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Not to be confused with Caracol.
For the town in the Jalal-Abad Province of Kyrgyzstan, see Karaköl. For the village in Iran, see Karakol, Iran.
The Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karakol
The Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karakol
Flag of Karakol
Coat of arms of Karakol
Coat of arms
Karakol is located in Kyrgyzstan
Location in Kyrgyzstan
Coordinates: 42°29′N 78°24′E / 42.483°N 78.400°E / 42.483; 78.400
Country Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg Kyrgyzstan
Province Issyk-Kul Province
Population (2009)[1]
 • Total 67,100

Karakol (Kyrgyz: Каракол), formerly Przhevalsk, is fourth largest city in Kyrgyzstan, near the eastern tip of Issyk Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan, about 150 kilometres (93 mi) from the Kyrgyzstan-China border and 380 kilometres (240 mi) from the capital Bishkek. It is the administrative capital of Issyk Kul Province. To the north, on highway A363, is Tyup and to the southwest Jeti-Ögüz resort.


A Russian military outpost founded on July 1, 1869, Karakol grew in the 19th century after explorers came to map the peaks and valleys separating Kyrgyzstan from China. In the 1880s Karakol's population surged with an influx of Dungans, Chinese Muslims fleeing warfare in China.

In 1888, the Russian explorer Nicholay Przhevalsky died in Karakol of typhoid, while preparing for an expedition to Tibet, the city was renamed Przhevalsk in his honor. After local protests, the town was given its original name back in 1921—a decision reversed in 1939 by Stalin to celebrate the centenary of the explorer's birth. Karakol then remained Przhevalsk until the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. However the name has been retained by nearby Pristan'-Przheval'sk.

Nearby Issyk Kul Lake was used by the Soviet military as a testing site for torpedo propulsion and guidance systems, and Karakol was thus home to a sizable population of military personnel and their families. Karakol continues to be a major hub for visitors of Issyk Kul Lake.


Karakol is fourth largest town in Kyrgyzstan after Bishkek, Osh, and Jalal-Abad. The population of Karakol, according to the Population and Housing Census of 2009, was 67,100.

Historical populations in Karakol
Year Pop.
1897 8,108
1907 13,948
1926 13,366
1970 46,394
1989 68,272
2009 67,100



Climate data for Karakol
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Daily mean °C (°F) −13.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 8.9
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 7.1 7.8 9.2 9.4 12 12 10.7 8 6.4 6.6 7.2 6.6 103
 % humidity 69.4 69.6 59.4 46.6 47.2 45 43 41.2 42.5 49.6 58.7 59.7 53.4
Source: "The Climate of Karakol" (in English). Weatherbase. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 


The minaret of the Dungan Mosque
Karakol gorge

Karakol is one of Kyrgyzstan's major tourist destinations, serving as a good starting point for the excellent hiking, trekking, skiing and mountaineering in the high central Tian Shan to the south and east.

The town itself boasts a number of places that would be of interest to tourists, such as a very pretty wooden mosque built by Chinese artisans for the local Dungans between 1907 and 1910 entirely without metal nails and a similarly appealing wooden Russian Orthodox church, the Holy Trinity Cathedral, completed in 1895, used as an officer's club during Soviet times, but now restored and in use again. The Regional Museum, following some sponsorship from the nearby Canadian gold mining concern, has exhibits on the Issyk Kul Lake petroglyphs, Scythian bronze artifacts, and a short history of the geology and mineral exploitation in the region. There also is a small section of Russian colonial "gingerbread" style residential buildings. The Sunday livestock market is a good place to see remnants of the traditional nomadic rural life.

Przhevalsky's grave, a memorial park and a small museum dedicated to his and other Russian explorations in Central Asia are some 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) north of Karakol at Pristan Przhevalsky, overlooking the Mikhailovka inlet of Issyk Kul Lake where the former Soviet torpedo testing facilities were located. Facilities themselves are still a closed, military area.

Karakol is famous among skiers and snowboarders from former USSR for its ski resort. Situated just 20 minutes from the town, the Karakol Ski Base provides services significantly better[citation needed] than those available at Shymbulak, a resort outside Almaty, and has cheaper prices. Unlike Shymbulak resort, the riding at Karakol includes forest areas as well as cleared trails.

Famous people born in Karakol[edit]

Sister cities[edit]


External links[edit]

Media related to Karakol at Wikimedia Commons web page Karakol

Coordinates: 42°29′N 78°24′E / 42.483°N 78.400°E / 42.483; 78.400