Area: 198,500 sq.km.; central Asian state in Tien Shan mountain range bordering on China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Population: 4,699,337 in 2000; 5,188,282 in 2010; 6,096,197 in 2025
Capital: Bishkek (950,000)
Other major city: Osh (600,000)
Official languages: Kyrgyz, Russian
Poorest and smallest of the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union. Great potential for mining of minerals, hydro-electricity, dairy products, vegetables, and for tourism. The collapse of the USSR transportation and marketing structures has hindered development, as has criminal control of trade and businesses. The economy contracted by 50% between 1990 and 1995, but there has since been marginal improvement.
Independent of Russia in 1991, President Askar Akaev instituted free market reforms and a measure of democracy. Economic hardships, criminal control of the economy and attempted invasions by Islamic militants from Tajikistan into the Fergana Valley in the south has led to some limitations of democratic freedoms in 1999.
Muslim: 3,669,242 adherents (78.08% of population)
Non-Religious: 639,110 adherents (13.60% of population)
Christian: 367,958 adherents (7.38% of population)
Buddhist: 116,448 adherents (0.35% of population)
Jewish: 5,639 adherents (0.12% of population)
Baha’i: 940 adherents (0.02% of population)
Churches: Russian Orthodox (162,338 members)
Catholic (8,392 members)
Ch of Jesus Christ (5,000 members)
Baptist (3,800 members)
Pentecostal (3,000 members)
Jehovah’s Witnesses (1,400 members)
Other Protestant (1,250 members)
Other Independent (1,200 members)
Lutheran (1,300 members)
Presbyterian (650 members)