Present day Kyrgyzstan differs from other countries by its unique, untouched, diverse and beautiful nature, by its geographical position which defines a strict change of seasons, but also by its diverse topography (primarily mountains) and favorable policy towards tourism.
94% of the territory of Kyrgyzstan is covered with mountains. It has fantastic gorges filled with the crystal pure air and covered with bright green grass and tall pine trees. The murmur of the water of the tumultuous rivers and waterfalls is the only sound breaking the silence. Every gorge is unique and beautiful in its own way. The plexus of mountains located on the border with China contains the highest peaks of the Tien-Shan mountain range - Pobeda Peak (7 439 m) and Khan-Tengri (6 995 m). From this point, the gorges go to the west and south-west creating parallel ranges stretching for 300 to 400 km. The border with Tajikistan is edged by the highest Chon-Alai (Zaalai) range and contains the second highest peak in Kyrgyzstan, Lenin Peak (7 134 m). Kyrgyzstan has some of the largest glaciers in the world outside of the polar ice cap. The glaciers occupy 4.2% of the territory of the country with a total surface area of 8 100 sq. km. Kyrgyzstan is interesting because of its nature but also because of its culture. The Kyrgyz have nomadic origins and still have attributes of the nomadic life.
The origin of the Kyrgyz people is uncertain. Kyrgyz are mentioned for the first time in Chinese chronicles of the second century. The name "Kyrgyz", according to anthropologists, comes from the words "Kyrk" - "forty" and "kyz" - "Girl," which can be considered as "descendants of forty virgins." Kyrgyz khanates existed in the middle ages between the Irtysh and Yenisei rivers, and later were defeated by Djungars. Then, part of the Kyrgyz people moved to their tribesmen in Central Asia. Since the Kyrgyz lived a nomadic life, they extended their territory in the mountains from Sayan to Fergana Valley including the Tenir Too and Ala Too (Tien Shan).
Kyrgyz language refers to the Kyrgyz-Kipchak subgroup of the Turkic languages.
Kyrgyz marriages are concluded under arrangement, when the woman is still adolescent and the traditional family has a patriarcal organisation.
Culture. The basis of the folklore consists of the epics "Manas". The "Manas" holds more than a million lines: it is included in the Guinness book of records as the world's largest epic and is protected by UNESCO as a heritage of humanity. The epic describes the culture, philosophy, ideology, history and traditions of the Kyrgyz people. The epic conveys toponymic, ethno-genetic and historical elements of the kyrgyz heritage.
Also, there are popular storytellers, called Akyns. Locals arrange debate competitions between akyns, called "Aitysh." This is a unique and very interesting contest, in which akyns improvise stories about an assigned topic in an attempt to convice judges of their point of view, where it is possible to hear a very extensive collection of folk proverbs and sayings accompanied by komuz, the kyrgyz guitar.
In Kyrgyzstan, martial arts and horse games are very popular. National kinds of wrestling are "kuresh" and "alysh." Games for real Jigits (young men) include the "Ulak-tartysh" (Goat polo) or "Kek Boru" (Blue wolf). This game has roots from far back in time and builds on courage, valor and other qualities of a warrior. To this day, Kyrgyz and warhorses are inseparable in the history of the people. The Kyrgyz language has more than a dozen definitions that differentiate the horses and foals from birth to the end of life of the animal. The horse was a symbol of prosperity: it was used to fight the ennemies, but was also a source of meat and kumys (horse milk).
Kyrgyz cuisine's main ingredients are meat, dairy products and baked dishes. The meat found in Kyrgyz dishes are not only mutton, beef and horse, but also the meat of yak, wild deer, mountain sheep and goat. In the foothills a common meal includes trout, a species native to the mountain rivers. Moreover, the traditional Kyrgyz menu is enriched with a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, which are replaced according to the time of the year. Apricots, cherries, strawberries, black currants, raspberries, apples, pears, grapes, watermelons, melons, persimmons and more can be found on the traditional table. An important national drink is kumyz, which is fermented mare's milk. Kyrgyz cuisine is based on the extensive use of meat: in the past, the main type of meat used was horse meat, which was later replaced by mutton and beef. However, there a still many meals and snacks made of horse meat. Beshbarmak (noodles with boiled meat and fresh onion), Kuurdak (fried meat, onion, and potatoes) and eastern Kulchetay (like Beshbarmak lasagne) are common dishes of meat served with or without bouillon. Furthermore, some dishes such as the Kyrgyz Plov and Lagman have been inherited from Asian influences.