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Kyrgyzstan: Preface
Country Study > Preface


At the end of 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union transformed the fifteen republics of that union into independent states with various capabilities for survival. Among them were the five republics of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Until that time, Central Asia had received less attention from the outside world than most of the other Soviet republics, simply because it was the most remote part of the Soviet Union. Aside from their incidental coverage in the 1991 Soviet Union: A Country Study, the Central Asian republics have received no treatment in this series. Since their independence, these republics have attracted considerable attention in the West, largely because of the improved opportunities for exploitation of their rich natural resources, notably oil and natural gas. As the fourth of the six-volume subseries covering all the post-Soviet states, this volume brings new information about a region of enhanced relevance in the world's economy and geopolitical structure.

The marked relaxation of information restrictions, which began in the late 1980s and has continued into the mid-1990s, allows the reporting of much more complete information on Central Asia than what was available one decade ago. Scholarly articles and periodical reports have been especially helpful in accounting for most aspects of the five republics' activities since they achieved independence. The authors have provided a context for their current evaluations with descriptions of the historical, political, and social backgrounds of the countries. In each case, the author's goal was to provide a compact, accessible, and objective treatment of five main topics: historical background, the society and its environment, the economy, government and politics, and national security. Brief comments on some of the more useful, readily accessible sources used in preparing this volume appear at the end of each chapter. Full references to these and other sources used by the authors are listed in the Bibliography.

In most cases, personal names have been transliterated from the vernacular according to the transliteration system of the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Some names, such as Boris N. Yeltsin and Joseph V. Stalin, are rendered in the conventional form widely used in Western sources. The same distinction has been applied to geographic names: the BGN spelling is used for the vast majority, but a few, such as the largest cities, Tashkent and Moscow, are given in their widely used conventional forms. Some geographical names regrettably are missing diacritics because the typesetting software being used cannot produce all the necessary characters (although they do appear on the maps). Organizations commonly known by their acronyms (such as the IMF -- International Monetary Fund) are introduced by their full names, in both vernacular and English forms where appropriate. Adjectives derived from the name of a republic ("Kazakhstani" and "Uzbekistani," for example) are used in all cases except where such a term denotes persons or groups of a specific ethnic origin. In the latter cases, the adjective is in the form "Kazak" or "Uzbek." The same distinction applies to the proper nouns for citizens of a republic ("Kazakhstanis," for example) as distinguished from individuals of an ethnic group ("Kazaks").

A chronology at the beginning of the book combines significant historical events of the five countries. To amplify points in the text and provide standards of comparison, tables in the Appendix offer statistics on aspects of the five societies and national economies. Measurements are given in the metric system; a conversion table is provided in the Appendix.

The body of the text reflects information available as of March 1996. Certain other portions of the text, however, have been updated beyond that point. The Introduction discusses significant events and trends that have occurred since the completion of research; the Country Profiles and the Chronology include updated information as available; and the Bibliography lists recently published sources thought to be particularly helpful to the reader.

Last Updated: March 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Kyrgyzstan was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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