Sunday, 3 April 2005


Or maybe Kurgistan, or Kirgiztan. But it seems to be usually transliterated as Kyrgysztan. Why? It doesn't help us to pronounce it more accurately.
The CIA Factbook has a map (which they probably copied from a 19th century children's book about missionaries in Central Asia), showing that there's no difficulty with the transliteration of the capital, Bishkek, or the towns of Osh, Sary-Tash or So'x, but that there is some uncertainty with Tokmok (or Tokmak) and Kyzyl-Kyya (or Kyzyl-Kiya).

The latest news from this former Soviet republic is that the ousted president, Askar Akayev, has agreed to resign if they promise not to kill him, and that it is doubtful if Kurmanbek Bakiev, 56, the new interim president and prime minister, is popular enough to take over. Here's a picture of the latter wearing his rather unusual ceremonial hat.

...and since he looks a bit dull here's a jolly picture of a Kirgiz (or Kyrgysz) family, taken by an intrepid pair of back-packers who visited them in 1998 and shared their lunch of rice and decomposed duck.

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