Inbeli – German ancestors, Russian dad – grew up in Kyrgyzstan. At age 22 she and her family repatriated, living meanwhile since eight years in Rhineland-Palatinate. Although she speaks fluently German, and appreciates the western way of life, she still feels pretty much homesick.
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, bordering Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The mountainous region of the Tian Shan covers over 80% of the country (Kyrgyzstan is occasionally referred to as “the Switzerland of Central Asia”), with the remainder made up of valleys and basins.
Despite the backing of major Western lenders, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, Kyrgyzstan has had economic difficulties following independence. Initially, these were a result of the breakup of the Soviet trading bloc and resulting loss of markets, which impeded the republic’s transition to a free market economy. Kyrgyzstan is rich in mineral resources, e.g., are substantial deposits of coal, gold, uranium, antimony and other valuable metals… (Wikipedia)
Kyrgyzstan has undergone a pronounced change in its ethnic composition since independence. The percentage of ethnic Kyrgyz increased from around 50% in 1979 to nearly 70% in 2007, while the percentage of European ethnic groups (Russians, Ukrainians and Germans) as well as Tatars dropped from 35% to about 10%.
Nowadays, being a secular state, Kyrgyzstan’s population is 75% Muslim, 20% Russian Orthodox and 5% other. However Islam (overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim) has exerted a growing influence in politics.
Since the 2001 war in Afghanistan, central Asia has been at the centre of a strategic competition between the US and Russia. The rivalry is reminiscent of the 19th-century conflict between imperial Britain and tsarist Russia, played out in the velvet mountains of the Hindu Kush, and famously dubbed “the Great Game”… The traditional supply route through Pakistan’s tribal areas and the mountainous Khyber Pass has become increasingly vulnerable to Taliban attack. Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, is in deep economic trouble. The small country faces rising unemployment, a growing trade deficit, and is struggling to pay its gas and electricity bills (excerpt, Guardian UK, Feb 4, 2009).
Kyrgyzstan moved, a few days ago, to allow French and Spanish troops to return to its Manas air base, a staging post for U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan… (Washington Post/Reuters, Oct 5, 2009)
CBT Kyrgyzstan – community based tourism
Osh – second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, reputedly 3000 years old
Kyrgyzstan and Manas Air Base – article & 26 slides
Lake Issyk-Kul – article ▪ photos ▪ map
haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)