Kara-Balta ('black ax', Russian/Kyrgyz: Кара-Балта) is a city and municipality on the Chu River, in Chuy Province, Kyrgyzstan, the capital of Jaiyl District. It was founded in 1825 under the Kokand Khanate, and received city status in 1975 under the Soviets. Its city population was officially 37,834 in the 2009 census. The municipality had a population of 54,200 according to the Soviet 1989 census.
Kara-Balta is located on the northern slopes of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too, in the western part of Chuy Province, 62 km west of the capital of Bishkek. The road continues west through Kaindy toward Taraz, Kazakhstan. Another road goes south through the Too-Ashoo Tunnel and then splits, one branch going west to Talas Province and the other south and then east through the Suusamyr valley to Balykchy on Lake Issyk Kul. It has a temperate climate. The terrain is flat, with a slight slope downwards from the south to the north.
The Chuy Valley has been settled since the Fifth Century, but after the invasion by Genghis Khan the area was inhabited mostly by nomads and pastoralists. However, the settlement became a town and flourished under the Khanate of Kokand.
The major industry in Kara-Balta was the processing plant of the mining combine, Kara-Balta Ore Mining Combine (KBMP), the largest in Central Asia. During Soviet times, it processed uranium ore from deposits in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. After independence, the mines in Kyrgyzstan closed quickly; however KBMP continued to process uranium concentrate from Kazakhstan until 2005 when this activity wad stopped due to the lack of raw material. The massive uranium tailings remain a problem. KBMP still processes gold and molybdenum ores.
In February 2007 the Russian Renova Group won a tender to purchase the Kyrgyz government's 72.28 percent stake in the Kara-Balta uranium-production facility.
The city has a bandy club.
- This article is based in part on material from the Russian Wikipedia.
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