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Independence declared: 31 August 1991

Population: 5 million

Capital: Bishkek

President: Askar Akayev (since 28 October 1990)

 Country profile


The collapse of the Soviet Union broke up our whole life. Networks of family and friends were torn apart with the imposition of state borders. Its been years since weve been able to see our own daughter, who lives in a neighbouring former republic.

Boris Kuzmin, engineer, Osh

I got my qualifications during Soviet times. The educational standards then were much higher, so I would not damn the Soviet Union. Also, nearly all geological discoveries in Kyrgyzstan were made during Soviet times. We owe our gold mines to the Soviet Union, for example.

Acylbek, geologist, Bishkek

Today I'm both a businessman and a communist - something that wouldn't have been possible 10 years ago. But I wouldn't say things have got better. Imagine, for example, that I'd remained a simple Soviet engineer, rather than a Kyrgyz businessman. I don't care much for my relative well-being today. It's true I can go to Turkey every other year on holiday. But my relatives in Kazakhstan and Russia used to visit me every year, and now they can only come once every five years.

Askar, businessman, Bishkek

Introduction 4. Lithuania 8. Georgia 12. Uzbekistan
1. Russia 5. Belarus 9. Armenia 13. Tajikistan
2. Estonia 6. Ukraine 10. Azerbaijan 14. Kyrgyzstan
3. Latvia 7. Moldova 11. Turkmenistan 15. Kazakhstan

Mountains in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgystan is a small, rural mountainous country

For a while after independence, Kyrgyzstan was seen as the most democratic state in Central Asia.

But this reputation has been dented by flawed parliamentary and presidential elections in 2000 and, since then, by the harassment and imprisonment of opposition leaders and the closure of opposition newspapers.

Although it began an ambitious programme of market reform, the economy is now in dire shape. Factories remain closed, unemployment has soared, the output has plummeted and malnutrition is rife.

According to the United Nations, around 88% of Kyrgyzstan's population live on less than $4 a day. Many of the skilled Russian workers have left, complaining of discrimination.

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