Home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and mountainous landscapes, Kyrgyzstan boasts a rich history and incredible natural beauty. The former Soviet country is also one of the many places you can send money to with TransferGo.
But how much do you really know about Kyrgyzstan? Well, it’s time to find out. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan consists of mainly mountains
Not content with just one or two mountain ranges, Kyrgyzstan boasts 85. Yes, that’s right. 85! In fact, around 80% of Kyrgyzstan’s geographic territory is covered in mountains. Because of this, the country is often nicknamed the ‘Switzerland of Central Asia’.
Kyrgyzstan’s highest point is Jengish Chokusu. At 7,439 metres (24,406 feet), it’s located in the region of Tian Shan (which aptly translates to ‘heavenly mountains’). Stretching approximately 2,500 kilometres between the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, this beautiful spot is also home to Heavenly Lake, a high mountain lake and the country’s most popular tourist area.
The country is a fan of long poems
Here’s a fun fact: the longest poem in history was produced in Kyrgyzstan. Telling the story of the life of Manas (the heroic warrior who united Kyrgyzstan), Epic of Manas weighs in at an impressive 500,000 lines. That’s 20 times longer than The Odyssey. Wowzers.
Officially published in 1920, the poem is believed to date as far back as the 1700s, beginning as an oral tale that was eventually recorded in writing. As well as this poem, Manas is celebrated in many other ways in Kyrgyzstan. There are statues, roads and universities named after him. Oh, and an airport and opera too.
Kyrgyzstan is far from crowded
Crowds? What crowds? Despite measuring roughly 200,000 square kilometres, Krygyzstan is home to just over five and a half million people. This means that for every square kilometre of land, there are just 29.5 residents.
Unlike other sparsely populated countries where most residents are concentrated in cities (Australia, for example), the people of Kyrgyzstan like to spread out. In fact, only 36% of the population lives in urban locations.
The people of Krygyzstan like to shake hands
Shaking hands is a huge part of Kyrgyz culture. Every time they see each other, male colleagues and friends will generally shake hands with one another. They’ll do so to say hello, congratulations, goodbye and whatever else.
Handshaking between men and women isn’t a common custom. Generally, men don’t shake hands with women but if a man extends his hand first, the woman is expected to shake it. In this circumstance, the woman takes the passive role. It’s very uncommon for a woman to initiate a handshake in Kyrgyzstan—much to the bewilderment of Western tourists.
Krygyzstan has many other interesting customs
The people of Krygyzstan like to drink tea. In fact, it’s treated like water here with the locals drinking it with pretty much every meal. Usually, it’s served in small bowls and drank alongside traditional Kyrgyz bread. People also value cleanliness a lot in Krygyzstan. Before you enter a person’s house, you’re expected to take your shoes off first.
Another interesting fact about Krygyzstan is that the historic Silk Road runs through it. The country also has very few street lights and its capital city of Bishkek is no exception. At night, the streets are barely lit there. One more fact? Oh, go on then. If Scrabble allowed place names, Kyrgyzstan would earn a whopping 30 points.
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