Published June 20, 2012 | By Patricia Taft
The most improved country in the 2012 Failed States Index, the landlocked Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, seems an unlikely one. Since independence from Russia in 1991, the country has been beset with a host of problems that have spanned political, social and economic lines. Like several of its Central Asian neighbors, the country plays host to various ethnic minorities, with Uzbeks the predominant group in the South of the country. Keeping in line with several other Central Asian Republics, Kyrgyzstan was ruled from independence by a series of authoritarian regimes which brutally quelled opposition and strangled freedom of expression in all its forms. Adding to the tinderbox are myriad demographic pressures resulting from disputes over natural resources, particularly in the Ferghana Valley, as well as the country’s complex relationship with Russia and, at times, the U.S.