The small mountain republic of Kyrgyzstan is often dubbed the “Switzerland of Central Asia” for its alpine valleys, flower-filled meadows and snow-capped peaks. Lake Issyk-Kul may indeed rival Lake Geneva, but the similarities end abruptly with the eagle hunters, yurts and nomads that make Kyrgyzstan a distinctly inner Asian country.

Kyrgyzstan at a glance

Official name: Kyrgyz Republic

Capital city: Bishkek (population 1 million)

Other main towns: Osh, Jalal-Abad, Karakol, Tokmok

Population: 6,2 million (equivalent to 0.08% of the total world population)

Location: landlocked country in central Asia

Border Countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, China and Tajikistan

Area: 199,900 square kilometers

Climate: continental, with cold winters, often frosty and warm and sunny summers, sometimes scorching hot at low altitudes, but cooler in the mountains

Status: Republic headed by president, government headed by prime minister

Life expectancy: men 68, women 76 years

Major exports: gems, precious metals, ores, slag, ash, knit or crochet clothing, accessories, mineral fuels including oil, aircraft, spacecraft, vegetables, vehicles, footwear, machinery including computers, fruits, nuts 

Official language: Kyrgyz and Russian; Uzbek is also widely used.

Unemployment: approx. 2,60 %

Religion: Sunni Muslims 83%,  Christians 15%

Currency: Kyrgyz som

International telephone code: +996

Time Zone: GMT +5

Electricity: 220 volts (50Hz) standard two-pin round-prong plug

Weights and measures: metric

Flag: the sun represents peace and wealth, and the tunduk (yurt roof piece) signifies the family home or, by extension, the universe. According to popular interpretations, the sun’s 40 rays represent the 40 Kyrgyz tribes unified by the country’s folk hero Manas

National anthem: “Qirg’iz Respublikasinin Mamlekettik Gimni”

National sports Kok Boru  (a game played between two teams, using a goat’s carcass to score points), kurash (traditional wrestling), judo, boxing

Public holidays:

1 January: New Year’s Day

7 January: Orthodox Christmas

23 February: Defender of the Fatherland Day

8 March: International Women’s Day

21 March: Nooruz, the Persian New Year

1 May: Labor Day

9 May: Victory Day

31 August: Independence Day

7 November: Day of the Great October Socialist Revolution