Kyrgyzstan Population, Politics and Economy
Population in Kyrgyzstan
According to directoryaah, Kyrgyzstan is inhabited by about 6.3 million people. Kyrgyz, who belong to the Turkic peoples because of their language, make up 65% of the total population. There are also Uzbeks (around 14%), Russians (12.5%), Dungans (Muslims from China, around 1%), Uyghurs (1%), Tajiks (1%), Tatars (1%) and Kazakhs who also make up about 1% of the population of Kyrgyzstan. At the beginning of the 1990s, 100,000 Germans were still living in Kyrgyzstan, but the number had fallen to around 12,000 by 2007 because most of them emigrated back to Germany.
Kyrgyzstan is an officially bilingual country. The state language is Kyrgyz, and Russian has had the status of another official language since 2001. In addition, due to the large Uzbek minority, the Uzbek language is also widespread, especially in the southern part of the country.
Kyrgyzstan has been predominantly Muslim since Islamization in the 10th to 19th centuries. Most of the population, namely 75%, are Sunni Muslims and we will see some mosques on our enduro trips through the country. The second largest religion in Kyrgyzstan is Russian Orthodox Christianity with 20% of the population. The German minority is Catholic or Protestant. Some Jews and Buddhists also live in the country.
Politics and economy in Kyrgyzstan
Since 2010, Kyrgyzstan has been the only parliamentary republic in the region. The 1993 constitution was based on Western models and provided for a power-sharing system of government with a strong position for the state president and a wide range of basic rights. The legislature lies with the unicameral parliament (Dschogorku Kengesch). This consists of 120 members. In order to get into parliament, a party must get 5% of the vote and in each of the seven regions and in the cities of Bishkek and Osh have at least 0.5% of the vote.
According to the electoral law, all Kyrgyz nationals, regardless of their origin, race, gender, ethnicity, religious or political convictions, have the right to vote from the age of 18 and can be elected themselves from the age of 25. The members of parliament are elected exclusively via party lists and for five years.
The country, which became independent in 1991, took over an economic structure completely geared towards the market of the Soviet Union. The restructuring of the same and the privatization of the companies were tackled, but repeatedly came to a standstill due to corruption, political opposition and a lack of investor interest. Nevertheless, the government managed to get a basic economic problem of the post-Soviet states, high public expenditures with a simultaneous collapse of state revenues, relatively well under control. The budget deficit has steadily decreased over the course of the independent years, a large black market, corrupt and inconsistent tax collection and low tax rates mean that the budget is limited. Overall, poverty has not decreased. The unemployment rate is given as 7.4% in 2017.
An important economic factor are the Kyrgyz who work abroad – especially in Russia, but also in Kazakhstan. It is estimated that between 500,000 and 800,000 migrant workers have sent payments to Kyrgyzstan, accounting for around 25% of GDP.
According to ebizdir, Kyrgyzstan has been a member of the Eurasian Economic Union since August 15, 2015.
With 35% of GDP, agriculture is the basis of the Kyrgyz economy. For some time now, the service sector has also contributed over 35% of GDP. The liberalization of the Kyrgyz economy led to the emergence of innumerable family businesses in the retail and food industries.
Kyrgyzstan has rich deposits of mineral resources and also has deposits of uranium. A plant for the production of enriched uranium is being planned. A significant problem that urgently needs to be resolved is the large number of unsecured nuclear sources. In addition, there are enormous deposits of rare earths and gold in Kyrgyzstan.
Another 15% of GDP is generated by industry, primarily the extraction of gold and, to a lesser extent, antimony from mines in the remote mountain regions of the country. With the exception of the textile and food industry, the industrial sectors have shown little or no growth since the early 1990s.
Kyrgyzstan has so far been little developed for tourism. Tourism mainly takes place in special segments at a low level. The country is a popular adventure destination for extreme tourers. Likewise, the country has a permanent place among special organizers for study, ethnographic and hunting trips.
Transport network in Kyrgyzstan
A high mountain range runs through the middle of our travel destination Kyrgyzstan, separating the south from the north and providing some driving fun on our enduro group or individual trip. The roads in the country are poor, which is why we often move off-road through the country. Because the road builders disregarded the national borders during the Soviet era, one often has to be prepared for difficulties at border crossings on the main thoroughfares in the areas of Osh, Batken and Jalalabat. There are two road links to China – the Torugart Pass and the Irkeschtam route – which are often blocked by heavy snowfalls and avalanches in winter.