Republic. Gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Head of state:
President Almazbek Atambayev since 2011.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Joomart Otorbayev since 2014.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin continental plugs are standard.
Sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is blessed with gorgeous mountain scenery almost everywhere you look. The fact that the country is so little known is mostly down to its isolation and a lack of awareness of its very existence – Kyrgyzstan has only been a country in its own right for two decades or so.
Kyrgyzstan’s landscapes are surprisingly varied, with snow-capped peaks, pine forests and glaciers giving way to open plains and gleaming blue mountain lakes. In places the country really does look Switzerland, whilst elsewhere it can remind one of Scotland, Kashmir and even the Middle East. The mountain vistas alone are reason enough to visit - a visit to Kyrgyzstan would be wasted without trekking to at least one of them and, as there so many locations to chose from, trekking can be done virtually anywhere in the country.
Visitor numbers are increasing gradually, although a short tourist season and the relative difficulty of reaching the country have ensured that it is unlikely to ever become a mainstream destination. What this means is that those adventurous travellers who do make the effort to come are guaranteed a unique and unforgettable experience.
Last updated: 30 October 2014
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Take care if you travel to the Oblasts (Provinces) of Osh, Batken and Jalal-Abad.
The Kyrgyz/Uzbek and Kyrgyz/Tajik borders are subject to closure without notice. There have been a number of security incidents in the Kyrgyz/Uzbek border region. See Local travel
There are occasional clashes along the disputed Kyrgyz-Tajik border. A Tajik civilian was killed in an exchange of gunfire near the Vorukh enclave on 10 July 2014. There’s a risk of further localised violence and border closures at any time.
There is a British Embassy in Bishkek. However, the British Embassy Office in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is responsible for providing consular assistance to British nationals in Kyrgyzstan. If you need consular assistance while you are in Kyrgyzstan, you should contact the consular section at the British Embassy Office, Almaty.
There is an underlying threat from terrorism.
You must carry your passport, or a notarised copy of it, at all times.