Located in the central region of Asia, bordered by China on the east, Kazakhstan on the north, and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan on the west and south, Kyrgyzstan is a remote, landlocked, mountainous country with a total area of 198,500 square kilometers (76,641 square miles). It is a bit smaller than the U.S. state of South Dakota. Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, is located near the northern border of the country close to the border with Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty.
The population of Kyrgyzstan was estimated at 4,685,230 in July 2000. In 2000 the birth rate stood at 26.29 births per 1,000 while the death rate was 9.15 deaths per 1,000 persons. The population growth rate was estimated at 1.43 percent in 2000. Migration out of the country was estimated at 2.8 per 1,000.
The vast majority of Kyrgyzstanis live in rural areas. The World Bank reported that only 33.6 percent of the population lived in urban areas in 1999. The population density for the entire country was 25 per square kilometer (65 per square mile) that same year, according to the World Bank.
At the beginning of the 21st century, roughly 50 percent of Kyrgyzstan's multinational population was ethnic Kyrgyz; 20 percent was ethnic Slavic (Russian, Ukrainian, and other Slavic groups); 13 percent was Uzbek; about 2 percent was German; and other groups comprised the remaining 12 percent. The Kyrgyz (also spelled Kirghiz) language is a Turkic language. Russian and Kyrgyz are the principal languages spoken in Kyrgyzstan, but Uzbek, Tajik, and Uigur are also widely spoken outside the major towns. In practice, most government and commerce is conducted in the Russian language in the large cities. Many Kyrgyz government officials and professional and technical workers use Russian as their principal language. Most rural areas use Kyrgyz or one of the other indigenous languages of the region as their principal language.
The year 2001 was declared the "year of the tourist." Since Kyrgyzstan is the "Switzerland of Asia," the government has sought to take advantage of the beauty of Kyrgyzstan's spectacular mountains and lakes to encourage greater tourism. The tourism sector is a priority area for economic development in Kyrgyzstan. The country, with major mountain ranges and some of the highest peaks in the world, possesses breathtaking natural features. The towering mountains of Peak Pobeda (7,439 meters), Peak Lenin (7,134 meters), and Peak Khan-Tengri (6,995 meters) exist in what is called the "realm of eternal ice and snow." The country offers white water rafting, pony trekking, hiking, mountaineering, skiing, mountain biking, and many other possibilities.
Kyrgyzstan has no territories or colonies.
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Bishkek (formerly known as Frunze).
Som (KS). One som equals 100 tyiyn. Som are circulated in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000.
Cotton, wool, meat, tobacco, gold, mercury, uranium, hydropower machinery, shoes.
Consumer durables, oil and gas, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs.
US$10.3 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).
Exports: US$515 million (1999 est.). Imports: US$590 million (1999 est.).