Annexed by Russia in 1864, Kyrgyzstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. About 75% of the population is Muslim, with another 20% Roman Orthodox; the official languages are Russian and Kyrgyz. This Central Asian country consists mostly of beautiful mountainous terrain, and the native Kyrgyz people are famed nomads. Today the economy is largely agricultural, with 55% of the labor force employed in this sector, though service sector jobs constitute 30%. Kyrgyzstan's economy benefits from approximately $50 million of aid from the US, and the country is strongly focusing on gaining foreign investment and on establishing a healthy tourism sector. As has been typical for the form Soviet republics, this young country is still experiencing a period of democratic "growing pains." We are diligently observing political developments and aim to avoid travel to Bishkek and Osh (which were the hot-spots of recent developments). The red line below shows our planned route of travel into the very remote Central Borkoldoy range of the greater Tien Shan Mountains. Only five previous expeditions have reported visiting this part of the mountain range and we'll be the first American expedition. The goal is ascend several unnamed and unclimbed peaks up to 16,000 feet and document our progress in both still and motion picture to be submitted to film festivals.

Sources: CIA World fact book; Lonely Planet