In more ways than one, the Kyrgyz Republic is the odd "stan" out. To begin with, it dropped the customary suffix when it changed its official name from Kyrgyzstan to the Kyrgyz Republic. Its government also instituted far-reaching economic reforms in an attempt to attract investors and promote business. And, more important for visitors, there's less red tape—compared with other Central Asian republics—for those entering the country.
Of course, the best thing this small country has going for it is spectacular scenery. For sheer mountain splendor, the Kyrgyz Republic can be compared with Nepal and Switzerland. The Tien Shan (Celestial) Mountains offer some of the most challenging, and least visited, peaks in the world, and Lake Issyk-Kul is a quintessentially picturesque alpine lake.
The Kyrgyz Republic has escaped much of the conflict that plagues other "stans," but does present a heightened threat of terrorism (in part because of its proximity to Afghanistan). Some radical terrorist and Muslim separatist groups operate within the country. The republic also has a high rate of violent crime, including hostage-taking. Travelers should exercise caution and may want to postpone leisure visits.
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