What most people associate with Kyrgyzstan: mountains, grasslands and yurts.
Photo: Gladieu/Le Figaro Magazine/laif
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Around a third of Kyrgyzstan‘s GDP comes from remittances, which puts the country second world-wide in this respect. Migration within the country is also at a high level. But cash flows from urban to rural areas are only one effect of this phenomenon. The population in the cities themselves are also provided with food by their rural relatives. Nevertheless, this by no means implies that the food situation in the country is on a sound footing.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the five Central Asian countries which gained independence in the course of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It is located between Kazakhstan at its northern border and China, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan at its southern border. Most people attribute high mountains, nomadic culture and yurts to Kyrgyzstan. In fact, the country hosted the second World Nomadic Games in September this year.

Less known to most people, but of crucial importance to Kyrgyzstan, is labour migration and the associated inflow of money through remittances. From a population of about six million people, around 800,000 (some estimates even refer to one million) work abroad. The total amount of money transferred from migrant labourers into Kyrgyzstan was 32.9 per cent of GDP in 2017, according to World Bank data. This figure ranks Kyrgyzstan second world-wide in terms of remittances compared to GDP, only surpassed by Tonga (see right Figure below).

The major destination for migrant workers is Russia with an estimated 640,000 Kyrgyz people working there, followed by neighbouring Kazakhstan (see left Figure below).



In Russia, the major destination is Moscow, followed by other big cities like Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, or Novosibirsk, which is also easily visible on the flight schedules of Bishkek and Osh Airports.

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