Karakol (Каракол – black arm in Kyrgyz) is a city of about 75,000, located at 42.49 N, 78.39 E near the eastern tip of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan and about 150 km from the Kyrgyz-Chinese border. It is the administrative capital of Issyk-Kul Region.


A Russian military outpost founded on 1 July 1869, Karakol grew in the 19th century after explorers came to map the peaks and valleys separating Kyrgyzstan from China. In the 1880s Karakol’s population surged with an influx of Dungans, Chinese Muslims fleeing persecution in China. Karakol continues to be a main focus of Issyk-kul lake.

In 1888, when the Russian explorer Nicholas Przhevalsky died in Karakol of typhoid, while preparing for an expedition to Tibet, the city was renamed Przhevalsk in his honor. After local protests, the town was given its original name back in 1921 — a decision reversed in 1939. Karakol then remained Przhevalsk until the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Nearby Lake Issyk-Kul was used by the Soviet military as a testing site for torpedo propulsion and guidance systems, and Karakol was thus home to a sizeable population of military and scientific experts and their families.

Orthodox church                                                                         Dungan Mosque

Orthodox church    Dungan mosque