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KyrgyzstanThe name Kyrgyzstan comes from two words. The Persian word stan means "place of" or "country" and the word kyrgyz, which is believed to be a Turkic word that means "forty," referencing the forty clans of historic Kyrgyzstan.



The people of Kyrgyzstan were pushed into their present state by the Mongols, so their land is a result of another's decision, but it was the Kyrgyzs who made the most of this action and made that land home. Since the country is very mountainous and many parts are at high elevation the land provides little good farm land so the people have always been more dependent on animals for survival, while this has also limited the population in numbers as well as in location.

For nearly all of Kyrgyzstan's history, the Kyrgyz people have fallen under the control of foreign powers and their way of life today is a result of these foreign powers in conjunction with their present state. This string of foreign leaders dates back to the 500s and during this time of being powerless, the people have focused almost entirely on survival with few luxuries available.

These powers also changed the people and their culture and the greatest of these changes came with the introduction of Islam in about the 900s. Despite this change, little else changed for the Kyrgyz people as they nearly always fell on the periphery of the ruling empires, but were still subject to their rules and demands.

Despite this, the Kyrgyz people developed a distinct culture over time based on their simple way of life farming and raising animals. Their housing and their food were also simple as most of their actions were done in order to survive, not in order to gain luxury or comfort. This changed with the arrival of the Russians in the late 1800s and the takeover by the Soviets in the early 1900s.

The Soviets forced the people to work, but since little farm land was available in Kyrgyzstan, factories were built and the people were forced to move to newly founded or growing cities. The borders were also re-drawn to meet Soviet interests as the people had few choices but to oblige.

The Soviets moved the people from small villages adjacent to farm lands or pastures and water sources to cities, changing the culture dramatically. The Soviets also introduced new technology, expanded housing, healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Today, the Kyrgyz people balance a line between these two pasts. They use the advancements given to them by the Soviets, but still seek out their historic culture and way of life. This balance of seeking out their past culture comes with hesitating to give up new technologies as the cities are continuing to remain large and few people are moving back to the villages that were once an integral aspect of the Kyrgyz's culture and way of life. However, the cultural differences between urban and rural settings in this small country can be striking, although foods, religion, and attitude are generally similar.

The flag of Kyrgyzstan is on a red background, which represents bravery and valor. The sun in the middle is for peace and wealth. Off this sun are 40 rays, one for each of the 40 Kyrgyz tribes. The sun is also crossed with lines, which represent a tunduk, which is the crown of a Kyrgyz yurt.

Name: Kyrgyz Republic
Independence: August 31, 1991
Capital: Bishkek
Currency: Som
Population: 5,548,042 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian, & others
Language: Kyrgyz & Russian
Religion: Sunni Muslim

Information for Kyrgyzstan was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks