Askar Akayevich Akayev
(pronounced "AS-kar ah-KAH-ye-vitch ah-KAH-yeff")
"Our main policy [is] to discover the interests of different social, national, and age groups and to create conditions for their fulfillment. Not to be a benefactor, not to patronize, but to open up scope for their own actions, for creativity and initiative."
Kyrgyzstan (pronounced "KIR-gih-stan") borders Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the east, and Tajikistan and China to the south and west. It has a total land size of 198,500 sq km (76,640 sq mi). The population was estimated at 4.8 million as of 2002, 52.4% of which were ethnic Kyrgyz, 18% Russian, 13% Uzbek, 2.5% Ukrainian, 2.4% German, and several other nationalities. The Kyrgyz language, a Turkic language, is spoken by virtually all ethnic Kyrgyz; however, about 57% of Kyrgyz also speak Russian fluently, and in December 2001, the Kyrgyzstani legislature made Russian an official language, equal in status to Kyrgyz. The Kyrgyz and Uzbeks are mostly Sunni Muslim, while the Russians, Ukrainians, and Germans are Christian.
Kyrgyzstan's official currency is the som . Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $2,800 in 2001. Poverty is widespread. Kyrgyzstan is the least urbanized of the former Soviet republics; most Kyrgyz reside in rural areas and are employed in agriculture. A mountainous country, only about 7% of the land is arable while 43% is pasture and hay land used to raise sheep and goats. Kyrgyzstan is a sizeable producer of wool, and it also produces cotton and tobacco. It has significant mineral reserves of antimony and mercury. The capital of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek (formerly Frunze).
Akayev's popularity has remained high despite the economic and political turmoil of the 1990s. Akayev has been effective at personally explaining unpopular policies to groups and organizations and listening and acting on their views, defusing discontent. Although Akayev advocates a "strong executive power" in Kyrgyzstan in order to control ethnic and social tensions, he has also advocated marketization.
Office of the President
Ulitsa Kirova 205