Kyrgyzstan - General Information

State form: Republic of Kyrgyzstan
Independence: August 31, 1991
National anthem: Mamlekettik Gimni
Capital: Bishkek (about 0.9 million inhabitants)
Official Language: Kyrgyz (Russian, Uzbek)
Administrative divisions (oblastary): Bishkek, Batken, Chuy, Jalal-Abad, Naryn, Osh, Talas, Ysyk-Köl
Area: 198 500 km²
Timezone: UTC+6
Highest point: Jengish Chokusu 7,439 m of alt.
Population: about 4.9 million inhabitants
Density of population: about 25 hab./km²
Religion: Sunni Muslim, Orthodox
National currency: SOM (KGS)
Constitution: May 5, 1991
National holiday: August 31
Calling code: 00996
Economy: Mineral resources (oil, natural gas); agriculture (wheat, sugar, beet, cotton, tobacco); livestock breeding

Neighboring countries:
In the west: Uzbekistan
North: Kazakhstan
East: China
South: Tajikistan


USEFUL INFORMATION


Passport and visa:
A tourist visa for one month can be obtained through the Kyrgyz Consulate or through our travel agency. For this, you need a valid passport, a current passport photo, and the completed visa application form. Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the return date.

Customs:
The customs regulations of the Kyrgyz Republic do not impose restrictions on the number of items imported and exported. However, any imported goods (silver, gold, jewelry) must be declared. The same declaration must be presented when leaving the country. Travelers have the right to import 1000 cigarettes or 1 kg of tobacco products without customs duties, 1.5 liters of spirits and 2 liters of wine. There are no restrictions on importing personal items, such as perfumes in reasonable quantities. It is forbidden to import drugs, weapons, ammunition, antiques, furs, and works of art into the country. The importation of fruits, berries, and vegetables requires an authorization. Strong medicines can be imported but they must be accompanied by the appropriate prescriptions and certified or approved by doctors. It must be remembered that long detailed inspections are carried out at the customs.

Money:
The Kyrgyz national currency is the SOM. Currencies can be exchanged at banks, 24-hour money exchange offices, and supermarkets. It is advisable to change the money in the capital because in the regions the exchange rate is quite unstable. Credit cards are accepted at most banks and major hotels in Bishkek. Traveler's checks can be liquidated at the offices of major banks, exchange offices and some department stores in the capital. In the regions, it is almost impossible to use non-monetary means of payment.
Current exchange rate "http://www.oanda.com/lang/fr/"


Communication:
Access to the Internet is growing rapidly in Kyrgyzstan. Most major cities have access to all types of networks. In the capital city of Bishkek, many internet cafes and restaurants offer broadband internet access. It is recommended to take Bar Navigator, which is not too expensive. You can get wireless cards in mobile phone stores and in shopping malls. In the regions, it is difficult to have internet. In Osh, Jalalabat, Tokmok, and Karakol, however, there are many cafes offering cheap phone calls. Mobile communication is expanding, but coverage is still somewhat limited. MegaCom is the most popular teleoperator.

Climate:
The climate of this mountainous region is different from the surrounding plains. From the end of June to mid-August, temperatures often reach 32 °C or more, with an average annual record of 40° C. On the other hand, during the winter months, temperatures remain below 0°C for about 40 days. January is the coldest month because of icy winds from Siberia.
Spring and autumn (especially from April to early June and September to October) are the best seasons to visit low-lying areas. In the spring, the desert experiences a short flowering period. Autumn is a harvest season, the markets are filled with fresh products.
Summer is extremely hot at low altitude, but July and August are the best months to visit the mountains. The icy rains begin in November. Soon, however, it gives way to the snow that blocks the passes. The ski season at Ala Archa Resort starts from December to April. Warning: winters are particularly harsh, even in the desert, and it can be difficult to find food, as many farms are closed during these months.

Traditions and customs:
Tips are rejected by many Muslims because they are incompatible with the rules of hospitality. In some cases, they can even be considered offensive. The Kyrgyz people have always been nomads. So they still live in their tents, called yurts. There are still local rhapsodes, who create epic poems - especially the Manas epic - accompanied by a komuz, a three-stringed musical instrument.

Cuisine:
Traditional dishes often consist of mutton. If you're traveling to Kyrgyzstan, you'll definitely want to try schurpa, a mutton-based soup dish with vegetables, or besh bermak, cooked lamb with noodle soup. Also try plov, a rice dish with meat and vegetables stewing in the cauldron. Cheese and yogurt are also popular with the Kyrgyz. As a drink, the tea is typical, which is drunk everywhere and at any time of the day. Kumis, a slightly alcoholic drink made from fermented mare's milk (very sour), is also popular. And finally, there's the top alcoholic drink: vodka.

Holidays:
January 1st: New Year's Day
January: Christmas and Orthodox New Year
February 24: Defenders Day
March 8: Women's Day
March 21: Noruz - New Year Zoroaster
March 24th: Feast of the Revolution
April: Orthodox Easter
May 1st: Labor Day
May 5: Constitution Day
May 9th: Victory Day
August 31: National Day - Independence Day
November 7: Anniversary of the October Revolution
December 31st: Sheep Festival

Public transport:
Although the plane is the least comfortable and most dangerous means of transport in Kyrgyzstan, it is the only one to operate during the winter months. Bishkek-Osh is a very requested flight. The bus is the most inexpensive means of transport. The trains are slow, crowded, in bad condition and more and more thieves can be found there. Most cities have public bus and ''marshoutka'' services - shared taxis that follow fixed routes.


Health:
There are no vaccinations required. However, vaccinations against hepatitis B and diphtheria are recommended. Find out before you travel, as a vaccination certificate could be requested on site. A vaccine against rabies is also recommended. We advise you not to drink tap water, but to drink bottled water.

Security:
If you want to avoid security problems, you should avoid trips to remote areas, especially the borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In addition, it is preferable to take day trips and if possible, do not travel at night (in the cities, the crime rate is still very high). Otherwise: You should always have your passport and valid visa with you.

Shopping:
Carpets or shyrdaks with colorful patterns, hats (ak-kalpak), a kind of white felt caps with ornaments, felt slippers, yurt miniatures (felt tents), musical instruments and jewelery are among the most sought-after souvenirs.

Useful phone numbers:
Fire Fighters: 101
Police: 102
Emergency service: 103
Telecommunication service number: 08100
Information Service: 109
Airport: (996 312) 693 009

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