About Kyrgyzstan

Known for its mountainous landscape, the Kyrgyz Republic, also referred to as Kirghizia in Russian, is a landlocked country in Central Asia, sharing borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. The population of 6 million lives mainly in rural areas, with the most densely inhabited area in the north and in and around the capital of Bishkek, as well as Osh in the western part of the country. About 40 percent of the population lives in urban areas. The majority of the population identifies as ethnically Kyrgyz, with a smaller number identifying as Uzbek and Russian. Kyrgyz and Russian are the official languages, and the overwhelming majority of the population (90 percent) is Sunni Muslim. Several mountain ranges jut throughout its impressive landscape: the Kok Shaal-Tau, Alay, Trans-Alay (Zaalay), and Atbashi ranges. Lowlands account for only one-seventh of the total land area of Kyrgyzstan, and yet this portion of land is home to most of the population.

Kyrgyzstan has a rich and long history, having been a part of the Uyghur Empire and Mongol Empire during the 13th century. After becoming part of the USSR, Kyrgyzstan achieved independence in 1991. The country is rich in natural resources such as hydropower, gold, rare earth metals, coal, oil, natural gas, and deposits of nepheline, mercury, bismuth, lead, and zinc. As a result, the economy is focused primarily on the extraction of minerals. Despite a relatively resource-rich economy, the overall well-being of the population is lacking. Though unemployment is low, many people live below the poverty line—as much as 32 percent of the population. Notably, Kyrgyzstan’s standard of living as well as its economic and educational attainment levels are some of the lowest among the former Soviet republics.

Kyrgyzstan has many health challenges. High rates of death are caused by ischemic heart disease, stroke, cirrhosis, COPD, neonatal disorders, road injuries, lower respiratory infections, stomach cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and self-harm. While death due to tuberculosis decreased by 38 percent between 2009 and 2019, it is still considered a top cause of death. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include dietary risks, high blood pressure, malnutrition, high body-mass index, alcohol and tobacco use, air pollution, high LDL, high fasting plasma glucose, and kidney dysfunction.

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