- It’s sparsely populated
There are just 29.5 residents for each square kilometre of land – making Kyrgyzstan one of the world’s least crowded countries.
- And mountainous
The mountainous Tian Shan region covers 80 per cent of Kyrgyzstan and the country has even been described as the “Switzerland of Central Asia”. Its highest point is Jengish Chokusu, at 7,439 m (24,406 ft).
- It’s landlocked – but has a lovely lake
Kyrgyzstan is one of 45 landlocked countries, but does have the consolation of Issyk-Kul, the world’s second largest high-altitude lake (behind Titicaca in South America). It is 113 miles long, 37 miles wide and reaches a depth of 668 metres (2,192 feet). The lake was a popular holiday resort during the Soviet era.
- And a massive glacier
The South Inylchek Glacier is the sixth largest in the world, not including those found in polar regions. Straddling the countries border with China (the only neighbour to Kyrgyzstan that doesn’t end in the suffix “stan”), it is 37.6 miles long.
- They’re mad about Manas – and long poems
The eponymous hero of the Epic of Manas, a poem of which the longest version extends to a truly epic 500,000 lines, is celebrated in many ways. There are statues of him, roads, a university, a planet (yep) and an airport named after him, and an opera about him. The poem is reputed to be 1,000 years old, but most experts believe it actually originated in the 18th century.