Traveling Luck for Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia, west of China.

Kyrgyzstan has borders with China for 858km, Kazakhstan for 1051km, Tajikistan for 870km and Uzbekistan for 1099km.

Land in Kyrgyzstan is peaks of Tien Shan and associated valleys and basins encompass entire nation.

Kyrgyzstani land covers an area of 198500 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than South Dakota

As for the Kyrgyzstani climate; dry continental to polar in high Tien Shan; subtropical in southwest (Fergana Valley); temperate in northern foothill zone.

Kyrgyzstani(s) speak Kyrgyz (official), Russian (official).

Kyrgyzstani National Map

Kyrgyzstani Map

Regions of Kyrgyzstan

A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions, Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1864; it achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of President Askar AKAYEV, who had run the country since 1990. Subsequent presidential elections in July 2005 were won overwhelmingly by former prime minister Kurmanbek BAKIYEV. Current concerns include: privatization of state-owned enterprises, expansion of democracy and political freedoms, reduction of corruption, improving interethnic relations, and combating terrorism.


Kyrgyzstan Country Profile

Kyrgyzstan is a poor, mountainous country with a predominantly agricultural economy. 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. Kyrgyzstan has been progressive in carrying out market reforms, such as an improved regulatory system and land reform. Kyrgyzstan was the first 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. Kyrgyzstan has distinguished itself by adopting relatively liberal economic policies. The drop in output at the Kumtor gold mine sparked a 0.5% decline in GDP in 2002, but GDP growth bounced back in 2003-05. The government has made steady strides in controlling its substantial fiscal deficit and reduced the deficit to 1% of GDP in 2005. The government and international financial institutions have been engaged in a comprehensive medium-term poverty reduction and economic growth strategy, and in 2005 agreed to pursue much-needed tax reform. Progress fighting corruption, further restructuring of domestic industry, and success in attracting foreign investment are keys to future growth.

Kyrgyzstani natural resources include 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

landlocked; entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range; many tall peaks, glaciers, and high-altitude lakes

Kyrgyzstani religion is Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%, other 5%.

Natural hazards in Kyrgyzstan include NA.

Travel Advice on Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the General section (move of British Embassy in Kazakhstan to Astana).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Since March 2006, there have been several demonstrations in Bishkek related to the internal-political situation.  Political tensions remain high.  See political section for more detail.  You should check the current situation before travelling and avoid any political demonstrations or large crowds while in Kyrgyzstan.

  • There is a threat from terrorism in Kyrgyzstan.  Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets (see Terrorism section).

  • Tensions also exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders and all visitors choosing to travel there should ensure that they only use officially recognised border crossings.  These tensions remain heightened following the events May in Andijan, Uzbekistan in May 2005.  There is a risk that uncontrolled border areas may be land-mined.

  • Most visits to Kyrgyzstan are trouble-free.  However, in July 2006, a British national living in Bishkek was seriously injured in a shooting incident.  The investigation is ongoing but there is no indication so far of this attack reflecting specific targeting of British nationals.  Nonetheless in June 2005, a British national was murdered in Bishkek and there have been other incidents of westerners being targeted for theft.

  • The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Kyrgyzstan involves lost or stolen possessions.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

Most visits are trouble free.  However, mugging, sometimes violent, and theft regularly occur in both cities and rural areas and foreigners are a particular target.  In September 2006, a British national was violently robbed outside a nightclub in Bishkek.

In July 2006, a British national living in Bishkek was shot and seriously injured. The investigation is ongoing but there is no indication so far of this attack reflecting specific targeting of British nationals.

In June 2005, a British national living in Bishkek was murdered in his flat.  Keep large amounts of money hidden at all times and be wary of any strangers offering assistance or being over-friendly.

There have been reports of thefts committed by uniformed police officers and gangs.  Avoid walking alone at night and travelling in unofficial taxis.  Passenger lists on aircraft are not always kept confidential.  There have been cases of people being met by name from an aircraft and subsequently robbed.

Political situation

Kyrgyzstan Country Profile

On 24 March 2005, a large demonstration took place in the capital Bishkek forcing the Government to resign and President Akaev to leave the country.  A day of violence and looting in Bishkek followed.

Presidential elections were held peacefully on 10 July 2005 and a new government was formed.

Since the change of Government in 2005, several Kyrgyz MPs have been assassinated.  In October 2005 demonstrations occurred in front of the Parliament and in Ala-Too Square in Bishkek, following the death of an MP during a prison riot.  In January 2006, following an attempt by the Government to replace local Governors, demonstrations in support of the Governors occurred in Osh and Jalalabad.  On 31 March and on 8 April 2006, further large demonstrations took place in front of the Parliament.  More demonstrations are planned.  On 10 May 2006, an alleged organised crime leader was assassinated outside a mosque near Bishkek.  All these incidents are related to internal issues and have not been directed against foreign visitors.

While the summer period was relatively quiet, political tensions appear to be rising again this Autumn.  On Thursday 2 November 2006 the For Reform opposition group held a demonstration in the main Alatoo Square in Bishkek.  This lasted for several days and remained predominantly peaceful. It has now come to an end. You should check the current situation before travelling and avoid any political demonstrations or large crowds whilst in Kyrgyzstan.

Local Travel

Tensions exist over recognition of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders.  These tensions have been heightened following the events in Andijan, Uzbekistan in May 2005, which resulted in a flow of refugees across the border into Kyrgyzstan.  You should only use officially recognised border crossings in this area, as there is a risk that uncontrolled Kyrgyz-Uzbek border areas may be land-mined.

Road Safety

Service stations and petrol/water access can be limited outside the cities of Bishkek and Osh.  Make sure you take all you need for your journey.  A significant proportion of cars are not safely maintained and do not have rear seatbelts.  The roads are poorly maintained with roadworks or damaged roads often not clearly signposted.  Roads outside the capital are often blocked by snow during the winter months.  Extra care should be taken when driving in Kyrgyzstan.  We advise against using local buses and/or mini-buses as maintenance of these vehicles are not always properly observed.

Air Safety

It is not known whether maintenance procedures on aircraft used on internal flights are always properly observed or whether passengers are covered by insurance.  You are advised where possible to fly directly to your destination on an international flight originating outside Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and to avoid in-country and regional travel using domestic carriers.
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel:  http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Kyrgyzstan has a secular constitution.  Most Kyrgyz people are Muslims.

Possession and use of drugs is illegal and, if found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence in basic conditions.

Homosexuality was legalised on 1 January 1998.  However, homosexuality is not often discussed or recognised publicly.  You should take care over public displays of affection.

Taking photos of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Although it is now possible to obtain one month entry visas on arrival at Manas Airport, we continue to recommend that for ease of entry visitors get a visa before travelling to Kyrgyzstan.  British Nationals no longer need to register with OVIR (The Department for Visa and Registration under the Ministry of Internal Affairs).

There is no longer an agreement allowing visas issued in another Commonwealth of Independent Stated (CIS) country to be used to transit Kyrgyzstan.  If you intend to visit two or more CIS countries you should contact the relevant embassies for advice before travelling.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Kyrgyz embassy in London:  (Kyrgyz Representation in the UK).


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance, including evacuation by air ambulance, before travelling.  This advice is particularly relevant if planning an adventure holiday (e.g.  skiing, mountaineering etc…).  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.

Medical facilities are not as developed as those in the UK.
Tuberculosis is widespread throughout the country (706 deaths in 2005) and there are regular outbreaks of Hepatitis A, meningitis and brucellosis.  Cases of AIDS (22 deaths in 2005) and malaria (100 cases registered in the first half of 2006, mainly in the outskirts of Bishkek) have also been registered.
More than three-quarters of British travellers who have contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets. However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Kyrgyzstan.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

There have been no reported cases of Avian Influenza (also known as Bird Flu) in Kyrgystan.  But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed cases elsewhere in the region.

You should read this advice in conjunction with:  Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet, which provides further information and advice.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Kyrgyzstan is located in an active seismic zone.  Avalanches and landslides frequently block roads in the spring.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas please see: What We Can Do To Help.

British interests in Kyrgyzstan are represented overall by the British Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan.  However, consular or emergency cover for Kyrgyzstan will be provided by the British Embassy Office in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  For consular advice or emergency assistance, please contact the British Honorary Consul in Bishkek, who works closely with the British Embassy Office in Almaty.

You should carry your passport, or a copy of it, at all times.  The police can arrest you if you do not carry identification.

Kyrgyzstan is a cash-only economy.  You should only change money at officially authorised currency exchanges.  Very few establishments accept credit cards and traveller's cheques.  There are only a handful of ATM machines, and none in rural areas.  US dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency; others may be difficult to exchange.

The British Embassy in Almaty does not issue passports and, before setting off, you should ensure that your passport has sufficient validity and a good number of unused pages.  However, the Embassy is able to accept applications for new passports, which will be forwarded to the British Embassy in Moscow for processing.  Please note that this may take up to four weeks.  Temporary passports, valid for one year, are available in Almaty and can usually be produced within 24 hours.