Silvery snow highlights the Tian Shan and Pamir Alay Mountains that dominate Kyrgyzstan, image center. As this image shows, about 95 percent of this Central Asian republic is covered with mountains. Its highest point is Pik Pobedy, or Victory Peak, on its extreme eastern boarder, with an impressive elevation of 24,406 feet (7439 meters), 4,620 feet lower than Mount Everest. Nestled between the Küngey Alatau and the Terskey Alatau ranges in eastern Kyrgyzstan is Lake Issyk-Kul, the world’s second largest alpine lake behind Lake Titicaca in South America.
This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image was captured by the Aqua satellite on December 3, 2003. Starting at the top and going clockwise, the countries that surround Kyrgyzstan are Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. A former Soviet state, Kyrgyzstan gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Kyrgyzstan’s recorded history spans over 2,000 years, encompassing a variety of cultures and empires. Although geographically isolated by its highly mountainous terrain, which has helped preserve its ancient culture, Kyrgyzstan has been at the crossroads of several great civilizations as part of the Silk Road and other commercial and cultural routes. Though long inhabited by a succession of independent tribes and clans, Kyrgyzstan has periodically fallen under foreign domination and attained sovereignty as a nation-state only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC