Transport in Kyrgyzstan

Transport in Kyrgyzstan

Transport in Kyrgyzstan is severely constrained by the country's alpine topography. Roads have to snake up steep valleys, cross passes of 3,000 metre (9,000 feet) altitude and more, and are subject to frequent mud slides and snow avalanches. Winter travel is close to impossible in many of the more remote and high-altitude regions. Additional problems are due to the fact that many roads and railway lines built during the Soviet period are today intersected by international boundaries, requiring time-consuming border formalities to cross where they are not completely closed. It is worth mentioning that the horse is still a much used transport option, especially in rural and inaccessible areas, as it does not depend on imported fuel.


The Chui valley in the north and the Ferghana valley in the south were endpoints of the Soviet Union's rail system in Central Asia. Following the emergence of independent post-Soviet states, the rail lines which were built without regard for administrative boundaries have been cut by borders, and traffic is therefore severely curtailed. The small bits of rail lines within Kyrgyzstan, about 370 km (1,520 mm broad gauge) in total, have little economic value in the absence of the former bulk traffic over long distances to and from such centers as Tashkent, Almaty and the cities of Russia.

There are vague plans about extending rail lines from Balykchy in the north and/or from Osh in the south into the People's Republic of China, but the cost of construction would be enormous.

Rail links with adjacent countries

* Kazakhstan - yes - Bishkek branch - same gauge
* Uzbekistan - yes - Osh branch - same gauge
* Tajikistan - no - same gauge
* China - no - Break of gauge 1524mm/1435mm


* [ UN Map]


With support from the Asian Development Bank, a major road linking the north and southwest from Bishkek to Osh has recently been completed. This considerably eases communication between the two major population centers of the country -- the Chui Valley in the north and the Fergana Valley in the South. An offshoot of this road branches off across a 3,500 meter pass into the Talas Valley in the northwest. Plans are now being formulated to build a major road from Osh into the People's Republic of China.

"total:" 30,300 km (including 140 km of expressways)
"paved:" 22,600 km (includes some all-weather gravel-surfaced roads)
"unpaved:" 7,700 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1990)

Frequent bus and, more commonly, minibus, service connects country's major cities. Minibuses provide public transit in cities and between cities to neighboring villages.


The limitations of Kyrgyzstan’s pipeline system are a major impediment to fuel distribution. In 2006 the country had 367 kilometers of natural gas pipeline and 16 kilometers of oil pipeline, after adding 167 kilometers of natural gas pipeline in 2003.


Water transport exists only on Lake Issyk Kul, and has drastically shrunk since the end of the Soviet Union.

Ports and waterways

Kyrgyzstan’s only port is Balykchy, a fishing town on Lake Issyk-Köl. None of Kyrgyzstan’s rivers is navigable, and the country has no canals. [ Kyrgyzstan country profile] . Library of Congress Federal Research Division (January 2007). "This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.]


At the end of the Soviet period there were about 50 airports and airstrips in Kyrgyzstan, many of them built primarily to serve military purposes in this border region so close to China. Only a few of them remain in service today.
* Manas Airport near Bishkek is the main international terminal, with flights to Moscow, Tashkent, Dushanbe, Istanbul, Baku, and London.
* Osh Airport is the main air terminal in the South, with daily connections to Bishkek.
* Jalal-Abad Airport is linked to Bishkek by two flights per week.
* Other facilities built during the Soviet era are either closed down, used only occasionally or restricted to military use (e.g., Kant airbase, now a Russian air base near Bishkek).

Airports - with paved runways:
"total:" 4
"over 3,047 m:" 1 (Bishkek-Manas)
"2,438 to 3,047 m:" 1 (Osh)
"1,524 to 2,437 m:" 1 (Jalalabad)
"under 914 m:" 1 (2002)

Airports - with unpaved runways (mostly in disuse):
"total:" 46
"2,438 to 3,047 m:" 3
"1,524 to 2,437 m:" 5
"914 to 1,523 m:" 6
"under 914 m:" 32 (2002)

See also:
* List of airports in Kyrgyzstan

See also

* Kyrgyzstan


External links

* [ Voices from Bishkek protest rally]

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