The kyrgyz republic attained its independence in 1991 after over a century of Russian/Soviet domination. Still in the process of defining itself as a nation, Kyrgyzstan is attempting to expand democracy and political freedoms while reining in government corruption, easing ethnic tensions, and combating terrorism. Some 55 percent of the population is involved in cotton, tobacco, wool, and livestock agriculture. Kyrgyzstan also exports gold, mercury, uranium, natural gas, and electricity. Kyrgyzstan remains poor with a per capita income of $1,800, and is ranked 186th in world incomes. Eighteen percent of Kyrgyzstanis are unemployed, and 40 percent of the people live below the national poverty line. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Reports rank Kyrgyzstan 109th of 232 countries in overall quality of ...

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