19 Fun Facts About Kyrgyzstan That Few People Know

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Have you heard of the Kyrgyz Republic? It’s the official name of Kyrgyzstan, a country with a storied history, built along the Silk Road with a thousand-year history.

Kyrgyzstan has been influenced by China, Russia, and the Middle East, but today has a vibrant culture all its own.

Nestled in the middle of untouched lakes, mountains landscapes, and pristine glaciers, I’d wager there’s a lot you don’t know about this amazing country. Never fear, these 19 fun facts about Kyrgyzstan will help unravel the mystery surrounding this fascinating country!

1. There are References to “40” Everywhere

40 is an important number to the people of Kyrgyzstan and has been for over 1000 years.

Manas is considered a sacred forefather of the people of Kyrgyzstan, a 10th-century hero who plays a significant cultural role for Kyrgyz people. Manas had many warriors at his disposal, but a personal guard of 40 were his closest companions and allies.

The Turkish word “kyrk” means 40, and the country itself was named after these 40 warriors, who along with Manas brought peace, unity, and prosperity to the Kyrgyz people.

The National Flag has a sun with 40 rays, another symbol paying homage to the clans.

2. Traditional Summer Home is a Yurt

Yurts are traditional shepherd shelters and are commonly used in summertime. Many of the Kyrgyz people live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, and Yurts are easily moved.

Visitors who wish to stay in one of Central Asia’s most pristine, untouched countries can stay in traditional yurt settlements for a truly authentic experience.

3. Manas Statues are Everywhere

Nearly every city in Kyrgyzstan has a Manas statue in the middle of town. He is usually posing atop a horse.

Manas Statue in a Kyrgyzstan town

Tourists try to take photos with each of the statues in the background as a fun travel game.

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4. Visit A Huge Open Air Bazaar

One of the largest markets in Central Asia, Osh Bazaar is a vibrant marketplace where you can buy just about anything. It is considered one of the top things to do while in Kyrgyzstan because it showcases the Kyrgyz culture in one colorful location.

Here you can smell exotic spices, sample traditional foods, purchase handmade hats, and marvel at the seasonal fruit. The bazaar is widely advertised, and the best time to go is on a Sunday morning.

5. Use Kyrgyzstan in Scrabble to Win Big

If you play the word Kyrgyzstan in Scrabble, it would be worth a whopping 30 points, more than any other single-word country name aside from Mozambique which would be worth 34. Sadly, the official Scrabble rules don’t allow for proper nouns – but who follows them anyway?

6. Stop Along the Silk Road

If you want to explore the cultural significance of the Silk Road, what better to do than visit one of the official stops?

The open-air Osh Bazaar once served as an official stop along the Silk Road.

Osh was considered a center of commerce as the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan 1,000 years ago and to this day serves as a cultural hub.

7. Home to 2,000 Lakes

If you enjoy relaxing lakeside, there are plenty of lakes to choose from in Kyrgyzstan!

One of the most popular lakes is Issyk-Kol which is said to never freeze. In summer, the water warms to a balmy 27°C or 80.6°F, drawing Kazakh and Russian tourists alike from neighboring countries who enjoy the beaches surrounding the crystal clear water.

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8. Low Population Density in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is one of the best countries to get away from other people. If you want to enjoy nature undisturbed, this is one of the best places to do it.

A car driving in the mountains of kyrgyzstan

With only 33 people per square kilometer, Kyrgyzstan is one of the least populated countries in the world!

9. Bread is Sacred to Kyrgyz People

Bread is considered a holy food in Kyrgyzstan and must always be treated with respect.

Customs include never allowing it to go to waste or throwing it away. It should also never be placed on a table upside down.

10. Fermented Horse Milk is the National Drink

Kymys is the national drink of Kyrgyzstan and is made from fermented mare’s milk!

11. The Epic of Manas beats The Odyssey

The Odyssey is an epic poem, one of the world’s most famous. The Epic of Manas is an epic poem that is 20 times as long as The Odyssey, beating it with a 500,000-word count.

This epic poem tells the story of Manas, and later his wife and son. It is listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list because it serves as the historical memory of the Kyrgyz people.

12. Home of Shygaev Museum of Modern Art

This lovely museum features mixed-media art from Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, and Russia.

It also heavily features art from Kyrgyzstan’s official national artist, Yuristanbek Shygaev, who allowed the museum to be built right into his art studio!

13. The 6th Largest Glacier in the World

This epic glacier is called the South Inylcheck Glacier and can be found along the Chinese border. It is 60.5 kilometers or 37.6 miles long!

14. Largest Walnut Forest in the World

If you like walnuts or simply want to see what the world’s largest walnut forest looks like, you’ll need to travel to Kyrgyzstan. The town of Arslanbob houses the workers who sometimes live in the walnut forest for months while harvesting walnuts for the world to enjoy.

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15. Kyrgyzstan Has a 3 Som Coin

The national currency in Kyrgyzstan is the Som.

Kyrgyzstan 3 som coin back and front

An interesting and unusual fact is that the Som comes in a denomination of three, so a 3 Som coin exists.

16. Olympics for Nomads

The Kyrgyz people traditionally live a nomadic life and typically make a living by herding livestock. They proudly consider themselves nomads, and they created the World Nomad Games.

These games have been given the nickname ‘Olympics for Nomads’ and feature games that those who enjoy a nomadic lifestyle should perform well in!

17. One of the Only Eagle Hunting Countries

While eagle hunting is forbidden in many countries, including the United States, the art of eagle hunting is still alive in Kyrgyzstan.

This tradition goes back hundreds of years and has been practiced since the 12th century.

18. Called the Switzerland of Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan has one of the highest elevations in the world and has been given the nickname the Switzerland of Central Asia due to the Tian Shan area, which covers over 80 percent of the country.

The highest peak is Jengish Chokusu, which is 7,439 meters or 24,406 feet.

19. There is a White House in Kyrgyzstan

Standing in Bishkek, this seven-story, marble building is majestic.

The White House in Kyrgyzstan

Aside from the United States, Kyrgyzstan’s building is the only other presidential building in the world to also be called the White House.


Christina loves to travel and recently moved from America to Austria to experience everything Europe has to offer. Her passion for travel is rivaled only by her love of writing. Armed with her English degree, she funds her travels writing for several websites including MyCountryFacts!

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