The population consists of Kyrgyz 64.9%, Russians 12.5%, Uzbeks 13.8%, Ukrainians 1%, Tajiks, Tatars and several other ethnic groups. After independence, many of the residents of European origin left the country to reach Russia and Ukraine, but also Germany: the ethnic composition, therefore, is traditionally subject to change. To this must be added, as in the whole of Central Asia, a strong demographic increase, supported by the Asian components of the population. The density is 26 residents / km², a rather low rate due to the particular conformation of the territory and the result of wide territorial diversity: in fact, four fifths of the population live in the plains, mainly in the Fergana valley and in the valley of the Ču river. In the mountainous areas, less densely populated, the residents of Kyrgyz origin prevail; in the cities (the urban population is 35%) those of Russian origin. Oš and Jalal-Abad. Other important cities are Naryn and Prževalsk.


The Kyrgyz people, in their own history, have had to deal with a land that is rather difficult and unsuitable for human settlement. According to animalerts, the tenacity and temper of the residents, however, were able to turn the difficult environmental conditions to their advantage. In fact, the traditions that today live in Kyrgyzstan derive their origin from the nomadic life practiced for centuries. The high peaks of the Kyrgyz ranges still host the itinerant villages characterized by the famous yurts, the shepherds’ tents warm in winter and cool in summer, whose construction has in itself become a noteworthy art. The yurts they are at the center of the life of the clans, they are the place of hospitality for foreigners, of sharing meals and moments of reunion in which families sing traditional songs accompanied by the komuzy, the most popular stringed instrument. The cuisine is typical of the life of the shepherds. Among the typical dishes: the beshbarmak, with pasta and meat and prepared for special occasions, the jarkop, also based on meat, the shorpo, soup with meat and vegetables, the plov, a dish of rice and meat. Among the favorite accompaniments jusai, mountain grass, and boorsok, a kind of bread. Honey and jams are quite common and notoriously appreciated even by foreigners; the kymyz, fermented milk is the most popular drink. Leisure and sports practiced today have the same roots: the wide use of horses is found in games such as ulak tartysh, a sort of polo practiced with the carcass of a goat, very similar to buskashi Afghan, in hunting or archery competitions, in challenges and pursuits (typical is that between a man and a woman, which recalls in an alternative and legal way the ancient practice – unfortunately still in force – of the kidnapping of women for the purposes of marriage).

Board games are also widespread, often an occasion for chatting accompanied by a cup of tea. Horses are also widely used for excursions by tourists, who experience, in this way, traditional customs and itineraries in total respect of nature and local history. Hospitality is one of the characteristics of the Kyrgyz people, in whose society the Islamic imprint does not affect as deeply as in other countries of the area. This component, combined with the beauty of the landscapes and the cultural peculiarities of Kyrgyzstan, it is considered by many to be the most interesting and attractive country in Central Asia, although still in a phase of economic transition. From the strictly artistic point of view, the literary tradition revolves around the yurte, a monumental work consisting of over a million verses handed down orally for many centuries and sung by bards and poets around the country. The Manas, which narrates the birth of the Kyrgyz people through the warlike events of the hero of the same name and his descendants, is a collection of poems and legends and is the cultural reference point for the population, who identify with it. Numerous other works, such as books, films, etc. were taken from the events narrated in the epic of Manas. Heirs of the storytellers are today the akyn, who reproduce stories, poems and popular songs. The most famous modern Kyrgyz writer is undoubtedly Č. Ajtmatov (b. 1928). In his works the favorite themes are cultural roots, linked to the land, freedom, nomadic life, and the oppression of the Russian regime; topics often filtered through the biographical events that appear on several occasions. Among his most popular books translated abroad: Dzamilja (1958); The first storks (1975); The white boat (1970) and The gallows (1986). Of some interest is the cinematographic movement, which has already appeared on important international scenarios; of note, among others, the director Aktan Abdykalykov (b. 1957), author of Beshkempir (1998; The adoptive son) and Maimilr (2001; The chimpanzee), awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.

Kyrgyzstan People and Culture

Kyrgyzstan People and Culture
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