Key facts on Kyrgyzstan, a central Asian republic, which has been mired for the past four days in deadly violence in the south of the country:
- GEOGRAPHY: Kyrgyzstan is one of the smallest and poorest of the predominantly Muslim countries which emerged in Central Asia from the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Landlocked and mountainous, the country is wedged between Kazakhstan to the north and west, China to the east and south, and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the west and southwest.
At 198,500 square kilometers (76,600 square miles), Kyrgyzstan is slightly smaller than Britain.
- POPULATION: 5.3 million, of whom 67.4 per cent are ethnic Kyrgyz, 14.2 per cent Uzbeks and 10.3 per cent Russians.
- CAPITAL: Bishkek.
- LANGUAGES: Kyrgyz and Russian.
- HISTORY: Kyrgyzstan was formerly part of Russian Turkestan, which was broken up after the creation of the Soviet Union in 1917. It became one of the 15 federated republics of the Union in 1936.
The country proclaimed its independence in August 1991, and two months later Askar Akayev was made president in an election in which he was the sole candidate.
After the September 2001 attacks on the United States, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan, the Akayev regime allowed Washington to set up an air base, which is still there. The country also hosts a Russian base, set up in 2003.
Akayev clung to office through a series of elections that were widely seen as rigged, until he was unseated by a popular revolt in March 2005.
He was replaced by Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a former prime minister who had defected to the opposition.
Bakiyev fled the country after an uprising in April which left 87 dead and the current provisional government was installed, led by interim leader Roza Otunbayeva.
- ECONOMY: Predominantly agricultural, Kyrgyzstan has few of the mineral and hydrocarbon resources enjoyed by its near neighbours, although it produces some oil and gold.
Agriculturally, the country is famed for its livestock, notably its horses.
Revenue per capita stood at 524 dollars in 2008, according to the World Bank.
Growth: 2.3 per cent in 2009.
Debt: 2.46 billion dollars (WB).
- ARMED FORCES: 10,900 troops (IISS).
- ORGANISATIONS: Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which groups Russia, China and the main Central Asian states, and the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation.