Trans Eurasia travel

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For 75 years under the Soviet system, the Kirghiz Republic was officially atheist. Nonetheless, most Kyrgyz citizens today self-identify as belonging to one religion or another. Some 75% of the Kyrgyzstani people are Muslim, nearly all Sunni. Another 20% are Russian Orthodox Christians, and the remaining 5% adhere to Buddhism, other types of Christianity, or Judaism.

Like the Kazakhs, the Kyrgyz adopted Islam relatively late and limited it to what could fit in their saddlebags. Northern Kyrgyz are more Russified and less observant of Muslim doctrine than their cousins in the south (in Jalal-Abad and Osh provinces). One consequence of this is the high number of young women in hip-hugging jeans on the streets of Bishkek with nary a headscarf between them. Dwindling communities of Russian Orthodox Christians are still visible, particularly in Bishkek and Karakol, both of which have Orthodox cathedrals.