Kyrgyzstan Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Kyrgyzstan?

Overview:

The Kyrgyz Republic is a Central Asian country of natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions. Occupying a strategic location on the Silk Road, its territory is one of the most ancient centers of human civilization, as documented in Chinese, Arabic, Iranian, and Turkish written sources. Bishkek (formerly Frunze), the capital, and Osh are the principal cities.

The Kyrgyz Republic is a country of sunshine, high, snow-covered mountains, deep gorges cut by swift rivers and 1,923 mountain lakes. In the summer months, travelers can spend part of a single day in a sunny valley, in a flowering meadow high in the mountains, and in glaciers above the clouds. Extensive mountain ranges featuring ridges, deep gorges, wide valleys, and virgin forests are complemented by more than 40,000 rivers and streams that provide irrigation and a vast potential for hydroelectric production.

The Tien Shan and Pamir mountain ranges dominate 65% of the country, and the average elevation is 2,750 meters, ranging from 394 meters in the Fergana Valley to 7,439 meters (24,409 feet) at Pik Pobedy (Mount Victory). It is estimated that the Kyrgyz Republic’s 6,500 distinct glaciers hold more than 650 billion cubic meters of water. The alpine regions provide rich pastures for sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and yaks. The main agricultural regions are the Chui River valley in the North and the Fergana Valley in the South. Over half of the cultivated area is irrigated, and cotton, sugar, beets, silk, tobacco, fruit, grapes, and grains are among the main crops. There are gold, coal, antimony, lead, tungsten, mercury, uranium, petroleum, and natural gas deposits, and industries include food processing and the manufacture of agricultural machinery and textiles. The country is lightly forested with woods covering about 3.5% of the country. However, forests in the south of the Kyrgyz Republic include the largest wild nut (walnut) groves on earth.

Geography - note:

landlocked; entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range; 94% of the country is 1,000 m above sea level with an average elevation of 2,750 m; many tall peaks, glaciers, and high-altitude lakes

Climate:

The Kyrgyz Republic is positioned near the middle of the Eurasian landmass, and there is no body of water large enough to influence weather patterns. Those factors create a distinctly continental climate that has significant local variations. Although the mountains tend to collect clouds and block sunlight (reducing some narrow valleys at certain times of year to no more than three or four hours of sunlight per day), the country is generally sunny, receiving as much as 2,900 hours of sunlight per year in some areas. The same conditions also affect temperatures, which can vary significantly from place to place. In January the warmest average temperature (24.8°F, -4°C) occurs around the southern city of Osh, and around Lake Issyk-Kul. The latter, which has a volume of 416 cubic miles (1738 cubic kilometers), does not freeze in winter. Indeed, its name means "hot lake" in Kyrgyz. The coldest temperatures are in mountain valleys. There, readings can fall to -22°F (30°C) or lower; the record is -64°F (-53.6°C) . The average temperature for July similarly varies from 81°F (27°C) in the Fergana Valley, where the record high is 111°F (44°C) , to a low of 14°F (-10°C) on the highest mountain peaks. Precipitation varies from 79 inches per year in the mountains above the Fergana Valley to less than 4 inches per year on the west bank of Issyk-Kul. Bishkek's weather is fairly mild. In Bishkek, nighttime temperatures in January can be in the teens (Fahrenheit), but daytime temperatures often rise to above freezing, enough for snow and ice to begin melting. Summer temperatures can rise above 90°F (32°C) by the end of May. The air is dry year round.

Kyrgyzstan Use of Natural Resources

Kyrgyzstan Environment

Climate:

The Kyrgyz Republic is positioned near the middle of the Eurasian landmass, and there is no body of water large enough to influence weather patterns. Those factors create a distinctly continental climate that has significant local variations. Although the mountains tend to collect clouds and block sunlight (reducing some narrow valleys at certain times of year to no more than three or four hours of sunlight per day), the country is generally sunny, receiving as much as 2,900 hours of sunlight per year in some areas. The same conditions also affect temperatures, which can vary significantly from place to place. In January the warmest average temperature (24.8°F, -4°C) occurs around the southern city of Osh, and around Lake Issyk-Kul. The latter, which has a volume of 416 cubic miles (1738 cubic kilometers), does not freeze in winter. Indeed, its name means "hot lake" in Kyrgyz. The coldest temperatures are in mountain valleys. There, readings can fall to -22°F (30°C) or lower; the record is -64°F (-53.6°C) . The average temperature for July similarly varies from 81°F (27°C) in the Fergana Valley, where the record high is 111°F (44°C) , to a low of 14°F (-10°C) on the highest mountain peaks. Precipitation varies from 79 inches per year in the mountains above the Fergana Valley to less than 4 inches per year on the west bank of Issyk-Kul. Bishkek's weather is fairly mild. In Bishkek, nighttime temperatures in January can be in the teens (Fahrenheit), but daytime temperatures often rise to above freezing, enough for snow and ice to begin melting. Summer temperatures can rise above 90°F (32°C) by the end of May. The air is dry year round.

Terrain:

peaks of Tien Shan and associated valleys and basins encompass entire nation

Natural Resources:

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

Natural Hazards:

NA

Irrigated Land:

3,942 Square Miles
10,210 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

water pollution; many people get their water directly from contaminated streams and wells; as a result, water-borne diseases are prevalent; increasing soil salinity from faulty irrigation practices

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Kyrgyzstan Geography

Geographic Location Asia
Total Area 77,201 Square Miles
199,951 Square Kilometers
Land Area 74,054 Square Miles
191,801 Square Kilometers
Water Area 3,147 Square Miles
8,150 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 1,896 Miles
3,051 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 3,942 Square Miles
10,210 Square Kilometers
Border Countries China 858 km, Kazakhstan 1,051 km, Tajikistan 870 km, Uzbekistan 1,099 km
Geographic Coordinates 41 00 N, 75 00 E
Terrain peaks of Tien Shan and associated valleys and basins encompass entire nation
Highest Point 7,439 Meters
Highest Point Location Jengish Chokusu (Pik Pobedy) 7,439 m
Lowest Point 132 Meters
Lowest Point Location Kara-Daryya (Karadar'ya) 132 m
Natural Resources 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
Time Zone UTC+6 (11 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
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