Kyrgyzstan |ˌki(ə)rgiˈstän, -ˈstan, ˌkər-|

a mountainous country in central Asia, on the northwestern border of China; pop. 5,431,700 (est. 2009); capital, Bishkek; official languages, Kyrgyz and Russian (since 2001). Also called Kyrgyz Republic.Kirghizia. (New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001)

Ok, so the Oxford definition doesn’t really tell us too much about this country, so let me try. The Kyrgyz Republic, or Kyrgyzstan (kur-gi-stahn) is a fairly small post-soviet republic. The population is about 6 million and the majority is ethnic Kyrgyz. However, in the north and west you will find Russians and Kazakhs, to the south Uzbeks and Tajiks, and to the east Russians and Dungans. Politically, Kyrgyzstan is thought to be the most free democracy in Central Asia. Though there are occasional uprisings, the people live peacefully and welcome travelers.

Internationally, Kyrgyzstan is known for its route along the Silk Road, handy crafts, saline lake, and nature. There isn’t just one range of mountains. There are endless mountain ranges and, shockingly to tourists, each individual mountain does not have a name. There are far too many for that. Traditions, culture and the arts run deep in this predominantly non-denominational Muslim country. Daily life revolves around food, the community, and taking tending to the land. Take a peek into a house in a village on a weekday afternoon and you will find neighbors and friends just coming back from school or working in the fields, sitting down to drink tea, eat fresh bread and fresh jam; Gossiping and laughing, enjoying the moments spent together.