February 23 – Defender of the Fatherland Day in Kyrgyzstan

Posted on February 23, 2017

Several former Soviet republics celebrate a holiday about the armed forces or defense of country today, February 23. This includes Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan (see below), several other Soviet republics, and today's focus, Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the former-Soviet nations I hear least about. It's a landlocked nation (which means it has no border on an ocean or a sea connected to an ocean), and it is very mountainous. The relative isolation created from these two factors is complicated by the fact that, from ancient times, this land was at the crossroads of early civilizations and was on the "Silk Road" and other trade routes.

Kyrgyzstan is in the center of Central Asia! You can
see that it is north of India and south of Russia,
and that it borders on China.

(Below) The Silk Road wasn't just one giant path...
But one of the more direct routes from Arabia to
China and back went right through Kyrgyzstan.

Isolation means that Kyrgyzstan's ancient culture has been, to some extent, preserved. But being a crossroads means that it has a long history of being dominated by foreign powers.

And all of that means that visitors to Kyrgyzstan discover a wide variety of foods and languages and cultures - especially heavy with Persian, Mongolian, and Russian influences.

One common language is Russian, but Kyrgyz, a Turkic language, is the national language.

One Kyrgyz dish is laghman, which has thick wheat noodles, peppers and other vegetables, and a spicy vinegar sauce.

Bread is considered sacred in Kyrgyz culture; common types include naan (flat bread common in India and other Central Asian nations), thick Russian breads, and fried bread. Bread is often eaten dipped in jam or butter or honey, or even suspended in tea! Another dip for bread is like Turkish kaymak, a dairy product that is a lot like clotted cream.

Isn't this bread oven surprising? I read that the dough
hangs on the sides as it bakes into loaves of yummy,
puffy bread!

Some Kyrgyz live in yurts.

Most Kyrgyz are Muslim, although earlier religious practices still coexist with Islam. 

Check out this earlier post on Kyrgyzstan. And check out more beautiful photos of this little-known nation here

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