Bishkek formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyzstan.
Bishkek is also the administrative centre of Chuy Province which surrounds the city, even though the city itself is not part of the province but rather a province-level unit of Kyrgyzstan.
According to the post-Soviet ideology, 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, which is rather debatable.
Bishkek is situated at about 800 metres (2,600 ft) altitude just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountain range, which rises up to 4,855 metres (15,928 ft) and provides a spectacular backdrop to the city.
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.
|POPULATION :||City: 937,400|
|TIME ZONE :||KGT (UTC+6)|
|LANGUAGE :||Kyrgyz (official), Uzbek , Russian (official)|
|RELIGION :||Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%, other 5%|
|AREA :||127 km2 (49 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||800 m (2,600 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||42°52′29″N 74°36′44″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.30% |
• Female: 50.70%
|ETHNIC :||Kyrgyz 66%, Uzbek 13.8%, Russian 12.5%, Other 7.7%|
|AREA CODE :||312|
|POSTAL CODE :||720000-720085|
|DIALING CODE :||(+996) 312|
Bishkek is the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic and sits in the Tien Shan mountain range in the Chui Valley. It is a relatively new city and has limited historical sites, but it makes a great place to start your trips to the mountains and alpine lakes of the Tien Shans.
Bishkek is, however, an interesting example of a czarist planned city; laid on a grid with wide boulevards flanked by irrigation canals and large trees, buildings with marble façades, and Soviet apartment complexes.
Many young travelers find Bishkek's nightlife a delight and the people are friendly and very hospitable. Bishkek is a city of many young people that hang out in Clubs and small cafes. Kyrgyzstan has the most liberal tourist visa regime in Central Asia, so Bishkek makes a great place to start a tour of the silk road and collect your visas to neighbouring countries.
According to the post-Soviet ideology, 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, which is rather debatable. Founded in 1825 as a Khokand fortress of "Pishpek" to control local caravan routes and to get tribute from Kyrgyz tribes, on 4 September 1860 the fortress was destroyed by Russian forces led by colonel Zimmermann, with approval of the Kyrgyz. In 1868 a Russian settlement was founded on the fortress's spot, adopting its original name - Pishpek, within the General Governorship of Russian Turkestan and its Semirechye Oblast.
In 1925 the Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast was created in Russian Turkestan, promoting Pishpek as its capital. In 1926 the city was given the name Frunze, after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze, who was born here. In 1936 the city of Frunze became the capital of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic during the final stages of the national delimitation in the Soviet Union.
In 1991, the Kyrgyz parliament changed the capital's name to Bishkek (although without quorum).
Bishkek has a humid continental climate.
Average precipitation is around 440 millimetres (17 in) per year.
Average daily high temperatures range from 3 °C (37.4 °F) in January to about 31 °C (87.8 °F) 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.
|Daily highs (°C)||3.2||4.9||11.2||18.5||23.6||29||31.7||30.9||25.5||17.8||11||5|
|Nightly lows (°C)||-7.1||-5.2||0.4||6.4||11.1||15.6||17.9||16.4||11.3||5||-0.1||-5.1|
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 (Chuy Prospekti), 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, and so on, 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, still 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 Bazaar.
Erkindik ("Freedom") Boulevard runs from north to 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 a Communist revolutionary, Felix Dzerzhinsky—and its northern continuation is still called Dzerzhinsky Street.
An important east–west street is Jibek Jolu ('Silk Road'). It runs parallel to Chui Avenue about 2 km (1 mi) north of it, and is part of the main east–west road of Chui Province. Both the Eastern and Western bus terminals are located along Jibek Jolu.
Bishkek uses the Kyrgyzstan currency, the som. The Som's value fluctuates regularly, but averaged around 61 som per U.S. Dollar as of February 2015.
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 there is a more urban cityscape with 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.
Free wifi is now widespread. Most "foreinercafes" have free wifi (Coffee, Foyer, Obama, Cyclone, Pirogoff-Vodkin, Vostok Zapad, Tubeteika, Movie City Bar, Buddha Bar, etc.). There is also free wifi at the vefa shoppingcenter on the corner of Gorkiy and Soviet.
Getting mobile phone service or even internet service is rather straight forward and a good idea, even if you're here for only a few days. You can purchase a SIM card (for GSM phones) at literally hundreds of retailers from: Beeline, Megacom, and Fonex. Also, Nexi-com and Beeline have offer 3G internet services. A SIM card is approximately 100 soms (~$2.25) and you can also now re-charge it at numerous automated machines in the city, many of which feature an English language program. If you do not have a compatible phone, you can purchase a new no-frills model for as little as 1200 soms (~$27).