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Population and Settlement of Kyrgyzstan

According to Guns, Germs, and Steel, a book by Jared Diamond, geography is the driving

force which allowed some countries of the world to get a head start on civilization. Kyrgyzstan was

first settled long before countries were even conceived. At the time of its settlement, most of the

world was still nomadic, with some areas starting to settle, and some areas starting to form small

civilizations. According to Jared Diamonds research, these areas were found along the Fertile

Crescent, where geography had gifted the people with all the pieces to the puzzle needed to survive

and form settlements. Because of this, the regions around where present-day Kyrgyzstan sits are some

of the richest in history and the oldest in terms of human settlement. There was so much

development and learning going on at the time, and so much of it happened in and around the

Kyrgyzstan area.

Jared Diamonds theory suggests that settlement started in the Fertile Crescent, and moved

east and west from there, staying within relatively the same latitude. Before there were any

settlements in the area of now-Kyrgyzstan, the area was claimed by the Scythians. They were a blend

of a nomadic and a settlement group, and the land of Kyrgyzstan was at their southeasternmost reach.

In the second century BC, the Hun Empire had been established as a conglomerate of nomadic tribes.

They took over the area, and this is the first time in history that settlements started to appear in what

is now Kyrgyzstan. They first formed in the upper Yenisei River valley, and then migrated south

towards the Tian-Shan regions. Around the third and fourth centuries, there were very large

settlements at Balasagan and Barskoon.


The region of Kyrgyzstan was very desirable to settlement. Jared Diamond suggests that there

are some very important things to survival: large-seed grains that were high in protein and could

grow in abundance, useful livestock, manageable climates, and access to water. At this time in

history, the world was entirely dependent on naturally occurring resources. The first ever settlements

appear to have appeared around the Fertile Crescent, based on an amalgamation of geographic

fortunes. Large-grain plants grew there which were wonderful for consumption and storage, and

useful livestock was native to the area. Geographically, the regions found at the same latitudes as the

Fertile Crescent found themselves blessed with similar gifts. Kyrgyzstan happened to be at a very

similar latitude to the Fertile Crescent. In the Kyrgyz region, settlers had access to millet and rice for

farming, and cattle, chickens, pigs, and dogs as livestock. Of these, cattle were especially useful, for

their ability to pull farming equipment and aid in that process. Kyrgyzstan also happened to be right

in the middle of what would eventually develop as the silk road, meaning they had good access to

trade with the people to their east and west, and bring in more crops and livestock.

There were also obstacles to settlement in Kyrgyzstan. According to Jared Diamond, some

regions that were outside of the lucky latitude struggled to grow crops, while other areas simply did

not have access to livestock. While geography blessed the region of Kyrgyzstan in these resources, it

also made the area harder to access. Kyrgyzstan is almost entirely mountainous, and this led to the

flatter regions around it being settled first. Having this head start mean that small empires existed

while the Kyrgyz region was only boasting small settlements. The regions around Kyrgyzstan were

often in competition, and the settlements in the area were often disrupted by these conflicts. The

mountains also made farming the crops that the region provided a little trickier. Temperatures could

be dramatically different based on elevation, and this would mean that plants that grew well at lower
elevations might not be as successful at higher elevations. All of this made settling the region more

difficult.

Early settlement was a great challenge, but the area where Kyrgyzstan formed was one of the

geographically lucky areas. They had access to farmable crops, water, useful livestock, and many areas

with a great climate for settling. They were, however, a little late to the settlement game, and

therefore the country that is now Kyrgyzstan would be part of many political disputes for generations

and generations. When it was first settled, it was in pieces, and by many different civilizations of

people. It had the benefit of being geographically blessed with resources, but was also geographically

separated from the development of the rest of the region. Over time, the settlements in the region

adapted to the mountains, and became bountiful and strong, extending over the entirety of what

Kyrgyzstan today.

Citations:

Diamond, J. (1997). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W.W. Norton & Co.

Mitchell, L. (2012). Kyrgyzstan. The Globe Pequot Press INC.

Park, M. (2008, January 11). Causes and Consequences of Horticulture. Retrieved September 18, 2017,
from
https://laulima.hawaii.edu/access/content/user/millerg/ANTH_151/Anth151Unit2/CausesCon
sequences.html

West, B. A. (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania.