8% of the land is cultivated, and this is concentrated in the northern lowlands and the fringes of the Fergana Valley.

Bishkek in the north is the capital and largest city, with approximately 900,000 inhabitants (as of 2005). The second city is the ancient town of Osh, located in the Fergana Valley near the border with Uzbekistan. The principal river is the Kara Darya, which flows west through the Fergana Valley into Uzbekistan. Across the border in Uzbekistan it meets another major Kyrgyz river, the Naryn. The confluence forms the Syr Darya, which originally flowed into the Aral Sea. At this time it no longer reaches the sea, as its water is withdrawn upstream to irrigate cotton fields in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and southern Kazakhstan. The Chu River also briefly flows through Kyrgyzstan before entering Kazakhstan.

There is one exclave, the tiny village of Barak, Kyrgyzstan, (population 627) in the Fergana valley. The village is surrounded by Uzbek territory and located between the towns of Margilan and Fergana.

There are four Uzbek enclaves within Kyrgyzstan. Two of them are the towns of Sokh (area 125 sq. mi/325 km² and a population of 42,800 in 1993, although some estimates go as high as 70,000; 99% are Tajiks, the remainder Uzbeks), and Shakhrimardan (also known as Shakirmardon or Shah-i-Mardan, area 35 sq. mi/90 km² and a population of 5,100 in 1993; 91% are Uzbeks, the remainder Kyrgyz); the other two are the tiny territories of Chuy-Kara (or Kalacha, roughly 3 km long by 1 km wide or 2 mi by 0.6 mi) and Dzhangail (a dot of land barely 2 or 3 km across). Chuy-Kara is on the Sokh river, between the Uzbek border and the Sokh enclave.

There also are two enclaves belonging to Tajikistan: Vorukh (exclave area between 95 and 130 km² , population estimated between 23,000 and 29,000, 95% Tajiks and 5% Kyrgyz, distributed among 17 villages), located 45 kilometres (28 mi) south of Isfara on the right bank of the Karafshin river, and a small settlement near the Kyrgyz railway station of Kairagach.

Despite the backing of major Western lenders, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, Kyrgyzstan has had economic difficulties following independence. Initially, these were a result of the breakup of the Soviet trading bloc and resulting loss of markets, which impeded the republic's transition to a free market economy. The government has reduced expenditures, ended most price subsidies and introduced a value-added tax. Overall, the government appears committed to the transition to a market economy. Through economic stabilization and reform, the government seeks to establish a pattern of long-term consistent growth. Reforms led to Kyrgyzstan's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 20, 1998.

The Kyrgyz economy was severely affected by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting loss of its vast market. In 1990, some 98% of Kyrgyz exports went to other parts of the Soviet Union. Thus, the nation's economic performance in the early 1990s was worse than any other former Soviet republic except war-torn Armenia, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, as factories and state farms collapsed with the disappearance of their traditional markets in the former Soviet Union. While economic performance has improved considerably in the last few years, and particularly since 1998, difficulties remain in securing adequate fiscal revenues and providing an adequate social safety net.

Agriculture is an important sector of the economy in Kyrgyzstan (see agriculture in Kyrgyzstan). By the early 1990s, the private agricultural sector provided between one-third and one-half of some harvests. In 2002 agriculture accounted for 35.6% of GDP and about half of employment. Kyrgyzstan's terrain is mountainous, which accommodates livestock raising, the largest agricultural activity, so the resulting wool, meat and dairy products are major commodities. Main crops include wheat, sugar beets, potatoes, cotton, tobacco, vegetables and fruit. As the prices of imported agrichemicals and petroleum are so high, much farming is being done by hand and by horse, as it was generations ago. Agricultural processing is a key component of the industrial economy as well as one of the most attractive sectors for foreign investment.

Kyrgyzstan is rich in mineral resources but has negligible petroleum and natural gas reserves; it imports petroleum and gas. Among its mineral reserves are substantial deposits of coal, gold, uranium, antimony and other valuable metals. Metallurgy is an important industry, and the government hopes to attract foreign investment in this field. The government has actively encouraged foreign involvement in extracting and processing gold. The country's plentiful water resources and mountainous terrain enable it to produce and export large quantities of hydroelectric energy.

On a local level, the economy is primarily kiosk in nature. A large amount of local commerce occurs at bazaars and small village kiosks. Commodities such as petrol (gas) are often sold road-side in gallon jugs. A significant amount of trade is unregulated. There is also a scarcity of common everyday consumer items in remote villages. Thus a large number of homes are quite self-sufficient with respect to food production. There is a distinct differentiation between urban and rural economies.

The principal exports are nonferrous metals and minerals, woolen goods and other agricultural products, electric energy and certain engineering goods. Imports include petroleum and natural gas, ferrous metals, chemicals, most machinery, wood and paper products, some foods and some construction materials. Its leading trade partners include Germany, Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan's population is estimated at 5.2 million in 2007. Of those, 34.4% are under the age of 15 and 6.2% are over the age of 65. The country is rural: only about one-third of Kyrgyzstan's population live in urban areas. The average population density is 69 people per square mile (29 people per km²).

The nation's largest ethnic group are the Kyrgyz, a Turkic people, who comprise 69% of the population (2007 estimate). Other ethnic groups include Russians (9.0%) concentrated in the north and Uzbeks (14.5%) living in the south. Small but noticeable minorities include Tatars (1.9%), Uyghurs (1.1%), Tajiks (1.1%), Kazakhs (0.7%) and Ukrainians (0.5%) and other smaller ethnic minorities (1.7%). Kyrgyzstan has undergone a pronounced change in its ethnic composition since independence. The percentage of ethnic Kyrgyz increased from around 50% in 1979 to nearly 70% in 2007, while the percentage of European ethnic groups (Russians, Ukrainians and Germans) as well as Tatars dropped from 35% to about 10%.

The Kyrgyz have historically been semi-nomadic herders, living in round tents called yurts and tending sheep, horses and yaks. This nomadic tradition continues to function seasonally (see transhumance) as herding families return to the high mountain pasture (or jailoo) in the summer.

Kyrgyzstan is one of two of the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia to retain Russian as an official language (Kazakhstan is the other country to retain Russian). It added the Kyrgyz language to become an officially bilingual country in September 1991. This sent a clear signal to the ethnic Russians that they were welcome in the new independent state, in an effort to avoid a brain drain. Kyrgyz is a member of the Turkic group of languages and was written in the Arabic alphabet until the twentieth century. Latin script was introduced and adopted in 1928, and was subsequently replaced by Cyrillic script in 1941.

Generally, people understand and speak Russian all over the country, except for some remote mountain areas. Russian is the mother tongue of the majority of Bishkek dwellers, and most business and political affairs are carried out in this language. Until recently, Kyrgyz remained a language spoken at home and was rarely used during meetings or other events. However, most parliamentary meetings today are conducted in Kyrgyz, with simultaneous interpretation available for those not speaking Kyrgyz.

Illegal, but still practiced, is the tradition of bride kidnapping.

The Population of Kyrgyzstan is 75% Muslim, 20% Russian Orthodox and 5% other.

During Soviet times, state atheism was encouraged. Today, however, Kyrgyzstan is a secular state, although Islam has exerted a growing influence in politics. For instance, there have been various attempts to decriminalize polygamy, and to arrange for officials to travel on hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) under a tax-free arrangement. Kyrgyzstan is an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim nation and adheres to the Hanafi school of thought.

The other faiths practiced in Kyrgyzstan include Russian Orthodox and Ukrainian Orthodox versions of Christianity, practiced primarily by Russians and Ukrainians respectively. A small minority of ethnic Germans are also Christian, mostly Lutheran and Baptist as well as a Roman Catholic community of approximately 600. A few Animistic traditions survive as do influences from Buddhism such as the tying of prayer flags onto sacred trees, though some view this practice rooted within Sufi Islam. There are also a small number of Bukharian Jews living in Kyrgyzstan, but during the collapse of the Soviet Union most fled to other countries, mainly the United States and Israel.

The 40-rayed yellow sun in the center of the flag represents 40 warriors of the mythical hero Manas. The lines inside the sun represent the crown or tündük (Kyrgyz түндүк) of a yurt, a symbol replicated in many facets of Kyrgyz architecture. The red portion of the flag represents peace and openness of Kyrgyzstan.

The traditional national sports reflect the importance of horse riding in Kyrgyz culture.

Very popular, as in all of Central Asia, is Ulak Tartysh, a team game resembling a cross between polo and rugby in which two teams of riders wrestle for possession of the headless carcass of a goat, which they attempt to deliver across the opposition's goal line, or into the opposition's goal: a big tub or a circle marked on the ground.

For those interested in trekking and camping, every oblast offers different attractions and challenges. Some of the most popular locations for camping are southern Osh, the area between Naryn City and the Torugart pass, and the mountains and glaciers surrounding Karakol in Issyk-Kul. Local guides and porters can be hired from many different tour companies in Bishkek and in the oblast capitals.

Skiing is still in its infancy as a tourism industry, but there is one fairly cheap and well-equipped base about a half-hour from Bishkek. In the Karakol Valley National Park, outside Karakol, there is also a ski base with three T-bars and rental equipment available of good quality.

Transport in Kyrgyzstan is severely constrained by the country's alpine topography. Roads have to snake up steep valleys, cross passes of 3,000 metre (9,000 ft) altitude and more, and are subject to frequent mud slides and snow avalanches. Winter travel is close to impossible in many of the more remote and high-altitude regions. Additional problems are due to the fact that many roads and railway lines built during the Soviet period are today intersected by international boundaries, requiring time-consuming border formalities to cross where they are not completely closed. Horses are still a much-used transport option, especially in more rural areas; Kyrgyzstan's road infrastructure is not extensive, so horses are able to reach locations that motor vehicles cannot, and they do not require expensive, imported fuel.

At the end of the Soviet period there were about 50 airports and airstrips in Kyrgyzstan, many of them built primarily to serve military purposes in this border region so close to China. Only a few of them remain in service today.

This country appears on the E.U. list of prohibited countries with regard to the certification of airlines. This means that no airline which is registered with Kyrgyzstan may operate services of any kind within the European Union community. This is due to substandard safety standards.

The Chui valley in the north and the Ferghana valley in the south were endpoints of the Soviet Union's rail system in Central Asia. Following the emergence of independent post-Soviet states, the rail lines which were built without regard for administrative boundaries have been cut by borders, and traffic is therefore severely curtailed. The small bits of rail lines within Kyrgyzstan, about 370 km (1,520 mm broad gauge) in total, have little economic value in the absence of the former bulk traffic over long distances to and from such centers as Tashkent, Almaty and the cities of Russia.

There are vague plans about extending rail lines from Balykchy in the north and/or from Osh in the south into the People's Republic of China, but the cost of construction would be enormous.

With support from the Asian Development Bank, a major road linking the north and southwest from Bishkek to Osh has recently been completed. This considerably eases communication between the two major population centers of the country -- the Chui Valley in the north and the Fergana Valley in the South. An offshoot of this road branches off across a 3,500 meter pass into the Talas Valley in the northwest. Plans are now being formulated to build a major road from Osh into the People's Republic of China.

Water transport exists only on Lake Issyk Kul, and has drastically shrunk since the end of the Soviet Union.

Balykchy (Ysyk-Kol or Rybach'ye), on Lake Issyk Kul.

For dependent and other territories, see Dependent territory.

1 Partly or significantly in Europe.  2 The Republic of China (Taiwan) is not officially recognized by the United Nations; see Political status of Taiwan. 3 Partly or significantly in Africa.  4 Partly or wholly reckoned in Oceania.

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Scouting in Kyrgyzstan

The membership badge of Scouting in Kyrgyzstan incorporates elements of the flag of Kyrgyzstan as well as traditional folk art.

Scouting in Kyrgyzstan was founded in November 1994 and is not yet a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, but is working toward WOSM recognition. Kyrgyzstan has multiple Scout associations, several of which are members of Kyrgyz Respublikasynyn Skaut Kengesh (Кыргыз Республикасынын Скаут Кеңеш), the Kyrgyz Republic Scouting Union.

The goals of the Kyrgyz Republic Scouting Union federation are the creation of a Scout movement with a uniquely Kyrgyz character, guidelines for Scout membership and for training of leaders and application to the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). Among the multiple organizations, some are separated by gender—some for boys, others for girls—while others are coeducational. Various Scout factions in Bishkek agreed in 1995 that they wanted light blue uniforms, as light blue is the Kyrgyz color of courage and generosity (see also Mongolyn Skautyn Kholboo), and several world Scouting alumni organizations offered to make uniform insignia for the fledgling Kyrgyz Scouts, free of charge.

As far as is known, Scouting was not introduced to the region during the khanate period of the pre-Soviet era.

On October 29, 2004, six Scouts of Kyrgyzstan posted an official website for their organization after a weeklong Web design course at the Internet Access and Training Program (IATP) access site in Bishkek. The website contains pages about Scouting's mission, the history of Scouting in Kyrgyzstan and some of its activities, a copy of the organization's charter, a photo gallery, list of donors, a forum, and contact information. Организация Скауты Кыргызстана (ОСКыр) leader Evgeniî Shmelëv (originally leader of the Speleoklub "Надежда", the "Hope" Sporting Association, an early precursor to Scouting locally) remarked, "The Scouting movement in Kyrgyzstan is in its initial stage, and we hope to unite people who have common interests and enthusiasm under one identity called 'Scouts'. Moreover, we hope to get support from Scouting movements of foreign countries through the website." The Scouts have pledged to keep their website updated and maintain it as a dynamic, living online resource.

It is reported that total registered membership is 300. In 1998-1999, a contingent from Kyrgyzstan planned to attend the 19th World Scout Jamboree in Picarquín, Chile.

The Scout Motto is "Dayar Bol", translating as "Be Prepared" in Kyrgyz, and "Bud' Gotov", translating likewise in Russian. The noun for a single Scout is Скаут in both languages.

With the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, it was suggested that the Türkiye İzcilik Federasyonu assist in the creation of Scouting movements in the Turkic Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, but it is uncertain if this plan ever materialized.

The Kyrgyzstan Girl Scouts Association, Kyrgyzstan Skaut-Kyzdar Assotsiatsiyasy (KSKA), founded in September 1997, currently has 186 members. Aigul' Duîsheyevna Duîsheyeva is the Chairwoman. KSKA, whose symbol is the snow leopard (Uncia uncia), has headquarters on köchösü Bokonbayev in Bishkek, courtesy of the Kyrgyzstan Women's Congress. Work towards World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts membership recognition progressed in the late 1990s, but now remains unclear.

Kyrgyzstan's Scouts have an international relationship with Pikes Peak Council in Colorado.

Update distilled from the IATP website. The Internet Access and Training Program (IATP) is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), US Department of State, funded under the Freedom Support Act (FSA). IATP is administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX).

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Islam in Kyrgyzstan

Muslim cemetery in Kosh Köl, Issyk Kul Province

The vast majority of religious people in Kyrgyzstan are Muslims of the Sunni branch, which entered the region during the 8th century. Some Kyrgyz Muslims practice their religion in a specific way influenced by tribal customs. There are regional differences, with the southern part of the country being more heavily religious. Kyrgyzstan remained a secular state after the fall of communism, which had only superficial influence on religious practice when Kyrgyzstan was a Soviet republic, despite the policy of state atheism. Most of the Russian population of Kyrgyzstan is atheist or Russian Orthodox. The Uzbeks, who make up 12.9 percent of the population, are generally Sunni Muslims.

Islam was introduced to the Kyrgyz tribes between the eight and twelfth centuries. The most intense exposure to Islam occurred in the seventeenth century, when the Jungars drove the Kyrgyz of the Tian Shan region into the Fergana Valley, whose population was totally Islamic. However, as the danger from the Jungars subsided, elements of the Kyrgyz population returned to some of their tribal customs. When the Quqon Khanate advanced into northern Kyrgyzistan in the eighteenth century, various northern Kyrgyz tribes remained aloof from the official Islamic practices of that regime. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the entire Kyrgyz population, including the tribes in the north, had converted to Sunni Islam.

Alongside Islam, some Kyrgyz practice Tengriism, the recognition of spiritual kinship with a particular type of animal. Under this belief system, which predates their contact with Islam, Kyrgyz tribes traditionally adopted reindeer, camels, snakes, owls, and bears as objects of worship. The sun, moon, and stars also play an important religious role. The strong dependence of the nomads on the forces of nature reinforced such connections and fostered belief in shamanism. Traces of such beliefs remain in the religious practice of many of today's Kyrgyz residing in the north.

Knowledge of and interest in Islam is said to be much stronger in the south, especially around Osh, than further north. Religious practice in the north is more mixed with animism and shamanist practices, giving worship there a resemblance to Siberian religious practice.

While religion has not played a particularly significant role in the politics of Kyrgyzstan, more traditional elements of Islamic values have been urged despite the nation's constitution stipulating to secularism. Although the constitution forbids the intrusion of any ideology or religion in the conduct of state business, a growing number of public figures have expressed support for the promotion of Islamic traditions. As in other parts of Central Asia, non-Central Asians have been concerned about the potential of a fundamentalist Islamic revolution that would emulate Iran and Afghanistan by bringing Islam directly into the shaping of state policy, to the detriment of the non-Islamic population.

Because of sensitivity about the economic consequences of a continued outflow of Russians (brain drain), then president Askar Akayev took particular pains to reassure the non-Kyrgyz that no Islamic revolution would occur. Akayev paid public visits to Bishkek's main Russian Orthodox church and directed one million rubles from the state treasury toward that faith's church-building fund. He also appropriated funds and other support for a German cultural center. Nevertheless, there has been support from local government to build bigger mosques and religious schools. Additionally, recent bills have been proposed to outlaw abortion, and numerous attempts have been made to decriminalize polygamy and to allow officials to travel to Mecca on a hajj under a tax-free agreement.

During a July 2007 interview, Bermet Akayeva, the daughter of former president Askar Akayev, stated that Islam is increasingly taking root in Kyrgyzstan. She emphasized that many mosques have been built and that the Kyrgyz are increasingly devoting themselves to the religion, which she noted was "not a bad thing in itself. It keeps our society more moral, cleaner".

The state recognizes two Muslim feast days as official holidays: Eid ul-Fitr (Öröz Ayt), which ends Ramadan, and Eid ul-Adha (Kurban Ayt), which commemorates Ibrahim's (Abraham's) willingness to sacrifice his son. It also recognizes Orthodox Christmas as well as the traditional Persian festival of Nowruz.

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Military of Kyrgyzstan

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The armed forces of Kyrgyzstan, originally formed from former Soviet forces of the Turkestan Military District stationed in the newly independent state, includes the Army/Land Forces, the Air and Air Defence Forces, the Northern and Southern Groups of Forces, Interior Troops, and Border Troops.

For much of the Soviet period, since 1967, the 8th Guards 'Panfilov' Motor Rifle Division was the main military force in the country, and the Division was only disbanded in January 2003. In 1967 the Division had been moved to Bishkek from the Baltic Military District, where it had previously been based.

In terms of foreign presence, the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom coalition use the Manas Air Base (Bishkek's international airport) while Russia has the 999th Air Base at Kant.

The Army of Kyrgyzstan includes the 1st Motor Rifle Brigade (Mountain) at Osh, a brigade at Koi-tash, in the Bishkek area, the 25th Special Forces Brigade, independent battalions at Karakol and Naryn, and other units.

Two Groups of Forces, the Southern, and more recently the Northern, have been active during Kyrgyzstan's history. In 2004, the Northern Group of Forces was reported as consisting of the Balykchynsky brigade, the brigade deployed in suburb of Bishkek, separate battalions in Karakol and Naryn,and other army units.

Armoured vehicle numbers are from the relevant Wikipedia articles.

The Air and Air Defense Force includes a regiment of MiG-21s and L-39s, four Antonov transports, and a helicopter regiment (apx 23 Mi-8, 9 Mi-24). Estimates for the numbers of MiG-21s range from 48 to 60-odd. However, Brinkster.com says that only a few L-39s and the helicopters are capable of flight. All Kyrgyz military aircraft are reportedly based at Kant, alongside the Russian 999th Air Base.

Because of expense and military doctrine, Kyrgyzstan has not developed its air capability; a large number of the MiG-21 interceptors that it borrowed from Russia were returned in 1993, although a number of former Soviet air bases remain available. In 1996 about 100 decommissioned MiG-21s remained in Kyrgyzstan, along with ninety-six L-39 trainers and sixty-five helicopters. The air defense forces have received aid from Russia, which has sent military advisory units to establish a defense system. Presently Kyrgyzstan has twenty-six SA-2 and SA-3 surface-to-air missiles in its air defense arsenal.

Kyrgystan also secretly maintains an unknown number of Mig-29 Fulcrum aircraft, two of which were sold to a private collector in 1994. They are kept in underground bunkers at an airfield in Bishkek where they are kept in pristine condition.

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Source : Wikipedia