Kyrgyzstan Country Report
Political instability risks have been subsiding in recent years as reflected by several peaceful electoral cycles and no instance of major upheaval in 2011-2017. Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries in Central Asia and its economy largely depends on gold mining. Although the nationalisation of foreign mining assets remains unlikely, the government will probably seek to increase revenue through contract revisions, increased taxes and environmental fines; expropriation and contract frustration risks would increase substantially if the nationalist Ata-Zhurt party entered government. Violent unrest risks are highest in the south, where poverty is widespread, Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Tajik inter-ethnic animosity high and government authority weak.
Political and ethnic tensions that have remained unsettled since 2010's popular uprising foster a challenging environment in which concerns over property damage and personnel safety are frequent. Other operational impediments include poor infrastructure, including an unreliable power supply, and widespread bureaucracy. Most notably, there is a poor road connection between the north and south. Although political instability has been subsiding in recent years, given the pervasive poverty of the population, any investment, especially in the mining sector, is vulnerable to extortive demands by both the local population and the authorities.
As of July 2015, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had under surveillance 1,847 members of extremist organisations; the majority being affiliated to Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Kyrgyz authorities estimate that close to 400 Kyrgyz nationals are fighting on the side of jihadist forces in Syria and Iraq. The majority of terrorist recruitment takes place in the southern regions, including Osh, and about 80% of volunteers that leave Kyrgyzstan are ethnically Uzbek. The presence of Islamist underground in Kyrgyzstan has not manifested in terrorist attacks against the government yet, which reflects their weak capabilities and lack of popular support.
The normalisation of bilateral relations with Uzbekistan has reduced the likelihood of cross-border shootouts, which used to occur along the border in southern Kyrgyzstan. The situation along the border with Tajikistan remains volatile with occasional outbreaks of communal violence in disputed areas. However, it is unlikely to escalate to an inter-state war. After excessive use of force by the government during the popular revolt that led to the ousting of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010, riot police have been reluctant to employ harsh crowd control methods against frequent unauthorised protests. Despite the pronounced north/south regional divide, the likelihood of civil war is currently low.
Kyrgyzstan has seen two violent overthrows of governments in 2005 and 2010 and an episode of inter-ethnic bloodshed in 2010. Since then, however, the country has muddled through several peaceful electoral cycles, including the parliamentary and presidential elections in October 2015 and October 2017 respectively, without a major outbreak of violence, reflecting gradual improvement in social stability. Nonetheless, the central government remains weak and its authority in southern regions is tenuous. Accession to the Eurasian Economic Union endangers the livelihoods of shuttle traders at large outdoor markets (Kara-Suu, Dordoy and Madina).
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year of age arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and for travelers who have been in transit for >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).
Measles: Check with your doctor to make sure all your measles booster shots are up-to-date.
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Kyrgyzstan is situated in an active seismic zone. A strong earthquake of 5.8 magnitude occurred in southern Kyrgyzstan in May 2017. While there were no human fatalities, the tremors resulted in severe damage to infrastructure, including educational and health facilities and houses in the district of Chong Alay of Osh province as well as the district of Kadamjai in Batken province. The last deadly earthquake occurred in 2008; with a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale, it left 60 dead in the Alay Mountains region (in southern Kyrgyzstan).
Some 95 percent of Kyrgyzstan's territory is mountainous and torrential rains often prompt landslides and mudslides. Around 20 people were killed in a rain-induced landslide near Osh in April 2017.
Power outages occur regularly throughout the country.
Foreign visitors should note that tourist infrastructure is not very well developed. Public transportation is rare in the country and should be avoided.
Finally, whenever possible, it is best to avoid flying with domestic airlines in Kyrgyzstan, as many do not adhere to international security and safety norms.
Kyrgyzstan has a continental climate which varies significantly between mountainous zones and arid valleys.
Snow is a constant on summits while temperatures are high in the country's desserts, fluctuating between 30°C and 40°C in the summer. The climate becomes cooler as elevations increase. In the winter, temperatures remain below freezing, particularly in January due to the Siberian winds that blow across the country.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz