Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz: Кыргызстан; Russian: Киргизия), officially known as Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyz: Кыргыз Республикасы Kyrgyz Respublikasy; Russian: Кыргызская Республика), is a Central Asian country bordered by Kazakhstan from the North, China in the east, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the west and south. It is a former Soviet republic, and is known as a mountainous country. The Kyrgyz originally lived in Mongolia and Siberia. Expansion in the 12th and 13th centuries, not helped at all by Genghis Khan's conquests, had forced the Kyrgyz to settle in its present-day territory. They were hemmed down by the Kokand khanate in Uzbekistan and the Manchurians in the East during the Qing Dynasty. While early Chinese and Muslim sources state that the early Kyrgyz people were red-haired and blond, today, just like the Kazakhs, they◊ are◊ not◊ that◊ different◊ looking◊ from other East Asian people; in fact, some people might be surprised that the country is inhabited by these Muslim "Chinese" (with the implication that such a possibility could not exist). Islamic and Turkic culture apart, the Kyrgyz also had a nomadic culture similar to the Kazakhs and Mongols. Tsarist Russia expanded to Kyrgyzstan during the 19th century. Revolts during the Russian Revolution by the native Kyrgyz only ended in failure, and they were incorporated to the USSR, getting SSR status in 1936. The Kyrgyz were often lumped together with the Kazakhs, the word Kara-Kyrgyz was used to the actual Kyrgyz. While industrialization in the country merited some successes, the country was swept away by the events of the fall of the Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan later declared independence in 1991. The first president of Kyrgyzstan was Askar Akayev. While his technocratic credentials earned him some praise for reforming parts of the economy, he was increasingly became autocratic. Not to mention the claims that he is a descendant of a medieval Kyrgyz hero and the rumors that Boris Yeltsin of Russia had played drums on his balding head while drunk. All in all, Akayev was deposed in 2005 during protests against his regime. Then a second Kyrgyz revolution flared up in 2010, the protesters accusing President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of being ending up like Akayev. Like his predecessor, he was soon sacked from his post, and a woman named Roza Otunbayeva, a former foreign minister, led a transitional government. Occasional flareups between the Kyrgyz majority and the Uzbek minority, often causing violent riots, have also been a source of trouble in the country, not to mention poor economic record. Almazbek Atambayev then succeeded Otunbayeva as President in 2011.
The Kyrgyzstani flag
The red field symbolizes valor. At the center is a golden sun, representing bounty; at its center is the tŁndŁk (stylized as a red ring and two sets of three lines), the crown of a yurt, symbolizing the family; and its 40 rays recall the Epic of Manas, in which the titular hero consolidates 40 Kyrgyz tribes against the Mongols.