The country is mainly mountainous, almost totally covered by perennial snow. The arboreal vegetation is scarce, consisting mainly of conifers, while spontaneous vegetation is widespread. Kyrgyzstan is home to a rich fauna (including bear, red wolf and snow leopard) and is home to various migratory birds. There are numerous protected areas, which cover 3.1% of the territory, including two natural parks. In addition to the environmental damage caused by a reprehensible pipeline in use in the recent past – characterized by poor respect for the ecosystem of the country damaged by experiments and extraction of minerals with a high level of radioactivity -, a serious environmental problem remains water pollution: in 1998 nearly 2 tons of sodium cyanate spilled into the Barskoon River.
The detachment from the USSR has certainly aggravated the situation of backwardness of the country, which presents problems of inter-ethnic competition, the reorganization of land ownership (privatized), regional political positioning, and which records critical economic and financial data. Production is still guaranteed, for about one third, by agricultural resources while the manufacturing sector, previously located in the broader context of the Soviet economy, is not yet self-sufficient. The GDP produced in 2008 is US $ 5,049 million and the GDP per capita of 951 US dollars per year (2008), among the lowest in Asia. As in other former Soviet republics, immediately after independence there was the voluntary repatriation of a good number of Russians, with the consequence of an impoverishment of the country’s leading and technical cadres. At the same time, Kyrgyzstan (traditionally Muslim, even if religion does not seem to have any political importance in the country) has become a destination for Muslim exiles from Chinese Xinjiang; despite this phenomenon, not even relations with China have experienced moments of tension comparable to those experienced by Kazakhstan. With the support of international organizations, the country has already initiated public debt reduction plans since the nineties of the twentieth century and launched reforms aimed at encouraging the new market, fighting corruption and reorganizing the tax system, although their implementation has suffered over time. of arrest. Land privatization has sparked fierce competition from local interests and agricultural production is still split between private ownership and state-owned collective farms. The signs of recovery shown by Kyrgyzstan in the second half of the 1990s are due in particular to the mining (thanks to foreign investments) and energy industries. However, growth is not constant: the Russian crisis of 1998, the decline in production of the leading sectors that occurred in 2002 and political instability in the period 2005-2006 represented phases of contraction in the country’s economic development. Agriculture is the basis of the economy, although the arable area is very small. Various crops are practiced in the valleys (potatoes, cotton, hemp, sugar beet, tobacco) and on the hills (wheat, grapevines). Breeding is widespread due to the abundance of pastures: sheep and cattle (in particular the yak) are the most common head of cattle. The country is known above all for the breeding of small Kyrgyz horses, used both as tow animals and for food consumption.
The secondary sector is the one that was most affected by the transition to the market economy: after having suffered a collapse in the last years of the twentieth century, it then began to grow again, without however reaching the production levels of the Soviet era. According to allcountrylist, the industry is mainly linked to agricultural products (sugar factories, tobacco factories); more recent the development of other sectors (textile, engineering, precision instruments). The major industrial center is located close to the capital; the area of Oš follows in importance. The subsoil is rich in raw materials: among the minerals, hard coal represents a important resource of the region, but there is no shortage of oil, gas, mercury, antimony, uranium, tungsten and iron. Gold mining is the most productive activity: the exploitation of the Kumtor mines contributes significantly to the GDP. With the dissolution of the USSR, the demand for uranium for the production of nuclear energy has ceased and numerous mines have been closed without being reclaimed: this has put the waterways, an equally important resource of the country, at risk of contamination. can count on a large availability of hydroelectric energy. Tourism, despite the great potential given by the majestic landscapes, is not yet developed, mainly due to the absence of adequate infrastructures. Micro-credit is active in the financial sector, which is not activated only by banks but also by other specialized companies. Imports of hydrocarbons and machinery still far exceed exports of cotton, tobacco, gold, mercury and hydroelectricity. Kyrgyzstan has trade with Russia and neighboring countries (Kazakhstan and China); Switzerland is the first country to which exports are directed. Since 1999 bilateral relations have been in progress between the European Union and the states of the region; however the trading volume is still very low; exports mainly concern textile products and those of gold, previously directed to the EU, have been diverted to Arab countries. In terms of infrastructures, the particular territorial conformation has conditioned the construction of the communication routes; however, a fairly developed road network connects it to neighboring countries through high mountain passes. The main airports are those of Bishkek and Oš.