- 206b Kyrgyzstan
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Kyrgyzstan is among the many "Stans" (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc.) that have emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan to the west, Kazakhstan to the north, Tajikistan to the south and China to its east define its borders. This is the land of nomads, eagle hunters, lovely lakes and lush forest mountain ranges. Considered as diamond in the rough, the country is situated along the famous Silk Road of Central Asia.
This 2,000-year-old trade route is like a painting dotted with museum-quality ruins, ornate mosques and citadel walls reminiscent of the architecture from the Middle Ages. Its capital, Bishkek, is a lively city with modern shops, cafés and bazaars. Another town, Osh, is among Central Asia's oldest settlements. It was founded by Alexander the Great, named by Israel's King Solomon, and famous for its bazaar that is said to be older than Rome.
Nature and ethnic extravaganza
On the outskirts are canyons, mountain forests and prehistoric glaciers. The world's second biggest alpine lake, Lake Issyk-Köl, cannot be turned into ice even by winter, while the walnut forest in Arslanbob is the biggest of its kind in the world.
Apart from being topographically diverse, Kyrgyzstan is also a melting pot of different nationalities and ethnic groups, an offshoot of the varied and turbulent history that has been the fate this nation. The Kyrgyz make up most of the population of the then Soviet Union, followed by the Uzbeks and the Russians. Other people living in Kyrgyzstan include the Germans, Ukrainians, Chinese, the Uyghurs and the Tatars.
Despite the coexistence of people from diverse lifestyles and traditions, they share a single commonality-the unique charm of Central Asian hospitality. In Kyrgyzstan, it is a common experience to be invited by a nomad in a yurt (tent) to have a cup of Kymyz (fermented mare's milk) and perhaps, a snack.
Kyrgyzstan Traveler Advice
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