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name Kyrgyzstan comes from two words. The Persian word stan means "place
of" or "country" and the word kyrgyz, which is believed
to be a Turkic word that means "forty," referencing the forty clans of
The people of Kyrgyzstan were pushed into their present state by the Mongols, so
their land is a result of another's decision, but it was the Kyrgyzs who made
the most of this action and made that land home. Since the country is very mountainous
and many parts are at high elevation the land provides little good farm land so
the people have always been more dependent on animals for survival, while this has
also limited the population in numbers as well as in location.
For nearly all of Kyrgyzstan's history, the Kyrgyz people have fallen under
the control of foreign powers and their way of life today is a result of these foreign
powers in conjunction with their present state. This string of foreign leaders dates
back to the 500s and during this time of being powerless, the people have focused
almost entirely on survival with few luxuries available.
The flag of Kyrgyzstan is on a red
background, which represents bravery and valor. The sun in the middle is for peace
and wealth. Off this sun are 40 rays, one for each of the 40 Kyrgyz tribes. The
sun is also crossed with lines, which represent a tunduk, which is the
crown of a Kyrgyz yurt.
Name: Kyrgyz Republic
Independence: August 31, 1991
Population: 5,548,042 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian, & others
Language: Kyrgyz & Russian
Religion: Sunni Muslim
These powers also changed the people and their culture and the greatest of these
changes came with the introduction of Islam in about the 900s. Despite this change,
little else changed for the Kyrgyz people as they nearly always fell on the periphery
of the ruling empires, but were still subject to their rules and demands.
Despite this, the Kyrgyz people developed a distinct culture over time based on
their simple way of life farming and raising animals. Their housing and their food
were also simple as most of their actions were done in order to survive, not in
order to gain luxury or comfort. This changed with the arrival of the Russians in
the late 1800s and the takeover by the Soviets in the early 1900s.
The Soviets forced the people to work, but since little farm land was available
in Kyrgyzstan, factories were built and the people were forced to move to newly
founded or growing cities. The borders were also re-drawn to meet Soviet interests
as the people had few choices but to oblige.
The Soviets moved the people from small villages adjacent to farm lands or pastures
and water sources to cities, changing the culture dramatically. The Soviets also
introduced new technology, expanded housing, healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
Today, the Kyrgyz people balance a line between these two pasts. They use the advancements
given to them by the Soviets, but still seek out their historic culture and way
of life. This balance of seeking out their past culture comes with hesitating to
give up new technologies as the cities are continuing to remain large and few people
are moving back to the villages that were once an integral aspect of the Kyrgyz's
culture and way of life. However, the cultural differences between urban and rural
settings in this small country can be striking, although foods, religion, and attitude
are generally similar.
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