Kyrgyzstan, officially Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyz Respublikasy), landlocked republic in the eastern part of Central Asia that is bordered on the north by Kazakhstan, on the east by China, on the south by China and Tajikistan, and on the west by Uzbekistan. Bishkek is the capital and largest city.

The Kyrgyz, a Muslim people who speak a Turkic language that is also called Kyrgyz, constitute a majority of the population of Kyrgyzstan. Uzbeks and Russians form the largest ethnic minorities. Kyrgyzstan became part of the Russian Empire in the late 1800s.

In 1924 it became an autonomous region of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and in 1936 its status was upgraded to make it one of the 15 constituent republics of the USSR. Officially known as the Kirgiz Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), it was also commonly known as Kirgizia. Kyrgyzstan became an independent nation in 1991. In 1993 the country ratified its first post-Soviet constitution.

Read more from: MSN "Encarta" Encyclopedia

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