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Kyrgyz Nature

Complicated structure of mountain relief and variety of ecological conditions made for great diversity of flora and fauna in Kyrgyzstan.

There are deserts, steppes, meadows, forests, shrubs, bogs, mountain tundra and other types of plants.

Allocation of vegetation and other nature components depends not only on zone factors and altitude level but also on regional particular features: mountain ridge location, mountainside and soil structure. Depending on the location and relief peculiarities, mountains differ in containing a great variety of landscapes and distinct altitude difference. Because of common plain relief, insularity and continental climate canyons and upland regions have common vegetation features. Altitude levels are milder than in the mountains.

Dry and hot deserts of peripheral canyons occupy the lowest hypsometric level (400-1300m). These are wormwood fields, grown on north zierozem in Chu and Talas valley; wormwood, halophytic, and saltwort deserts with light and dark zierozem around Fergana region.

Almost all of these droughty plains and uplands have been developed and transferred into oases, where many settlements, villages and towns are surrounded with corn, seed, vegetable plantations and gardens. Deserts are the habitat for different rodents (yellow gophers, jerboas), reptiles (Central Asian turtle, Eastern boa, and lizards), and birds (sadji and desert bullfinch).

Deserted and semi deserted vegetation (wormwood, halophytic, ephedre) as
well as steppe vegetation (feather-grass, fescue) on the mountainous and plane chestnut brown soil is typical for the middle intermontane insular mountain depressions (1300-27000-m) with sharp continental climate (Kochkor, Djumgal, Naryn, Atbashy-Karakoun, Issyk-Kul, Alay, Alaykuu regions). The soil and vegetation of high sections of Chu, Talas and Kemin valleys has a similar character.

Internal mountain valleys of middle level are the main source of irrigated cropping and dry agriculture ( Internal Tien-Shan and Alay regions, where cereal, vodder crops, vegetable cultures and gardens are cultivated.

Fauna of middle mountain depressions, typical for deserts and steppes, is similar to the fauna of steppe and mountain zone on the slopes of mountain ridges. Rodents (hamsters, field-voles), reptiles (vipers, grass-snakes, runners), birds(larks, little bustards,) and predator animals (wolves, foxes, badgers, polecat). Mountain steppes are notable for thegreat diversity in fauna and large number of animal species.

Cereal steppes and cereal-wormwood deserts with chestnut-typed and brown droughty steppe soil prevail in high mountain depressions of Internal and Central Tien-Shan (3100-3600m). They are not cultivated due to harsh climate conditions and are used as seasonal pastures.

Unlike intermountain depressions adapted to farming and gardening with slight landscape differentiation, mountain slopes have various flora, substantially changing according to the attitude. Mountain steppe vegetation, growing in foothills and low mountains with chestnut and black earth, prevail in mountain slopes of 1000-16000 meters altitude.

Mountain steppes of midlands and highlands are attributed to slopes of Southern ranges and combine with meadows. Different cereal crops used for agriculture are typical for the steppes of northern type (Northern and Central Tien-Shan, Alay Valley), high grass savannas are typical for Near Fergana region, which are used as grasslands.

Meadows, forests and shrubs grow on humid northern, northwestern slopes in midlands (1000-1300-2000-3000m). In many regions of Tien-Shan the forests consist of Tien-Shan spruces Talas and Chatcal mountains mainly have firs, and in Turkestan and Alay mountain system there are juniper forests. There are unique relic nut forests, walnut, apple, cherry, cherry-plum forests on the slopes of Fergana, At- Oynoksky and Chatkal ranges, faced to Fergana valley.

Lower there are mountain forest soils: mountain black-brown soils of nut forests, mountain dark-colored soils of juniper forests, mountain black earth of spruce forests. Bears, trots, wolves, ermines, roes different rodents, birds (woodpecker, crossbill) live in mountain forests.

Highlands (2800-4200m) are occupied by subalpine and alpine meadows with juniper elfin woods on mountain meadow and mountain meadow steppe soils, adapted in the permafrost conditions (disseminated almost everywhere higher than 3000m). The highest levels of mountain slopes are related to alpine low grasslands, that are used as under productive summer pastures.

The highest point of mountain slopes consist of mountain tundra, that are more typical for the highlands of Internal and Central Tien-Shan. The main inhabitants of highlands are mountain goats, sheep, wolves, marmots, eagles, griffins, rodents and mountain turkeys.


The climate conditions of Kyrgyzstan are defined by its geographical location. The vast part of its territory is situated within the zone of temperate climate, and only the southern part is situated in the subtropical zone. Location of the country in the center of the greatest in the world Eurasian continent, its remoteness from the oceans and seas, and nearness of deserts are the main factors that define the climate of Kyrgyzstan as continental and droughty, and explain the strict contrast of seasons. Owing to the reasonable difference in relief and existence of such a big lake as Issyk-Kul, the climate changes from continental to the marine.

Climate of Kyrgyzstan is continental with relatively small amount of precipitation. There are about 247 sunny days per year. Summer morning in the mountains is wonderful, it is foggy in the afternoon, sometimes it rains. The temperatures in the lowlands change from -4°-6°C (21-24°F in January to 8-12°C (46-54°F) in July. The temperatures in the highlands vary from 14°-20°C to 16-24°C to (61-75°F) in July.

Strong snowstorms are typical for the winter.

The climate in the Tien-Shan area is continental with sharp variation. In summer it is hot in the foothills and valleys; the weather is colder in the mountain ridges. This region is characterized by strong winter, daily and annual fluctuation in temperature, clear sky and considerable drought.

Average annual duration of the sunshine is about 2500-2700 hours. The most possible cloudiness is in March and April; the lowest one is in August and in September. Precipitation changes from 200-300mm to 1600mm per year.

The strongest precipitation takes place in the first half of summer. Specific microclimate of the Tien-Shan is formed in the mountain ridges, surrounding Issyk-Kul lake.


The Kyrgyz Republic is a mountainous country, 94,2% of which is located higher than 1000m above sea level, and 40,8% is higher than 3000m.

The average altitude above sea level is 2750m, the highest pick is 7439m, and the lowest point is 401,0m. Tremendous amplitude of absolute altitude, complicated relief, durable geological development and some other reasons suggest a great diversity of natural conditions and natural resources. Territory of Kyrgyzstan has all kinds of landscape areas that are typical for Northern Hemisphere, except for the tropical.

General character of the country and its natural peculiarities are defined by its mountain ridges and wide insular and semi insular mountain depressions that differ from each other according to the type of landscape and household usage. The higher point of this territory is situated in the eastern remote area. Here, in the place where Kyrgyzstan borders on China, the highest peaks of the entire Tien-Shan mountain system such as Pobeda Peak (7439m) and Han-Tengry (6995m) are situated. From this point mountain ridges extend vaultingly to the west and South-West, forming detached parallel chains, that usually stretch in the latitudinal direction to 300-400km. In the same direction starts the lowering of height (from 7000 to 2000-1000m).

The highest and the most grand mountain ridges, reaching 4500-7000m of absolute height are located in the remote area of the Tien-Shan.

These are Kashtal-Too in the southeastern part, Alay and Turkestan ridges in the southwestern part, Talas and Kyrgyz ridges in the northwestern part, Kungey Ala-Too in the northeast. Chon-Alay ridge is located on the southern border of Kyrgyzstan with Tajikistan, where the second highest summit of Kyrgyzstan Lenin Peak (7134m) is located.

The territory of Kyrgyzstan belongs to the system of Ural-Mongol zone, overtaking the durable history of its geological development. The most important steps in Tien-Shan development were Paleozoic and the late Canonize stages. As a result of above-mentioned stages, the mountain relief of the country was formed. The mountain-formed processes are continuing to take place in our contemporary life, and that is the reason for earthquakes.

Issyk-Kul Lake

Mountain Lake Issyk-Kul is located inside the Tien-Shan Mountains, on the bottom of the great tectonic depression, at the height of 1606,7m above sea level. The lake is surrounded by the mountains Terskey Ala-Too in the south and Kungey Ala-Too in the north. Issyk-Kul lake differs from other lakes in its geographical, climate and hydrological conditions.

Basin of the lake is an oval hollow, extending in the latitudinal direction. Its maximal length from west to east is 252km, and from north to south is 146km. Mountains surround Issyk-Kul Lake from the south, and Terskey Ala-Too ridge in the central part reach up to 5200m, what is 3600m above sea level. There are vast territories of snow and ice in the higher parts of the mountains, setting off Issyk-Kul.The lake directly abuts upon the lakeside plain, which represents a narrow belt that is cut by river valleys. The lake is shaped like a trapezoid, facing the north by its base. According to the recent exploration, the length of the lake is 178km, width –60.1km, square- 6236sq.km, the length of the coastline-688km, the deepest point is 669m, the average depth is –278. 4m.

The basin square is about 22080sq.km, 6236sq.km.of which is the lake territory, 3092sq.km is the foothill plains and 12752sq.km are occupied by the middle mountains and highlands. Highland’s area is the main collecting area, flowing into the lake. The annual precipitation in this area is 800-1000mm, while precipitation on the surface of the lake is 100-400mm. Glaciers in the basin of Issyk-Kul occupy about 650,4sq.km, that is 40% of the annual flow of the rivers, enriching the lake, and more than 63% in summer.

The main sources of collecting area are the following: Jyrgalgan,Tup, Karakol, Juuka,Tong, Jety-Oguz, Chon-Ak-Suu, Chon-Kyzyl-Suu, Ak-Terek, Barskoon, Tuura-Suu. Average annual consumption of these rivers is more than 3million m³/sec. The great amount of water from these rivers is utilized on industrial-household needs and irrigation that’s why some small rivers don’t reach the lake. Total annual flow of all rivers is about 3720 million cubic meters.

The coastline of the lake is indent. The gulfs, running deep inland are related to the young developing synclinal flexures, and peninsulas, jutting out into the lake, inherit the course of tectonic raise. Gulfs of the southern coast have been formed as a result of flooding of estuarial parts of river valleys. In total there are about 20 gulfs and bays.

The lake is incredibly beautiful. Due to this reason it is called “the pearl of Kyrgyzstan”. The clarity and glaring sunlight change the color of water of the lake from the light to the deep blue tones. The color of water varies from bluish green to light green and grey tones near the coast because of the stirring-up of clay and organogenic particles, reflection of sea-weeds and spread of inflows.

In winter the temperature of the water is about + 4.2-5.0°C. In July and August the upper layers of water warm up to +18-20°C. The strong wind often blows over Issyk-Kul. Issyk-Kul is not so rich in its fauna. Among 12 kinds of fish of Issyk-Kul origin, 4 of them are endemic – sheer osman, Issyk-Kul marinka, chebak, chebachok, etc.

There are Savan trout, zander, bream and carp. Promising plan of development in the fish industry suggests reduction of fish-fields to 12 thousand per year.