Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic and formerly Kirghizia, is a landlocked country located in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and China.
A full third of Kyrgyzstan's population is under the age of 15 and one-third of the population lives in urban areas with the majority living in rural areas. The largest ethnic group are the Kyrgyz, a Turkish people, who account for 72% of the population. Other ethnic groups in Kyrgyzstan include Russians (9.0%), Uzbeks (14.5%), Dungans (1.9%), Uyghurs (1.1%), Tajiks (1.1%), Kazakhs (0.7%), and Ukrainians (0.5%). There are more than 80 different ethnic groups in total in Kyrgyzstan.
Since 1979, the percentage of ethnic Kyrgyz has risen from 50% to more than 70% today, while the percentage of European ethnic groups like Germans and Russians, as well as Tatars, has dropped from 35% to 10%. In 1989, there were about 101,000 Germans in Kyrgyzstan, most of whom have since emigrated to Germany.
Kyrgyzstan Religion, Economy and Politics
The most widely practiced religion is Islam (Sunni, Shia, and Ahmadiyya), accounting for 88% of the population, but the constitution does allow for freedom of religion. The remaining population is multi-ethnic and multi-religious and follow Buddhism, Baha'i, Judaism, and several denominations of Christianity. The most followed of the Christian sects is Russian Orthodoxy with 9.4%. Only 0.3% of people in Kyrgyzstan are unaffiliated with any religion.
Agriculture is the most important industry in Kyrgyzstan, the main crops being cotton, tobacco, wool, and meat. They also rely heavily on the exports of natural resources like gold, mercury, uranium, and natural gas. Although these industries do well on their own, the economic state of the country as a whole has been kept from flourishing by government corruption and low foreign investment. Other major industries in Kyrgyzstan include forestry, fishing, industry and manufacturing, and services such as banking and tourism.
As a parliamentary representative democratic republic, the political system of Kyrgyzstan has both a president that is the head of state as well as a prime minister in charge of the government that has executive power. Legislative power is shared by both the state and the government. The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term for which that cannot be reelected. The prime minister is chosen by the parliament. The judicial system is set is organized like most other developed countries, but is thought to be heavily influenced by corruption.
Kyrgyzstan Population History
Arabs came to conquer the land that is now Kyrgyzstan and brought Islam to the region sometime during the 8th century. The people that currently inhabit the area were in Siberia and the Tian-Shan region until they eventually settled the area in the late 1600s.
Russia conquered the area in 1876 and much of the next century was spent in civil war as the native people fought against the Russians. Historically the Kyrgyz have been nomadic people and Russians began reforming the land as state-owned land in the early 1900s, further disturbing the traditional way of life for the people of Kyrgyzstan and many people ended up leaving the area as a result. Kyrgyzstan finally gained its independence from Russia in 1991.