Kyrgyzstan, slightly smaller than South Dakota, is located along the eastern border of the Central Asian region, southeast of Kazakhstan, west of China, east of Uzbekistan, and north of Tajikistan. The capital is Bishkek and major cities include Jalalabad, Kara-Balta, Karakol, Osh, and Tokmok. Kyrgyzstan was formally 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.
The climate ranges from dry continental to polar in the mountains, subtropical in the southwest (Fergana Valley), and temperate in the northern foothills zone. Kyrgyzstan is landlocked; it is entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range. Kyrgyzstan consists of many tall peaks, glaciers, and high-altitude lakes; 94% of the country is 1,000 m above sea level with an average elevation of 2,750 m. Kyrgyzstan has the world's largest natural-growth walnut forest.
Natural resources include abundant hydropower, significant deposits of gold and rare earth metals, locally exploitable coal, oil, and natural gas, and other deposits of nepheline, mercury, bismuth, lead, and zinc. Principal exports are nonferrous metals and minerals, woolen goods and other agricultural products, electric energy, and certain engineering goods. Its imports include petroleum and natural gas, ferrous metals, chemicals, most machinery, wood and paper products, some foods, and some construction materials. Its leading trade partners include Switzerland, Russia, China, and neighboring Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Since May 19, 2010, Roza Otunbayeva has been president of Kyrgyzstan, succeeding Kurmanbek Bakiev.
CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Dept. Background Notes; LOC Country Studies, 05/2010, 10/2009, 01/2007