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Kyrgyzstan: Delicate ethnic balance

Publisher IRIN
Publication Date 17 June 2010
Cite as IRIN, Kyrgyzstan: Delicate ethnic balance, 17 June 2010, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

DUBAI, 17 June 2010 (IRIN) - Kyrgyzstan's population of 5.3 million comprises three main ethnic groups: Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Russians. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the number of ethnic Russians has declined, particularly in the south, where internal migration has also altered the balance between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks.

In common with its neighbours in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan has a mixed population dating back to the drawing of the region's borders by Stalin in the 1920s. Most of the 767,000 ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan live in the south, in the Kyrgyz part of Fergana Valley, the most densely populated area in the region where land is scarce.

Tensions over resources, mainly land, became apparent in June 1990 when young ethnic Kyrgyz demanded land that belonged to a collective farm of mainly ethnic Uzbek. The 1990 conflict was quickly suppressed by Soviet troops.

The epicentre of recent clashes has been the two southern cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad

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