Kyrgyzstan is slowly becoming quite well known on the world stage, especially for those who are interested in eco-tourism and nomadic culture. Despite already being relatively known, only a few years ago it was pretty embarrassing when US secretary of state John Kerry incorrectly called it Kyrzakstan, seemingly confusing Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. However, this small Central Asian gem is definitely making an impact on the world stage.
Where is Kyrgyzstan?
So where is Kyrgyzstan? Kyrgyzstan is in Central Asia and was part of the former Soviet Union. The Kyrgyz are very closely related to their Kazakh cousins to the north as well as the other Turkic people of Asia including Uzbeks, Turkmens and even Mongols.
Kyrgyzstan borders Tajikistan to the South, China to the East, Kazakhstan to the North and Uzbekistan to the West.
With an area of 199,951 km 2 , Kyrgyzstan is the 85 th largest country in the world, slightly ahead of Senegal and just behind Belarus.
Regions of Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is divided into seven regions and there are two cities – Bishkek and Osh.
Bishkek was previously known as Frunze after the famous Russian Bolshevik general who established Soviet control over most of the Central Asia, Mikheil Frunze. The name Bishkek is thought to derive from a Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make fermented mare's milk, the Kyrgyz national drink. Frunze Airport (they still use the Soviet name for the airport) is the most common way in and out of Kyrgyzstan, although the proximity to the major city of Almaty means that many come to Bishkek overland from Kazakhstan (Almaty to Bishkek is roughly a 4 hour bus ride). The population of Bishkek is just over 1 million people and it’s really quite the little bustling metropolis with most services and entertainment you would find in any world city. Famous for its wide boulevards, Soviet architecture, and large parks, there are public buses, and much of the central part of the city can be explored by foot.
Border crossings in Kyrgyzstan
It is possible to cross by land into and out of Kyrgyzstan, so long as of course you have a visa, e-visa or are eligible for visa on arrival. There are several border crossings with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and China. There are actually dozens more border crossings, especially with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but only those accessible to foreigners are depicted on this map.
Kyrgyzstan is Mountainous
Often referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is an extremely mountainous country. 94% of Kyrgyzstan is mountains. The main mountain range through Kyrgyzstan is the Tien Shan mountains which joins to the Pamirs and thus is connected to the Himalayas.