Kyrgyzstan Geography and Climate

Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country in Central Asia. The country has preserved large territories, almost untouched by man. Its inhabitants still pass on the ancient traditions of nomads from generation to generation. The bulk of tourists to Kyrgyzstan are attracted by the rich flora and fauna, picturesque mountain lakes and rivers, mountain peaks covered with eternal snows and the unique flavor of Central Asia. The pearl of the country is the mountain lake Issyk-Kul. Of course, disorder and isolation from civilization can scare someone away, but without this, Kyrgyzstan will lose some of its attractiveness and mystery.

In the plains and valleys, spring and autumn are the most favorable times of the year to visit, especially from April to early June and from September to October. In the spring, there is a short period of flowering of desert plants, and in the fall, harvest time, when the markets are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be very hot in summer, especially in flat areas.

The most optimal period for visiting the mountainous areas is from mid-July to September, when the least amount of precipitation falls in the mountains. The ski season in the mountains lasts from December to April. Winters in Kyrgyzstan can be very cold, especially in the mountains. The exception is the coast of Lake Issyk-Kul, where the climate is milder than in other parts of the country.

The official language in Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyz language. A fairly large percentage of the population speaks Russian, especially in cities. The country also speaks Uzbek, Tajik and Kazakh, and tourism workers can communicate in English.

Geography in Kyrgyzstan

According to top-engineering-schools, Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia. It borders Kazakhstan in the north, China in the east, Tajikistan in the south, and Uzbekistan in the west. Almost throughout the small territory of the country (only 198,500 km 2) there are mountain ranges.

The territory of Kyrgyzstan extends from west to east for 900 km, from north to south for 410 km and lies approximately between 39 o and 43 o north latitude. On the territory of the country there are 2 large mountain systems: Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai. They are separated from each other by the Ferghana Valley, which has a unique natural and historical value. However, only a small part of it belongs to Kyrgyzstan. Osh , the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, is located on the southeastern outskirts of the Fergana depression at the northern foot of the Kichialai Range. The capital of Kyrgyzstan – the city of Bishkek is located in the central part of the Chui valley at the northern foot of the Kyrgyz Range (Tien Shan) at an altitude of 750 – 900 m.

The most highly elevated part of the country’s territory is located on its eastern outskirts. Here, in the mountain junction bordering China, there are the highest points of the entire Tien Shan mountain system – Pobeda Peak (7439 m) and Khan Tengri (6995 m). From here, the ridges fan out to the west and southwest, creating separate parallel chains, extending mainly in the latitudinal direction up to 300 – 400 km. On the extreme southern border of the republic with Tajikistan, the highest Chon-Alai (Zaalai) ridge stands out, where the second highest peak in Kyrgyzstan is located – Lenin Peak (7134 m).

Alpine lake Issyk-Kul located inside the Tien Shan mountains, at the bottom of a huge tectonic depression, at an altitude of 1600 m above sea level. The lake is surrounded by mountains Teskei Ala-Too in the south and Kungei Ala-Too in the north. The shape of the lake resembles a trapezoid with its base facing north. The length of the lake is 178 km, width – 60 km, area – 6236 km 2, coastline length – 688 km, maximum depth – 669 m, average depth – 278 m. The lake is incredibly beautiful, which is why it is called the “Pearl of Kyrgyzstan”. The color of the water in Lake Issyk-Kul varies from pale blue to dark blue tones.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the largest regions in which there is a system of modern mountain glaciers, their total area is 8100 km 2or 4.2% of the country’s territory. The Kyrgyz Republic has a huge supply of water resources. There are more than 28,000 rivers and sources in the 7 largest river basins, 90% of which are 10 km long. Among the major rivers, the Naryn River with a length of more than 500 km should be noted.

In Kyrgyzstan, vertical climatic zonality is clearly expressed, it affects both the climate and the flora and fauna, which is very diverse.

Climate in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan has a sharply continental climate, which is temperate in most of the territory, and subtropical in the Chui and Fergana valleys. The seasons are clearly defined. The length of the day in December is 9 hours, in June – 15 hours.

The remoteness from the oceans and the fact that the country’s territory is predominantly located in the mountains, at altitudes from 300 to 7000 m above sea level, have a strong influence on the climate. The deserts and plains surrounding Kyrgyzstan from the north, west and southeast make the differences in climate at different altitudes even sharper. Therefore, in Kyrgyzstan, vertical climatic zonality is clearly expressed, here 4 types of climate can be distinguished, which differ significantly from each other.

First, the valley-foothill belt (500 – 1200 m), which is characterized by hot summers (average temperature in July during the day 30… 34 o C) and moderate winters (average temperature in January during the day 2… 5, at night -4… -7 o C). Little precipitation falls during the year (400-500 mm), mainly in spring and early summer, with a pronounced minimum in August and September. This zone is characterized by clear weather (180-240 sunny days per year). Absolute maximum air temperatures in summer reach 42…44 o C. Winter here is short, the average daily temperature below zero is observed from mid-November to mid-March.

The next, mid-mountain belt (1000 – 2200 m) has a typical temperate climate with warm summers (the average temperature in July during the day is 25… 28 oC) and moderately cold winters (average temperature in January during the day -2…-6, at night -7…-10 o C), with a small amount of precipitation (200 – 400 mm), falling mainly in summer and accompanied by thunderstorms. Winter comes earlier – in mid-October, and lasts until March.

The alpine belt (2000 – 3500 m) is characterized by cool summers (the average temperature in July during the day is 18… 16 o C) and cold winters (the average temperature in January during the day is -5… -10, at night -15… -20 o C). The amount of precipitation depends on the orientation of the slopes; on the western slopes, the amount of precipitation can be 3 times more than on the eastern ones. Winter lasts from early October to April. Temperatures can sometimes drop to 0 o C during the summer months.

The latter, the belt of eternal snow (above 3500 m) is characterized by very cold summers (average temperature in July during the day 4…7, at night +1…-2 o C), and frosty winters (average temperature in January during the day -10…-14, at night -29…-35 o C), the frost-free period is only 3-4 months. Absolute minimum air temperatures are observed in winter (-45…-54 o C).

In the area of the non-freezing lake Issyk-Kul (1600 m) in winter the air temperature is 3-5 o C higher than in other areas, and in summer there is no sweltering heat.

Best time to visit:
In the plains and valleys, spring and autumn are the most favorable times of the year to visit, especially from April to early June and from September to October. In the spring, there is a short period of flowering of desert plants, and in the fall, harvest time, when the markets are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be very hot in summer, especially in flat areas.

The most optimal period for visiting the mountainous areas is from mid-July to September, when the least amount of precipitation falls in the mountains. The ski season in the mountains lasts from December to April. Winters in Kyrgyzstan can be very cold, especially in the mountains. The exception is the coast of Lake Issyk-Kul, where the climate is milder than in other parts of the country.

Kyrgyzstan Geography