Kyrgyzstan Country Research

Kyrgyzstan Flag


A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions, most of 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. Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of President Askar AKAEV, who had run the country since 1990. Subsequent presidential elections in July 2005 were won overwhelmingly by former prime minister Kurmanbek BAKIEV. Over the next few years, the new president manipulated the parliament to accrue new powers for himself. In July 2009, after months of harassment against his opponents and media critics, BAKIEV won re-election in a presidential campaign that the international community deemed flawed. In April 2010, nationwide protests led to the resignation and expulsion of BAKIEV. His successor, Roza OTUNBAEVA, served as transitional president until Almazbek ATAMBAEV was inaugurated in December 2011. Continuing concerns include: the trajectory of democratization, endemic corruption, poor interethnic relations, and terrorism.

1.1. People and Society
Ethnic groups: Kyrgyz 64.9%, Uzbek 13.8%, Russian 12.5%, Dungan 1.1%, Ukrainian 1%, Uighur 1%, other 5.7% (1999 census)
Languages: Kyrgyz (official) 64.7%, Uzbek 13.6%, Russian (official) 12.5%, Dungun 1%, other 8.2% (1999 census)
Religions: Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%, other 5%
Population: 5,496,737 (July 2012 est.)

Natural resources: abundant hydropower; significant deposits of gold and rare earth metals; locally exploitable coal, oil, and natural gas; other deposits of nepheline, mercury, bismuth, lead, and zinc
Land use:
arable land: 6.55%
permanent crops: 0.28%
other: 93.17%
note: Kyrgyzstan has the world’s largest natural-growth walnut forest (2005)

1.2. Economy
Kyrgyzstan is a poor, mountainous country with a dominant agricultural sector. Cotton, tobacco, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products, although only tobacco and cotton are exported in any quantity. Industrial exports include gold, mercury, uranium, natural gas, and electricity. The economy depends heavily on gold exports – mainly from output at the Kumtor gold mine. Following independence, Kyrgyzstan was progressive in carrying out market reforms, such as an improved regulatory system and land reform. Kyrgyzstan was the first Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country to be accepted into the World Trade Organization. Much of the government’s stock in enterprises has been sold. Drops in production had been severe after the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991, but by mid-1995, production began to recover and exports began to increase. In 2005, the BAKIEV government and international financial institutions initiated a comprehensive medium-term poverty reduction and economic growth strategy. The government made steady strides in controlling its substantial fiscal deficit, nearly closing the gap between revenues and expenditures in 2006, before boosting expenditures more than 20% in 2007-08. GDP grew about 8% annually in 2007-08, partly due to higher gold prices internationally, but slowed to 2.9% in 2009. The overthrow of President BAKIEV in April 2010 and subsequent ethnic clashes left hundreds dead and damaged infrastructure. Shrinking trade and agricultural production, as well as political instability, caused GDP to contract 0.4% in 2010. The fiscal deficit widened to 11% of GDP, reflecting significant increases in crisis-related spending, including both rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure and bank recapitalization. The economy grew 5.7% in 2011, and the budget deficit was reduced to just over 5% of GDP. Progress in reconstruction, fighting corruption, restructuring domestic industry, and attracting foreign aid and investment are key to future growth.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$13.29 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
$12.58 billion (2010 est.)
$12.64 billion (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $5.92 billion (2011 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
5.7% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
-0.5% (2010 est.)
2.9% (2009 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$2,400 (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
$2,300 (2010 est.)
$2,300 (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars

GDP – composition by sector:agriculture: 20.1%
industry: 28.8%
services: 51.1% (2011 est.)

Labor force:
2.344 million (2007)
country comparison to the world: 114

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 48%
industry: 12.5%
services: 39.5% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate:
8.6% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
18% (2004 est.)

Population below poverty line: 33.7% (2011 est.)

Agriculture – products:
tobacco, cotton, potatoes, vegetables, grapes, fruits and berries; sheep, goats, cattle, wool

small machinery, textiles, food processing, cement, shoes, sawn logs, refrigerators, furniture, electric motors, gold, rare earth metals

$2.327 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
$1.783 billion (2010 est.)

Exports – commodities:
gold, cotton, wool, garments, meat, tobacco; mercury, uranium, hydropower; machinery; shoes

Exports – partners:
Uzbekistan 25.4%, Russia 11.2%, Kazakhstan 20.1%, China 7.8%, UAE 5.5%, Afghanistan 5%, Turkey 4.2% (2011)

$3.71 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
$2.981 billion (2010 est.)

Imports – commodities:
oil and gas, machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports – partners:
China 59.8%, Russia 13.9%, Kazakhstan 5.2% (2011)