KYRGYZSTAN is one of the Central Asian countries bordered by Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is a mountainous country, 93% of its territory is located at over 1000 meters above sea level. 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 to be the northernmost peak over 7,000 m (23,000 feet) in the world. Several glaciers in the mountains are the source of many beautiful rivers and lakes. The lake of Issyk-Kul is the largest in Kyrgyzstan and the largest mountain lake in the world second only to Titicaca. The lake is in the north-eastern Tian-Shan mountains.
The climate of Kyrgyzstan is continental with hot summers and cold winters in the mountain regions. Yet, approximately 247 days a year are sunny. Kyrgyzstan’s climate is diverse with subtropics in the Fergana valley and semidesert in the Chui and Talas lowlands changing to the eternal frost of the mountains. In the valleys, winter is warmer than in the mountains. Because of this, light clothes are appropriate in summer, but in winter, warm clothes are essential. As a result of its diverse and turbulent history, the country through the centuries has become a melting pot of nationalities. The ethnic group of Kyrgyz makes up about 75% of the population. The two other important ethnic groups are Russians and Uzbeks, together making 20% of the population. The Russians came to the region during the 19th century. The capital city of Bishkek being only 125 years old is heavily influenced by the Russian way of life and Soviet architecture. The Uzbek people live mostly in the south of the country, close to the border with Uzbekistan. It is necessary to say that the population of Kyrgyzstan comprises more than 80 ethnic groups including the Kyrgyz, Russians, Uzbek, Kazakh, Ukrainians, Uygurs, Dungans, Germans and Koreans, all of them live in friendship.
In general, the Kyrgyz are warm, sensitive and friendly people. The features of the Kyrgyz culture are tolerance, hospitality, open-mindedness and flexibility. The people of Kyrgyzstan treat other cultures and nations very well. However, since the Kyrgyz led a nomadic way of life before the Soviet period they preserve their cultural identity and values. Presently, Kyrgyzstan is a democratic republic.
The capital BISHKEK is situated in the Chui lowlands in the north of the country, between the Talas valley in the west and the eastern Issyk-Kul region. It was founded in 1878 and originally was called Pishpek, which is the name of a wooden paddle which the Kyrgyz used to make their kymyz (kumiss – fermented mare’s milk), the national drink. Later, during the Soviet period, it was named Frunze after the famous Russian General Mikhail Frunze. After the declaration of Independence in 1991, it was renamed Bishkek.
The city has been influenced by the Russians from the beginning and was actually more or less built by them. Most of the buildings you can see today are built in a typically Soviet architectural style, while the trees in the parks, boulevards, and alleys are watered by a system of canals built by the people of Bishkek. Those boulevards and parks make this a pleasant city to live in, as they provide much shade in summer, when temperatures sometimes may reach 40 degrees Celsius (105 F), and the open canal system also helps to keep the summer bearable. Bishkek is known to be one of the greenest cities in Central Asia as a result of this planning.
Bishkek as the capital city of Kyrgyzstan has many historical and cultural places to see - buildings, monuments, parks, museums, galleries, theatres, and other places that are worth visiting.
The climate is continental in the city, which means hot summers and cold winters. The atmosphere is generally dry with rainfall occurring mostly in spring. There is an average of 322 days of sunshine per year. There are two rivers flowing through the city – Alamedin and Ala-Archa both being tributaries of the River of Chui. Also, the Grand Chui Canal flows through the city. The city is said to be the greenest in Central Asia.
Whenever an official holiday is celebrated in Kyrgyzstan, most shops, public buildings and banks are closed, or have special operating hours.
** – dates are corrected in accordance with the Lunar calendar (the dates are not fixed)