Kyrgyzstan is a Central Asian country of breath-taking natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions.  

Most of Kyrgyzstan was annexed to Russia in 1876.  The Kyrgyz staged a major revolt against the Tsarist Empire in 1916 in which almost one-sixth of the Kyrgyz population was killed.  Kyrgyzstan became a Soviet republic in 1936 and achieved independence in 1991 when the USSR dissolved. 

Between the Kazakh steppe and the Tarim basin, the earth's crust has thrust upwards in rippling waves, adorned with snowfields and glaciers, mountain streams and rich, green alps.  These are the Tien Shan, the Heavenly Mountains.  They stretch for 1500 km from Kazakhstan deep into China, but Kyrgyzstan has the best of them.  Their central knot rises to 7439 m at Pik Pobieda (to the Chinese Tomur Shan).  Five more ranges have peaks over 4000 m, and two of them flank Lake Issyk-Kul, an inland sea which never freezes, despite being 1600 m above sea level.

       

 

Many Kyrgyz still spend the summer in remote yurt encampments, tending flocks of sheep and breeding horses for transport, meat and milk.  Kyrgyz herdsmen hunt on horseback with golden eagles on their wrists, whilst the women wrap their babies in thick swaddles of felt and bake unleavened bread, or lipioshka, in clay ovens.

 

 

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