SURROUNDED by towering, ice-covered peaks, Kyrgyzstan is nestled in Central Asia and is bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. Mountains cover nearly 90 percent of the country. Kyrgyzstan boasts the highest point of the Tian Shan Mountain range, which is 24,406 feet (7,439 m) above sea level. Forests cover about 4 percent of the landmass of the country. It is therefore noteworthy that one of the planet’s largest natural-growth walnut forests is found in Kyrgyzstan.
Hospitality and respect are well-known traits of the Kyrgyz people. In Kyrgyzstan it is proper to use the polite form of “you” when addressing someone older and to offer him or her your seat on public transport, as well as the most honorable seat at the table.
Families commonly have three or more children. The youngest son usually stays with his parents, even after marriage, and looks after them throughout their old age.
From a young age, girls are taught the practical skills needed to be good housewives. By the mid-teens they are fully capable of running a household. A dowry is usually prepared for the bride. This may consist of bedding of all sorts, a variety of clothing, and a handmade carpet. The groom pays a bride-price in money and livestock.
During celebrations and funerals, a sheep or a horse is slaughtered. It is divided into parts, and every part is specially designated for a specific person. Depending upon the age and position of the guests, each one is given his or her portion; again respect is the key element guiding this tradition. Then the national dish, beshbarmak, is served. It is eaten with the hands.