Customs and traditions
A basic rule of etiquette in Kyrgyzstan is
based on respect shown to the elderly and the
authorities. The Kyrgyz are often proud of their
country, especially the beautiful scenery, and are happy
to talk about it. People often talk freely about
politics, religion and other sensitive topics.
Respect is felt in the language, where you use polite
pronouns and endings and speeches such as
edje (older sister) and baike or ake
(older brother in the north and south respectively).
This polite form of speech is also used among friends
and relatives. It is acceptable to address peers or
younger by first name.
Overview of the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Elderly or superiors are often addressed in Russian,
such as Ainura Maratovna (Marat's daughter).
The surname is rarely used except for very official
occasions or a formal introduction. Respect is also
shown purely physically. Both men and women offer their
seats to the elderly, for example on buses.
Know and label
The Kyrgyz would like to talk about family, work,
where you come from and about life in your country. They
are family lovers and are happy to talk about their own
and the guests' families. It is not infinite to become
personal, you are often asked about relationships, wages
and other personal relationships. Kirgizer stands or
sits close to each other and has eye contact when
Gestures are common, but some gestures are offensive,
such as pointing at someone, showing their fist or
middle finger. Touching each other and patting your
shoulder is common among men. Individuals do not require
much space, and strangers crowd with each other without
apologizing. People are usually not in line, and pushing
through a waiting group is not unfair.
Friends greet different in the north and in the
south. In the south, you greet friends of the same sex
with a handshake, often with your left hand over your
heart. The opposite sex is often ignored. Older women
and female relatives often kiss on the cheek while
shaking hands. Men often use the Arabic greeting phrase
assalom aleikum. In the north, greetings are
shorter, and only the men shake hands with each other.
Assalom aleikum is used only by younger men to the
elderly, as a form of deep respect.
The Kyrgyz greet each other every day when they come
to work. Men shake hands with each other, while women
kiss each other on both cheeks.
When you are invited to someone's home, you are happy
to bring a small gift, perhaps a cake, a bottle of vodka
or brandy, fruit or something to the children. When you
enter someone's house you are offered tea and usually
bread and jam, and it is impolite to refuse this
You usually take off your shoes at the entrance, and
in the country you often sit on the floor around a
tablecloth or on a mat around the food. Do not step on
the cloth when there is food on it. Men are served
first. Several dishes and plenty of food are common and
guests should preferably eat as much as possible. It is
usually not offensive to shout at people.
A person's status is evident from the place he or she
has at the table or table. Men and women usually sit on
each side, with the oldest and most respected in the
place of honor at the farthest door. The host or hostess
sits closest to the door.
It is common for many bowls to be brought out,
followed by short speeches. The guest of honor is asked
to bring out the first dish and then expresses their
gratitude to the host, to other guests and to world
peace. There are reasons to hold back the amount of
vodka in the first bowl, as it forms the pattern for the
Before and after the meal you often pray a short
prayer. Then you hold out your hands, to receive
blessing, and then you put them back together while
bowing your head.
Yogurt, honey, bread and tea are a common breakfast.
The nomads have traditionally eaten mutton and noodles
as their main meal. Fruits and vegetables are still rare
in many Kyrgyz kitchens. The traditional dish in the
north is besh barmuk, a sheep stew, and fried
lamb. At feasts, the lamb's head is served to the guest
of honor, who cuts parts of the eyes and ears and gives
them to other guests to improve their vision and
hearing. Horse meat is eaten raw, and the traditional
drink is kymuss, fermented skimmed milk. A lot
of vodka is also served at parties.
In both north and south, a soup, shorpo,
cooked on meat and intestines is served, often with
vegetables and cut fat. In the south is the main course
plow, which is served on large dishes for two,
three people and is often eaten with their hands. At a
funeral and sometimes at a wedding, a horse is
slaughtered instead of a sheep. The intestines are then
used to make sausages.
Bread is considered sacred and must never be laid on
the ground or placed upside down. You never throw it
away and the leftovers are given to the animals.
People dress up for business meetings, invitations,
weddings and birthdays. In offices, men often dress in
suits and ties and women in dresses, but where there are
foreigners at work, the attire is often more relaxed.
T-shirts and jeans are not common in the office,
especially for women.
Kyrgyz men often wear traditional black-and-white
headgear of felt, ak-kalpak, which shows clan
status and what respect is earned.
Traditions and holidays
On the flag of Kyrgyzstan, the smoke opening is
depicted in the traditional circular nomad tent yurt,
an important symbol of Kyrgyz culture and national
identity. Families living in Western model homes often
set up herbs for holidays such as weddings and funerals.
The Kyrgyz celebrate Muslim holidays and summon a
mule for wedding, circumcision and burial, but most do
not practice religion on a daily basis. New Year is
celebrated well, often in Russian tradition, with masks
and parties where the equivalent of Santa Claus,
Ayaz-Ata, comes with gifts in the horse-drawn
sleigh. As with the Chinese, each new year has the name
of an animal. In the more conservative South, men and
women stay in separate rooms at major festivals. Horse
back competitions are popular entertainment at parties.
The secular public holidays include Independence Day
on August 31, Constitution Day on May 5, and Nooruz
(a Spring Party) on March 21.
Bakijev's party wins criticized election
When parliamentary elections are held, President Bakijev's Party of the
Right gets 47 percent of the vote, according to the Election
Commission. The motherland becomes the largest opposition
party. The Social Democrats and the Communist Party also enter
parliament. According to the Election Commission, the Motherland has not
received enough votes in Osh and thus cannot take a seat in Parliament. The
election is surrounded by protests and accusations of electoral fraud. Election
observers from the West judge the election. Igor Chudinov from the Right Way is
appointed new Prime Minister.
Journalist is murdered
The regime-critical journalist Alisjer Saipov is murdered in Osh in the
Fergana Valley, probably by the Uzbek security service. He was an ethnic Uzbek
and had written critically about Uzbekistan's regime in connection with the
Andizan massacre in the Uzbek part of the Fergana Valley in 2005.
Constitutional amendments are approved
In the referendum, three out of four participants say yes to the
constitutional changes. Among other things, this means that parties must get at
least five percent of the vote in an election in order to take a seat in
parliament, as well as at least 0.5 percent of the vote in the country's seven
counties (oblast) and the two cities Bishkek and Osh.
A referendum on the constitution is announced
President Bakijev calls for a referendum on a proposal for a new
constitution. According to the opposition, the new constitutional proposal would
lead to an even more authoritarian regime.
Atambayev becomes new prime minister
Prime Minister Isabekov resigns following a conflict with President Bakiev.
New Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev, leader of opposition Kyrgyzstan's
Social Democratic Party.
Requirements for the President's resignation
President Bakijev's former ally Felix Kulov joins the opposition and demands
Isabekov becomes new prime minister
President Bakijev again nominates Felix Kulov for the Prime Minister's post,
but Parliament votes no. Agriculture Minister Azim Isabekov, who is close to
Bakijev, is elected new head of government.