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Formal name: The Kyrgyz Republic or Kyrgyzstan

Capital: Bishkek

Date of Independence: August 31, 1991.

Area: 198,500 square kilometres.

Time: GMT+5

Topography: The Tien-Shan, Pamir and Alay Mountain Ranges dominate the territory; average elevation is about 2,750 meters; the mountains are separated by deep valleys and glaciers; there are lakes and fast-flowing rivers draining from mountains.

Climate: Continental, chiefly determined by mountains with hot summer, bitterly cold winter.

Population: 5 300 000 people by 2009

Languages: Kyrgyz (state language) and Russian (official language)

Religion: Muslims (Sunni), Russian Orthodox, and others.

Money: Som (KGS). Exchange rate on 07.02.2012: 1 US dollar = 46,7 KGS, 1 Euro = 61,2 KGS



The earliest notable residents on the territory of Kyrgyzstan were warrior tribes of Saka (also known as Scythians), from about the 6th century BC to the 5th century AD. Strong warriors of the Scythian tribes in the farther west resisted the invasion by the troops of Alexander the Great in 328-27 BC.
The first state formations on the territory of modern Kyrgyzstan appeared in the 2nd century BC. In the 4th-3rd centuries BC the ancient Kyrgyz were part of strong nomadic tribal unions, like Saka and Usuni (the 3rd-1st centuries BC), which proved to be a serious distress to China. It was at that time when the construction of the Great Wall of China began. In the 2nd-1st centuries BC a part of the Kyrgyz tribes moved to Enisey and Baikal regions of the present-day south central Siberia.
The region was under the control of various Turkic alliances from the 6th to 10th centuries, with a sizeable population living on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul. Kyrgyzstan was the scene of pivotal battle in 751, when the Turks and their Arab and Tibetan allies drove a large Tang Chinese army out of Central Asia.
It was there that the Kyrgyz tribes organised their first state, the Kyrgyz Khanate (existed from the 6th until the 13th century AD), which became the centre for consolidation of the Kyrgyz and formation of its culture. The Kyrgyz written language emerged here, but it was lost after the state was dismantled by other conquerors.
The Kyrgyz tribes, spread over a vast territory, had actively participated in the historic events of Central Asia. Ancestors of todays Kyrgyz people probably lived in Siberias upper Enisey basin until at least the 10th century, when under the influence of Mongol incursions they began migrating south into the Tien Shan.
The Mongols invasion into Central Asia in the 14th century devastated the territory of Kyrgyzstan, costing its people their independence and written language. Present-day Kyrgyzstan was a part of the inheritance of Genghizs second son, Chagatai.
For the next 200 years, the Kyrgyz remained under the Golden Horde and the Oriot and Jumgar khanates that succeeded that regime. Freedom was regained in 1510, but the Kalmyks overran Kyrgyz tribes in the 17th century, in the mid-18th century by the Manchus, and in the early 19th century by the Uzbeks.
The Kyrgyz made great efforts to gain protection from more powerful neighbouring states in 1758, when some tribes sent emissaries to China. A similar mission went to the Russian Empire in 1785. Between 1710 and 1876, the Kyrgyz were ruled by the Uzbek Kokand Khanate, one of the three major principalities of Central Asia during that period.
In 1876 Russian troops defeated the Kokand Khanate and occupied northern Kyrgyzstan. Within 5 years, all Kyrgyzstan became part of the Russian Empire. After the Bolshevik revolution in Russia of 1917, Kyrgyz lands became the part of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Russian Federation in 1918, then a separate Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast in 1924. After state demarcation of Soviet republics in Central Asia on October 14, 1924 Kara-Kyrgyz (since May 25, 1925 – Kyrgyz) autonomous region was formed as a part of the Soviet Union. On February 1, 1926 it was transformed into the Kyrgyz ASSR and on December 5, 1936 – into the Kyrgyz SSR. After the collapse of the USSR the independent sovereign democratic state – the Republic of Kyrgyzstan – was proclaimed by the Declaration of Sovereignty on August 31, 1991.

Administrative Structure.  The country is divided into 7 administrative regions: Chui, Issyk-Kul, Naryn, Talas, Osh, Djalal-Abad and Batken.
The capital of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek (population about 1 000,000). The other big cities are Osh, Tokmak, Kara Balta, Jalal-Abad and Karakol.

Climate.   The climate of this mountainous region is influenced by its distance from the sea and the sharp change of elevation from neighbouring plains. These factors create a distinctly continental climate that has some significant local variations.
The country is generally sunny.

Crafts.   The centuries-old artistic work of the Kyrgyz has developed under the conditions of a nomadic way of life. Alongside the ever-constant work of cattle breeding and agriculture, the people have been involved in various crafts.
Materials for making plates and dishes, horse saddles and harness – wool, leather, skins and wood. These items have been passed from one generation to the next, along with the secrets of their making.
Fortunately, ancient traditions are not lost today. The traditional Kyrgyz handicrafts that are still practised by local craftsmen are rug and carpet making, jewellery making, leatherwork, wood turning, metal chasing and embossing etc.
Having a nomadic life-style, Kyrgyz people have used a material made of felt. As felt is very warm, it protects the Kyrgyz national dwelling (yurta), however it is also used to make felt rugs with coloured panels sewn on (shyrdak) or pressed on (alakiz), and wool tapestries.

Cuisine.   The food of Kyrgyzstan mainly consists of meat (including entrails), milk products and bread.
The diet of the nomads is limited to mutton and noodles. The most traditional dishes are besh barmak (meat with noodles), a mutton stew, and roast lamb. For ceremonial meals, the lamb is killed, and the head is served to the guest of honour, who slices portions of the eyes and ears and presents them to other guests to improve their sight and hearing. Horsemeat is eaten fresh and in sausages. Traditional beverages are kumys, fermented mares milk, a mildly alcoholic drink, bozo – a thick yeasty concoction made from fermented millet. Tea is usually served without milk.
Nan is local flat bread, is baked in a tandyr, a beehive-shaped oven.
Dimlama steamed layers of meat and vegetables topped with cabbage.
Lagmen is a spicy noodle-based dish common to Central Asia
Manty steamed buns stuffed with meat and onions.
Shashlik (kebab) is usually made with lamb or mutton, occasionally with beef.
Pilov is a pilaf-like dish with bits of mutton and vegetables.
Fruits of all sorts are locally grown and are excellent, although fruits and vegetables are rare in the Kyrgyz cuisine.

Culture.   The Kyrgyz are associated with historical national epos Manas, an entire cycle of oral legends. The epos was created by the Kyrgyz people and is dedicated to the national hero Manas, who protected the Kyrgyz and his nation from ancient times. Manas is a genuine encyclopaedia, which accumulated the historic events, information on the society, traditions and mode of life. The Kyrgyz literature has traditionally been popularised in the form of songs, poems and stories by itinerant minstrels called akyn.
The development of music was closely connected with the art of bards. The most famous Kyrgyz instrument is the komuz (3 stringed lute). All the instruments like kyiak (string plucked instrument), temir komuz (jaws harp), surnai (flute) are made of natural materials, produce sounds of nature, such as: singing of the birds, plashing of the mountain rivers, a breath of wind.
And still the Kyrgyz people enjoy a long tradition of story telling and singing accompanied by komuz.
Kyrgyzstan is famous for its well-known author – Chinghiz Aitmatov. Chingiz Aitmatov, the republics most prominent writer, became one of the best-known artists in the 1980s. Aitmatovs works have been translated into English, German, French and other languages.
Kyrgyzstan is endowed with the standard cultural facilities, including an opera, ballet, several theatre companies, and an orchestra, as well as museums.

Economy.   Kyrgyzstan is the mountainous country with a predominantly agricultural economy. The economic system of Kyrgyzstan is undergoing a slow, painful transition.
The most valuable industrial components of Kyrgyzstans economy are metallurgy, machine building, electronics, textiles and food processing centred in Bishkek, Osh, and Jalal-Abad. The most productive industry is electric power, which is produced in the numerous hydroelectric plants.
Iron ore, copper, gold, lead, zinc, molybdenum, mercury, and antimony are mined.
Insignificant oil and natural gas deposits, and coal deposits are not fully exploited. Industrial exports include gold, mercury, uranium, and electricity.
Agriculture accounts for about 40% of total economy and officially employs about one-third of the labour force. Cotton, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products and exports. The chief crops are fodder crops, wheat, corn, barley, and cotton. Other agricultural products are sugar beets, tobacco, fruit, vegetables, potatoes and silk.
Main use of land is livestock raising. An estimated 83% of land in agricultural use is mountainous pastures. Livestock production accounts for about 60% of the value of the countrys agricultural output; such production includes mutton, beef, eggs, milk, wool, and famous thoroughbred horses.

Education.   Education is compulsory from the age of seven. Free education at the vocational, secondary specialised and higher levels also is offered by the state to qualified individuals.

Geography.   Kyrgyzstan with a total area of about 198,500 square kilometres is one of the smallest of the newly independent Central Asian states. The national territory extends about 900 kilometres from the east to the west and 410 kilometres from the north to the south. Kyrgyzstan borders on China in the southeast, in the north and west on Kazakhstan, and in the south and west on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Nearly 94% of the country is mountainous. Only around the Chu, Talas and Ferghana valleys there is relatively flat land suitable for large-scale agriculture. The terrain of Kyrgyzstan is dominated by the Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai mountain systems, which together occupy about 65% of the national territory. Kyrgyzstans average elevation is 2,750 metres; the highest point is Peak Pobedy (7,439 m). The other highest peaks are Lenin (7,134 m) and Peak Khan-Tengry (7,010 m).
Kyrgyzstan is relatively well watered by the streams that descend from the peaks. None of the rivers of Kyrgyzstan are navigable, however. Most of them are small, rapid, runoff streams and are tributaries of the Syr-Darya. Kyrgyzstan has about 2,000 lakes; Lake Issyk-Kul (6,236 sq. km) is the countrys largest and the second high alpine lake in the world after Lake Titikaka in the South America.
The wide range of absolute heights, complex relief, protracted geologic development of the country and other factors resulted in the variety of natural conditions and the richness of natural resources. Theres a reasonably good chance of seeing memorable beasts and plants here. Forests of Tian Shan spruce, larch and juniper provide cover for lynx, wolf, wild boar and brown bear. In summer, the wildflowers are a riot of colour.


Public holidays include:
January 1 – New Years Day
January 7 – Russian Orthodox Christmas
March 8 – International Womens Day
March 21 – Navruz (New Day) – Ancient festival recently introduced in Kyrgyzstan. It can include traditional games, music festivals, street art and colourful fairs.
May 5 – Constitution Day
May 9 – Victory Day – Celebration of victory in the World War II 1941-1945, with military parades.
August 31 – Independence Day
September 1 – Day of Knowledge – The first day of school for students of all ages.

Important Muslim holidays, scheduled according to the lunar calendar, include:
Orozo Ait-  the celebrations marking the end of Ramadan – the month of sunrise to sunset fasting.
Korban Ait Islamic festival commemorating Ibrahims attempted sacrifice of his son on Mount Moriah where God supplied a sheep instead. The Kyrgyz people usually sacrifice a black sheep during this holiday. Families invite Islamic scholars to read passages from the Koran to family members.

Money.   In 1993 Kyrgyzstan introduced its own national currency. The monetary unit is the som dividable into 100 tiyn. Currency code: KGS.

Political System.  Kyrgyzstan became an independent state on August 1991. According to the Constitution, which was adopted on May 5, 1993, Kyrgyzstan is a democratic republic, based upon the principles of separation of the powers into legislative, executive and judicial branches. The supreme power belongs to the President and to Parliament. The President appoints the Prime Minister, who forms the Cabinet of Ministers. The Council of Ministers is nominally administering executive branch. Local regional governors carry out local executive authority.
The political parties may be freely formed in the Republic.

Population. In 2009 the population of Kyrgyzstan has been estimated at 5 300 000. The population consist of about eighty nationalities. About two-thirds of the population live in rural areas.

Religion.  The vast majority of todays Kyrgyz are Muslims of the Sunni branch. The Russian population of Kyrgyzstan is largely Russian Orthodox. Freedom of worship is practised.

State System.   On 31 August 1991, the Kyrgyz Supreme Council reluctantly voted to declare Kyrgyzstans independence. In 1990, Akayev was elected the president. On May 1993 a brand-new Kyrgyzstan constitution and government structure became law. Later bicameral parliament elected to five-year terms was established in 1994. Akayev and his economic programme got a solid popular vote of confidence in a referendum in January 1994.  in March, 2005 there was revolution in Kyrgyzstan and the first president Askar Akaev escaped from Kyrgyzstan and a new president Kurmanbek Bakiev was elected who is the president for the present time.

Traditions.   The Kyrgyz have retained a strong sense of cultural tradition. The Kyrgyz oral epic, Manas, a poem of several hundred thousand lines (many versions are recited) telling of the national Kyrgyz heros struggles against invaders from the east is widely known. Many places in Kyrgyzstan, including the main airport, bear the name of this ancient hero, the 1000th anniversary of whose mythical adventures was cause for great national celebration in 1995.
The Kyrgyz are classified as nomadic pastoralists, meaning that they traditionally have herded sheep, horses, or yaks, following the animals up and down the mountains as the seasons change. The basic dwelling is the yurta, a cylindrical felt tent easily assembled and disassembled and mounted on a camel or horse. Various parts of the yurta have ritual significance. Because the herding economy continues in many parts of the country, the yurta remains a strong symbol of national identity. Families living in Western-style dwellings erect yurts to celebrate weddings and funerals.
Family traditions demonstrate the patriarchal and feudal character of a nomadic people. Family relations are characterised by great respect for older family members and the dominance of male heads of households. Traditional celebrations of special events retain the markings of religious and magical rites. For example, the cutting of a childs umbilical cord is celebrated with elaborate consumption of food and humorous games. The naming of a child and the cutting of the childs hair are conducted in such a way as to appease supernatural forces. The full observance of the most important family event, the wedding celebration, requires considerable expense that relatively few Kyrgyz can afford; payment for a bride, dowry, animal sacrifice, and an exchange of clothing between the relatives of the bride and the groom.
The Kyrgyz traditional eagle hunting is a very ancient form of hunting. The hunting with hounds and eagles is still one of the popular winter sport in Kyrgyzstan.
On summer Sundays you may see traditional Kyrgyz horseback games including udarysh (horseback wrestling), ulak-tartysh (a kind of no-rules polo played with a dead headless goat) and kesh-kumay or “kiss-the-girl” (in which a man chases a woman on horseback and tries to kiss her, or gets chased and whipped if he fails). Still during the Navrus festival and Kyrgyz Independence Day you can see these games as a part of the show in Bishkek.


Air: Kyrgyzstan is not yet well connected by air. The national Kyrgyzstan Airlines operate direct flights from Bishkek to Delhi, Frankfurt, Hanover, Sharjah. Within the CIS, it also flies to Moscow, Novosibirsk, and Tashkent.
Few international carriers such as Aeroflot Russian Airlines, British Airways, Chinese Airways, Turkish Airlines, and Uzbekistan Airways also serve Kyrgyzstan.
There are internal connections from Bishkek to Osh, Djalal-Abad, Batken and Isfana. Access to the Central Tian Shan region is via helicopter, which takes climbers up to the Inylchek Valley.
It is probably easier to get to Bishkek by flying into Almaty in neighbouring Kazakhstan and catching a bus for the three-hour ride to Bishkek. There is a regular bus service from the Almaty airport to Bishkek.

Rail: Rail transport plays a minor role, with a total of 370 kilometres of track, mostly in the north, providing links to Russia via Kazakhstan. Trains run from Bishkek a few times a week to Almaty, Krasnoyarsk, Moscow and Tashkent.

Road: Kyrgyzstan has 28,400 kilometres of roads, of which 22,400 are hard-surfaced. Bus system is well developed within the capital Bishkek and to cities elsewhere. Buses are the most frequent and convenient way to get between towns cheaply, and the best way to see what remains of the land of the nomads, though a long trip can be tedious and cramped. There are frequent buses between Bishkek and Tashkent and Almaty. A seasonal Chinese-run bus service links Bishkek and Kashgar via the Torugart Pass.

Urban transport: Most towns have public buses and minibuses operating on fixed routes. Taxis or private drivers are often willing to take travellers between cities.

Located in Tokmak and neighbouring the Burana Tower, Ak-Beshim are the ruins of the ancient town. The mounds and ridges at Ak-Beshim delineate a large town (35 hectares) which has yielded remains of a Nestorian church and a Buddhist temple from the 7th and 8th centuries. Ak-Beshim is considered to be the most important town in its time. The site has since been reliably identified as Suyab. Mentioned in medieval literary sources as a thriving and powerful city, Suyab was the capital of the Western Turkic Khanate (6th century AD) and of the later Qarluq Turks (8th century AD). The city also flourished under the Arabs from the 10th to 12th centuries.
Ala-Archa Canyon
The Ala-Archa canyon is located in the highest, central part of the Kyrgyz Ridge which is famous for its eternal snow-stretching plot for almost 200 km – and such peaks as Dvurogaya (4,380 m), Korona (4,860 m), Baylyanbaish (4,700 m), and the highest peak of the Kyrgyz ridge – Semenov-Tian-Shansky (4,875 m).
The Ala-Archa canyon is the center of the Ala-Archa National Park, one of the main tourist attractions in Kyrgyzstan. The national park (at the height from 1600 m to 4860m) is situated 45 km from the capital of Kyrgyzstan – Bishkek. The total area of the Park is 19,500 square kilometres.
The name of the national park, Ala-Archa, means “many-coloured juniper”, which suggests the abundance of this tree here. A river with the same name crosses the canyon. This river, like all the rivers in Kyrgyzstan, originates from mountain glaciers. The Ala-Archa, the Adygene, and the Ak-Sai are the largest rivers in the national park.
There are 160 species of birds in Ala-Archa. Local fauna also includes the snow leopard, a butterfly called the Night Peacock Eye, wolves, snakes, owls, and many others. The Ala-Archa canyon has about 1,100 species of plants: wormwood in the steppe zone at the mountain foot, different grasses, bushes, and juniper forests on mountain slopes that are replaced with alpine meadows.
This grand, rugged but very accessible gorge is offering dozens of walking and trekking possibilities, including hikes to glaciers and, for the serious mountaineer, treks to the regions highest peak. There are basic shelters scattered throughout the park but the best way to enjoy the area is to bring your own tent and supplies. You can use the Upper Ala-Archa Mountain Ski Base (2100 m) as a starting point from which to ski on glaciers, even in summer.
Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, is situated at an altitude of 750 meters above sea level. It has area of 124 square km and the population of approximately 670,000 people. The city was constructed on the site of a fort (called Pishpek) built by the Khan of Kokand in 1825 and destroyed by the Russians in 1862. Russians and Ukrainians began to settle here in the latter decades of the 19th century, planting beets, wheat and potatoes in the fertile valleys. Known briefly as Bishkek (the word bishkek means a churn used to make fermented mares milk) after the Soviet takeover, the city was renamed Frunze in 1926, in honour of Mikhail Frunze, the Soviet general who won Central Asia for the Bolsheviks in the Civil War. The city was again renamed Bishkek when Kyrgyzstan declared its independence in 1991.

The State Museum of History. Lenin still stands on his pedestal in former Lenin Square. There is also the State Museum of History with two yurts, a small archaeology exhibit and a beguiling display of Kyrgyz carpets, embroidery and other applied crafts. Highlights of the history section include a giant koumis skin, photographs of Kyrgyz victims of purges of the Stalin era in the 1930s and the exhumation of their mass grave at Chon Tash near Bishkek.

The Osh Bazaar on Kievskaya Str. is the biggest market in Kyrgyzstan. It is a typical eastern bazaar, which is noisy and full of local color.

Kyrgyz State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet is the cultural centre of Kyrgyzstan. The construction of the building had begun before the World War II but it was completed in 1955.

The Central department store “ZUM carries a wide range of local handicrafts, including felt carpets, jewelry, clothing, the traditional mens ak-kalpak and other hats, and ornate riding gear.

Philharmonic Hall near Manas Square. People come here to see the folk show.

Burana Tower, Archaeological and Architectural Complex
The Burana archeological and architectural complex is situated 12 km to the south of Tokmak. The name Burana is believed to be a corruption in a local dialect of the Turkic word munara “minaret”: for centuries, all that remained of Balasagun were the topless, 25-meter minaret and the overgrown mound of the old citadel. Originally, minaret was 37 to 38 meters high, but in the 16th century an earthquake badly damaged the memorial. Near the minaret there are the ruins of three mausoleums, only their basements were preserved.
The site first attracted attention of archaeologists in the late 1880s. There is also a small museum displaying excavated objects.
Burana is on the site of an ancient settlement of the 10th century that is identified with the historical city Balasagun, which was the capital of the Karakhanids State during the 10th to 12th centuries. Balasagun was so important that Genghis Khans Mongol Horde spared the city from destruction when they began to conquer the world in the early 13th century.
Only central ruins of inner city (shakhristan), measuring 570 to 600 meters, were preserved from the primary square of the medieval city, which used to be 30 square km. A cultural layer of the city hides numerous remains of building of the 10th to 14th centuries.
Balasagun was the birthplace (in 1015) of the poet Jusup Balasagun whose works were the brilliant examples of the high Islamic culture in Medieval Central Asia. His only survived work “Kutadgy Bilig” (“the knowledge that brings happiness”) was written in his native Uigur language in Arabic script in about 1070.

Cholpon-Ata is located at an altitude of 1609 meters above the sea level at the northern side of the Issyk-Kul Lake (250 km from Bishkek). In the area there are the significant mountain gorges of Kungei, Ala-Too, Chon-Koi-Suu and Cholpon-Ata. Its worth visiting a number of waterfalls, lakes, and forests. The great panoramic view of the Terskei Ala-Too rise up from the emerald riverbanks to the high celestial passes.
The stops of pristine tribes of the Neolithic period were found in many places on the shores of Issyk-Kul Lake, near Cholpon-Ata. There is a huge field of stones with very old rock inscriptions above the town. There are thousands of petroglyphs in Cholpon-Ata valley stretching from the slopes of the Kungey Ala-Too range to the Issyk-Kul Lake. The primitive images are mostly of ibexes, horses (some with riders and bows), snow leopards, camels, etc. These images belong to the 2 millennium BC-the 7th century AD but the greater part goes back to the 7-1st centuries BC when the territory of the Issyk-Kul was populated by Saka tribes, predating the arrival of the Kyrgyz in the area.
The Cholpon-Ata town is small but unique. The local museum has many ancient objects of the life in the mountainous region and displays the local history and culture.

Inylchek Glacier
This is a unique area, which captures the imagination of seasoned travellers and mountain-climbers. Squeezed between the huge icy ranges with peaks extending to 5,000-6,000 metres – some of them unclimbed – is the Inylchek glacier, one of the biggest glaciers in the world; its length is 60 km, its depth is 540 metres, and the glacier area is 583 square metres.
The Mertsbacher lake demonstrates a phenomenon characteristic of arctic areas of the Polar ocean: large chunks of ice from the Inylchek glacier are floating on it surface like icebergs. This area resembles a lunar landscape surrounded by high steep peaks.
Looming over the icy snake of the glacier are the Pobeda peak (7,439m), the highest peak of the Tien-Shan mountains, and the exotic pyramid of the Khan-Tengry peak (6,995m).

Lake Issyk-Kul
Issyk-Kul means “hot lake” in Kyrgyz and confirms its name by not freezing in winter.
It sits 1609m above the sea level and has an area of 6206 square km (179 km long and 60 km wide), making it the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America.
About 134 rivers flow into the lake. No river flow out of Issyk-Kul so the lake accumulates all mineral substances carried here by the rivers and rains. The water is very light and transparent, in clear weather one can see the lakes bottom. Since ancient times, Issyk-Kul has been famous for its curative mineralised water, hot springs and medicinal mud used for treating many diseases.
The lake is encircled with high mountains. The powerful ranges of the Kungei Ala-Too and Terskei Ala-Too round the lake from the South and North and form a hallow 2-3.5 km deep, which extends for 240 km west to east. This offers excellent opportunities for developing mountain tourism, mountaineering, and mountain skiing.
Thanks to the mixture of mountainous and marine climate it is not extremely hot at the lake in summer and nights are always cool. The average monthly temperature is 20°C (°F) and in January its not less than -5°C (°F). During the summer season, between June and September, the average waster temperature is +22-24°C (°F).
The area of Lake Issyk-Kul keeps a lot of secrets.   At present at the bottom of the lake archaeologists have discovered the ruins of an ancient city, Chigu, which sank many centuries ago.  It was a capital of the Usuni State since the 2nd century BC, and the trade centre of the Tian Shan on the Great Silk Road.
Attractions in the lake region include the Altyn Arashan hot spring development, set in a 3000m (9840ft) high alpine valley; the immense, silent summer pasture of the Karkara valley; the extraordinary red sandstone cliffs of the Jeti-Oghuz canyon; and the excellent hiking trails into the Terskey Alatau, south of Karakol. The best time to visit is September, though trekking in the mountains is best between July and August.

Karakol is situated at an altitude of 1700 meters near the eastern end of Lake Issyk-Kul and near the highest mountains – Peak Pobedy (7439 m) and Khan-Tengry (7010 m). It is the principal town in the region with population of 70,000 people, and the best base from which to explore the lakeshore. Its a low-rise town, famous for its apple orchards and Sunday market (one of the best in Central Asia).
The city of Karakol (“Black Lake in Kyrgyz) was founded in 1869 as a military and trade point on the trade road from the Chu valley to Kashgar. Among the sights of the city one can see:

The Dungans wooden Mosque, built without a single nail in the style of a Buddhist pagoda.
There is also a Russian Orthodox Church, the Museum of History and oriental bazaar.
10 kilometers southeast of Karakol there is situated the amazing and beautiful mountain gorge of Arashan. There, at the altitude of 2000 m in a broad valley with fir-tree forest meadows and colorful flowers, is the health resort Altyn-Arashan located on hot springs with a high radiation and mineral component.
In the upper regions of Arashan, Moraine Lake Kashka-Su and the Ak-Sai wall and waterfall may be visited.

Krasnaya Rechka
The sight is located only 30 km east of Bishkek in the village “Krasnaya Rechka”.
The irregular mounds and softy eroded clay walls rippling off the valley floor are the remains of the Silk Road City of Navekat, which flourished from the 6th to the 12th centuries. The founders were Sogdians; Navekat means “new city” in Sogdian. Archaeologists have discovered remains of a Buddhist temple, a fortress, a Karakhanid palace complex, and Buddhist as well as Nestorian-Christian cemeteries.

The Osh region is the largest region of Kyrgyzstan, with a multiethnic population consisting of 1.4 million people. It lies in the southern part of Pamir-Alai and includes the hilly lowlands of the Ferghana Valley. The geography of the region is one of contrasts. At one edge of the Ferghana Valley gentle hills turn into mid-sized mountains and then gradually rise into high altitude ranges.
The climate of the Osh region is defined by its geographical location. Osh is far away from major bodies of water and immense deserts lie nearby. All of this results in a climate that is continental or arid, depending on the time of the year. There are more than 150 rivers in the Osh region. More than 100 lakes and waterfalls are hidden within mountain gorges and valleys. The mountainous area surrounding the Osh region is well known for its many beautiful caves.
Many centuries ago the territory of the Osh region was the part of the powerful and highly cultured kingdoms of Davan, Kushan and Karakhanid. Large cities and fortresses were strewn about the region. It is believed that the first inhabitants appeared here about 500,000 years ago, at the beginning of the epoch of primitive communal society. The stone utensils from the early Palaeolithic period found in this region confirm this.
Osh is one of the oldest towns in Central Asia, located on the southern edge of the Ferghana Valley at the northern foot of the Pamir-Alai mountain range, at an altitude of 940-1070 m above the sea level. The population of Osh is about 250,000 people. Osh fills the role of southern Kyrgyzstans political and cultural center.
The earliest manuscripts about Osh date back to the 9th century AD. However the archaeologists have proved that it was populated long before this date. The archaeologists have discovered in the center of the town, on Suleiman Mountain a settlement with the rock drawings and inscriptions dating back to the end and the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. Radiocarbon analysis of the coal taken from the Osh settlement confirms that Osh has indeed existed for 3000 years.
Geographically located at the foot of the Pamir mountain range, Osh held a special position on caravan routes that made up the Silk Road. Osh was located at the crossroads of several branches of caravan trails, and was an important staging post in transit trade.
The legends of Osh are the evidence of its ancient origin. According to one of the many stories concerning its origin, the city was founded by Alexander the Great, another states that the prophet Solomon founded the city, while yet another says that Osh was founded by Adam. The most popular legend however, is that of Solomon, of the Bible, drove oxen hitched plow in front of his advancing army, and when the oxen came to the famous mountain, Solomon said: “Khosh!” (“Thats enough!”), and hence the origin of Osh.
A Bronze Age settlement was discovered on the slopes of Suleiman Mountain located in the centre of Osh. The settlement existed from the end of the 2nd century BC until the beginning of the 1st century BC. These ancient settlements encircle the central summit of the mountain. Until the 16th century the Suleiman Mountain was called Bara-Kukh (beautiful mountain). Takht-I-Suleiman (Throne of Suleiman) was the name given to the mountain when the Moslem prophet Suleiman was buried at the foot of the mountain; since that time people have considered the mountain a holy place. In the caves of the mountain there is the Museum of History, which has collected unique articles of culture and every day life of the ancient inhabitants.
The main trading place in Osh has always been the market, which has changed over its more than 2000 years of existence, though always remaining in the same locale. Tourists are attracted today to the bazaar in Osh with its distinct oriental colours and the aromatic smells of spices and fruits. This is one of the Central Asias best open markets, teeming with Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik dealing in everything from traditional hats and knives to horseshoes, Chinese tea-sets, plus abundant seasonal fruit and vegetables.

It is a small plateau hidden among the peaks of the Ferghanski range at an altitude of 3000 metres. The plateau has black rocks with highly artistic petrography. They date back to the bronze and early iron ages.
The rock carvings depict animals, carts, farming scenes, and rituals. A large number of solar signs testifies to the fact that the sun worshipping was the dominant religion. The sun representations demonstrate a unique diversity: the sun as a man, as a bull, as a goat, as a cart.

Tash – Rabat
The stone fortress Tash-Rabat is located at the altitude of 3530 m, 80 km far from Torugart (China-Kyrgyz border post) and 90 km from Naryn town. Recent investigations have shown that this monument dates back to the 10th century. It is supposed to be the monastery of Nestorian-Christians (or Buddhist) who came here before the Mongolian invasion and before the spreading of Islam in Tian Shan.
Tash-Rabat fits in well with the mountain landscape. The whole structure consists of a big hall (a few fragments of the original interior are visible) and 31 rooms around it, enclosed by 20 domes with 11 vaults. There are numerous underground passages, secret exits and underground prison (zindan) in the fortress. It is the only construction in Central Asia made of stone, used like a fort by the refugees or hermits, and the place of studying the religion and the shelter for the trade caravans for many centuries.

The Castles of Konorchek
The canyons of Konorchek are located in the eastern part of the Kyrgyzski range, 150 km from Bishkek. The formations resemble ancient castles, the ruins of antique towns. The product of erosion lasting several million years, they glow red at the sunset, creating an unforgettable picture.

The Caves of the Osh Mountains
The cave area is located between two rivers (Aravan and Ak-Bura). It represents the remnants of a big mountain massif with the highest point, the mountain Chil-Ustun, 1460 metres. The rocks are made of sediments dating back to Palaeozoic period. A network of caves is located on the southern slopes of the mountains.
The most beautiful cave, Chil-Ustun, extends for 380 metres. It consists of three spacious halls, and the third one is the most impressive with its length more 100 metres, its height more than 20 metres, and its width up to 50 metres.
About 20 km to the south of Chil-Ustun the traveller runs into the Tuya-Muyun mountain, which has the deepest cave of Kyrgyzstan. It bears the name of Fersman and its depth is 240 metres. Other well-known caves are located here: Syurpriz (450 metres long) and Pobednaya (1200 metres long). Its underground halls and passages are decorated with crystal formations of different colour.

The Sary-Chelek Natural Park
The Sary-Chelek Natural Park has an area of 23.9 ha, and its centre is the Sary-Chelek lake located at an altitude of 1873 metres. The lake, 234 metres deep, originated during an earthquake. The lake is uniquely picturesque with its astonishingly pure water, spruce, silver fir trees, juniper, and the rock walls stepping right into the water. It is a exceedingly pristine and serene place with a variety of wild life (deer, boar, wolf, wild cat, fox, marmot and porcupine) and birds (pheasant, hawks and eagles). Many rivers flow into the lake, but only flows out – Khodzha-Ata. The park has six other smaller lakes.

Uzgen town, which is situated on the right bank of the mountain river Kara-Darya (60 km away from Osh), was founded in the 8-9th centuries. The fourth city according to its size after Axiket, Kuba and Osh it was a large trade centre on the outskirts of the state of Samanids. From the second part of the 11th century till the beginning of the 13th century this mighty fortress, Uzgen, was the capital of Ferghana apanage of the Karakhanid State. In the 13th century it was destroyed by Genghis Khan and only the Uzgen Tower (Minaret) and three mausoleums preserved. Nowadays there are sites of ancient settlement; the ruins of the citadel and shakhristan (inner city).
Uzgen Minaret of the 10-12th centuries, built near the Muslim mosque, still keeps some remains of its decoration.
Uzgen mausoleums of the 11-12th centuries, the Northern, Middle and Southern, were built in the centre of the city not far from each other. In mausoleums rulers of Karakhanids dynasty are buried. There is a supposition that in the Middle one, which was built at the beginning of the 11th century, founder of the Karakhanids dynasty Nasr Ibn Ali was buried. The latter one – Northern mausoleum was built in 1152-1153 years, there is a remains of Hasan Ibn Husein Ibn Ali in it. Name of a man that was buried in the third – Southern mausoleum isnt known, but the carved terracotta keeps the date – 1187 year. Mausoleums are decorated with the carved polished bricks with belts of aphorisms in kufi writing on the portals.
The monuments of Uzgen are called “encyclopaedia of the Karakhanids culture”, because one can observe clearly progress stages of an architectural forms as well as of the decorative art of the 11-12th centuries.