Transport in Kyrgyzstan

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A road in Osh

Transport in Kyrgyzstan is severely constrained by the country's alpine topography. Roads have to snake up steep valleys, cross passes of 3,000 m (9,843 ft) 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 because 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. The horse is still a much used transport option, especially in rural and inaccessible areas, as it does not depend on imported fuel. For transport in the Soviet Union, see Transport in the Soviet Union.


A diesel loco near the main train station in Bishkek

The Kyrgyz Railway is currently responsible for railway development and maintenance in the country. The Chuy Valley in the north and the Fergana 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 of 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in) 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[edit]



Most of the intercity travelers having switched from the big state-run buses to minivans, the palatial halls of Bishkek's West Bus Terminal remain mostly deserted

With support from the Asian Development Bank, a major road linking the north and southwest from Bishkek to Osh has recently[when?] been completed. This considerably eases communication between the two major population centers of the country—the Chuy 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.

The total length of the road network in Kyrgyzstan is approximately 34,000 km. Of them, 18,810 km are public roads directly subordinated to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and 15,190 km - other roads (village, agricultural, industrial,etc.). By their status the roads of the Ministry of Transport and Communications are classified as:

  • international roads: 4,163 km
  • state roads: 5,678 km
  • local roads: 8,969 km

By nature of surface there can be distinguished:

  • hard-surfaced roads: 7,228 km (including 11 km of cement concrete roads, 4,969 km - bituminous concrete surface, 2,248 km - road-mix pavement)
  • gravel roads: 9,961 km
  • earth roads: 1,621 km [1]

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.[2]


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

Ports and waterways[edit]

Kyrgyzstan's only port is Balykchy, a fishing town on Issyk Kul Lake. None of Kyrgyzstan's rivers is navigable, and the country has no canals.[2]


In the little airfield in Tamchy village on Issyk Kul Lake's north shore
Kyrgyzstan Air Company Antonov AN-24 in Jalal-Abad Airport prepares for flight to Bishkek, March 7, 2010.

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.

There are four airports with international flights, namely in Bishkek, Osh, Tamchy and Karakol.

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 21
over 3,047 m: 1 (Bishkek-Manas)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (Osh, Kant and Tokmok)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11 (Jalal-Abad, Karakol International, Kerben, Kazarman, Isfana, Batken, Naryn, Talas, Issyk-Kul International, Kyzyl-Kiya and Cholpon-Ata)
under 914 m: 6 (Tamga, Toktogul, Kanysh-Kiya, Pokrovka, Aravan and Sakaldy) (2012)

Airports - with unpaved runways (mostly in disuse):
total: 29
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (Gulcha, Daroot-Korgon, Ala-Buka, At-Bashy, Suzak and Chatkal)
under 914 m: 15 (2012)

See also:

See also[edit]