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Osh (Kyrgyz: Ош, Oş; Uzbek: O‘sh) is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country and often referred to as the "capital of the south".[3] It is the oldest city in the country (estimated to be more than 3000 years old), and has served as the administrative center of Osh Region since 1939. The city has an ethnically mixed population of about 281,900 in 2017,[4] comprising Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Russians, Tajiks, and other smaller ethnic groups. It is about 5 km from the Uzbekistan border.

Overview

Osh has an important outdoor bazaar which has been taking place on the same spot for the past 2000 years, and was a major market along the Silk Road. The city's industrial base, established during the Soviet period, largely collapsed after the break-up of the Soviet Union and has recently only started to revive.

The proximity of the Uzbekistan border, which cuts through historically linked territories and settlements, deprives Osh of much of its former hinterland and presents a serious obstacle to trade and economic development. Daily flights from Osh Airport link Osh—and hence the southern part of Kyrgyzstan—to Bishkek and some international destinations, mainly in Russia. Osh has two railway stations and a railway connection to Andijan in neighbouring Uzbekistan, but no passenger traffic and only sporadic freight traffic. Most transport is by road. The recent upgrading of the long and arduous road through the mountains to Bishkek has greatly improved communications.

The city has several monuments, including one to the southern Kyrgyz "queen" Kurmanjan Datka and one of the few remaining statues of Lenin. A Russian Orthodox church, reopened after the demise of the Soviet Union, the second largest mosque in the country (situated beside the bazaar) and the 16th-century Rabat Abdul Khan Mosque can be found here. The only World Heritage Site in Kyrgyzstan, the Sulayman Mountain, offers a splendid view of Osh and its environs.[5]

This mountain is thought by some researchers and historians to be the famous landmark of antiquity known as the “Stone Tower", which Claudius Ptolemy wrote about in his famous work Geography. It marked the midpoint on the ancient Silk Road, the overland trade route taken by caravans between Europe and Asia.[6] The National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex Sulayman is carved in the mountain, containing a collection of archaeological, geological and historical finds and information about local flora and fauna.

Its first western-style supermarket Narodnyj opened in March 2007.[7]

Osh is home to Osh State University, one of the largest universities in Kyrgyzstan.[8][circular reference]

Administration

Osh city (Ош шаар - Osh shaar) covers 182.5 square kilometres (70.5 square miles)[2] and like the capital city Bishkek, is administered separately and not part of any region, although it is the seat of Osh Region. Besides the city proper, 11 villages are administered by the city: Almalyk, Arek, Gulbaar-Toloykon, Japalak, Kengesh, Kerme-Too, Orke, Pyatiletka, Teeke and parts of Ozgur and Tölöykön.[2]

Population

Osh is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan after the capital city of Bishkek. At the census of 2009 the city population amounted to 258,111, of which 25,925 reside in the 11 villages that are administered by the City of Osh. Of the total population, 57.9% were Uzbeks, 34.2% Kyrgyz, 2.5% Russians, 2.2% Turks, 1.1% Tatars and 2.1% other nationalities.[2] The population of the city with its suburbs in the surrounding Kara-Suu District is estimated at about 500,000 inhabitants (for 2012).

History