Kyrgyzstan - Provinces & Cities
Kyrgyzstan is a South-Central Asian Union country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions. Landlocked and mountainous, it borders Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the southeast. What would become modern Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1876 and became an independent country with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It has the most liberal tourist visa policy in Central Asia and one of the more progressive post-Soviet governments in the region.The Kyrgyz, a Muslim Turkic people, constitute nearly three-fourths of the population. The history of the Kyrgyz in what is now Kyrgyzstan dates at least to the 17th century. Kyrgyzstan, known under Russian and Soviet rule as Kirgiziya, was conquered by tsarist Russian forces in the 19th century. Formerly a constituent (union) republic of the U.S.S.R., Kyrgyzstan declared its independence on August 31, 1991.
Kyrgyzstan is above all a mountainous country. At its eastern extremity, next to the Uighur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang, China, rises Victory (Pobedy) Peak, at 24,406 feet (7,439 metres) Kyrgyzstan’s highest peak. Mount Khan-Tengri (22,949 feet) is on the border with Kazakhstan. These mountains stand in the core of the Tien Shan system, which continues eastward into China. On the southern border lie the Kok Shaal-Tau, Alay, Trans-Alay (Zaalay), and Atbashi ranges.To the southwest are two great hollows, the Fergana Valley and another valley close to Mount Khan-Tengri. The latter valley is bounded by the westward-thrusting arms of the Kungey-Alatau and Terskey-Alatau ranges and contains Lake Ysyk (Issyk-Kul), whose clear deep waters are fed by the snow-covered peaks. The rugged mountain-and-basin structure of much of the country, and the high alpine plateau of the central and eastern regions, are separated from the Fergana Valley on the west by the Fergana Range, running southeast to northwest, which merges into the Chatkal Range. The Chatkal Range is linked to the Ysyk-Kol region by a final enclosing range, the Kyrgyz. The only other important lowlands in the country are the Chu and Talas river valleys in the north, with the capital, Bishkek, located in the Chu. The country’s lowland areas, though occupying only one-seventh of the total area, are home to most of its people.