Republic. Gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Head of state:
President Almazbek Atambayev since 2011.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev since 2012.
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.
Most visits to Kyrgyzstan are trouble-free.
Since the parliamentary elections in March 2005, there have been a number of demonstrations in Bishkek related to the internal-political situation. Political tensions remain high. The next parliamentary elections will take place on 16 December 2007. Visitors should check the current situation before travelling and avoid any political demonstrations or large crowds while in Kyrgyzstan.
There is a threat from terrorism in Kyrgyzstan. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets.
Tensions also exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders and all visitors choosing to travel there should ensure that they only use officially recognised border crossings. These tensions remain heightened following the events May in Andijan, Uzbekistan in May 2005. There is a risk that uncontrolled border areas may be land-mined.
In June 2005, a Westerner was murdered in Bishkek and there have been other incidents of Westerners being targeted for theft.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice: