Kyrgyzstan : the official name is The Kyrgyz Republic, but it is known also as Kyrgyzia.

Capital: Bishkek (formerly Frunze) and the population is about 1,000 000.

Area: 198,500 sq. km

For such a small country – about the combined size of Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands there is only 5,000 000 people.

Nationalities: There are more than 80 ethnic groups.

The Kyrgyz are over 50% of the population, Russians 17%, Uzbeks 13%, Ukranians, Germans, Tartars are the main others.

The Kyrgyz are one of the oldest races in Central Asia and are mentioned in ancient Chinese texts over 3000 years ago.

Mountains cover 94% of the country – the Central Tien-Shan, Kyrgyz Range and the Alai Range of the Parmirs and there are three, 7,000 metre peaks – Peak Pobeda 7437 m., Peak Lenina 7134 m., Peak Khan – Tengri 7010 m.

Languages: Kyrgyz and Russian. Some people can help with English, German or French.

Rivers: There are more than 40,000 rivers and streams in Kyrgyzstan, with a combined length of roughly 150,000 km and draining some 47 cubic km of water a year.

Lakes: There are 1923 lakes of different sizes in the republic.

Lake Issyk Kul – The second largest mountain lake (altitude 1,600 m) and the fourth deepest lake in the world (almost 700 m).

Lake Maerzbacher appears during the summer, and “icebergs” up to 15 meters high float from side to side, then it “disappears”.

Glaciers: Almost 8000 glaciers and permanent snow cover about 30% of the total land area. The most famous is the Inylchek Glacier and between them they contain some 580 billion cubic metres of water – enough to cover the whole of Kyrgyzstan to a depth of 3m.

Forests: Forests cover 3.5% of the total land area. The walnut is indigenous to Kyrgyzstan and the largest walnut forest in the world is found in the South.

Wildlife, Fauna and Flora: Kyrgyzstan is rich in both flora and fauna. The flora of Kyrgyzstan includes many different types of medicinal herbs, such as: ephedra, plantain, milfoil, sage, fog-rose, dushitsa, wormwort – and many others. With over 80 species of mammals, 330 species of birds, 50 species of fish and about 30 species of reptiles and amphibians, Kyrgyzstan has a rich and diverse wildlife, including badgers, bears, eagles, foxes, gophers, gulls, hawks, horses, lynxes, marmots, martens, mountain goats, porcupines, raven, sheep, snow leopards, Turkmen rats, vultures, wolves, woodpeckers, yaks.

The Great Silk Road: Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan was literally the Crossroads of Asia with four of the main routes of the Great Silk Road crisscrossing it

Yurt – the traditional nomad’s dwelling. The nomadic Kyrgyz used to live in yurts all year round – but these days they are usually used in the summer months.

Crafts – Shyrdaks and Ala-Kiyiz (carpets made from felt), are typical and found throughout the country. Embroidery and patchwork, leatherwork and wooden articles are also important crafts, which were central to the nomadic lifestyle of the Kyrgyz.

The Manas Epic is the longest epic in the world.