Located in Central Asia on the fabled Silk Road, Kyrgyzstan gained its independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Lying west of China and also bordered by a trio of ‘Stans’ (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), it is a mountainous country defined by its natural heritage, glaciers, lakes and rolling summer pastures: the land of semi-nomadic, yurt-dwelling shepherds.
While Lake Issyk-kul is a focal point for visitors, Kyrgyzstan in truth is still the unspoilt and secret gem of Central Asia and much of the country can be found as it existed many decades ago, thereby retaining its unique and unpretentious character. The capital Bishkek, formerly known as Frunze, is a city of wide tree-lined boulevards that afford shade during the hot summers, laid out in a grid formation and flanked by Soviet-style public buildings and complexes. As tourism is relatively new to the country, the welcome is always sincere, friendly and mildly inquisitive.