The October Revolution (1917) in Russia, the emergence of the socialist system, the right of peoples to self-determination and the founding of the USSR, was a turning point in the history of Kyrgyzstan.
The formation of the Kara-Kyrgyzstan Autonomous Region (14 October 1924) marked the beginning of the development of a Soviet-style Kyrgyz statehood, which in 1991 enabled the country to achieve full sovereignty without political complications.
The socialist era transformed Kyrgyzstan into an industrial-agricultural region. Multi-industry, construction and building industry, transport, communications, technically equipped agriculture, trade and other services became an integral part of the unified national economic complex of the republic. In general, the problem of employment of labour resources was successfully solved and the material standard of living of the population increased.
The fuel and energy complex in particular developed, with the coal industry accounting for up to 40% of Central Asia’s coal production in the 1980s. Both the energy complex and non-ferrous metallurgy developed successfully, with the production of antimony, mercury, rare earth metals and other non-ferrous metals playing a leading role. The antimony of the Kadamjaysky Industrial Complex was the quality standard on the international market. The products of the Khaidarkan mercury factory were supplied to more than 40 countries worldwide. The leading role in agriculture was played by cattle breeding. Kyrgyzstan ranked third in the USSR in absolute numbers in sheep production, second only to the RSFSR and Kazakhstan.
In terms of growth rates of national income generated, Kyrgyzstan was ahead of such Union republics as Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Estonia. Cities and settlements were built and embellished, the scientific and technological revolution became not only an element of industrial development but also a social component.
It should also be noted that the people of Kyrgyzstan also made a worthy contribution to the victory in the Second World War; 360 000 Kyrgyzs were sent into the army. They fought bravely on all fronts, 73 were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and 21 the Order of Glory with three degrees. Kyrgyzstan has become a reliable base for the country’s only military and economic system, and the companies evacuated have not only recovered but have also increased their production capacity.
One of the main areas of cultural construction has been the elimination of illiteracy, the creation of a new educational system and the successful functioning of universities and specialised secondary educational institutions which have trained qualified personnel. The Kyrgyz branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1943), which was granted the status of Academy of Sciences of the Republic in December 1954, played an important role in the creation and development of science.
The national literature begins with the introduction of the written language in Kyrgyzstan. Chingiz Aitmatov occupies a special place in national and world literature, whose works have been translated into more than 80 languages. Professional Kyrgyz art – theatre, music, visual arts and cinema – has been successfully developed.
Apart from the undoubtedly positive aspects, the history of Kyrgyzstan in the USSR was marked by the negative aspects of the totalitarian regime, which led to the tragedy of many human destinies. ⇒ Independence of Kyrgyzstan