Capital and largest city of Kyrgyzstan.
Post-Soviet research suggests the name derives 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. In 1825 Khokand authorities established the fortress of “Pishpek” in order to control local caravan-routes and to collect tribute from Kyrgyz tribes.
In 1926 the city was given the name Frunze, after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze(1885-1925), who was born there. In 1991 the Kyrgyz parliament changed the capital’s name to “Bishkek”.
Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards. There are also thousands of smaller privately built houses – mostly outside the city center. Streets follow a grid pattern, with most flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels which water the innumerable trees that provide shade in the hot summers.
Bishkek is situated at an altitude of about 800 meters, 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 and provide a spectacular backdrop to the city.