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Scythians settled around 500 BC followed by Kyrgyz migrants from Siberia in 200 BC along the Silk Road. The Kyrgyz defeated the Uyghurs of Mongolia in 840 AD but in 1207 the region fell to the Mongol Empire.
In the 1390s tribal rulers took control until 1685 when the Mongolians returned. Annexed by the Chinese Qing Dynasty in the 18th century and then by the Uzbeks of Kokand in the 19th it was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1876 by treaty with China.
Now known as Kirgizia, rebellion in 1916 and the revolution in Russia in 1917 brought the Soviets to power and the Kara-Kyrgyz Oblast was formed witihn the Soviet Union in 1924, replaced by the Kirghiz SSR in 1936. The country achieved independence in 1991 despite a popular vote to stay in the Soviet federation.
In 2005 an uprising (the Tulip Revolution) led to a change in government which preceded political instability. Ethnic riots broke out out in 2010 and Russia moved to tighten security in the country whilst many local Uzbeks fled. Kyrgyzstan continues to endure transitional government and ethnic conflict and has a troubled economy dependent on agriculture and mineral resources.
Kyrgyzstan is land-locked and mountainous with all its rivers flowing into a closed drainage system. The Tian Shan mountain range covers over 80% of the country.
The remainder is made up of narrow valleys and basins, the most important being the Fergana Valley, cut by tributaries of the Syr Darya River which once flowed into the Aral Sea. Here the ancient town of Osh is located at the border of Uzbekistan.
The highest peaks are in the Kakshaal-Too range, forming the Chinese border. The Jengish Chokusu mountain, at 7,439m, is the highest point. The country contains significant deposits of metals including gold in its mountainous regions.
The country overlies a small part of the inter-montane Fergana Basin in the Fergana Valley on the border with Uzbekistan. Oil production began from here in 1947 followed by marketed gas production in 1958.
However, output has never reached significant volumes and there are few areas remaining to explore. Globalshift believes that some minor new oil and gas production from old fields such as Chigirgek is possible as foreign investment helps the country to improve its infrastructure but unrest since 2010 has curtailed most activity.
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Kyrgyzstan is a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The President is head of state elected for one 6-year term. The Prime Minister, chosen by parliament, is head of government and a cabinet. Parliament has been unicameral since 2005. It is called the Supreme Council (Jogorku Keņesh) and consists of an elected 90-seat Legislative Assembly (Myizam Chygaruu Jyiyny).
The oil and gas industry is overseen by the Ministry of Energy and Industry. Chinese companies and Gazprom are the main investors.
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