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Kyrgyzstan Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

Kyrgyzstan has the most turbulent post-Soviet history among Central Asian states. Two authoritarian leaders – Presidents Askar Akayev in 2005 and Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010 – were overthrown in violent coups. Kyrgyzstan has subsequently stabilised, as reflected by several peaceful electoral cycles and the absence of major political upheavals since 2010. Kyrgyzstan’s domestic politics remain highly volatile, with 30 prime ministers having held power since its independence in 1991. The North-South regional split and clan affiliations remain important drivers of factional rivalries which have beset successive governments. Endemic corruption contributes to the overall weakness of state institutions. Kyrgyzstan is firmly anchored in Russia’s sphere of influence in Central Asia, evidenced by its membership in both the Collective Security Treaty Organization and Eurasian Economic Union and a Russian military presence (Kant airbase). However, China has been expanding its economic presence in Kyrgyzstan and currently owns 40% of its debt. Chinese influence is likely to grow with the construction of the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan-China railroad, which has been agreed in principle. The Kyrgyz economic outlook relies heavily on the Russian economy and production levels, and export prices of gold. Projected weak Russian economic growth undermines employment opportunities for migrant Kyrgyz workers and will curtail remittance inflows, which account for more than one-third of total GDP. Production levels at the Kumtor gold mine – which are recovering – are also critically important to GDP growth, as is the global price of gold exports. The impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus on the Chinese economy will have a deep, negative spillover effect on Kyrgyzstan, as that country had become an increasingly important trade and investment partner.

Operational Outlook

Political and ethnic tensions that have remained unsettled since 2010's popular uprising foster a challenging environment in which concerns over property damage and personnel safety are frequent. Other operational impediments include poor infrastructure, including an unreliable power supply, and widespread bureaucracy. Most notably, there is a poor road connection between the north and south. Although political instability has been subsiding in recent years, given the pervasive poverty of the population, any investment, especially in the mining sector, is vulnerable to extortive demands by both the local population and the authorities.


As of June 2017, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had under surveillance 2,000 members of extremist organisations; the majority being affiliated to Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Kyrgyz authorities estimate that close to 400 Kyrgyz nationals are fighting on the side of jihadist forces in Syria and Iraq. The majority of terrorist recruitment takes place in the southern regions, including Osh, and about 80% of volunteers that leave Kyrgyzstan are ethnically Uzbek. The presence of Islamist underground in Kyrgyzstan has not manifested in terrorist attacks against the government yet, which reflects their weak capabilities and lack of popular support.


The weak central government and corrupt law enforcement create conditions for organised crime to flourish. Kyrgyzstan is located at the crossroads of regional narcotics trafficking routes originating in Afghanistan. Apart from profits from the narcotics trade, organised crime routinely targets local businessmen for extortion. On the provincial level organised criminal syndicates often penetrate local governments and police. In Bishkek and other major cities foreigners often become victims of petty crime, including opportunistic property theft and muggings. In southern regions the situation is typically worse, including ethnically motivated attacks against Uzbeks and Chinese by groups of nationalists.

War Risks

The normalisation of bilateral relations with Uzbekistan has reduced the likelihood of cross-border shootouts, which used to occur along the border in southern Kyrgyzstan. The situation along the border with Tajikistan remains volatile with occasional outbreaks of communal violence in disputed areas. However, it is unlikely to escalate to an inter-state war. After excessive use of force by the government during the popular revolt that led to the ousting of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010, riot police have been reluctant to employ harsh crowd control methods against unauthorised protests. Despite the pronounced north/south regional divide, the likelihood of civil war is currently low.

Social Stability

Kyrgyzstan has seen two violent overthrows of governments in 2005 and 2010 and an episode of inter-ethnic bloodshed in 2010. Since then, however, the country has managed several peaceful electoral cycles, including parliamentary and presidential elections in October 2015 and October 2017 respectively, without a major outbreak of violence, reflecting gradual improvement in social stability. Nonetheless, the central government remains weak and its authority in southern regions is tenuous. Former president Almazbek Atambayev’s arrest in August 2019 did not result in sustained violent unrest, reflecting the general public's likely fatigue with frequent protest activity.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year of age arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and for travelers who have been in transit for >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Measles: Check with your doctor to make sure all your measles booster shots are up-to-date.

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Kyrgyzstan is situated in an active seismic zone. A strong earthquake of 5.8 magnitude occurred in southern Kyrgyzstan in May 2017. While there were no human fatalities, the tremors resulted in severe damage to infrastructure, including educational and health facilities and houses in the district of Chong Alay of Osh province as well as the district of Kadamjai in Batken province. The last deadly earthquake occurred in 2008; with a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale, it left 60 dead in the Alay Mountains region (in southern Kyrgyzstan).

Some 95 percent of Kyrgyzstan's territory is mountainous and torrential rains often prompt landslides and mudslides. Around 20 people were killed in a rain-induced landslide near Osh in April 2017.

Practical Information


Kyrgyzstan has a continental climate which varies significantly between mountainous zones and arid valleys.

Snow is a constant on summits while temperatures are high in the country's desserts, fluctuating between 30°C and 40°C in the summer. The climate becomes cooler as elevations increase. In the winter, temperatures remain below freezing, particularly in January due to the Siberian winds that blow across the country.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +996
Police: 110
Fire Dept.: 101
Ambulance: 103


Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal