199,900 sq km (77,182 sq miles).

Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. The majestic Tian Shan (Heavenly Mountains) range occupies the greater part of the area. Its highest peak is Pik Pobedy at 7439m (24,406ft).

Bishkek (called Frunze from 1926 to 1991). Population: 589,400 (1997).

Republic. Gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Head of State and Government: President Askar Akayev since 1990. Prime Minister: Nikolay Tanayev since May 2002.

The official language is Kyrgyz, a Turkic language closely related to Uzbek, Kazakh, Turkmen and Turkish. Any attempt by a foreigner to speak Kyrgyz will be greatly appreciated. In deference to the large Russian population of Kyrgyzstan, Russian is also protected under law. In 1993, the Government undertook to replace the Russian Cyrillic Alphabet with the Turkish version of the Roman alphabet. Meanwhile, most people can speak Russian, and do so, especially in the north. English is widely spoken by those involved in tourism. Uzbek, Kazakh, Tajik and various other regional languages and dialects are also spoken.

The major religion is Islam with the majority of Kyrgyz being Sunni Muslim with a Russian Orthodox minority.

Time : GMT + 5 (GMT + 6 from second Sunday in April to Saturday before last Sunday in September).

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin continental plugs are standard.

Population : 4,908,000 (official estimate 2001).

Country code : 996 (312 for Bishkek). International calls should be made from a telephone office which will usually be found attached to a post office; they can also be made from some hotels by asking at reception. All international calls from Kyrgyzstan have to go through the operator. Local calls (within the city) are free of charge if made from private telephones; hotels sometimes levy a small charge. Direct-dial calls within the CIS are obtained by dialling 8 and waiting for another dial tone and then dialling the city code followed by the number.

Mobile telephone :
GSM 900 network in use. The main provider is Bitel Ltd (website:

Fax : Services are available in main hotels for residents only.

Telegram : Services are available from post offices in large towns.

Internet :
ISPs include ElCat (website:, Asiainfo (website :, Transfer Ltd (website :, Intra Net (website: There are two Internet cafes on ul Sovetskaya in Bishkek, amongst others.

Post : Letters to and from Western Europe and the USA can take anything between 2 weeks and 2 months. Stamped envelopes can be bought from post offices. Mail to recipients within Kyrgyzstan should be addressed in the following order: country, postcode, city, street, house number and lastly the personís name. Visitors can also use post offices located within some major hotels. Post office hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1800.

Press : The Times of Central Asia, the Kyrgyzstan Chronicle and Zaman Kyrgyzstan are published weekly in English. The main dailies are published in Bishkek and include Bishkek Shamy and Kyrgyz Tuusu (both in Kyrgyz), and Vechernii Bishkek and Slovo Kyrgyzstana (in Russian).

Radio :
BBC World Service (website : and Voice of America (website : can be received. From time to time the frequencies change and the most up-to-date can be found online.

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Information provided by Kyrgystan Tourism Board.


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