LAND AND GEOGRAPHY OF KYRGYZSTAN
Located in eastern Central Asia in the heart of the Tien Shan mountains and bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, China to the east, Tajikistan to the south, and Uzbekistan the west, Kyrgyzstan covers 199,951 square kilometers (77, 201 square miles), which is roughly the same size as Nebraska or England and Scotland combined. The second-smallest of the five Central Asian states, it occupied 0.9 percent of the Soviet Union.
The formal name of Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyz Republic. It has also sometimes called Kirghizia. Stretching 900 kilometers (560 miles) from east to west and 410 kilometers from north to south, it is landlocked and strategically located between Central Asia and China and is separated from Afghanistan by Tajikistan. Major land features include Lake Issyk-Kul, one of the world’s largest mountain lakes, and the Fergana Valley, which Kyrgyzstan shares with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Kyrgyzstan is 93 percent mountainous and mostly lies on land situated at elevations between 1,000 meters and 7,400 meters. More than 40 percent of the country is above 3,000 meters and three quarters of that is under permanent snow or glaciers, with 600 glaciers, covering 6,578 square kilometers. Mountains in the central part of the country effectively isolate the northern and southern populations of Kyrgyzstan, especially in the winter, when snow closes many of the roads. The famous steppes and deserts of Central Asia are mostly in other Central Asian countries.
About 6.3 percent of the country is good for agriculture (compared to 21 percent in the United States). Most of this land is in the mountain valleys, the Fergana Valley, plains around Bishkek and Lake Issyk-Kul and irrigated areas near the major rivers and lakes. About 4.25 percent of the country is covered by forest, 4.4 percent by lakes and water reservoirs and 4 percent by glacier. Forests are found mostly in the mountains. Most people live around Bishkek and Lake Issyk-Kul and in valleys with arable land, industrial areas and places with mineral deposits.
As one move from west to east the landscape gets progressively greener. This is result of the rain blocking effect of mountains in the west and the moist winds and rain catching effect of the Tien Shan mountains in the east. Along the Kyrgyzstan and China border mountains are broken up by gaps and passes used by Silk Road traders in centuries past and modern roads today.
Geographical Data for Kyrgyzstan
Total area of Kyrgyzstan: 199,951 square kilometers: land: 191,801 square kilometers; water: 8,150 square kilometers; country comparison to the world: 87. Area - comparative: slightly smaller than South Dakota. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
Land boundaries: total: 4,573 kilometers: borders four countries: China: 1,063 kilometers; Kazakhstan: 1,212 kilometers; Tajikistan: 984 kilometers; Uzbekistan: 1,314 kilometers. Coastline: 0 kilometers (landlocked); Maritime claims: none (landlocked). =
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Kara-Daryya (Karadar'ya) 132 meters; highest point: Jengish Chokusu (Pik Pobedy) 7,439 meters. Kyrgyzstan is landlocked; entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range; 94 percent of the country is 1,000 meters above sea level with an average elevation of 2,750 meters. There are many tall peaks, glaciers, and high-altitude lakes.
In 2005 some 6.5 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s land surface was classified as arable, and 0.3 percent was planted to permanent crops. The remainder is mountains, glaciers, and high- altitude steppe that is used for grazing. More than 85 percent of arable land is irrigated. Land use: agricultural land: 55.4 percent: arable land 6.7 percent; permanent crops 0.4 percent; permanent pasture 48.3 percent; forest: 5.1 percentl other: 39.5 percent (2011 est.). Irrigated land: 10,210 square kilometers (2005). Total renewable water resources: 23.62 cubic kilometers (2011). Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 8.01 cubic kilometers a year (3 percent/4 percent/93 percent); per capita: 1,558 cubic kilometers a year (2006) [Source: Library of Congress, January 2007 **]
Disputed Territory: Kyrgyzstan has unresolved border disputes with Tajikistan (in the Isfara Valley to the southwest) and with Uzbekistan (on the status of Uzbek enclaves in Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere along the common border). One consequence of the Stalinist division of Central Asia into five republics is that many ethnic Kyrgyz do not live in Kyrgyzstan. Three enclaves, legally part of the territory of Kyrgyzstan but geographically removed by several kilometers, have been established, two in Uzbekistan and one in Tajikistan. [Source: ** Library of Congress, March 1996]
The territory of Kyrgyzstan is located within two mountain systems. Its northeastern part lies within Tien Shan and the southwestern part lies within the Pamir-Alay. The state borders of Kyrgyzstan mainly pass along the mountain chains. Most people live in the north, north-west and south-west, in the densely populated Chu, Talas and Fergana valleys – along the bottoms of mountains and piedmont plains. The mountains bring snowmelt water and life. There is a lot of seismic activity. Kyrgyzstan is a major study sight for the geology of Central Asia.
Central Asia embraces Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, five former Soviet republics. Sometimes western China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, south-central Russia and/or Mongolia are included depending on whether the countries are grouped together by language family, geography, horseman-nomadic traditions or sharing the “stan” suffix.” The core five Central Asian nation, plus western China (Xinjiang) are sometimes called Turkestan (Turkistan) because many of the people that live there speak Turkic languages. The term “Inner Asia” is also used. It includes Tibet and Manchuria, with a particular focus on people with horseman-nomadic traditions.
Central Asia has traditionally provided a bridge between Asia and Europe, which meet on the Eurasia steppe. The region is often regarded as exotic because its association with the Silk Road, the Great Game, and cultures and people that Westerners have traditionally known little about. The regions inaccessibility during the Soviet area only augmented this reputation.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan together occupy about 7.5 million square kilometers, an area around half the size of the continental United States or two thirds the size of the European Union. Central Asia is defined geographically by the Caspian Sea to the west, the northern part of the Kazakhstan steppe to the north, the Altay Mountains and Taklamakan Desert of China to the east and the Pamirs and southern Turkmenistan deserts in the south. The dying Aral Sea lies between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Central Asia is mostly arid and landlocked, with steppes in the north and harsh deserts in the south. Majestic mountains — in particular the Tien Sien and the Pamirs — dominate the east and southeast. There are high plateaus around the mountains. The rivers that thread through the region are fed by melting snow and glaciers and carve deep valleys and ravines. Many important agricultural areas are irrigated, sometimes using ancient qanat systems of underground canals; other times canals built during the Soviet era. Important crops include cotton, wheat, melons, rice and vegetables. Around the mountains and in the steppes people herd sheep, goats and horses. Scattered around the region are large deposits of oil, natural gas, gold, aluminum and other valuable minerals. The largest oil and natural gas deposits are in and around the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
Topography of Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is dominated by the Tien Shan, Pamir, and Alay mountain ranges. The average elevation 2,750 meters. Mountains are separated by deep valleys and glaciers. Flat expanses are only in the northern and eastern valleys. Many lakes and fast-flowing rivers drain from mountains. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
The topography is dominated by sharp mountain peaks and valleys, and considerable areas are covered by glaciers. The elevation of about 94 percent of the terrain is 1,000 meters or more above sea level, and 30 percent of the terrain is higher than 3,000 meters above sea level. The only relatively flat regions are the Kyrgyzstani part of the Fergana Valley, in southwestern Kyrgyzstan, and in the Chu and Talas valleys along the northern border. [Source: Library of Congress, January 2007 **]
The Tien Shan, a northern extension of the Pamirs and Himalayas, occupies much of the eastern half of the country. The Tien Shan contains the most northerly mountain above 7,000 meters. There are huge glaciers and these glaciers extend to a lower elevation than in mountains further south. Branches of the Tien Shan extend into western Kyrgyzstan and the Pamir-Alay range run along the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border.
Mountains of Kyrgyzstan
The Tien Shan and Pamir mountain systems together occupy about 65 percent of the national territory of Kyrgyzstan. The Alay range portion of the Tien Shan system dominates the southwestern crescent of the country, and, to the east, the main Tien Shan range runs along the boundary between southern Kyrgyzstan and China before extending farther east into China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Kyrgyzstan's average elevation is 2,750 meters, ranging from 7,439 meters at Pik Pobedy (Mount Victory) to 394 meters in the Fergana Valley near Osh. Almost 90 percent of the country lies more than 1,500 meters above sea level. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
The mountains of Kyrgyzstan are geologically young, so that the physical terrain is marked by sharply uplifted peaks separated by deep valleys. There is also considerable glaciation. Kyrgyzstan's 6,500 distinct glaciers are estimated to hold about 650 billion cubic meters of water. Only around the Chu, Talas, and Fergana valleys is there relatively flat land suitable for large-scale agriculture. *
Pik Podedy, Khan Tengri and Pik Lenina, three of five highest mountains in the former Soviet Union are located in Kyrgyzstan. The highest mountains of Tien Shan are found where China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan meet. Major Tien Shan branches include 1) Kungey Alatua and Zailiyski Alatau between Almaty and Lake Issyk-Kul; 2) the Tersky Alatau and Saryjaz Alatau between Lake Issyk-Kul and China; and 3) Central Tien Shan south of Lake Issyk-Kul. These mighty and beautiful mountains feature glacier-covered peaks, lovely Alpine lakes, clear swift, streams, and forested valleys.
Other major mountain ranges include: 1) Kyrgyz Alatau in northwestern Kyrgyzstan; 2) the Fergana Range, which divides Kyrgyzstan proper from the Fergana Valley; and 3) the Pamir Alay Range between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Some Kyrgyz live in the high Pamirs in Tajikstan and Afghanistan to the south of Kyrgyzstan. The most noteworthy lowland areas are the Chuy and Talas valleys along the Kazakhstan border and the Fergana Valley, where Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan and Uzbekistan all come together.
Tien Shan Mountains
The Tien Shan is a formidable mountain range in Central Asia and one of the great mountain ranges of the world. Extending for 3000 kilometers in a northeast-southwest direction along the border between China and Central Asia from the Altai area — where where Mongolia, Russia and China all come together — to the Pamir Range in the Tajikstan and southwest China. The highest point is 24,406-foot-high Pobeda Peak in Kyrgyzstan.
The Tien Shan are lovely mountains with some of Central Asia and China's most beautiful scenery: towering cliffs, massive glaciers, snow-capped peaks, mountain streams, sweet-smelling spruce forests, boulder-strewn gullies and deep gorges. The name "Tien Shan" means "celestial mountains" in Chinese.
The Tien Shan stretch for 1,600-kilometer from southwest Kyrgyzstan to northwest China and form the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and western China. The Tien Shan are not as high as the Himalayas but they are almost as high. The peaks are between 4,000 and 7,000 meters high and are covered by snow and ice. Some mountains resemble peaks in the Alps. The Tien Shan contains the most northerly mountain above 7,000 meters, which means that there are huge glaciers and these glaciers extend to a lower elevation than on mountains further south.
Between the mountains are canyons and valleys filed with dense evergreen forests, meadows covered by are wild flowers and colorful birds, and lush summer pastures known in Kyrgyz as jailao, where nomadic horsemen tend flocks of sheep, live in yurts, hunt with eagles, and drink fermented mare's milk.
The Tien Shan are part of the great mountain group that includes the Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Kulun mountains. All of these young mountains have been produced by the collision of the Indian subcontinent into the Asian land massm which began about 50 million years ago. The Tien Shan are rising at a rate of about 10 millimeters a year. By some reckonings the Tien Shan is a spur of the Pamirs. Both the Tien Shan and Pamirs are connected with the Karokorum, Himalayas and Hindu Kush mountains.
The Tien Shan were first described by the 7th century Chinese explorer Xuan Zang who spent seven days crossing a snowbound pass, where half of the 14 people in his party froze to death. The first European to extensively explore the central Tien Shan was the Russian explorer Pyotr Semyonov who traveled extensively in the region in 1856.
Ibex, Marco Polo sheep and snow leopard roam in the mountains. Other wild life found in the Tien Shan and the Lake Issyk-Kul area include wild boar, marmots, ibis, manul, Himalayan, snowcock, wild geese, pheasants, partridges and wild turkeys. Some guest houses serve ibex meat.
Pamirs is a 800-kilometer-long range made up of very high rounded mountains between 5,000 and 7,000 meters high that stretch across eastern Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan into western China. Known as “The Roof of the World,” "The Foot of the Gods," and "Midpoint between Heaven and Earth," they occupy one of the least explored and most sparsely populated regions of the world. The Pamirs offer some of the most spectacular Alpine scenery in the world but is difficult to get to.
Pamir means "pasture." In some ways the Pamirs are better described as a high plateau with mountains than a mountain range. There are many flat, broad, treeless valleys that are as high as the low mountains and filled with grass. Winding through the valleys are meandering, sometimes swampy rivers, and occasionally an Alpine lake. Between the peaks are large glaciers, including 72-kilometer-long Fedchenko glacier, the longest glacier in the former Soviet Union.
The Pamirs embrace three of the four highest mountains in the former Soviet Union: 7495-meter-high Pik Kommunizma, the highest mountain in the former Soviet Union and Central Asia; 7134-meter-high Pik Lenina, the third highest mountain in the former Soviet Union; and 7105-meter-high Pik Korzhenevskaya, the forth highest. Other landmarks mountains include Revolution Peak and Academy of Sciences Range.
The mountains around Pik Kommunizma are called the Pamir Knot. Geologists regard it as a hub, from which the Himalayas, Karokorum, Hindu Kush, Tien Shan and Kulun mountains branch out. All of these young mountains have been produced by the collision of the Indian subcontinent into the Asian land mass during the past 50 million years.
There are several high pass through the Pamirs, one of which was use dby Marco Polo in 1271. Wildlife in the Pamirs incline Marco Polo sheep and snow leopards. Some yeti stories originated from here. Herders keep sheep, goats and yaks. The winters are long and harsh and the summers are cool. The Mountain-Badakhshan District in the heart of the Pamirs recives only 12.7 centimeters of precipitation a year. The amounts of precipitation decreases as one climbs in elevation not increases as is the case with most mountain ranges in the world.
Pamir Allay is a 500-kilometer-long mountain range that runs across the southern Kyrgyzstan border and extends all the way from Samarkand in Uzbekistan to Xinjiang in western China. The 60-kilometer-long Allay Valley is regard as the center of hiking in the Pamirs in Kyrgyzstan. It is the access point for: Pik Kommunizma, Lenin Peak and Pik Korzhenevskaya. 1) Pik Kommunizma (in Tajikistan south of the Kyrgyzstan border) is the highest mountain in the Pamirs and the former Soviet Union. At 7,495 meters (24,590 feet) high, it is regarded as relatively easy for experienced mountaineers to climb. Lenin Peak (border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) is 7,134 meters (23,405 feet) high and is regarded as relatively easy for experienced mountaineers to climb. 3) Pik Korzhenevskaya (in Tajikistan south of the Kyrgyzstan border) is 7,105 meters (23,310 feet) high and is also considered relatively easy for experienced mountaineers to climb.
Lenin Peak (border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) is 7,134 meters (23,405 feet) high. It is the forth highest mountain in the former Soviet Union and is relatively easy for experienced mountaineers to climb. The snow-covered ridges and slopes are not technically demanding. There are serious dangers from weather and avalanches though. The world's worst mountaineering accident claimed 43 climbers in July 1990, when a small earthquake triggered an avalanche that the buried the climber's camp on Lenin peak. In 1974, eight of the Soviet Union’s best women climbers died while ascending the peak.
The main road to the regions is the A372, which runs between Osh, start Tash, near the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border, and the Gorno-Badakhshan region on Tajikistan Unrest has closed down much of the area. Even in the best of times it is a restricted area and requires special permits to visit that are best arranged through travel agencies.
Rivers and Lakes in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan has no navigable rivers. The Chu River arises in the mountains of northern Kyrgyzstan and flows northwest into Kazakhstan. The Naryn River arises in the Tien Shan Mountains of eastern Kyrgyzstan and crosses central Kyrgyzstan before meeting the Kara Darya to form the Syr Darya in the Uzbek part of the Fergana Valley.
Because the high peaks function as moisture catchers, Kyrgyzstan is relatively well watered by the streams that descend from them. The majority are small, rapid, runoff streams. Most of Kyrgyzstan's rivers are tributaries of the Syrdariya, which has its headwaters in the western Tien Shan along the Chinese border. Another large runoff system forms the Chu River, which arises in northern Kyrgyzstan, then flows northwest and disappears into the deserts of southern Kazakstan. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
The Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, the two largest and most important rivers in Central Asia originate in Kyrgyzstan, feed by glaciers, snow melt and steams in the Tien Shan and Pamirs mountains. The Syr Darya flows through Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan and then into the Aral Sea. The Amu Darya flows through Tajikistan and then runs along the border of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan then winds into Uzbekistan and empties into the Aral Sea.
Other important rivers include the 1) Naryn River, which run the length of the country to the Syr Darya in the Fergana Valley; 2) the Ak Shyrak, Inylchek and Saryjaz rivers in the mountainous southwest, which flow into China’s Tarim basin; and 3) the Kyzyl-Suu river in the far south, which flows in the Amu-Darya.
The rivers in Central Asia are often brown and muddy even many hundreds of miles from their sources. This is because the water contains suspended “yellowish-grey marl, or loess” that is very fine and stays suspended in the water for a long time. One geologist wrote these minerals are “formed by the disintegration of porphyry rock carried by the wind off the surrounding mountains in the form of very fine dust” and “it gradually settled and built by the Central Asian plateau.”
Lake Issyk-Kul is Kyrgyzstan’s and one of the largest lakes in the world. Located between Tien Shan mountain ranges, it covers 1,738 cubic kilometers and is one of the world’s deepest lakes. Song Kul is another important lake. Many herding nomads spend the summer there. There about 300 other lakes.
Issyk-Kul is the second largest body of water in Central Asia, after the Aral Sea, but the saline lake has been shrinking steadily, and its mineral content has been rising gradually. Kyrgyzstan has a total of about 2,000 lakes with a total surface area of 7,000 square kilometers, mostly located at altitudes of 3,000 to 4,000 meters. Only the largest three, however, occupy more than 500 square kilometers. The second- and third-largest lakes, Songköl and Chatyr-Köl (the latter of which also is saline), are located in the Naryn Basin. *
Lake Issyk-Kul (160 kilometers miles west of Bishkek) is Kyrgyzstan’s largest lake, one of the largest lakes in the world and the forth deepest lake in the world (almost 700 meters deep at its deepest point). Located at an elevation of 1,609 meters, it is essentially a large valley filled with water. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains on all four sides, it is a lovely sight and is regarded as a national treasure. One 19th century explorer called it “a blue emerald set in a frame of silvery mountains.”
By some reckonings, Lake Issyk-Kul is the second highest large lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. It measures about 180 kilometers (110 miles) from east to west and about 70 kilometers (45 miles) north to south at its widest point and has a 570-kilometer-long (350-mile-long) shoreline. Shallow on the north side and deep on the south side, it lies at the converging point of two tectonic plates and is expected to be twice as deep as its present depth in a few centuries.
Issyk-Kul means “warm water.” Because the lake is so deep, the salinity is relatively low and it is fed by thermal springs, it never freezes. The warm water creates a microclimate in the area of the lake with relatively high rainfall and relatively warm temperatures. For this reason people have settled around it for centuries. Remains of Scythian settlements have been found. Silk Road caravans stopped here for a breather. Tamerlane reportedly vacationed here. The remains of mysterious ancient cities have been found in the lake’s depths.
Issyk-Kul has great spiritual meaning to the Kyrgyz people. There are many legends about it; tribes pray to its spirits and it is said that divers have found remains of ancient cities in its depths. According to legend, the 40 maidens who gave Kyrgyzstan its name and migrated to Kyrgyzstan from Siberia in ancient times, settled along Lake Issyk-Kul and founded the 40 traditional Kyrgyz clans.
In the Soviet era, Lake Issyk-Kul was used to test naval weapons such as torpedoes. The idea was that the lake had some conditions comparable to that of the sea and the United States could not monitor what the Soviets were doing. Most of the facilities were located around Koy-Sary on the eastern end of the lake. Opium was also grown in this area and cannabis grows wild there as it does all around the lake. Russia has expressed interest in reopening a torpedo test range in the lake.
The lake was also a major tourist area in the Soviet era. People came from all over the U.S.S.R. and eastern Europe to relax and enjoy the scenery. Communist party members stayed in fancy resorts, health spas or had luxurious villas built. Khrushchev had a favorite villa here . In the post Soviet era this tradition has continued. The president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev has a villa here.
Climate of Kyrgyzstan
The climate of Kyrgyzstan varies a great deal depending on location, ranging from dry continental to polar in high the Tien Shan Mountains to subtropical in the southwest (Fergana Valley) to temperate in northern foothill zone. There are sharp local variations between mountain valleys and flatlands. Precipitation also varies greatly from western mountains (high) to north-central region (low).
The country's climate is influenced chiefly by the mountains, Kyrgyzstan's position near the middle of the Eurasian landmass, and the absence of any body of water large enough to influence weather patterns. Those factors create a distinctly continental climate that has significant local variations that include winter temperatures averaging –30̊ C in the mountain valleys and summer temperatures averaging 27̊ C in the Fergana Valley. The western mountains receive as much as 2,000 millimeters of precipitation per year, but the west bank of the Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan’s largest lake, receives only 100 millimeters per year.
Although the mountains tend to collect clouds and block sunlight (reducing some narrow valleys at certain times of year to no more than three or four hours of sunlight per day), the country is generally sunny, receiving as much as 2,900 hours of sunlight per year in some areas. The same conditions also affect temperatures, which can vary significantly from place to place. In January the warmest average temperature (-4̊C) occurs around the southern city of Osh, and around Ysyk-Köl, which does not freeze in winter. Indeed, its name means "hot lake" in Kyrgyz. The coldest temperatures are in mountain valleys. There, readings can fall to -30̊C or lower; the record is -53.6̊C. The average temperature for July similarly varies from 27̊C in the Fergana Valley, where the record high is 44̊C, to a low of -10̊C on the highest mountain peaks.
Weather in Kyrgyzstan
There are great extremes of hot and cold on a daily basis and yearly basis. It can be as cold as Siberia in the winter and quite hot in the summer. In the mountains daytime and nighttime differences of 50 degrees C (90 degrees F) have been recorded. The temperature extremes found in Central Asia have earned it the nickname, “the land of the fan and the fur.” Kyrgyzstan is also very windy. In the highlands winds of 50 mph are not uncommon. Fog is also common.
The winter are harsh in the mountains but tolerable in Bishkek and the Lake Issyk-Kul area. Siberian winds can send the temperature plummeting to -30 degrees C (-25 degrees F) in the high elevations. Snow covers much of country. In Bishkek, the high temperatures on winter days are below freezing about a forth of the time. Snows falls in Bishkek from mid November through March and tends to fall in squalls and flurries rather than storms although severe blizzards do occur from time to time. The snow on the ground tends to be icy and crusty. In the mountains snow can accumulate to great depths.
The summers are hot and characterized by great extremes during the night and day. Temperatures often rises above 32 degrees C (90 degrees F) or even 37 degrees C (100 degrees F) during the afternoon and then sometimes drop into the 40s at night. Spring and autumn are pleasant and the best time to visit. Spring can be rainy, muddy and windy. Temperatures and weather conditions are also greatly influenced by elevations. The mountains and highlands obviously are colder than the lowlands.
The weather in Kyrgyzstan is wetter than the other Central Asia countries but it is still pretty dry in much of the country. Precipitation varies from 2,000 millimeters per year in the mountains above the Fergana Valley to less than 100 millimeters per year on the west bank of Issyk-Kul. Bishkek enjoys 247 days of sunny weather a year. It gets only around 53 centimeters of rain a year (compared to more than 100 centimeters a year in the United States). Rainfall amounts are related to locations on the mountains. Wind blow primarily from west to east and areas along the windward sides of the mountains receive a fair amount of rain while areas along the leeward sides of the mountains receive little rain. Most rains fall in the spring and early summer. The rains in May and June are crucial for agriculture. Often times the rain is spotty. Huge thunder heads blow in, dropping heavy rains in one place and completely bypassing another.
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated April 2016