Kyrgyzstan Religion and Languages

By | March 5, 2021

Population

In 2019, Kyrgyzstan had a population density of 32 residents per km2. About 34 percent of the population lives in cities, of which the capital Bishkek (1 million residents, 2019) is the largest. Kyrgyzstan had a rapid population increase during the 20th century, and annual population growth is still relatively high.

Since Kyrgyzstan became independent, the ethnic composition has changed. The majority consists of Kyrgyz (69 percent), followed by the UzB Cup (14 percent). In addition, there are smaller minorities of Dungans, Kazakhs, Koreans, meshkets, Tajiks and Uighurs. Other previously significant minorities have fallen sharply in number due to emigration in recent decades.

The proportion of Russians since independence has more than halved (21 percent in 1989 versus 9 percent in 2007), as well as the proportion of Ukrainians (from 2.5 to 0.5 percent) and Tatars (from 2 to 0.7 percent). The German-caste minority, which still reached 110,000 in the early 1990s, was estimated by the German authorities to be only 12,000 in 2007; most have emigrated to Germany. For further information on Kyrgyzstan’s ethnography, see Kyrgyz.

Language

According to Countryaah, Kyrgyzstan and Russian have official status in Kyrgyzstan. About 65% of the population has Kyrgyz as their mother tongue. Other major languages are Uzbek, Ukrainian, Tatar and German.

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Religion

Kyrgyzstan is a secular state, with a constitution that guarantees religious freedom. Islam has played a historical and identity-creating role for the majority population. During the Soviet era, religion was strongly repressed. With independence, Islam has been given a more prominent role in society. In 2007, there were over 1,600 mosques. At the same time, there is widespread religious spread, but Islam is considered to have a stronger role in the southern parts of the country, especially around the city of Osh. The majority are Sunnis. According to the authorities, several radical Islamic groups in the south appear to be behind terrorist acts. Christians are estimated at 20%. The majority are Russian Orthodox, but there are also Seventh-day Adventists, Catholics, Old Faithful, Baptists, and Presbyterians. In addition, there are smaller groups of Jews and Buddhists.oroz ait (Id al-fitr) and the sacrificial feast kurban ait (Id al-adha) as official holidays. Foreign missionaries, including Swedish, operate in the country.

Kyrgyzstan Population by Religion

HUMAN AND ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY

Central Asian state. At the 1999 census the population was 4,822,938 residents (increased to 5,264,000 according to a 2005 estimate). The slight but constant demographic increase represents a direct consequence of the lowering of mortality in the presence of a still relatively high birth rate. The slow growth of per capita income and its unequal distribution between different social classes and different territorial sectors (over 40 % of the population lives below the poverty line) fuel significant migratory flows towards Kazakhstan and Russia (in 2005 it is estimated that 2.4 emigrated‰ of the population).

Despite contrasting trends, the country’s economy presents favorable growth prospects, but development is partly held back by government action that is not always timely, especially as regards the restructuring of the industrial sector, the privatization of land and the opening up of the economy to investments from abroad. Another element of economic vulnerability is represented by the geographical position: well closed between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China, Kyrgyzstan has to submit to the high tolls that neighboring countries apply to goods in transit, with consequent negative effects on Kyrgyz exports. The growth rates are, however, quite high: in the years 2003-2005 they always exceeded 5 %.

The economy is well supported by the substantial mineral resources, by the gold production of the Kumtor mine, to which other points of extraction will soon be added, by the oil of Fergana and again by coal and mercury. The production of hydroelectric energy is significant.

Agriculture, despite having a predominantly subsistence character and a marked structural backwardness, maintains a very high economic weight, occupying almost half of the active population and contributing to a large extent to satisfying internal consumption. The role played by zootechnics (sheep) is always conspicuous. The industry is concentrated in a few districts and suffers a certain technological delay. Metalworking and chemistry, mainly intended to feed local markets, represent the leading sectors.

The services sector is particularly dynamic, the employment level of which has shown high growth rates and which is supported by vigorous internal demand.

The inflow of foreign capital is very limited, since the country is still classified as high risk, but also because of the low level of openness to international markets. The presence of the shadow economy is still widespread, which, in addition to completely escaping the control of local authorities, draws substantial profits from the international drug trade. The country’s trade balance is negative.