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"Frunze" redirects here. For other uses, see Frunze (disambiguation).
Kyrgyz transcription(s)
 • ISO 9 biškek
 • BGN/PCGN bishkek
 • ALA-LC bishkek
Ala-Too Square
Flag of Bishkek
Coat of arms of Bishkek
Coat of arms
Bishkek is located in Kyrgyzstan
Location in Kyrgyzstan
Coordinates: 42°52′29″N 74°36′44″E / 42.87472°N 74.61222°E / 42.87472; 74.61222
Country  Kyrgyzstan
Shaar Bishkek[1] (It is, however, the capital of the Chuy Province)
Founded 1825
 • Mayor Albek Ibraimov
 • Total 127 km2 (49 sq mi)
Elevation 800 m (2,600 ft)
Population (2015)[3]
 • Total 937,400
 • Density 7,400/km2 (19,000/sq mi)
Time zone KGT (UTC+6)
Postal code 720000-720085
Area code(s) (+996) 312
Vehicle registration B, E
Website (Kyrgyz)(Russian)
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Meteorological Organization

Bishkek (in Kyrgyz and Russian: Бишкéк; IPA: [biʃˈkek] and [bʲiʂˈkʲɪk] respectively), formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and largest city of the Kyrgyz Republic. Bishkek is also the administrative center of the Chuy Province. The province surrounds the city, although the city itself is not part of the province, but rather a province-level unit of Kyrgyzstan.

According to post-Soviet research, the name is thought to derive from a Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make fermented mare's milk (kumis), the Kyrgyz national drink, although not all sources agree on this. The city was founded in 1825 as the Khokand fortress of "Pishpek" in order to control local caravan routes and to collect tribute from Kyrgyz tribes. On September 4, 1860, the fortress was destroyed by Russian forces led by colonel Zimmermann, with the approval of the Kyrgyz. In 1868 a Russian settlement was founded on the fortress's spot, under its original name, Pishpek. It lay within the General Governorship of Russian Turkestan and its Semirechye Oblast.

In 1925, the Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast was created in Russian Turkestan, promoting Pishpek to its capital. In 1926, the city was given the name Frunze, after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze, who was born there. In 1936, the city of Frunze became the capital of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic, during the final stages of the national delimitation in the Soviet Union.

In 1991, the Kyrgyz parliament changed the capital's name to Bishkek.

Bishkek is situated at an altitude of about 800 meters (2,600 ft), just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountain range. These mountains rise to a height of 4,855 meters (15,928 ft) and provide a spectacular backdrop to the city. North of the city, a fertile and gently undulating steppe extends far north into neighboring Kazakhstan. The Chui River drains most of the area. Bishkek is connected to the Turkestan-Siberia Railway by a spur line.

Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards. Mostly outside the city center, there are also thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees that provide shade in the hot summers.


Kokhand rule[edit]

Originally a caravan rest stop (possibly founded by the Sogdians) on one of the branches of the Silk Road through the Tian Shan range, the location was fortified in 1825 by the Uzbek khan of Kokhand with a mud fort. In the last years of Kokhand rule, the fortress was led by Atabek, the Datka.

Tsarist era[edit]

In 1860, the fort was conquered and razed by the military forces of Colonel Zimmermann when Tsarist Russia annexed the area. Colonel Zimmermann rebuilt the town over the destroyed fort and put field Poruchik Titov as head of a new Russian garrison. The site was redeveloped from 1877 onward by the Russian government, which encouraged the settlement of Russian peasants by giving them fertile land to develop.

Soviet Era[edit]

Frunze statue near the railway station

In 1926, the city became the capital of the newly established Kirghiz ASSR and was renamed "Frunze" after Mikhail Frunze, Lenin's close associate who was born in Bishkek and played key roles during the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and during the Russian civil war of the early 1920s.

Independence era[edit]

The early 1990s were tumultuous. In June 1990, a state of emergency was declared following severe ethnic riots in southern Kyrgyzstan that threatened to spread to the capital. The city was renamed Bishkek on 5 February 1991 and Kyrgyzstan achieved independence later that year during the breakup of the Soviet Union. Before independence, the majority of Bishkek's population were ethnic Russians. In 2004, Russians made up approximately 20% of the city's population, and about 7–8% in 2011.[4]

Today, Bishkek is a modern city with many restaurants and cafes, and with many second-hand European and Japanese cars and minibuses crowding its streets. However, streets and sidewalks have fallen into disrepair since the 1990s. At the same time, Bishkek still preserves its former Soviet feel with Soviet-period buildings and gardens prevailing over newer structures.

Bishkek is also the country's financial center, with all of the country's 21 commercial banks headquartered there. During the Soviet era, the city was home to a large number of industrial plants, but most have been shut down since 1991 or now operate on a much reduced scale. One of Bishkek's largest employment centers today is the Dordoy Bazaar open market, where many of the Chinese goods imported to CIS countries are sold.



Though the city is relatively young, the surrounding area has some sites of interest dating to prehistorical times. There are also sites from the Greco-Buddhist period, the period of Nestorian influence, the era of the Central Asian khanates, and the Soviet period.

Russian Orthodox cathedral of the Holy Resurrection.
National Historical Museum

The central part of the city is laid out on a rectangular grid plan. The city's main street is the east–west Chui Avenue (Chuy Prospekti), named after the region's main river. In the Soviet era, it was called Lenin Avenue. Along or near it are many of the most important government buildings and universities. These include the Academy of Sciences compound. The westernmost section of the avenue is known as Deng Xiaoping Avenue.

The main north–south street is Yusup Abdrakhmanov Street, still commonly referred to by its old name, Sovietskaya Street. Its northern and southern sections are called, respectively, Yelebesov and Baityk Batyr Streets. Several major shopping centers are located along it, and in the north it provides access to Dordoy Bazaar.

Erkindik ("Freedom") Boulevard runs from north to south, from the main railroad station (Bishkek II) south of Chui Avenue to the museum quarter and sculpture park just north of Chui Avenue, and further north toward the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the past it was called Dzerzhinsky Boulevard, named after a Communist revolutionary, Felix Dzerzhinsky, and its northern continuation is still called Dzerzhinsky Street.

An important east–west street is Jibek Jolu ('Silk Road'). It runs parallel to Chui Avenue about 2 km (1 mi) north of it, and is part of the main east–west road of Chui Province. Both the eastern and western bus terminals are located along Jibek Jolu.

There is a Roman Catholic church located at ul. Vasiljeva 197 (near Rynok Bayat). It is the only Catholic cathedral in Kyrgyzstan.[5]

City centre[edit]

Ala-Too Square, Bishkek's main square
  • State Historical Museum, located in Ala-Too Square, the main city square
  • State Museum of Applied Arts, containing examples of traditional Kyrgyz handicrafts
  • Frunze House Museum
  • Statue of Ivan Panfilov in the park near the White House.
  • An equestrian statue of Mikhail Frunze stands in a large park (Boulevard Erkindik) across from the train station.
  • The train station itself was built in 1946 by German prisoners of war and has survived since then without further renovation or repairs; most of those who built it perished and were buried in unmarked pits near the station.
  • The main government building, the White House, is a huge, seven story marble block and the former headquarters of the Communist Party of the Kirghiz SSR
  • At Ala-Too Square there is an independence monument where the changing of the guards may be watched.
  • Osh bazaar, west of the downtown area, is a large, picturesque produce market

Outer neighbourhoods[edit]

The Dordoy Bazaar, just inside the bypass highway on the north-eastern edge of the city, is a major retail and wholesale market.

Outside the city[edit]

The Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountain range, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) away, provides a spectacular backdrop to the city; the Ala Archa National Park is only a 30 to 45 minutes drive away.


Bishkek has a dry summer continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dsa).[6] Average precipitation is around 440 millimetres (17 in) per year. Average daily high temperatures range from 3 °C (37.4 °F) in January to about 31 °C (87.8 °F) during July.[7] The summer months are dominated by dry periods, punctuated by the occasional thunderstorm, which produces strong gusty winds and rare dust storms. The mountains to the south provide a natural boundary and protection from much of the damaging weather, as does the smaller mountain chain which runs north-west to south-east. In the winter months, sparse snow storms and frequent heavy fog are the dominating features. There are sometimes temperature inversions, during which the fog can last for days at a time.


Bishkek is the most populated city in Kyrgyzstan. Its population, according to the population and housing census of 2012, was 874,400. From the foundation of the city to the mid-1990s, ethnic Russians and other peoples of European descent (Ukrainians, Tatars, Germans) comprised the majority of the city's population. According to the 1970 census, the ethnic Kyrgyz were only 12.3%, while whites were more than 80% of Frunze population. Now Bishkek is a predominantly Kyrgyz city, with around 66% of its residents Kyrgyz, while European peoples make up less than 20% of the population. Despite this fact, Russian is the main language while Kyrgyz continues losing ground especially among the younger generations [9]

Historical populations in Bishkek
Year Pop.
1876 182
1882 2,135
1893 4,857
1897 6,615
1902 9,656
1907 13,752
1913 20,102
1926 36,610
1939 92,783
1970 430,618
1989 616,312
1999 762,300
2008 822,100
2009 832,500
2010 846,500
2011 859,800
2012 874,400
2015 937,400

Ecology and environment[edit]

Air quality[edit]

Emissions of air pollutants in Bishkek amounted to 14,400 tons in 2010.[19] Among all cities in Kyrgyzstan, the level of air pollution in Bishkek is the highest, occasionally exceeding maximum allowable concentrations by several times, especially in the city center.[20] For example, concentrations of formaldehyde occasionally exceed maximum allowable limits by a factor of four.

Responsibility for ambient air quality monitoring in Bishkek lies with the Kyrgyz State Agency of Hydrometeorology. There are seven air quality monitoring stations in Bishkek, measuring levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, and ammonia.[19]


Bishkek uses the Kyrgyzstan currency, the som. The som's value fluctuates regularly, but averaged around 61 som per U.S. dollar as of February 2015. The economy in Bishkek is primarily agricultural, and agricultural products are sometimes bartered in the outlying regions. The streets of Bishkek are regularly lined with produce vendors in a market style venue. In most of the downtown area there is a more urban cityscape with banks, stores, markets and malls. Sought after goods include hand-crafted artisan pieces, such as statues, carvings, paintings and many nature-based sculptures.


Local government is administered by the Bishkek Mayor's Office. Askarbek Salymbekov was mayor until his resignation in August 2005, after which his deputy, Arstanbek Nogoev, took over the mayorship. Nogoev was in turn removed from his position in October 2007 through a decree of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and replaced by businessman and former first deputy prime minister Daniar Usenov.[21][22][23] In July 2008 former head of the Kyrgyz Railways Nariman Tuleyev was appointed mayor, who was dismissed by the interim government after 7 April 2010. From April 2010 to February 2011 Isa Omurkulov, also a former head of the Kyrgyz Railways, was an interim mayor,[24] and from 4 February 2011 to 14 December 2013 he was re-elected the mayor of Bishkek.[25][26] Kubanychbek Kulmatov was nominated for election by parliamentary group of Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan in city kenesh, and he was elected as a new mayor on 15 January 2014,[27] and stepped down on 9 February 2016 [28] The new major Albek Sabirbekovich Ibraimov was also nominated for election by parliamentary group of Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan in city kenesh, and he was elected by Bishkek City Kenesh on 27 February 2016.[29]


Bishkek is home to Spartak, the biggest football stadium in Kyrgyzstan and the only one eligible to host international matches.[30] Several Bishkek-based football teams play on this pitch, including six-time Kyrgyzstan League champions, Dordoi-Dynamo.

Bishkek hosted the 2014 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia – Division I.


Educational institutions in Bishkek include:

In addition, the following international schools serve the expatriate community in Bishkek:


A typical Bishkek passenger van passes by the East Bus Terminal
The electronic board in the main hall of Bishkek-2, the main train station, shows Bishkek and Moscow time
Bishkek Railway Station

Mass public transport[edit]

Public transportation includes buses, electric trolley buses, and public vans (known in Russian as marshrutka). The first bus and trolley bus services in Bishkek were introduced in 1934 and 1951, respectively.[42]

Taxi cabs can be found throughout the city.

There is no subway in Bishkek, but the city is considering designing and building a light rail system (Russian: Бишкекское лёгкое метро).

Commuter and long-distance buses[edit]

There are two main bus stations in Bishkek. The smaller old Eastern Bus Station is primarily the terminal for minibuses to various destinations within or just beyond the eastern suburbs, such as Kant, Tokmok, Kemin, Issyk Ata, or the Korday border crossing.

Long-distance regular bus and minibus services to all parts of the country, as well as to Almaty (the largest city in neighboring Kazakhstan) and Kashgar, China, run mostly from the newer grand Western Bus Station; only a smaller number runs from the Eastern Station.

The Dordoy Bazaar on the north-eastern outskirts of the city also contains makeshift terminals for frequent minibuses to suburban towns in all directions (from Sokuluk in the west to Tokmak in the east) and to some buses taking traders to Kazakhstan and Siberia.


As of 2007, the Bishkek railway station sees only a few trains a day. It offers a popular three-day train service from Bishkek to Moscow.

There are also long-distance trains that leave for Siberia (Novosibirsk and Novokuznetsk), via Almaty, over the Turksib route, and to Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) in the Urals, via Astana. These services are remarkably slow (over 48 hours to Yekaterinburg), due to long stops at the border and the indirect route (the trains first have to go west for more than a 100 kilometres (62 mi) before they enter the main Turksib line and can continue to the east or north). For example, as of the fall of 2008, train No. 305 Bishkek-Yekaterinburg was scheduled to take 11 hours to reach the Shu junction—a distance of some 269 kilometres (167 mi) by rail, and less than half of that by road.[43]


The city is served by Manas International Airport (IATA code FRU), located approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of the city centre, and readily reachable by taxi.

In 2002, the United States obtained the right to use Manas International Airport as an air base for its military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Russia subsequently (2003) established an air base of its own (Kant Air Base) near Kant, some 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Bishkek. It is based at a facility that used to be home to a major Soviet military pilot training school; one of its students, Hosni Mubarak, later became president of Egypt.

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

In the video game Command & Conquer: Generals, GLA forces held this city, capital of a unified Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They reinforced their forces by railways connected to other areas and locals enraged at the Chinese presence in the area. Black Lotus and her strike team had to destroy the bridge and a sports stadium before they were overrun. Due to the nature of the mission, a covert operation, they were reduced to minimal strength.

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Sister cities of Bishkek include:


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  2. ^ Districts of Bishkek (Russian). Retrieved on 3 August 2009
  3. ^ a b Statoids. Statoids. Retrieved on 11 March 2012.
  4. ^ Residential Real Estate Market in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Current Conditions and Prospects[dead link][dead link]
  5. ^ Catholic Church in Kyrgyzstan. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Koppen Map". Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
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  10. ^ Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи 1897 г. Наличное население в губерниях, уездах, городах Российской Империи (без Финляндии). Семиреченская область - First General Russian Empire Census of 1897. Population in provinces, districts, towns of Russian Empire (without Finland). Semirech'e Province ( (Russian)
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  12. ^ Pisarskoy, Evgeniy; Kurbatov, Valentin (1976). "Архитектура Советской Киргизии (Architecture of Soviet Kirghizia.)". Moscow: Stroyizdat 
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  14. ^ "Review of Semirech'e Oblast for 1902 (Обзор Семиреченской области за 1902 год)". Verniy: Publishing House of Semirech'e Provincial Administration. 1903 
  15. ^ "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1926 года : Киргизская АССР. (All-Union Census of 1926: Kyrgyz ASSR)". Moscow: CSU SSSR. 1928 
  16. ^ Численность наличного населения городов, поселков городского типа, районов и районных центров СССР по данным переписи на 15 января 1970 года по республикам, краям и областям (кроме РСФСР). Retrieved on 11 March 2012.
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  19. ^ a b "Анализ загрязнения атмосферы". Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  20. ^ Web-site of the State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry: Assessment of Air Pollution. Retrieved on 11 March 2012.
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  24. ^ "New Mayor for Bishkek". Lenta.Ru. 7 July 2008. Archived from the original on 18 November 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2008. 
  25. ^ "Isa Omurkulov elected mayor of Bishkek". Radio Azattyk. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
  26. ^ "Isa Omurkulov resigned". Vecherniy Bishkek. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
  27. ^ "Kubanychbek Kulmatov elected mayor of Bishkek". Radio Azattyk. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
  28. ^ "Kubanychbek Kulmatov stepped down". Radio Azattyk. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
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  31. ^ October 2009+01:35:14
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  39. ^ "Hope Academy of Bishkek". Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  40. ^ {{cite Iweb|url= |title=Welcome | QSI | |date= |accessdate=21 November 2012}}
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  42. ^ "Frunze. City Encyclopedia.". Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  43. ^ "Маршрут поезда ????? - ????? на сайте". Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
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  45. ^ "Twin towns and Sister cities of Minsk [via]" (in Russian). The department of protocol and international relations of Minsk City Executive Committee. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 

Since 23 May 1994 Tehran and Bishkek have also been twinned cities .

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°52′29″N 74°36′44″E / 42.87472°N 74.61222°E / 42.87472; 74.61222