macrohistory & world report

The Kyrgyz Republic

Map of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan (capital Bishkek) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Kyrgyzstan is a poor, mountainous country with a dominant agricultural sector. Cotton, tobacco, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products, although only tobacco and cotton are exported in any quantity. Industrial exports include gold, mercury, uranium, natural gas, and electricity. The economy depends heavily on gold exports - mainly from output at the Kumtor gold mine - and on remittances from Kyrgyzstani migrant workers primarily in Russia. Following independence, Kyrgyzstan was progressive in carrying out market reforms, such as an improved regulatory system and land reform. Kyrgyzstan was the first Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country to be accepted into the World Trade Organization. Much of the government's stock in enterprises has been sold. Drops in production had been severe after the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991, but by mid-1995, production began to recover and exports began to increase. The overthrow of President BAKIEV in April 2010 and subsequent ethnic clashes left hundreds dead and damaged infrastructure. Under President ATAMBAYEV, Kyrgyzstan has developed a plan for economic development in coordination with international donors, and has also expressed its intent to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Progress in fighting corruption, improving transparency in licensing, business permits and taxations, restructuring domestic industry, and attracting foreign aid and investment are key to future growth."

Economic growth rate
2011: 5.7%
2010: minus 0.4%
2009: 2.9%

Labor force in agriculture
2005: 48%

Unemployment rate

Exports commodities
gold, cotton, wool, garments, meat, tobacco; mercury, uranium, hydropower; machinery; shoes

Export partners
2009: Russia 35.7%, Uzbekistan 21.9%, Kazakhstan 17.3%, China 5.4%, UAE 4.6%, Afghanistan 4.3%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports $2.372 billion, imports $3.71 billion

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 96th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). More equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 4.1% of GDP


Living in an urban area:
2010: 35%

Ethnic groups
1999 census: Kyrgyz 64.9%, Uzbek 13.8%, Russian 12.5%, Dungan 1.1%, Ukrainian 1%, Uighur 1%, other 5.7%

Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%, other 5%

Net migration rate
2012: Net loss of 8.1 persons per 1,000 population


Central Asia, between China and Uzbekistan. Slightly smaller than South Dakota, equivalent to  445 by 445 kilometers. Mountainous. Described by the World Factbook as "a country of incredible beauty." Capital: Bishkek.

Recent History

Kyrgyzstan's borders were created by Soviet planners in the 1920s, with the borders of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan. The line between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan left the cities of Jalalabad and Osh, with large Uzbek populations, on the Kyrgyz side of the border.

Independence began in 1990 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, former republics within the Soviet Union that today are closely associated with Russia economically, in defense and foreign policy.

With the end of the Soviet Union came a rise in national identities in the region. The Kyrgyz had their mythical figure from around a thousand years before: Manas, believed to be the author of an epic poem. The Uzbek minority focused on a national myth around the 14th century conqueror "Timur the Great."

Historically the Uzbeks were traders and farmers and the Kyrgyz were pastoralists. A few Uzbeks had acquired wealth. Some could be seen in southern Krygyzstan driving German cars. Fewer Kyrgyz had such wealth. Kyrgyz could be seen cleaning streets and doing janitorial work in Moscow.

Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of President Askar Akayev, who had run the country since 1990. Subsequent presidential elections in July 2005 were won overwhelmingly by former prime minister Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

In January 2009, President Bakiyev announced the closure of the US air base at Manas, after Russia offered Kyrgyzstan more than $2 billion in loans and other aid. Bakiyev was re-elected in July 2009.

In April 2010, protests sweep President Bakiyev from power. In June more than 200 people are killed in clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. In July, Roza Otunbayeva sworn in as caretaker president to prepare for new elections in October 2011.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.