|General background: A Central Asian country
of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions,
Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1864; it achieved
independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Current
concerns include: privatization of state-owned enterprises,
expansion of democracy and political freedoms, interethnic
relations, and combating terrorism.
comparative: Slightly smaller than South Dakota.
Climate: Dry continental to polar in high
Tien Shan; subtropical in southwest (Fergana Valley);
temperate in northern foothill zone.
Peaks of Tien Shan and associated valleys and basins
encompass entire nation.
Population: 4,822,166 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Kyrgyz 52.4%, Russian 18%,
Uzbek 12.9%, Ukrainian 2.5%, German 2.4%, other 11.8%
Religions: Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%,
Language: Kyrgyz - official language, Russian
- official language
note: in December 2001, the Kyrgyzstani legislature
made Russian an official language, equal in status
Government type: Republic
Legal system: Based on civil law system
Economic overview: Kyrgyzstan is a small,
poor, mountainous country with a predominantly agricultural
economy. Cotton, wool, and meat are the main agricultural
products and exports. Industrial exports include gold,
mercury, uranium, and electricity. Kyrgyzstan has
been one of the most progressive countries of the
former Soviet Union in carrying out market reforms.
With fits and starts, inflation has been lowered to
an estimated 7% in 2001. Much of the government's
stock in enterprises has been sold. Drops in production
had been severe since the break-up of the Soviet Union
in December 1991, but by mid-1995 production began
to recover and exports began to increase. Growth was
held down to 2.1% in 1998 largely because of the spillover
from Russia's economic difficulties, but moved ahead
to 3.6% in 1999, 5% in 2000, and 5% again in 2001.
Despite these gains, poverty indicators are no better
in 2001 than in 1996. On the positive side, the government
and the international financial institutions have
embarked on a comprehensive medium-term poverty reduction
and economic growth strategy. In November 2001, with
financing assurance from the Paris Club, the IMF Board
approved a three-year, $93 million Poverty Reduction
and Growth Facility.
Communication/Telephone system: Poorly developed
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