Kyrgyzstan - Switzerland of Central Asia

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ABOUT KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyzstan (officially named the Kyrgyz Republic) is a country of sunlight, tranquility, snow covered summits, sparkling rivers, and deep canyons. Visitors to Kyrgyzstan consistently comment on the hospitality and peacefulness of the citizenry. Here you may spend your time in sunny valleys, majestic mountains or transverse glaciers swallowed by misty clouds. Kyrgyzstan’s vast natural beauty is the center piece of the country’s natural wealth and serves as the calling card for cognitive and sporting interests for the most diverse contingent of visitors.
Brief History

According to recent historical findings, Kyrgyz history dates back to 201 BC. The early Kyrgyz lived in the upper Yenisey River valley, central Siberia. The Kyrgyz territory reached its greatest expansion after defeating the Uyghur Khaganate in 840 AD. The Kyrgyz moved as far as the Tian Shan range and maintained their dominance over this territory for about 200 years. In the 12th century, however, the Kyrgyz domination had dwindled to the Altay Range and the Sayan Mountains as a result of the rising Mongol expansion. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the Kyrgyz migrated south.

Today, Kyrgyzstan is often referred to as the “Switzerland of Central Asia;” the territory is 95% mountainous. Both the Tian Shan and Pamir ranges dominate the landscape. The highest peak, Peak Pobeda, is located in the northwestern part of the country and measures 7,439 meters. Kazakhstan borders to the north, Uzbekistan to the east, Tajikistan to the south and China to the west. The area of Kyrgyzstan is 199,999 sq. kilometers.

Kyrgyzstan gained its independence in August, 1991. Both Kyrgyz and Russian are recognized as official languages. The structure of the government is based on a presidential-parliamentary system. Over the past two decades, perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) in Kyrgyzstan have enabled international and national investors to enter an increasingly open and competitive marketplace. Kyrgyzstan is a blossoming democratic state that has welcomed neoliberal market reforms.

Kyrgyzstan’s government is divided into three main branches - the legislative (Jogorku Kenesh, i.e. Parliament), the executive branch, and the judiciary branch (the Supreme, Constitutional, and Arbitral Courts). Kyrgyzstan maintains diplomatic relations with 67 countries and is a member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, the World Heath Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. In addition, hundreds of International Non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and thousands of Non-governmental organizations are represented in the country.

Kyrgyzstan is an industrial and agrarian country. Also, it has a large number of gold deposits (ranked 7th in the world). More then 1000 undeveloped gold sites are officially registered in Kyrgyz Republic. The population of Kyrgyz Republic is estimated at 4.7 million people. The diversity of the population is represented by more than 80 nationalities.

Natural Beauty

For naturalists, Kyrgyzstan is a dream come true. Kyrgyzstan is rich in flora and fauna, more than 35,000 different species of plants have been recorded. In addition, more than 80 different animal species call Kyrgyzstan home.

Kyrgyzstan’s jewel is Lake Issyk Kul. Lake Issyk Kul is a glacial feed fresh water lake surrounded by 5000m peaks at 1700m above sea level. It is the fourth deepest lake in the world. It is amazingly therapeutic and simply breathtaking. In the southern part of the country is the legendary village of Arslanbob. Arslanbob is home to a 3000 acre virgin Walnut Forest.

In Arabic, a mazar (holy place) originally referred to “tombs of holy men.” Holy sites are greatly respected all over Central Asia; the sites are traditionally perceived as being sacred places. Kyrgyzstan has thousands of mazars, however, the most famous holy site in Central Asia is Suleiman Mountain located in the southern city of Osh. It is often referred to as Mountain of Tahti Suleiman. Suleiman Mountain is still considered by many Central Asians to be the “Second Mecca.” During the Soviet era, when it was forbidden to perform the hajj, pilgrims performed the holy pilgrimage to Suleiman Mountain.

The Capital

Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Although there are approximately one million residents, Bishkek is a walking city; it is very easy to maneuver around the city. Important to any visitor arriving for the first time in a foreign country, Bishkek is considered to be the safest capital of any Central Asian country. Also, it is one of the greenest cities in the region. There are many shady parks and public gardens where residents and visitors gather to talk and relax. Also, during the past decade, the facade of the city has architecturally significantly improved.
The first innovation will greet you when you arrive in country. The recently renovated Manas International Airport is a well lit and spacious building that symbolically reinforces the hospitable pride of the Kyrgyz nation by offering a modern environment to guests arriving in the country.

Telecommunications and Business
High-speed internet cafes litter the city of Bishkek. IP Telephone services give you access to any number in the world. Accessing mobile phone networks is readily available. The standard is GSM - 900 and AMPS / DAMPS.

International businesses currently represented in the country include: Mercedes - Benz, Audi - V W, Federal Express, DHL, UPS, Daewoo, Siemens, Panasonic, Reemtstma, and Coca Cola.
Banking
There are many national and international banks represented in Kyrgyzstan. Visitors have 24 hour access to ATMs. Many restaurants and stores now accept all major credit cards (except American Express). It is very easy and safe to exchange currency. If you need to send and/or receive a money wire transfer, electronic transfers are provided by SWIFT, REUTERS, SPRINT, and WESTERN UNION.
Education

Science and education are very important to the population of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan boasts a literary rate of nearly 100 percent. In Bishkek alone, a number of highly reputable music schools, both private and public primary, secondary, and vocational educational systems, prestigious universities and institutes ensure the highest quality of education is provided to the citizenry of the country.

Arts and Culture

There are a number of musical and drama theaters scattered throughout Bishkek. The Russian Opera Theater is a favorite place for both the local population and international visitors. Fashion shows and art exhibitions are frequently scheduled. There are many, bookstores, libraries and museums for visitors to peruse and browse through. Bishkek is a beautiful city year round. The suburbs are especially intriguing and await any visitor to discover various historical and cultural landmarks. The city hosts a cleansing botanical garden and one can spy breathtaking views of the year round snow-covered summits from any street corner. National parks – the earth that provides national hot springs and curative mud baths - are a mere 30 minutes from center of the city.