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History of Talas

The area around Talas has been settled for more than a thousand years, but the town did not develop until the Russians came in the mid-to-late 19th century. The town that exists today was founded in 1877 by Slavic settlers who came to farm the fertile soil of the Talas valley. A Russian Orthodox church was built in the 1920s to provide for their spiritual welfare and this remains today, along with a fair number of the town's Slavic population.

Before independence, Talas's economic links were closely connected with the larger city of Taraz (formerly Dzhambul) further west up the valley, which now belongs to Kazakhstan. When the state frontier became an international one in 1991, and Kazakhstan started to impose rigid border controls, the town was obliged to forge stronger links with Bishkek, although the only road that links Talas with the Kyrgyz capital that does not pass through Kazakhstan has to climb laboriously to 3,330m to summit the Otmok Pass before descending to the Chui valley. Today, Talas is a quiet market town with a population of around 30,000, and is the administrative centre of Talas Oblast.

Manas, the Kyrgyz national hero and eponymous central figure of the epic cycle, is believed to have been born in the Talas valley nearby. His mausoleum lies a few kilometres outside the town to the cast.


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