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Visa information on Kyrgyzstan:

Background information on Kyrgyzstan:

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.

The Lonely Planet reports:

What Kyrgyzstan lacks in gracious buildings and fancy cakes, it makes up for with nomadic traditions such as laid-back hospitality, a healthy distrust of authority and a fondness for drinking fermented mare's milk. It is perhaps the most accessible and welcoming of the Central Asian republics.

It contains the central Tian Shan and Pamir Alay ranges, Central Asia's finest mountains, and it's doing more than any of its neighbours to encourage tourism and streamline bureaucratic procedures for visitors - partly because tourism is one of the few things it has to sell to the outside world.

In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union left this tiny, under-equipped republic out on a limb, seemingly without the resources to survive on its own. So far it's getting by on pluck, a liberal agenda and goodwill from Western donor countries.

Away from Bishkek, Issyk-Kul and parts of the Tian Shan , tourist infrastructure is either minimal or wretched, transport is limited, fuel overpriced, roads unpoliced and there is a growing crime rate, fuelled by alcohol and desperate poverty. You should resist the temptation to just hop off the bus in the middle of nowhere and hike into the hills. This said, there are early signs of a developing tourist awareness in some parts of the countryside.

Factsheet Kyrgyzstan:

Full country name: Kyrgyz Republic
Area: 198,500 sq km
Population: 4.7 million
People: 52% Kyrgyz, 21% Russian, 13% Uzbek
Language: Kirghiz , Russian
Religion: 75% Muslim, 20% Russian Orthodox
Head of Government: President Askar Akayev

GDP: US$9.8 billion
GDP per capita: US$US$2200
Annual Growth: 1.8%
Inflation: 18.4%
Major Industries: Small machinery, textiles, food processing, cement, shoes, sawn logs, refrigerators, furniture, electric motors, gold, rare earth metals, tobacco, cotton, potatoes, vegetables, grapes, fruits and berries, sheep, goats, cattle, wool
Major Trading Partners: China, UK, CIS, Turkey, Cuba, US, Germany

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