A country of striking beauty and towering peaks, Kyrgyzstan became independent with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. While Kyrgyzstan does possess oil and gas resources, it imports the vast bulk of what it needs. The economic situation is dire, particularly in the south where unemployment is very high and poverty rife, and the country's politics have turned volatile in recent years.
Kyrgyzstan Tourist Attractions
In 2005 a popular revolt, sparked by allegations of government interference in parliamentary elections and fuelled by poverty and corruption, swept the former president, Askar Akayev, from power. He had led the country since independence. Onkaparinga
Kyrgyzstan is a multi-ethnic state comprising Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Ukrainians and Germans, and a small number of Uighur, Dungan - Chinese Muslims - and Koreans.
There is tension between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in border areas over access to land and housing. Relations between the two countries were strained following the bloodshed in Uzbekistan's Andijan region in 2005 when hundreds fled across the border to seek refuge in Kyrgyzstan.
In the early 1990s, Kyrgyzstan's democratic credentials were regarded as relatively strong. This reputation was subsequently lost as corruption and nepotism took hold during President Akayev's years in office.
Parliamentary and presidential elections were flawed, opposition figures faced harassment and imprisonment while opposition newspapers were closed.
Following the 11 September attacks on the US, Kyrgyzstan agreed to allow US forces to use Bishkek's Manas airport as a base. In September 2003 agreement was reached with Moscow allowing Russian rapid reaction forces to deploy at the Kant airbase in the campaign against terrorism. The Russians are stationed just 30 km (19 miles) from their US counterparts. Facts
Full name: Kyrgyz Republic
Population: 5.3 million (UN, 2007)
Area: 199,900 sq km (77,182 sq miles)
Major languages: Kyrgyz, Russian
Major religions: Islam, Christianity
Life expectancy: 62 years (men), 70 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 som = 100 tyiyns
Main exports: Fruit, vegetables, gold, tobacco
GNI per capita: US $440 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .kg
International dialling code: +996