- The official name of Kyrgyzstan is Кыргыз Республикасы, translated as the Kyrgyz Republic
- Etymology. There are several theories about the origin of the name Kyrgyz. It may be from the Turkic word for "forty" referring 40 tribes. It may mean "immortal" or "undefeatable", related to the hero Manas who unified the 40 tribes against the Khitans. The Chinese form of the name means "Field People" or "Field Huns".
- History. The earliest people lived in the area 200,000-300,000 years ago. The Kyrgyz people probably came from central Siberia about 200 BCE. The Epic of Manas is a 500,000-line poem survived orally for centuries, tells the story of Manas, a great warrior who united the Kyrgyz people.
- Flag. The sun represents light, infinite nobility and eternity. The 40 sun rays on the flag of Kyrgyzstan represent the 40 clans of the Kyrgyz that Manas the Noble brought together to fight against their common enemy, the Uyghurs. The red background is said to be the color of Manas.
- Geography. Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country that is slightly smaller than South Dakota. It is in Central Asia, west of China. It also borders Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Mountains separate the north from the south parts of the country.
- Climate. The climate is continental with cold winters and hot summers. There is variety depending on the altitude.
- Population. The main population of Kyrgyzstan is divided into the indigenous Kyrgyz, the Russians who stayed after the end of the Soviet Union, and a large Uzbek population. The population is young due to young marriages and large family size. Both northern and southern areas are dominated by ethnic Kyrgyz. Chu Valley is closer to Kazakstan and their culture. The souther areas are closer to the Muslim countries.
- Bishkek. The capital of Kyrgyzstan has a population of about 1 million. It is in the Chui valley at the northern foot of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too on an inclined plain. Originally there was a fortress there that protected the caravan routes. "Bishkek" means a stick for beating koumiss - the national drink of sour mare's milk. There are museums, theatres, soviet-style architecture and modern monuments honoring traditional Kyrgyz culture.
Language. Kyrgyz is a Turkic language which is mutually intelligible with Kazakh. It was first written with Perso-Arabic script, then the Latin alphabet, and in 1940 changed to the Cyrillic alphabet. There is a plan to re-introduce the Latin alphabet, but it has yet to be implemented.
- Issyk Kul is an endorheic lake in the northern Tian Shan mountains in eastern Kyrgyzstan. It is the tenth largest lake in the world and the second largest salt water lake after the Caspian Sea. The name means "hot lake" because, although it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it never freezes.
- Cuisine. Kyrgyz foods consist of breads, meats, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and honey. Mutton is the most popular meat, the fattier the better, and the entire sheep is utilized for something. Horse meat is eaten at celebrations and funerals, the most desirable are young, grass-fed mares.
- Novruz Bayram, the Islamic New Year, is the most favorite holidays in the country. It is the renewal of nature, which is celebrated on the vernal equinox.
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