Ethnic Groups of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz play local instruments in Kyrgyzstan. Editorial credit: MehmetO /
Kyrgyz play local instruments in Kyrgyzstan. Editorial credit: MehmetO /

Officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic, Kyrgyzstan is a country located in Central Asia. The country, which is also called Kirghizia, is bordered by China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. With an area of about 77,202 square miles, the country’s capital city, which is also the largest city, is Bishkek. As of 2016, the country had an estimated population of six million people, which was an increase from the 5.4 million population of 2009. This population is spread out over a number of ethnic groups both native and foreign to Asia.

Ethnic Groups of Kyrgyzstan

The country has a number of ethnic groups with the most prominent group being Kyrgyz with a share of about 73.3% of the national population. Uzbeks are second with a share of 14.6% while Russians come in the third place with a share of 5.6% of the population. Dungans are in the fourth place and are the only other group to have a share of more than 1%.

The Kyrgyz people (also known as the Kirghiz or the Kyrghyz) trace their roots to Turkic ethnic groups, which are from Central Asia. Originally known as the Yenisei Kyrgyz, the Kyrgyz people originated from present-day Mongolia with their history dating all the way back to 201 BC. Today, their dominance in Kyrgyzstan is also seen in the national demonym of the country, which is Kyrgyzstani or Kyrgyz. Kyrgyz are mostly Muslims belonging to the Sunni sect of the Hanafi School. The religion was introduced in the region back in the 7th and 8th centuries by Muslim traders. Census data from all the way in 1926 shows that their population has been increasing steadily from 661,171 (66.6%) in 1926 to the current population of 4.6 million. Other countries where Kyrgyz have representation include Uzbekistan, China, and Russia.

The Uzbeks are also a Turkic ethnic group also from Central Asia. The modern population of these people traces their origins to a diverse mixture of people who invaded Central Asia in the past. Studies from the University of Oxford show that Uzbeks are a mixture of Iranians and Mongols. Some sources state that these people had 92 tribes such as Baghlan or Baghan, Ghariband Jit, and Qanghli. Their main language is the Uzbek language, which belongs to the Karluk group and written in scripts like Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic. Just like the Kyrgyz people above, these people are predominantly Muslim of the Sunni sect mostly of the Hanafi School. In Kyrgyzstan, Uzbeks exist as a minority group although they are the dominant people in Uzbekistan. They also have significant populations in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

Other Ethnic Groups

Minor ethnic groups in the country include people from Asia such as Kazakhs and Dungans as well as foreign groups including such as Russians and Germans. Germans are part of the Germanic group that can trace its roots to Central Europe. Russians are part of the East Slavic ethnic group that has its roots in Eastern Europe.

Ethnic Groups of Kyrgyzstan

RankEthnic GroupPopulation (%)

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