Tired from 60 kilometers of bumpy gravel in the heat, we pulled over to the first little shop we could find to buy a cold Coke. The woman in the shop handed us apricots as we left and while we sat …
When I first began researching Kyrgyzstan, a country I’d honestly never heard of, bordering China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, I thought I was going to be discovering a mini North Korea. For Kyrgyzstan is the only country in the world where North Korean citizens can stay for an unlimited amount of time (if they can manage to get past Kim Jong-un’s border patrol first). The visa-free regime with a particularly welcoming policy towards the DPRK, could easily be dismissed as unwelcoming, particularly to western nations. But you would be sorely mistaken, because after a fascinating foray into the sights and stories of this country, Kyrgyzstan is now officially on the MessyNessyChic travel bucket list. Here’s 10 reasons why…
1. Kyrgyzstan is one of the least crowded countries in the world
There are just 29.5 residents for each square kilometre of land– (but plenty of unicorns).
If you visit Kyrgyzstan, it’s possible to overlook the Central Asian cultural mixing bowl that is the city of Osh. For many travelers, Osh serves as a transit point en route to the Pamir Mountains, Irkeshtam Pass to China, Dostyk crossing to Uzbekistan, or the newly marked trekking trails in the Alay Mountains.
However, if you’re looking to encounter a unique blend of cultures and history, lively markets, gregarious people, and a culinary scene which many Kyrgyz call their favorite, then we recommend giving Osh a closer look. The diversity you’ll see owes itself to over 3000 years of history and the city’s favorable position as a midpoint along one of the Silk Road’s main East-West arteries. From there, trade and migration helped evolve Osh into the urban tapestry of cultural interchange you see today, a regional crossroads home to more than 80 ethnicities.
Several cities in Central Asia have served and continue to serve as major centers of Central Asian culture and economy.
Central Asia is a large geographical region that runs from Russia to Afghanistan and from China to the Caspian Sea. It covers an area of over 1.5 million square miles and encompasses several countries. This region is rich in culture due in part to its history as a central location along the historic Silk Road that connected Europe with East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia. Today, Central Asia has a population of approximately 68 million, many of whom live in the region’s urban areas. This article takes a closer look at these major cities.
12. Mazar-e Sharif
Mazar-e Sharif is located in the north central region of Afghanistan. It is the country’s third largest city with a population of between 577,000 and 693,000.