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Turbulent nation: key facts about Kyrgyzstan

31 october 2011, 20:00
0

- GEOGRAPHY: Kyrgyzstan is one of the smallest and poorest of the predominantly Muslim countries which emerged in Central Asia from the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Landlocked and mountainous, the country is wedged between Kazakhstan to the north and west, China to the east and south, and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the west and southwest.

Kyrgyz mountains. ©RIA Novosti
Kyrgyz mountains. ©RIA Novosti

At 198,500 square kilometers (76,600 square miles), Kyrgyzstan is slightly smaller than Britain.

- POPULATION: 5.3 million, of whom 67.4 percent are ethnic Kyrgyz, 14.2 percent Uzbeks and 10.3 percent Russians.

- CAPITAL: Bishkek.

- LANGUAGES: Kyrgyz and Russian.

- HISTORY: Kyrgyzstan was formerly part of Russian Turkestan, which was broken up after the creation of the Soviet Union in 1917. It became one of the 15 federated republics of the Union in 1936.

The country proclaimed its independence in August 1991, and two months later Askar Akayev was made president in an election in which he was the sole candidate.

Askar Akayev, the former president of Kyrgyz Republic. ©RIA Novosti
Askar Akayev, the former president of Kyrgyz Republic. ©RIA Novosti

After the September 2001 attacks on the United States, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, the Akayev regime allowed Washington to set up an air base, which is still there. The country also hosts a Russian base, set up in 2003.

Akayev clung to office through a series of elections that were widely seen as rigged, until he was unseated by a popular revolt in March 2005.

Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan. ©RIA Novosti
Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan. ©RIA Novosti

He was replaced by Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a former prime minister who had defected to the opposition.

The former president of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev. ©RIA Novosti
The former president of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev. ©RIA Novosti

Bakiyev fled the country after an uprising in April 2010 which left 87 dead and the current provisional government was installed, led by interim leader Roza Otunbayeva.

An interim leader Roza Otunbayeva. ©RIA Novosti
An interim leader Roza Otunbayeva. ©RIA Novosti

The country has since faced several waves of violence, mainly interethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in June 2010, in which several hundred were killed.

An ethnic Uzbek man stands beside the wreckage of his home, which was burned out during days of deadly ethnic violence in Osh. ©AFP
An ethnic Uzbek man stands beside the wreckage of his home, which was burned out during days of deadly ethnic violence in Osh. ©AFP

Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan after the uprising in April 2010. ©RIA Novosti

Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan after the uprising in April 2010. ©RIA Novosti

General Prosecutor's office in Bishkek after the uprising in April 2010. ©RIA Novosti

General Prosecutor's office in Bishkek after the uprising in April 2010. ©RIA Novosti

- ECONOMY: Predominantly agricultural, Kyrgyzstan has few of the mineral and hydrocarbon resources enjoyed by its near neighbours, although it produces some oil and gold.

Agriculturally, the country is famed for its livestock, notably its horses. Also cotton and cereals.

Revenue per capita stood at 880 dollars in 2010, according to the World Bank.

Debt: 2.9 billion dollars in 2009 (World Bank).

- ARMED FORCES: 10,900 troops (IISS).

- ORGANISATIONS: Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which groups Russia, China and the main Central Asian states, and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

Source: AFP


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