The climate varies regionally. The south-western Fergana Valley is subtropical and extremely hot in summer, with temperatures reaching 40 C. The northern foothills are temperate and the Tian Shan varies from dry continental to polar climate, depending on elevation. In the coldest areas temperatures are sub-zero for around 40 days in winter, and even some desert areas experience constant snowfall in this period.
Kyrgyzstan is one of the two former Soviet republics in Central Asia to retain Russian as an official language. It added the Kyrgyz language to become an officially bilingual country in September 1991. This bilingualism was intended to signal to the ethnic Russians that they were welcome in the new independent state, in an effort to avoid a brain drain.
Kyrgyz Som (KGS; symbol лв) = 100 tyin. Notes are in denominations of лв1, 000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1, and 50, 10 and 1 tyin.
The population of Kyrgyzstan in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 5, 138, 000, which placed it as number 109 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 6% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 35% of the population under 15 years of age.
Bishkek 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.