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Kyrgyzstan is a medium-sized country in Central Asia. it covers 77,200 square miles (200,000 sq. km), making it just smaller than the state of South Dakota. It borders China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The land of Kyrgyzstan was first inhabited some 300,000 years ago, and a cohesive civilization existed there by at least 2000 BCE, when the Chinese noted the region and its inhabitants. However, it was not until 200 BCE that the relatives of the current inhabitants, the Kyrgyz people, settled the area. By the 9th century, the Kyrgyz had created a strong state for themselves, and had expanded their territory dramatically. This expansion continued until the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, at which point the Kyrgyz lands shrunk substantially and shifted to the south. The Kyrgyz lost a great deal during the era of Mongol rule, including their written language.
From then on the Kyrgyz remained under the yoke of one group or another until independence. First they were controlled by the Kalmyks, then the Manchus, and then by the Uzbeks. At the end of the 19th century the region of Kyrgyzstan was annexed by the Russian Empire, remaining under first their control, and then under the control of the Soviets, until independence.
In 2005 a massive movement against the president, and a subsequent seizing of the capital by peaceful protestors, led to the fleeing and eventual resignation of Ashkar in what is sometimes referred to as the Tulip Revolution. The introduction of democratic reforms began in 2006, with the adoption of a new constitution. This constitution distributed many of the powers of the presidency to the parliament, and reduced other powers.
The culture of Kyrgyzstan is one of the main draws for people interested in visiting the region. Many people still live with a deep connection to their nomadic roots, and the horse plays an important role in everyday life. Beautiful music, dancing, textiles, and cushions also draw people to Kyrgyzstan. The beauty of nature in Kyrgyzstan is also not to be understated. Sweeping mountains cover much of the country, leading to it sometimes being referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia, and sub-tropical valleys dot the country as well.
Kyrgyzstan is said by many to be the most accommodating of the “-stans” to tourists. The people are friendly and welcoming, the infrastructure is better than in many surrounding countries, and the security situation is stable. Flights arrive in Bishkek regularly from London, and the country may also be easily accessed via Russia or Turkey.