Central Asia History: Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a medium-sized country in Central Asia. it covers 77,200 square miles (200,000 sq. km), making it just smaller than the state of South Dakota. It borders China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.




The land of Kyrgyzstan was first inhabited some 300,000 years ago, and a cohesive civilization existed there by at least 2000 BCE, when the Chinese noted the region and its inhabitants. However, it was not until 200 BCE that the relatives of the current inhabitants, the Kyrgyz people, settled the area. By the 9th century, the Kyrgyz had created a strong state for themselves, and had expanded their territory dramatically. This expansion continued until the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, at which point the Kyrgyz lands shrunk substantially and shifted to the south. The Kyrgyz lost a great deal during the era of Mongol rule, including their written language.


From then on the Kyrgyz remained under the yoke of one group or another until independence. First they were controlled by the Kalmyks, then the Manchus, and then by the Uzbeks. At the end of the 19th century the region of Kyrgyzstan was annexed by the Russian Empire, remaining under first their control, and then under the control of the Soviets, until independence.

In 2005 a massive movement against the president, and a subsequent seizing of the capital by peaceful protestors, led to the fleeing and eventual resignation of Ashkar in what is sometimes referred to as the Tulip Revolution. The introduction of democratic reforms began in 2006, with the adoption of a new constitution. This constitution distributed many of the powers of the presidency to the parliament, and reduced other powers.



The culture of Kyrgyzstan is one of the main draws for people interested in visiting the region. Many people still live with a deep connection to their nomadic roots, and the horse plays an important role in everyday life. Beautiful music, dancing, textiles, and cushions also draw people to Kyrgyzstan. The beauty of nature in Kyrgyzstan is also not to be understated. Sweeping mountains cover much of the country, leading to it sometimes being referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia, and sub-tropical valleys dot the country as well.

Images from images.google.com and kyrgyz-embassy.org.uk

Kyrgyz Imam Detained Due To IS Propaganda

On Fridays, Al-Sarahsiy Mosque is usually packed with thousands of worshippers from across southern Kyrgyzstan. They come to Kara-Suu – a town of 20,000 – to listen to the sermons of Rashot Kamalov, the mosque’s charismatic imam, who is respected for criticising brutal and corrupt officials, society’s moral decline and western pop culture.

However, on Friday 13 February, the two-story mosque near the Uzbekistan border was half-empty and surrounded by police. Government officials introduced a new imam.



Kamalov had been arrested four days earlier for allegedly encouraging militants to fight alongside Islamic State (Isis) in Syria and Iraq, charges his supporters say are intended to silence a prominent critic. “The imam in custody has not just appealed for the creation of a caliphate but has also been telling believers about the war in Syria and making extremist statements,” Zhenish Ashirbaev, an Interior Ministry spokesman told Interfax on 10 February. Ashirbaev added that Kamalov is also suspected of belonging to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an international Islamist group banned throughout the region which agitates for the creation of a state governed by its interpretation of Islamic law but officially disavows violence.

Police “found extremist books and other materials at the suspect’s house and in the mosque,” Interfax quoted the spokesman as saying. In connection with Kamalov’s arrest, Kyrgyz security forces have fanned out across southern Kyrgyzstan arresting dozens of alleged militants. Security officials say the raids have led to the recovery of illegal weapons and extremist literature, and have disrupted cells that were recruiting Kyrgyz citizens to join Isis.



Kamalov, 36, is the son of Muhammadrafiq Kamalov, a prominent imam who was killed in August 2006 during a joint operation by the Kyrgyz and Uzbek security services. The details of the father’s killing are still murky; Kyrgyz police said Muhammadrafiq Kamalov was a terrorist but presented no evidence to satisfyindependent observers. The younger Kamalov began leading prayers at the Al-Sarahsiy Mosque after his father’s death, though he was never approved by the Muftiate, the state-run Muslim board that appoints imams and ensures they toe the government line.

Images from images.google.com


In the previous articles, the main topic was about Central Asia. The countries included in Central Asia, the physical settings and of course, boundaries. The history of Central Asia and its brief involvement with the neighboring countries. This article, one of the countries in Central Asia, unfortunately, one of the lesser known ones globally, would be tackled. A mysterious country faring in the 21st century.

First thing’s first. The basic information concerning Kyrgyzstan. It is officially called as Kyrgyz Republic. Formerly known as Kirghizia. It is a landlocked country as well. Also has a lot of mountains. It is bordered by Kazakhstan in the north, Uzbekistan in the west, Tajikistan to the Southwest, and China to the East. Truly, Kyrgyzstan is the center of Central Asia. Its capital is Bishkek.

The span of history of Kyrgyzstan is as long as that of the whole of Central Asia. Around 2,000 years. A wide variety of cultures, including Persian, Mongol, Russian, and Soviet have influenced the country itself.

Politics: Primarily, Kyrgyzstan has been officially a unitary parliamentary republic. This means that it is a type of republic that operates under a parliamentary system of government where the executive branch (the government) derives its legitimacy from and is accountable to the legislature (the parliament). The 1993 Constitution defines the form of government as a democratic unicameral republic.

Demographics: Kyrgyzstan’s population is estimated to be around 5.6 million in 2013. The country is majority made up of rural places, meaning more people live in rural areas more than urban areas.

Religion: As is with other Central Asian countries, Islam is the dominant religion. 80% are Muslims, while 17% follow Russian Orthodoxy.

Language: There are two former Soviet Republics in Central Asia to retain Russian as official language, one is Kazakhstan, and the other is Kyrgyzstan. Similarly with Kazakhstan, aside from Russian, the other spoken language of the natives is Kyrgyz, a Turkic language.

Other aspects of Kyrgyzstan in the 21st century would be discussed as it is more complex and it involves more of Central Asia.

Images both from en.wikipedia.org


Kyrgyzstan Facts and Figures

A Central Asian state bordering China, Kyrgyzstan became independent with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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It has some oil and gas and a developing gold mining sector, but relies on imports for most of its energy needs.

Resentment at widespread poverty and ethnic divisions between north and south have spilled over into violence, and the country’s first two post-Soviet presidents were swept from power by popular discontent.

Settled by Kyrgyz tribes from southern Siberia in the 17th century, the area was ruled by various regional powers before coming under Russian, and then Soviet, rule.

Kyrgyzstan’s democratic credentials were regarded as relatively strong in the immediate post-Soviet era, but under President Akayev – who led the country after independence – corruption and nepotism took and democratic freedoms were diminished.

In 2005, allegations of election rigging turned simmering dissatisfaction into a popular revolt that swept President Akayev from power.

Mr Akayev’s successor, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, failed to do much better, however, and his time in office was marred by political instability, an almost constant power struggle with parliament and a curtailment of civil liberties. Civil tensions again came to a head in April 2010, and Mr Bakiyev himself was toppled.

A 2010 constitutional referendum curtailed the president’s power in favour of the prime minister, and since then Kyrgyzstan has been ruled by multi-party coalitions. Its relatively democratic nature stands out in a region dominated by autocrats.

The Kyrgyz make up nearly 70% of the population, with Uzbeks accounting for about 15% and concentrated in the Ferghana Valley in the south. Russians have a significant presence in the north and in the capital, Bishkek.

Most of the population of Kyrgyzstan is nominally Muslim, and there has been a growing interest in Islam among those seeking a new ethnic or national identity.

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The government is worried about inroads by jihadist groups like Hizb-ut Tahrir, and there have been periodic outbreaks of fighting in the south.

Images from infoplease.com and travelwireasia.com

Kyrgyzstan hosts first World Nomad Games

In the spring of 1206, legend has it that the Mongol steppe saw the largest-ever assembly of nomadic tribes. Featuring athletic competitions and festivities, the weeks-long event marked the union of warring Mongol tribes under the management of Genghis Khan, the legendary Mongol conqueror. The Mongol Empire is now history, but the idea of using nomadic sports to unify a nation has lived on in the relatively new independent state in Central Asia as it searches for an identity.


With liberal government support, Kyrgyzstan hosted the first World Nomadic Games last week, an event “dedicated to show the history of nomad nations, their traditions, lifestyles and culture,” according to the organizers. Over 400 athletes from 19 countries gathered in a resort on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul to compete in wrestling, archery, Kok Boru (a game where mounted riders face off over a dead goat), Ordo (a Kyrgyz board game) and Kyz Kumai (chasing women on horseback).

The Kyrgyz government cast the Games as an event of global significance, with a strong undercurrent of nation building. “The Games will give a powerful boost to rehabilitating original national sport disciplines and reviving the spiritual consciousness and historical memory of nomadic peoples of the world,” said a statement posted on the official website.

President Almazbek Atambayev, who has called 2014 the year of strengthening Kyrgyz statehood, made no secret of his nation-building intentions. “The Kyrgyz people, with their rich history, culture, and traditions, were among the early nations that founded nomadic civilization. Let us follow the good legacy of our ancestors in joining ranks and building our future!” Atambayev said at the official opening ceremony.


The Games ended with music and fanfare on Sunday, but the question lingering on the minds of many participants is whether Kyrgyzstan has begun an enduring tradition. Thus far, none of the participating countries have shown eagerness to host the next World Nomad Games.

Images from monkboughtlunch.com and eurasianet.org