Kyrgyzstan Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

Kyrgyzstan was one of the poorest Union republics in the Soviet era (1918–1991), and the situation deteriorated after independence in 1991. Nowadays, just over a quarter of the population lives below the national poverty line. In the agricultural areas in the south it is worse off than in the industrial region in the north.

Impaired public health since the early 1990s has lowered the average life expectancy. Diseases such as diphtheria, jaundice, measles, whooping cough and tuberculosis are common. Almost all residents have access to clean water and functioning sewage systems.

Social protection networks have been eroded since independence, and health care has deteriorated, especially in rural areas. There is a shortage of medicines, vaccines and modern medical equipment. The care is no longer free of charge and many surgeons cannot afford to go to hospitals and clinics. Bribes are common for example passing a care queue.

Kyrgyzstan Social Condition Facts

With international assistance, the government is trying to improve healthcare and reform the pension system. The retirement age is 60 years for men and 55 years for women.

Crime has increased in line with drug smuggling. Drugs are produced in the country, but essentially it is smuggled in by major international networks from Afghanistan and Tajikistan via Kyrgyzstan, among others, into the world. Drug use is becoming more common among Kyrgyz people.

Classes and community life

Kyrgyz society is traditionally conservative and has long had nomadic life as the norm. In the 1930s, the Soviet power forced people to move to cities, villages and collective agriculture. Nevertheless, many Kyrgyz continued to move with their livestock herds seasonally, and resistance to industrialization has remained strong.

Kyrgyzstan has a small upper class while the rest of the population lives under scarce circumstances. Ethnic Kyrgyz are present in both groups, but it is unusual for members of minority peoples among politicians and business leaders, for example. Speaking Russian, dressing western, having a two-storey house and expensive car gives status. Poor knowledge of Russian is usually regarded as a sign of a lower social status.

Clans and family life

The residents’ identity has long been determined by customer affiliation. They belong to one of the three clan groups ong (right), sun (left) or itjkilik (neither or). The left flank includes seven clans in the north and in the west who fight for power and influence among themselves. From the Buguu clan , the first administrators of the Kyrgyz Soviet Republic came, but they were replaced by members of the Sarygavian clan following the purges of Soviet leader Josef Stalin in the 1930s. Since then, many Kyrgyz leaders have come from Sarybagysh, including former President Askar Akajev. The right wing is in the south and consists of only one clan, Adygeja. It has a reputation as the genuine Kyrgyz clan. Itchkilik in the south consists of many clans, where not all of them are Kyrgyz, although they claim it.

Although regional affiliation has now become increasingly important, Kyrgyz people are still aware of their clan membership when it comes to competition for social and economic benefits. Supporting members of one’s own clan is especially important in the north. Members of the same clan do not marry each other if they have common ancestors among the last seven generations. The Kyrgyz are well aware of their own history and are expected to name the family’s ancestors for seven generations. However, the consciousness of customer affiliation is considerably stronger in the countryside than in the more modern cities.

Family traditions still have a patriarchal and feudal character from the nomadic age. The respect is great for the elderly and for the dominance of the male head of the family. Age is more important than gender when it comes to status; an older woman is superior to a younger man.

A traditional wedding lasts for three days, but few Kyrgyz nowadays can afford bride price, dowry, animal sacrifice, money gifts and clothing gifts between the bride and groom’s families. When the youngest son in a family gets married, he and his wife are expected to live with the son’s parents and take care of them until they die, when the son is allowed to take over the house and cattle. He is expected to share the livestock with his brothers if they end up in hardship. Daughters do not inherit their parents but are part of their spouse’s family.

Arranged marriages are not as common as before, but bridesmaids still exist. According to legal activists, more than 10,000 girls and women are kidnapped each year and forced into marriage. Victims are deprived of education and other rights and often become sex and household slaves. Many marriages with minors are unofficially registered at mosques. In 2013, the maximum penalty for bride kidnapping was increased to seven years in prison, if the bride is a minor, the sentence could be ten years. It is considered shameful to report the perpetrator, and the first prison sentence for bride robbery was first sentenced in 2012. Then a man was sent to jail after a young girl whom he robbed had been hanged.

The situation of women

The demands of nomad life have meant that women have traditionally worked as men’s equals, but have also been responsible for raising children, milking and cooking.

During the Soviet era, women could continue to work outside the home and also play a role in politics. Within the school system, women still have a significant influence today. After independence, women have had more prominent roles in society in Kyrgyzstan than in other Central Asia. Most recently, former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbajeva has reached. She played a central role in connection with the change of power in 2010 (see Modern history) and then became acting president.

Abuse of women and children is common, as is trafficking. There are also many street children.

The situation of LGBT people

Since 1998, homosexuality among men is no longer illegal. Homosexuality among women has never been regulated by law. There are reports that homosexuals are nevertheless discriminated against in society in different ways, which means that many do not talk about their sexual orientation.


Infant Mortality: 17 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 0.2 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 87.3 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 96.5 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 8.2 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 73 (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 19 percent (2018)



The government is leaving

The government resigns in an attempt to force new elections.


Islamist imam is killed

Imam Rafik Kamalov, an ethnic Uzbek, is killed when Kyrgyz and Uzbek security forces make joint raids against radical Islamist strongholds in the Fergana Valley. The Bakijev regime accuses Kamalov of conspiring with Islamist terrorists.


Ethnic conflict in the Fergana Valley

Tensions are rising in the Fergana Valley in the southwest between Kyrgyz and the Uzbek minority. Several people are killed when unknown perpetrators attack a border post.


Big demonstrations against the regime

In Bishkek, For Reform organizes mass demonstrations demanding constitutional changes that limit the power of the president. Bakijev appears powerless in the face of growing popular dissatisfaction.


Protests against the Bakijev regime

Omurbek Tekebajev is at the forefront of a new opposition movement, Reform, which calls for the president’s powers to be reduced in favor of Parliament. Thousands of protesters are demanding that President Bakijev take power against slanderous politics, corruption and organized crime.