A high-altitude
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www.kyrgyzbusiness.com

A Unique ‘Stan’

The Kyrgyz Republic (also known as Kyrgyzstan) is a landlocked high altitude country sandwiched between Kazakhstan in the north and China in the south and bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the west. It is approximately 5 times the size of Switzerland and has a population of ~ 6 million people. Kyrgyz and Russian languages are both official — a legacy of the USSR which built this country’s industry and created a large class of educated people.

It is one of the most high altitude countries in the region (our office windows face the peaks slightly below 5,000 metres above sea level).

Many of those who never visited Kyrgyzstan consider it an unimportant post-Soviet State with a small economy and legislation hardly comfortable for any business project requiring high quality banking and legal infrastructure. However, the reality is drastically different from this.

During the past years Kyrgyzstan has become a comfortable regional and international investment hub whose predictability and stability are times higher than in the neighbouring States, whose laws are the most liberal among the post-Soviet nations and whose service infrastructure is durable and inexpensive.

Kyrgyz Republic is a real parliamentary democracy with a very balanced Constitution built on the anti-authoritarian traditions of the Kyrgyz people. The local tribal and nomadic traditions support the communal, consensus-based decision-making and make any dictatorial tendencies unacceptable to the society. In the past the leaders who attempted to usurp absolute power were more or less quickly ousted by popular dissent.

Now Kyrgyzstan enjoys political stability, truly democratic elections (there are 6 political parties in the Parliament and neither has a majority; the 15th October 2017 presidential elections were a contest between 13 candidates, and the result was impossible to predict till the official count was completed).

US Embassy statement on 2017 Kyrgyz Presidential Elections
https://kg.usembassy.gov/us-embassy-statement-2017-kyrgyz-presidential-elections/
(«The peaceful conduct and high voter turnout clearly reaffirmed the Kyrgyz people’s commitment to pursuing the democratic path. We commend the Kyrgyz Republic for its commitment to ensuring a democratic transition, the electoral officials who laid the foundation for the orderly poll, and the important oversight role played by civil society. The Kyrgyz government and people can be proud of the successful conduct of these elections.»)

Something Unusial in Central Asia: An Unpredictable Election (Bloomberg)
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-13/central-asia-s-strange-new-event-is-an-unpredictable-election

Kyrgyzstan bucks the Central Asian trend for rigged elections (The Guardian)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/12/kyrgyzstan-set-for-freest-and-fairest-election-in-central-asian-history

Kyrgyz Republic is a member of the WTO and at the same time party to the Customs Union with Kazakhstan, Russia, Armenia and Belarus. The government, although reliant on international support in the form of loans (major lenders are China, the World Bank and Russia), tries to maintain a balanced and neutral foreign policy.

Kyrgyz Som, the local currency, is relatively stable and is supported by foreign exchange reserves of the National Bank which have been growing for many consecutive years. The country enjoys a healthy inflow of hard currency from the sales of the produce of its active mining industry and from the inbound transfers of migrant workers.

The general population of the country has on average a relatively low income, but powerful family traditions and an abundance of small business opportunities ensure that the less advantaged citizens can either rely on family support or find an irregular opportunity to make money now and then; thus extreme poverty is at very low levels.

Most Kyrgyz are moderate Muslims (more focused on tradition rather than religious dogma), and the government strongly maintains the separation of religious matters from the State. Besides Muslims, Kyrgyzstan hosts a large Christian Orthodox community and a multitude of other faiths. Religious extremism is criminalized by law and occurs very rarely.

Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, home to over a million people, is a thriving cosmopolitan centre, with much modern residential and office construction going on and new restaurants and high quality shops opening every week.

Kyrgyzstan’s industrial economy is mainly represented by medium and small scale production; agriculture and trade being the dominating industries. The country’s businesses enjoy well-developed trade ties with China; a large volume of Chinese goods is imported into the country every year — both for local consumption and for resale (following additional processing or «as is») into the other countries of the Customs Union.

Mining occupies a notable place in the industrial sector of the economy. Kyrgyzstan is the host to several large global mining companies, but by numbers small and medium-size exploration and production ventures dominate, mining a wide spectrum of minerals — from precious metals to construction materials.

The country has a strong tourism industry which is mainly focused on the Lake Issyk-Kul (a large resort area) and natural and historical places of interest along the ancient Silk Road. In the winter dozens of high altitude ski resorts attract tourists from all over the region.

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