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Bishkek (in Kyrgyz and Russian: Бишкек), formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyzstanmarker.Bishkek is also the administrative centre of Chuy Provincemarker which surrounds the city, even though the city itself is not part of the province but rather a province-level unit of Kyrgyzstan.

The name is thought to derive from a Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make fermented mare's milk (kumis), the Kyrgyz national drink. Founded in 1825 as the Kyrgyz-Khokand fortress of ""Bishkek", then, in 1862, named as the Russian fortress Pishpek (крепость Пишпек), between 1926 and 1991 it was known as Frunze (Фрунзе), after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze. The historic name of the city was restored by the Kyrgyz parliament in 1991.

Bishkek, at , is situated at about altitude just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tien Shanmarker mountain range, which rises up to and provides a spectacular backdrop to the city. North of the city, a fertile and gently undulating steppe extends far north into neighboring Kazakhstanmarker. The Chui River drains most of the area. Bishkek is connected to the Turkestan-Siberia Railwaymarker by a spur.

Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards and, especially outside the city centre, thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers.


Originally a caravan rest stop (possibly founded by the Sogdians) on one of the branches of the Silk Road through the Tien Shanmarker range, the location was fortified in 1825 by the Uzbekmarker khan of Kokhandmarker with a mud fort.

The Kyrgyz legend says that the place was a burial site of the hero Bishkek, the local Kyrgyz war lord who fought for the Kyrgyz independence in the 18th century.

In 1862, the fort was conquered and razed when Tsarist Russiamarker annexed the area. The site became a Russian garrison and was redeveloped and named "Pishpek" from 1877 onward by the Russian government, which encouraged the settlement of Russian peasants by giving them fertile black soil farms to develop. In 1926, the city became the capital of the newly established Kirghiz ASSR and was renamed "Frunze" after Mikhail Frunze, Lenin's close associate who was born in Bishkek and played key roles during the 1905 and 1917 revolutions and during the Russian civil war of the early 1920s.

The early 1990s were tumultuous. In June 1990, a state of emergency was declared following severe riots in southern Kyrgyzstan which threatened to spread to the capital. The city was renamed Bishkek on 5 February 1991 and Kyrgyzstan achieved independence later that year during the breakup of the Soviet Union. Before independence, Bishkek was a "Russified" city, the majority of its population being ethnic Russians. In 2004, Russians made up approximately 20% of the city's population.

Today, Bishkek is a rapidly modernizing city, with many restaurants and cafes and lots of second-hand European and Japanese cars and minibuses crowding its streets. At the same time Bishkek still preserves its former Soviet feel, with Soviet-period buildings and gardens prevailing over newer structures.

Bishkek is also the country's financial centre, with all of the country's 21 commercial banks featuring offices in the city. During the Soviet era, the city was home to a large number of industrial plants, but most have been shut down or operate today on a much reduced scale. One of today's Bishkek's largest employment centres is Dordoy Bazaarmarker, which is one the major entrepôts for Chinese goods imported into CIS countries.

In 2002, the United Statesmarker obtained the right to use the nearby Manas International Airportmarker as an air basemarker for its military operations in Afghanistanmarker and Iraqmarker. Russiamarker subsequently (2003) established an air base of its own (Kant Air Basemarker) near Kantmarker some east of Bishkek. It is based at a facility that used to be home to a major Soviet military pilot training school; one of its students, Hosni Mubarak, later became president of Egyptmarker.


Bishkek has a continental, semi-arid climate averaging 322 clear days annually due to its mountainous location. Average precipitation is per year. Average daily temperatures range from in January to about during July. The summer months are dominated by dry periods experiencing the occasional thunderstorm which produces strong gusty winds and rare dust storms. The mountains to the south provide a natural boundary to provide protection from much of the damaging weather along with the smaller chain which runs NW to SE. In the winter months, sparse snow storms and frequent heavy fog are the dominating features. When an inversion sets up, the fog can last for days at a time.


Bishkek uses the Kyrgystan currency, the som. The som's value fluctuates regularly, but averages around 43 som per U.S. Dollar as of September 2009. The economy in Bishkek is primarily agricultural with the mass amounts of fruits, vegetables and livestock providing a co-existing system of bartering in the outlying regions. The streets of Bishkek are regularly lined with produce vendors in a market style venue. In the major portions of downtown a regular city scape which provide home to banks, stores, markets and malls. The most sought after of the goods are the prevalent hand-crafted artisan pieces; these include statues, carvings, paintings and many nature based sculptures.
The Bishkek White House, seat of the Kyrgyzstan government, president and parliament.


Local government is administered by the Bishkek Mayor's Office. Askarbek Salymbekov was mayor until his resignation in August 2005, following which his deputy Arstanbek Nogoev took over the mayorship. Nogoev was in turn removed from his position in October 2007 through a decree of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and replaced by businessman and former first deputy prime minister Daniar Usenov. In July 2008 former head of the Kyrgyz Railways Nariman Tuleyev was appointed mayor.


The city is home to the Bandy Federation of Kyrgyzstan which is a member of the IOC recognized Federation of International Bandy. It plans to send a team to the Asian Winter Games 2011.

Sights and attractions


Though the city is relatively young, the surrounding area has some sites of interest dating from prehistory, the Greco-Buddhist period, the period of Nestorian influence, the era of the Central Asian khanates, and the Soviet period.
National Historical Museum

The central part of the city is primarily built on a rectangular grid plan. The city's main street is the east-west Chui Avenue (Prospekt Chui), named after the region's main river. In the Soviet era, it was called Lenin Avenue. Along, or within a block or two from it, many of the most important government buildings, universities, the Academy of Sciences compound, etc., are to be found. The westernmost section of the avenue is known as Deng Xiaoping Avenue.

The main north-south axis is Yusup Abdrakhmanov Street, is still (2007) commonly referred to by its old name, Sovietskaya Street. Its northern and southern sections are called, respectively, Yelebesov and Baityk Batyr Streets. Several major shopping centres are located along it, and in the north it provides access to Dordoy Bazaarmarker.

Erkindik ("Freedom") Boulevard runs north-south, from the main railroad station (Bishkek II) south of Chui Avenue to the museum quarter and sculpture park just north of Chui Avenue, and further north toward the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the past, it was called Dzerzhinsky Boulevard—named after Communist revolutionary, Felix Dzerzhinsky—and its northern continuation is still called Dzerzhinksy Street.

An important east-west street is Jibek Jolu ('Silk Road'). It runs parallel to Chui Avenue about a mile north of it, and is part of the main east-west road of Chui Provincemarker. Both the Eastern and Western bus terminals are located along Jibek Jolu.

City centre

  • State Historical Museum, located in Ala-Too Square, the main city square
  • State Museum of Applied Arts, containing examples of Kyrgyz traditional handicrafts
  • Frunze House Museum
  • Statue of Ivan Panfilov stands in the park near the White House.
  • An equestrian statue of Mikhail Frunze still stands in a large park (Boulevard Erkindik) across from the train station.
  • The train station itself was built in 1946 by German prisoners of war and has survived since then without further renovation or repairs; most of those who built it perished and were buried in unmarked pits near the station.
  • The main government building, the White House, is a huge, seven story marble block and the former headquarters of the Communist Party of the Kirghiz SSRmarker
  • At Ala-Too Square, there is an Independence monument where the changing of the guards may be watched.
  • Osh bazaar, west of the downtown area, is a large, picturesque produce market

Outer neighbourhoods

  • The Dordoy Bazaarmarker, just inside the bypass highway on the north-eastern edge of the city, is a major retail and wholesale market.

Outside the city

  • The Ala-Too mountain range, some away, provides a spectacular backdrop to the city; the Ala Archa National Park is only a 30-45 minute drive away.


Educational institutions in Bishkek include:


A typical Bishkek passenger van passes by the East Bus Terminal
The electronic board in the main hall of Bishkek-2, the main train station, shows Bishkek and Moscow time
A diesel loco on an overpass (over the former Sovietskaya St.) just east of Bishkek-2, Bishkek's main train station.

Mass public transport

There is public transportation available, including buses, electric trolley buses, and public vans (known in Russian as marshrutka).Taxi cabs can be found throughout the city.

There is no subway in Bishkek, but the city is considering designing and building a light rail system (Бишкекское лёгкое метро).

Commuter and long-distance buses

There are two main bus stations in Bishkek. The smaller old Eastern Bus Station is primarily the terminal for minibuses to various destinations within or just beyond the eastern suburbs, such as Kant, Tokmokmarker, Keminmarker, Issyk Ata, or the Kordaymarker border crossing.

Long-distance regular bus and minibus services to all parts of the country, as well as to Almatymarker (the largest city in neighboring Kazakhstanmarker) and Kashgarmarker, China, run mostly from the newer grand Western Bus Station; only a smaller minority of them runs from the Eastern Station.

The Dordoy Bazaar on the north-eastern outskirts of the city also contains makeshift terminals for frequent minibuses to suburban towns in all directions (from Sokulukmarker in the west to Tokmak in the east) and to some buses taking traders to Kazakhstan and Siberia.


As of 2007, the Bishkek railway station sees only a few trains a day. It offers a popular three-day train service from Bishkek to Moscow.

There are also long-distance trains that leave for Siberia (Novosibirskmarker and Novokuznetskmarker), via Almatymarker, over the Turksib route, and to Yekaterinburgmarker (Sverdlovsk) in the Urals, via Astanamarker. These services are remarkably slow (over 48 hours to Yekaterinburg), due to long stops at the border and the indirect route (the trains first have to go west for more than a before they enter the main Turksib line and can continue to the east or north). E.g., as of the fall of 2008, train No. 305 Bishkek-Yekaterinburg was scheduled to take 11 hours to reach the Shumarker junction—a distance of some by rail, and less than half of that by road.


The city is served by Manas International Airportmarker (IATA code FRU), located approximately northwest of the city centre, and readily reachable by taxi.

Twinned cities

Sister cities of Bishkek include:


  1. 282 Гвардейский Краснознаменный мотострелковый полк имени М. В. Фрунзе в/ч 73809 п/о Подгорное Кой-Таш [1]
  2. Residential Real Estate Market in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Current Conditions and Prospects
  5. International University Of Kyrgyzstan
  6. International Ataturk-Alatoo University
  7. Kyrgyz National University
  8. Arabaev Kyrgyz State University
  9. Kyrgyz Russian Slavonic University
  10. Kyrgyz-Turkish MANAS University
  11. Schedule for train No. 305, Bishkek-Yekaterinburg

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