Area: 199 950 sq km
Population: 6 187 760
Date of independence: 31 August 1991
Ethnic groups: Kyrgyz (72 %), Uzbek (15 %) and Russian (9 %)
Religion: Islam (80%)
Kyrgyzstan is a post-Soviet country of natural beauty and nomadic traditions. Most of the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1876. The Kyrgyz revolted against the Tsarist Empire in 1916. It resulted in killing of almost one-sixth of the Kyrgyz population. Kyrgyzstan is the most liberal state in Central Asia, and its independence is marked by coups, most frequently referred as revolutions and inter-ethnic clashes. Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of its first president Askar Akayev, who had fled to Russia. He was replaced by Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who manipulated the parliament to gain new powers for his presidency. In April 2010, protests in Bishkek led to the removal of Bakiyev from the office. He eventually sought an asylum in Belarus. His successor, Roza Otunbaeva, served as a head of interim government until Almazbek Atambayev was inaugurated in December 2011 following peaceful proceedings. During the unpredictable elections of 2017, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, the protege of Atambayev was elected. This marked the second peaceful transfer of presidential power in independent Kyrgyzstan's history. According to reports by international observers, the elections were competitive, however cases of misuse of public resources, pressure on voters and voter buying were found. Several months after the 2010 coup, inter-ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbek minority took place in the southern region of the country and took lives of around 400-1,000 people (74% Ethnic Uzbeks), 400,000 were displaced and 1,900 were injured.
Kyrgyzstan has long been known to enjoy the most vibrant civil society in Central Asia. Non-governmental organizations were established after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and strive to bring justice, fairness and equality in their thematic areas of work. These organizations are usually led by highly-qualified personnel and funded by international donors, which in turn managed to establish a large, professionalized, institutionalized and measurable form of civil society, which is vibrant and active, and most importantly, affects political processes, voicing the needs of the groups they work with.
However, for the past years the civil activism in the country has shrunk as a result of hostile rhetoric of the government against NGOs. Authorities targeted and harassed some human rights groups, journalists, and lawyers. Impunity for ill-treatment and torture persist, and there is still no justice for victims of interethnic violence in 2010. Human rights defender Azimjon Askarov is serving a life sentence against the government's obligation before the UN Human Rights Committee to release him in 2016. The Central Asia researcher and the director of Bishkek Human Rights Watch office, Mihra Rittman, is still banned from entering the country.
Domestic violence against women and girls remains a serious problem. Despite a new law passed in 2017 on the Prevention and Protection of Family Violence, the absence of services and the authorities inaction or hostility towards victims obstruct survivors' access to protection and justice. Police do not systematically enforce protection orders and few domestic violence complaints reach the courts. Pressure to keep families together, stigma, economic dependence, and fear of reprisals by abusers hinder some women from seeking assistance.
LGBT community in Kyrgyzstan experience ill-treatment, extortion, and discrimination from both state and non-state actors. There is widespread impunity for these abuses. For the past two years, parliament has been considering an anti-LGBT bill banning propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations, which aims at silencing anyone seeking to openly share information about same-sex relations in Kyrgyzstan. The bill was condemned by international community and local civil society activists but remains under consideration in the parliament.
In August 2015, Kyrgyzstan became a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, a common market of five Eurasian states, enabling Russia to exert its traditional sphere of influence in the region.