Religion in Kyrgyzstan
The majority of the population of Kyrgyzstan professes Islam. Islam is represented by two schools (madhhabs) of the Sunni direction, united in one religious organization – the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan, headed by the mufti. There are more than 2,000 mosques, 20 madrasas, and Islamic institutions in the country. The theological faculty operates at Osh State University.
The second largest number of parishioners is the Orthodox Church. There are 42 Russian Orthodox churches and an Orthodox school registered in Kyrgyzstan. Christmas, along with Muslim holidays, is declared a non-working day in Kyrgyzstan.
Other confessions are also represented in the country – such as Buddhism, Judaism and others, but the number of their parishioners is very small.
Transport in Kyrgyzstan
Near the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, there is an international airport “Manas”. Local planes fly from Bishkek to Osh (2 flights a day), to Batken (on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays) and Jalal-Abad (on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays). Local air tickets cost about 2000 soms each. Passenger communication by rail was preserved only in the north of the country, near Bishkek. From there, there are three long -distance trains to Moscow, Yekaterinburg and Novokuznetsk, and there is also a commuter service to the west, to Kazakhstan
(towards Merke, to the junction 3639 km), to the east (to the station Tokmak) and a local train to the city of Rybachye (Balykchy) on Lake Issyk-Kul. The fare is very cheap: Merke (115 km) – 29 soms, Kara-Balta (62 km) – 15 soms, Rybachye – 45 soms.
Fixed-route and private taxis remain the main way to travel around the country, their prices are moderate, usually the price is negotiated with the driver. You can ride them both in large cities and between cities. Often, this is the only way to get to the desired location. The road network is poorly developed, good paved highways go from Bishkek to Osh, Alma-Ata and Rybachye, around Lake Issyk-Kul There is also a good paved road. In winter, movement is hampered by drifts on the passes. In other cases, the roads are either broken asphalt, or gravel or just dirt roads. Usually specially converted private trucks (shift trucks) go to the mountains. Many places can only be reached by helicopter, horseback or on foot.
Plant and Animal World in Kyrgyzstan
Due to the altitudinal zonality, the flora of Kyrgyzstan is very rich; about 4,000 different plant species can be found on the territory of the country. In the South-West of Kyrgyzstan, on the Ferghana and Chatkal ranges, at an altitude of 1000 to 2200 m above sea level, there are the largest walnut-fruit forests in the world. Kyrgyzstan is also known for its mighty Tien Shan firs, which can be found in the mountains at an altitude of 2000 to 2500 m. Alpine meadows, located in the mountains at an altitude of 2500 – 3000 m, are rich in a variety of herbs, rare flowers grow here – edelweiss, which has become a symbol for many mountains In forests, steppes and meadows there are various types of mushrooms, some of them reach very large sizes.
Kyrgyzstan is home to about 500 animal species, 3000 insect species, 335 bird species and 49 fish species. In the spruce forests of the Tien Shan, you can meet argali (mountain sheep), bear, deer. Foxes, wolves, ground squirrels, mountain goats and many other animals live in mountain valleys. Trout is found in mountain streams. Some animals of Kyrgyzstan (for example, snow leopard, Menzbir’s marmot, goitered gazelle, red wolf, gray monitor lizard) are listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. To protect the flora and fauna in Kyrgyzstan, various reserves, natural parks and reserves were created, and among them the Issyk-Kul, Sarychelek and Besharal reserves.
Minerals in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan has gold, antimony, mercury, coal, among other natural resources – hydropower potential. Arable land occupies 7% of the territory, meadows and pastures – 42%.
Banks in Kyrgyzstan
Basically, banks in Kyrgyzstan work from 8.00 to 17.00. The reception time of clients is reduced to 12.00. Some banks have a lunch break, usually from 12.00 to 13.00. Some banks work with clients from 9.00 to 19.00. The main departments of banks are located in Bishkek, but there are branches of banks in all major cities of the country and in many resorts on the coast of Issyk-Kul.
Money in Kyrgyzstan
The monetary unit in Kyrgyzstan is the som (KGS). There are 100 tyin in one som. There are banknotes in circulation in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 soms, as well as 1, 10, and 50 tyin; coins in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10 soms.
Currency can be exchanged at the airport, at the border on the train, at any bank or at an exchange office. Near the station, as well as in exchange offices in resort towns, the exchange rate is usually worse. Credit cards are accepted for payment in most banks and in some large hotels in Bishkek. Travel checks can be cashed at the offices of large banks, licensed exchange offices and some large stores in the capital, but the fees are quite high (3-7%). In the province, it is almost impossible to use non-cash means of payment.
Exchange Rate: 100 Kyrgyzstan Som (KGS) = 1.24 USD (28.05.2022)
Political State in Kyrgyzstan
According to the Constitution (adopted on May 5, 1993, amended in February 2003), Kyrgyzstan is a unitary democratic republic. According to politicsezine, the head of state is the president, elected for 5 years. Legislative body – Zhogorku Kenesh consists of 75 deputies. Deputies are elected for a term of 5 years. The Government is the highest body of executive power, headed by the Prime Minister.
Population in Kyrgyzstan
The population of Kyrgyzstan is 5.05 million people.
Representatives of about 70 nationalities live in the country, the core of the population of the republic is Kyrgyz – 66.9%, followed by Uzbeks – 14.1%, Russians – 10.7%, Ukrainians – 0.8%, Tatars – 0.8%. The rural population is about 65%. The Kyrgyz live throughout the country and predominate in most rural areas. The Russian diaspora in Kyrgyzstan numbers about 570 thousand people, more than 25 republican or regional public associations of Russian compatriots are registered. Most of the Russian-speaking population lives in cities. Uzbeks are concentrated mainly in the Osh region. Of the other ethnic groups living in the country, Germans, Jews, Kazakhs, Dungans, Uighurs and Tajiks should be mentioned.
Among those who left the country after 1991, the majority were Russians, representatives of other Slavic peoples, as well as Germans and Jews.
The main part of the population of the south of modern Kyrgyzstan are Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, the number of which in this region is almost equal. In addition to them, a significant part of the population is made up of Tajiks, Uighurs, Dungans and others. Among them, only slightly more than 1% are Russians and representatives of Russian-speaking diasporas.
Most of the population is concentrated in the valleys – Chui on the border with Kazakhstan and Ferghana on the border with Uzbekistan, the valleys of the Naryn and Talas rivers, as well as in the Issyk-Kul basin.
The official language in Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyz language. A fairly large percentage of the population speaks Russian, especially in cities. The country also speaks Uzbek, Tajik and Kazakh, and tourism workers can communicate in English.
Cuisine in Kyrgyzstan
The cuisine of Kyrgyzstan, like any other Central Asian cuisine, is based on the wide use of meat, mainly lamb. It is worth trying manti, pilaf, barbecue, meat with vegetables. Manti is minced meat in a dough like large dumplings, prepared in a special way. Manty is prepared and served almost everywhere in Kyrgyzstan. From soups, you should choose lagman, shorpo or chuchvara. The traditional cold appetizer ashlamfu is made from noodles, starch and a special sour sauce, to which spicy seasoning is added. Everywhere they also sell freshly baked cakes and samsas, puff pastry pies with meat or cheese.
In Kyrgyzstan, many of the national drinks have a peculiar, unusual taste. In the mountains, it is worth trying homemade ayran (something between kefir and yogurt) and koumiss (fermented mare’s milk), you can also buy them at the bazaar. Under the exotic names bozo and shoro, fermented drinks based on various cereals are hidden, vaguely reminiscent of kvass in taste. At the market you can always buy fresh vegetables and fruits according to the season.
Local cuisine in Kyrgyzstan is cheap and plentiful, European food is more expensive. The meal is usually served with cakes and tea in teapots, green or black. Tips in Kyrgyzstan are included in the price of dishes and are strictly fixed (5-10 soms) or make up a certain percentage of the total order (usually 5-10%). In the early days, you should be more careful, because traditional cuisine is dominated by fatty and heavy foods, which are unusual for Europeans.