What do our favorite people take pride in?

Patriotism, or national pride represents an emotional attachment of people to their homeland. Based on my experiences, talks and many short interviews with the older and younger generations of all regions, Kyrgyz people are generally very proud of their nation. Let’s see how did they get to this point!

In a nutshell

The sense of belonging to one nation started with Manas, the legendary hero of Kyrgyzstan, who unified the 40 Kyrgyz tribes against the invader Oirat Mongols and Uyghurs. After his demise Kyrgyzstan soon returned to being a primarily loose tribal society and they stayed like this for centuries, while they were being ruled by different nations. After the Russian annexation and especially the Soviet takeover, the borders of Kyrgyzstan were solidified and the nomadic lifestyle started to fade. The institualization gave birth to Kyrgyz national identity and since they gained independence, they are as proud as ever.

What do the locals think?

When asked, there is a huge probability that Kyrgyz people will say that they are proud of one of the following things; their nature and people. It is hard not to be proud of the nature and landscapes of this country. With mountains covering 95% of Kyrgyzstan, you can find places of exquisite beauty with clear air, refreshing creeks, massive rocks and fields of endless green. You might think that being proud of their own people is uppish. On the contrary, they are genuinely proud of being hospitable, peaceful, kind and life-long friends of each other, and based on what I saw, I cannot argue with them. To supplement the upper lines, here are the most common answers when asked to describe their country in one word: “mountainous, beautiful, clear, hospitality, traditions, people”.

Patriotism also means that one way or another you want to contribute to your country’s well-being. Altough the following is not a perfect example for direct contribution, at least it comes close; we asked the locals, what would be their one magic wish –that would come true next day- for Kyrgyzstan. They made wishes for lasting peace and friendships, jobs for everyone, less corruption, talented leaders, more tourists and poor people’s well-being.

Challenges

Even though the outflow of Kyrgyz people from the country solidified since the 2010 revolution -according to the Statistics Office-, there are still more Kyrgyz leaving for Russia and the West, than who are returning. The access to global opportunities is attracting youth abroad, while older generations have mixed feelings about this process. They feel that though development is good for the country, but the use of Kyrgyz language and living by traditional values are fading. There is the uncanny possibility of people losing touch with what is Kyrgyzstan to them, and on the other hand this situation escalating to destructive nationalism on the other side.

As it is a process, it’s hard to tell, where the country is right now in terms of patriotism. They are definitely proud of and happy about being the most democratic country in Central Asia, with beautiful nature and hospitable people. I think the best way to enforce this message and help Kyrgyzstan to develop even more, is to visit and see for yourself; what they say is all true!

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