Statue of Aaly Tokombaev (1904-1988) in Bishkek. Tokombaev is probably Kyrgyzstan's most famous writer. He was not only a poet and novelist, but also a composer.
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Introduction

Background

A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions, most of the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan was formally annexed by the Russian Empire in 1876. The Kyrgyz staged a major revolt against the Tsarist Empire in 1916 in which almost one-sixth of the Kyrgyz population was killed. Kyrgyzstan became a Soviet republic in 1926 and achieved independence in 1991 when the USSR dissolved. Nationwide demonstrations in 2005 and 2010 resulted in the ouster of the country’s first two presidents, Askar AKAEV and Kurmanbek BAKIEV. Interim President Roza OTUNBAEVA led a transitional government and following a nation-wide election, President Almazbek ATAMBAEV was sworn in as president in 2011. In 2017, ATAMBAEV became the first Kyrgyzstani president to step down after serving one full six-year term as required in the country’s constitution. Former prime minister and ruling Social-Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan member Sooronbay JEENBEKOV replaced him after winning the 2017 presidential election that was the most competitive in the country’s history, although international and local election observers noted cases of vote buying and abuse of public resources. In October 2020, protests against legislative election results spread across Kyrgyzstan, leading to JEENBEKOV’s resignation from the presidency, and catapulting previously imprisoned Sadyr JAPAROV to acting president. In January 2021, Kyrgyzstanis formerly elected JAPAROV as president and approved a referendum to move Kyrgyzstan from a parliamentary to a presidential system. In April 2021, Kyrgyzstanis voted in favor of draft constitutional changes that consolidated power in the presidency. Pro-government parties won a majority in the Jogorku Kenesh (Kyrgyzstan’s legislature) in November 2021 elections. Continuing concerns for Kyrgyzstan include the trajectory of democratization, endemic corruption, a history of tense, and at times violent, interethnic relations, border security vulnerabilities, and potential terrorist threats.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Central Asia, west of China, south of Kazakhstan

Geographic coordinates

41 00 N, 75 00 E

Area

total: 199,951 sq km

land: 191,801 sq km

water: 8,150 sq km

country comparison to the world: 92

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than South Dakota

Land boundaries

total: 4,573 km

border countries (4): China 1,063 km; Kazakhstan 1,212 km; Tajikistan 984 km; Uzbekistan 1,314 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

dry continental to polar in high Tien Shan Mountains; subtropical in southwest (Fergana Valley); temperate in northern foothill zone

Terrain

peaks of the Tien Shan mountain range and associated valleys and basins encompass the entire country

Elevation

highest point: Jengish Chokusu (Pik Pobedy) 7,439 m

lowest point: Kara-Daryya (Karadar'ya) 132 m

mean elevation: 2,988 m

Natural resources

abundant hydropower; gold, rare earth metals; locally exploitable coal, oil, and natural gas; other deposits of nepheline, mercury, bismuth, lead, and zinc

Land use

agricultural land: 55.4% (2018 est.)

arable land: 6.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.4% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 48.3% (2018 est.)

forest: 5.1% (2018 est.)

other: 39.5% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

10,233 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Salt water lake(s): Ozero Issyk-Kul 6,240 sq km
note - second largest saline lake after the Caspian Sea; second highest mountain lake after Lake Titicaca; it is an endorheic mountain basin; although surrounded by snow capped mountains it never freezes

Major rivers (by length in km)

Syr Darya river source (shared with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan [m] ) - 3,078 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Tarim Basin (1,152,448 sq km), (Aral Sea basin) Amu Darya (534,739 sq km), Syr Darya (782,617 sq km)

Population distribution

the vast majority of Kyrgyzstanis live in rural areas; densest population settlement is to the north in and around the capital, Bishkek, followed by Osh in the west; the least densely populated area is the east, southeast in the Tien Shan mountains

Natural hazards

major flooding during snow melt; prone to earthquakes

Geography - note

landlocked; entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range; 94% of the country is 1,000 m above sea level with an average elevation of 2,750 m; many tall peaks, glaciers, and high-altitude lakes

Map description

Kyrgyzstan showing major population centers as well as parts of surrounding countries.

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Kyrgyzstani(s)

adjective: Kyrgyzstani

Ethnic groups

Kyrgyz 73.8%, Uzbek 14.8%, Russian 5.1%, Dungan 1.1%, other 5.2% (includes Uyghur, Tajik, Turk, Kazakh, Tatar, Ukrainian, Korean, German) (2021 est.)

Languages

Kyrgyz (official) 71.4%, Uzbek 14.4%, Russian (official) 9%, other 5.2% (2009 est.)

major-language sample(s):
Дүйнөлүк фактылар китеби, негизги маалыматтын маанилүү булагы. (Kyrgyz)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Religions

Muslim 90% (majority Sunni), Christian 7% (Russian Orthodox 3%), other 3% (includes Jewish, Buddhist, Baha'i) (2017 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.39% (male 930,455/female 882,137)

15-24 years: 15.7% (male 475,915/female 460,604)

25-54 years: 40.02% (male 1,172,719/female 1,214,624)

55-64 years: 8.09% (male 210,994/female 271,480)

65 years and over: 5.8% (2020 est.) (male 132,134/female 213,835)

This is the population pyramid for Kyrgyzstan. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 59.7

youth dependency ratio: 52.1

elderly dependency ratio: 7.5

potential support ratio: 13.2 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 27.3 years

male: 26.1 years

female: 28.5 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 147

Birth rate

19.54 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Death rate

6.12 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

Net migration rate

-4.87 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 201

Population distribution

the vast majority of Kyrgyzstanis live in rural areas; densest population settlement is to the north in and around the capital, Bishkek, followed by Osh in the west; the least densely populated area is the east, southeast in the Tien Shan mountains

Urbanization

urban population: 37.5% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 2.05% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.082 million BISHKEK (capital) (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.78 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

22.6 years (2019 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

60 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 89

Infant mortality rate

total: 25.66 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 29.83 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 21.22 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 66

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 72.35 years

male: 68.27 years

female: 76.71 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 159

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 89.9% of population

total: 93.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 10.1% of population

total: 6.4% of population (2020 est.)

Physicians density

2.21 physicians/1,000 population (2014)

Hospital bed density

4.4 beds/1,000 population (2014)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

(2020 est.) <100

Tobacco use

total: 25.4% (2020 est.)

male: 48% (2020 est.)

female: 2.8% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 47

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 0.3% (2018)

women married by age 18: 12.9% (2018 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99.6%

male: 99.7%

female: 99.5% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 13 years (2020)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 9.6%

male: 7.8%

female: 13.4% (2018 est.)

Environment

Environment - current issues

water pollution; many people get their water directly from contaminated streams and wells; as a result, water-borne diseases are prevalent; increasing soil salinity from faulty irrigation practices; air pollution due to rapid increase of traffic

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 18.12 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 9.79 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 4.47 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

dry continental to polar in high Tien Shan Mountains; subtropical in southwest (Fergana Valley); temperate in northern foothill zone

Land use

agricultural land: 55.4% (2018 est.)

arable land: 6.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.4% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 48.3% (2018 est.)

forest: 5.1% (2018 est.)

other: 39.5% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 37.5% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 2.05% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0.21% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 21

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1,113,300 tons (2015 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Salt water lake(s): Ozero Issyk-Kul 6,240 sq km
note - second largest saline lake after the Caspian Sea; second highest mountain lake after Lake Titicaca; it is an endorheic mountain basin; although surrounded by snow capped mountains it never freezes

Major rivers (by length in km)

Syr Darya river source (shared with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan [m] ) - 3,078 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Tarim Basin (1,152,448 sq km), (Aral Sea basin) Amu Darya (534,739 sq km), Syr Darya (782,617 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 224 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 336 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 7.1 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

23.618 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Kyrgyz Republic

conventional short form: Kyrgyzstan

local long form: Kyrgyz Respublikasy

local short form: Kyrgyzstan

former: Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic

etymology: a combination of the Turkic words "kyrg" (forty) and "-yz" (tribes) with the Persian suffix "-stan" (country) creating the meaning "Land of the Forty Tribes"; the name refers to the 40 clans united by the mythic Kyrgyz hero, Manas

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Bishkek

geographic coordinates: 42 52 N, 74 36 E

time difference: UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: founded in 1868 as a Russian settlement on the site of a previously destroyed fortress named "Pishpek"; the name was retained and overtime became "Bishkek"

Administrative divisions

7 provinces (oblustar, singular - oblus) and 2 cities* (shaarlar, singular - shaar); Batken Oblusu, Bishkek Shaary*, Chuy Oblusu (Bishkek), Jalal-Abad Oblusu, Naryn Oblusu, Osh Oblusu, Osh Shaary*, Talas Oblusu, Ysyk-Kol Oblusu (Karakol)

note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)

Independence

31 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday

Independence Day, 31 August (1991)

Constitution

history: previous 1993, 2007, 2010; latest approved by referendum in April 2021 that transitioned Kyrgyzstan from a parliamentary to a presidential system, and implemented changes that allow the president to serve for two 5-year terms rather that one 6-year term, reduced the number of seats in Kyrgyzstan's legislature from 120 to 90, and established a Kurultay - a public advisory council

amendments: proposed as a draft law by the majority of the Supreme Council membership or by petition of 300,000 voters; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Council membership in each of at least three readings of the draft two months apart; the draft may be submitted to a referendum if approved by two thirds of the Council membership; adoption requires the signature of the president

Legal system

civil law system, which includes features of French civil law and Russian Federation laws

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Kyrgyzstan

dual citizenship recognized: yes, but only if a mutual treaty on dual citizenship is in force

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Sadyr JAPAROV (since 28 January 2021)

head of government: President Sadyr JAPAROV (2021)

cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 10 January 2021 (next to be held in 2027)

election results: Sadyr JAPAROV elected president in first round; percent of vote - Sadyr JAPAROV 79.5%, Adakhan MADUMAROV 6.5%, other 14%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Supreme Council or Jogorku Kenesh (90 seats statutory, current 88; 54 seats allocated for proportional division among political party lists from the national vote and 36 seats allocated for candidates running in single-seat constituencies; members serve 5-year terms; parties must receive 5% of the vote to win seats in the Council)

elections: last held on 28 November 2021 (next to be held in 2026)

election results: percent of vote by party - Ata-Jurt Kyrgyzstan 19.1%, Ishenim 15%, Yntymak 12.1%, Alliance 9.2%, Butun Kyrgyzstan 7.8%, Yiman Nuru 6.8%, other 30%; seats by party - Ata-Jurt Kyrgyzstan 15, Ishenim 12, Yntymak 9, Alliance 7, Butun Kyrgyzstan 6, Yiman Nuru 5, other 36; composition - men 70, women 18, percent of women 20.5%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of 25 judges); Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (consists of the chairperson, deputy chairperson, and 9 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges appointed by the Supreme Council on the recommendation of the president; Supreme Court judges serve for 10 years, Constitutional Court judges serve for 15 years; mandatory retirement at age 70 for judges of both courts

subordinate courts: Higher Court of Arbitration; oblast (provincial) and city courts

Political parties and leaders

Alliance [Mirlan JEENCHOROEV]
Ata-Jurt Kyrgyzstan (Homeland) [Aybek MATKERIMOV]
Butun Kyrgyzstan (All Kyrgyzstan) [Adakhan MADUMAROV]
Ishenim (Trust in Kyrgyz) [Rysbat AMATOV]
Yntymak (Unity) [Marlen MAMATALIEV]
Yyman Nuru (Light of Faith) [Nurjigit KADYRBEKOV]

International organization participation

ADB, CICA, CIS, CSTO, EAEC, EAEU, EAPC, EBRD, ECO, EITI (compliant country), FAO, GCTU, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM (observer), OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, SCO, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Baktybek AMANBAYEV (since 7 July 2021)

chancery: 2360 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 449-9822

FAX: [1] (202) 449-8275

email address and website:
kgembassy.usa@mfa.gov.kg; kgconsulate.washington@mfa.gov.kg

https://mfa.gov.kg/en/dm/-Embassy-of-the-Kyrgyz-Republic-in-the-USA-and-Canada

honorary consulate(s): Maple Valley (WA)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Sonata COULTER (September 2021)

embassy: 171 Prospect Mira, Bishkek 720016

mailing address: 7040 Bishkek Place, Washington DC  20521-7040

telephone: [996] (312) 597-000

FAX: [996] (312) 597-744

email address and website:
ConsularBishkek@state.gov

https://kg.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

red field with a yellow sun in the center having 40 rays representing the 40 Kyrgyz tribes; on the obverse side the rays run counterclockwise, on the reverse, clockwise; in the center of the sun is a red ring crossed by two sets of three lines, a stylized representation of a "tunduk" - the crown of a traditional Kyrgyz yurt; red symbolizes bravery and valor, the sun evinces peace and wealth

National symbol(s)

white falcon; national colors: red, yellow

National anthem

name: "Kyrgyz Respublikasynyn Mamlekettik Gimni" (National Anthem of the Kyrgyz Republic)

lyrics/music: Djamil SADYKOV and Eshmambet KULUEV/Nasyr DAVLESOV and Kalyi MOLDOBASANOV

note: adopted 1992

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 3 (2 cultural, 1 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain (c); Silk Roads: the Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor (c); Western Tien Shan (n)

Economy

Economic overview

Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked, mountainous, lower middle income country with an economy dominated by minerals extraction, agriculture, and reliance on remittances from citizens working abroad. Cotton, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products, although only cotton is exported in any quantity. Other exports include gold, mercury, uranium, natural gas, and - in some years - electricity. The country has sought to attract foreign investment to expand its export base, including construction of hydroelectric dams, but a difficult investment climate and an ongoing legal battle with a Canadian firm over the joint ownership structure of the nation’s largest gold mine deter potential investors. Remittances from Kyrgyz migrant workers, predominantly in Russia and Kazakhstan, are equivalent to more than one-quarter of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP.

 

Following independence, Kyrgyzstan rapidly implemented market reforms, such as improving the regulatory system and instituting land reform. In 1998, Kyrgyzstan was the first Commonwealth of Independent States country to be accepted into the World Trade Organization. The government has privatized much of its ownership shares in public enterprises. Despite these reforms, the country suffered a severe drop in production in the early 1990s and has again faced slow growth in recent years as the global financial crisis and declining oil prices have dampened economies across Central Asia. The Kyrgyz government remains dependent on foreign donor support to finance its annual budget deficit of approximately 3 to 5% of GDP.

 

Kyrgyz leaders hope the country’s August 2015 accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will bolster trade and investment, but slowing economies in Russia and China and low commodity prices continue to hamper economic growth. Large-scale trade and investment pledged by Kyrgyz leaders has been slow to develop. Many Kyrgyz entrepreneurs and politicians complain that non-tariff measures imposed by other EAEU member states are hurting certain sectors of the Kyrgyz economy, such as meat and dairy production, in which they have comparative advantage. Since acceding to the EAEU, the Kyrgyz Republic has continued harmonizing its laws and regulations to meet EAEU standards, though many local entrepreneurs believe this process as disjointed and incomplete. Kyrgyzstan’s economic development continues to be hampered by corruption, lack of administrative transparency, lack of diversity in domestic industries, and difficulty attracting foreign aid and investment.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$31.02 billion (2020 est.)

$33.95 billion (2019 est.)

$32.46 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 137

Real GDP growth rate

4.6% (2017 est.)

4.3% (2016 est.)

3.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 59

Real GDP per capita

$4,700 (2020 est.)

$5,300 (2019 est.)

$5,100 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 176

GDP (official exchange rate)

$8.442 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.1% (2019 est.)

1.5% (2018 est.)

3.1% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: B2 (2015)

Standard & Poors rating: NR (2016)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 14.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 31.2% (2017 est.)

services: 54.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 85.4% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 18.9% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 33.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 39.7% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -79% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, potatoes, sugar beet, maize, wheat, barley, tomatoes, watermelons, onions, carrots/turnips

Industries

small machinery, textiles, food processing, cement, shoes, lumber, refrigerators, furniture, electric motors, gold, rare earth metals

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 48%

industry: 12.5%

services: 39.5% (2005 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 9.6%

male: 7.8%

female: 13.4% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 4.4%

highest 10%: 22.9% (2014 est.)

Budget

revenues: 2.169 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.409 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

56% of GDP (2017 est.)

55.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$306 million (2017 est.)

-$792 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 109

Exports

$3.11 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$2.73 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$2.352 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 143

Exports - partners

United Kingdom 56%, Kazakhstan 13%, Russia 13%, Uzbekistan 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, precious metals, various beans, refined petroleum, scrap copper (2019)

Imports

$5.67 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$5.86 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$4.953 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 134

Imports - partners

China 53%, Russia 17%, Kazakhstan 7%, Uzbekistan 7%, Turkey 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, footwear, clothing and apparel, broadcasting equipment, walnuts (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.177 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$1.97 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 120

Debt - external

$8.372 billion (2019 est.)

$8.066 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 120

Exchange rates

soms (KGS) per US dollar -

68.35 (2017 est.)

69.914 (2016 est.)

69.914 (2015 est.)

64.462 (2014 est.)

53.654 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 299,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 110

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 8.511 million (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 130 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 96

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the country’s telecom sector (specifically the mobile segment) has likewise been able to prosper; ongoing political tension, increasing repression of the media and information, and continuing problems with corporate governance may be putting a strain on further growth by reducing the country’s appeal to much-needed foreign investors; Kyrgyzstan has been reasonably successful in its attempts to liberalize its economy and open up its telecom market to competition; the privatization of state-owned entities particularly the fixed-line incumbent provider Kyrgyztelecom and the mobile operator Alfa Telecom has been less well received, with government ownership continuing despite repeated attempts to offload its stakes in those companies; they simply haven’t been able to generate enough interest from the private sector; the mobile market has achieved high levels of penetration (140% in 2021) along with a fairly competitive operating environment with four major players; mobile broadband has come along strongly, reaching over 125% penetration in 2019 before falling back slightly during the Covid-19 crisis; slow-to-moderate growth is expected for both segments in coming years, supported by the anticipated rollout of 5G services starting from late 2022.  (2022)

domestic: fixed-line penetration at nearly 5 per 100 persons remains low and concentrated in urban areas; mobile-cellular subscribership up to over 134 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 996; connections with other CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States, 9 members post-Soviet Republics in EU) countries by landline or microwave radio relay and with other countries by leased connections with Moscow international gateway switch and by satellite; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intersputnik, 1 Intelsat) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

state-funded public TV broadcaster KTRK has nationwide coverage; also operates Ala-Too 24 news channel which broadcasts 24/7 and 4 other educational, cultural, and sports channels; ELTR and Channel 5 are state-owned stations with national reach; the switchover to digital TV in 2017 resulted in private TV station growth; approximately 20 stations are struggling to increase their own content up to 50% of airtime, as required by law, instead of rebroadcasting primarily programs from Russian channels or airing unlicensed movies and music; 3 Russian TV stations also broadcast; state-funded radio stations and about 10 significant private radio stations also exist (2019)

Internet users

total: 3,355,749 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 51% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 108

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 289,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 4 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 109

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 5 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 17

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 709,198 (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 18

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 11

under 914 m: 3 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 10

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 8 (2021)

Pipelines

4195 km gas (2022), 16 km oil (2013)

Railways

total: 424 km (2022)

broad gauge: 424 km (2018) 1.520-m gauge

country comparison to the world: 118

Ports and terminals

lake port(s): Balykchy (Ysyk-Kol or Rybach'ye)(Lake Ysyk-Kol)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Kyrgyz Armed Forces: Land Forces, Air Defense Forces, National Guard; Internal Troops; State Committee for National Security (GKNB): Border Service (2022)

Military expenditures

2.3% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $410 million)

2.3% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $400 million)

2.3% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $390 million)

2.6% of GDP (2016 est.) (approximately $380 million)

2.6% of GDP (2015 est.) (approximately $360 million)

country comparison to the world: 48

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 12,000 active duty troops (8,500 Land Forces; 2,500 Air Force/Air Defense; 1,000 National Guard) (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Kyrgyz Armed Forces' inventory is comprised of mostly older Russian and Soviet-era equipment; Kyrgyzstan relies on donations of military equipment, which come mostly from Russia under a 2013 agreement between Bishkek and Moscow (2022)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 years of age for compulsory or voluntary male military service in the Armed Forces or Interior Ministry; 1-year service obligation (9 months for university graduates), with optional fee-based 3-year service in the call-up mobilization reserve; women may volunteer at age 19; 16-17 years of age for military cadets, who cannot take part in military operations (2022)

Military - note

Kyrgyzstan has been a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) since 1994 and contributes troops to CSTO's rapid reaction force (2022)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Kyrgyzstan-China: a 2009 treaty settled a border dispute, with Kyrgyzstan receiving the Khan Tengri Peak and Kyrgyzstan ceding to China the Uzengi-Kush area

Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan: in January 2019, Kyrgyzstan ratified the 2017 agreement on the demarcation of the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border

Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan: as the last major Central Asian boundary dispute with lengthy undelimited sections, the lowland (NE part) of the Kyrgz-Tajik line seems intractable despite recent Kyrgyz-Uzbek compromises and agreements on delimitation and demarcation

Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan: delimitation of approximately 15% or 200 km of border with Uzbekistan is hampered by serious disputes over enclaves and other areas; Kyrgyz and Uzbek officials signed an agreement in March 2021 on the final delimitation and demarcation of the Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border; the accord included several land swaps that gave Kyrgyzstan more territory but was offset by Uzbekistan retaining use of reservoirs on Kyrgyz land; although a Kyrgyz official returned from the March 2021 meetings and said the decades-old border dispute was 100% resolved, his talks with residents in some affected areas showed that agreement had not been reached on all border segments

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 16 (mid-year 2021)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Kyrgyzstan and Kyrgyzstanis abroad; Kyrgyz men, women, and children are exploited in forced labor in Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and other European countries specifically in agriculture, construction, textiles, domestic service, and childcare; sex traffickers exploit Kyrgyz women and girls domestically and in India, Kazakhstan, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates; problems with police misconduct and corruption include allegations that police threaten and extort sex trafficking victims and accept bribes from alleged traffickers to drop cases; street children who beg or do domestic work are vulnerable to traffickers

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Kyrgyzstan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; the government adopted a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) that established formal policies on victim identification and the provision of social services;  the government established an interagency focus group to accelerate implementation of the NRM and improve law enforcement investigations; authorities increased investigations but did not prosecute or convict any traffickers; the government conducted limited training on the NRM; some officials reportedly  dropped charges or tipped off suspects and allowed victims to be pressured or paid to drop charges against alleged traffickers; the government’s written plan, if implemented, would meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, Kyrgyzstan was granted a waiver per the Trafficking Victims Protection Act from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 (2020)

Illicit drugs

a prime transshipment location; illegal drugs move from Afghanistan to Russia, and sometimes into Europe