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  Kyrgyzstan » Kyrgyzstan » Geography » Canals


CanalsIn Europe canals performed an important role in the Industrial Revolution as a means of transportation. Barges loaded with goods, transported them from centers of production to ports and other markets. In Kyrgyzstan, canals are important not as a means of transport – but for irrigation.

With so much land classified as mountainous – it is perhaps not surprising that only 7% of the land area is arable. More than half of this is irrigated with water transported from mountain streams and rivers to agricultural land in the valleys.

Archaeological evidence suggests that some of the irrigation channels still in use in the Ferghana valley today date from about 2000 BC. It was only after 300 AD; however, that large scale irrigation was introduced – thus increasing both crop yields and the variety of crops that could be grown. Then in the Soviet period, the programmes of irrigation were extended and now sprinkler systems can be seen watering the fields in many places.

Even in some of the towns there are roadside ditches (aryk, in Russian) which are used to irrigate roadside plants.

The largest canals are found in the North of the country – the “Big Daddy” of them all is the B-Ch-K – the Bolshoy Chuisky Canal (= Large Chui Canal – sometimes referred to as the Grand Chui Canal). It flows through the Northern parts of Bishkek. The river itself flows some 20 kilometers to the North of the city.

In 2003 a large project for cleaning and repairing many of the canals was undertaken (affecting some 950 kilometers of waterway). For example, as part of this project work was undertaken both to clean and extend the 13 km. “Kyzyl-Kiya Komur” canal. This was the largest irrigation project in Kyrgyzstan at the time and when complete will result in over 700 hectares of dry land being developed and will also improve the water supply for another 660 hectares.

Here is a list of the largest canals to be found in the Republic:



Length (km)

Irrigation (1000’s Hectares)

Western Bolshoy Chuisky Canal

River Chui and Krasnaya (Red) River



Eastern Bolshoy Chuisky Canal

River Chui



At Bashinsky

River Chui




River Chui and Krasnaya (Red) River




River Chili Sai



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