Where Is Kyrgyzstan?
Kyrgyzstan is a country located in the western region of Central Asia, where it covers a total area of 77,202 square miles. Of this area, approximately 3.6% is made up of various bodies of water. One of these bodies of water is Issyk Kul Lake, which is the second largest mountain lake in the world. The geographic terrain of Kyrgyzstan consists primarily of mountains, and 80% of the country's land is covered by the Tian Shan Mountain range. Additionally, Kyrgyzstan is completely surrounded by other independent nations and has no access to an open sea, which characterizes it as a landlocked country. In fact, it is identified as being located further away from an open ocean than any other country in the world. Even the waterways within Kyrgyzstan do not flow into the ocean, but rather feed into closed drainage basins. The country has a population size of more than 6 million, the majority of whom identify as being of Kyrgyz ethnicity. Bishkek is the national capital of Kyrgyzstan and also home to the largest population in this country.
The entire area of Kyrgyzstan is politically divided into 7 regions and 2 autonomous cities. The country has 3,400.76 miles of international borders, which are shared with the following countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, China, and Tajikistan.
The border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan runs for 816.48 miles, making it the longest international border in Kyrgyzstan. It is situated along the western and southwestern regions of the country. At its northernmost point, the border separates Ugam-Chatkal National Park in Uzbekistan from Kyrgyzstan. Further south, the border separates the park from the Besh-Aral State Reserve in Kyrgyzstan. After passing this reserve, the border between these two countries moves eastward until reaching the Andijan Reservoir. From here, it moves south and returns in a westward direction until creating the tripoint border between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
The government of Kyrgyzstan disputes the exact location of the border with Uzbekistan, claiming that it lost agricultural lands during the Soviet era. However, Uzbekistan does not recognize this claim and has built a barrier fence along the disputed area. The government claims this move was made in order to prevent armed militants in Kyrgyzstan from entering Uzbekistan. The communities located along the border are currently experiencing disputes over access to water due to the border barrier.
The border between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan has a length of 753.1 miles, making it the second longest international border in Kyrgyzstan. This dividing line makes up the entire northern border of Kyrgyzstan. Its westernmost point starts along the northern tip of Ugam-Chatkal National Park, which is located in Uzbekistan. From here, it moves in a northeastern direction until just south of the city Taraz in Kazakhstan. At this point, the border moves in a southeastern direction before turning north and eventually east again. The border ends at the tripoint between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and China.
Both Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan share a common history as former autonomous republics of the Soviet Union. These two countries became independent during the early 1990s and the borderline between them remained nearly identical to the border that was established during the Soviet era. The geography along this boundary is largely characterized by mountainous terrain, the largest ranges being the Tian Shan and Pamir Mountains.
The border between China and Kyrgyzstan runs for a total of 533 miles, making it the country's third longest border. It is situated along the eastern and southeastern regions of Kyrgyzstan. The northernmost point of the border between these two countries begins at the tripoint between Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China. The Khan Tengri mountain, a nearly 23,000-foot tall mountain peak within the Tian Shan Mountain range, marks this exact location. From here, the border line runs in a southern direction before turning westward. This border then primarily follows a southwestern directions until it reaches the tripoint boundary marker with Tajikistan.
In 1996, these two countries officially identified their shared border and have since experienced no significant border disputes. Kyrgyzstan and China share two official border points for vehicle traffic. One border point is located at Erkeshtam and the other at Torugart Pass, and both are accessible points from one side of the Tian Shan Mountains to the other. Historians believe these two locations have been used for transporting goods and materials since the days of the Silk Road.
The border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan measures 611.42 miles in length, making it the country's shortest international border. The border makes up nearly the entire southern edge of Kyrgyzstan. It begins at the tripoint border between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have territory, with a shared border between the two that protrudes into Kygyzstan in a peninsula-like shape. It is the southern edge of the peninsula-shaped area that marks the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with the northern side being between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. From this point, the boundary moves along a western direction before turning south. The border later loops back around toward the east, until it reaches the tripoint shared between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and China.
These two countries do not always experience an amicable relationship. In particular, the exact location of the border is often cited as a point of contention. In fact, reported measurements range from 602.7 miles in length to over 613 miles. Part of the reason for this border disagreement is that the territories of these two nations were separated and reassigned during the Soviet era. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, neither country was able to recuperate its original territorial area. The border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is often considered one of the most dangerous in the world due to activity by armed militant groups. These groups as well as others are accused of transporting illegal goods and drugs across the border, with most activity believed to be from Tajikistan into Kyrgyzstan. The biggest dispute reported today is near the area known as the Fergana Valley, which is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups.
About the Author
Amber is a freelance writer, English as a foreign language teacher, and Spanish-English translator. She lives with her husband and 3 cats.
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