What is 'Kyrgyzstani Som - KGS'

Kyrgyzstani som (KGS) is the official currency of the nation of Kyrgyzstan, which is also called the Kyrgyz Republic. It is not pegged to any other currencies. A fraction of a som, meaning the functional equivalent of a U.S. cent, is a tiyin. There are 100 tiyin in a som.

BREAKING DOWN 'Kyrgyzstani Som - KGS'

Kyrgyzstani som (KGS) is well-known for its multicolored paper notes, which feature portraits of notable people from the country's history. For example, the 200 som note features Alykul Osmonov, a famed Kyrgyz poet during the 1930s and 1940s. KGS paper notes are printed in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 som. Coins are minted in 10 and 50 tyiyn, the fractional equivalent of 10 and 50 cents in America, as well as 1, 3, 5 and 10 som. Currency rankings show that the most popular Kyrgyzstan som exchange rate is the U.S. dollar to KGS rate.

The som was first circulated on May 10, 1993, not long after the former Soviet Union dissolved. The som was the local name for the ruble in Kyrgyzstan and several other nearby countries when they were under Soviet rule. When the som was first introduced, it replaced the Soviet ruble at a rate of 1 som = 200 rubles. At first only paper banknotes were issued; coins were not introduced until 2008.

When traveling in Kyrgyzstan, exchanging U.S. dollars for soms, and vice versa, is not difficult. The majority of banks in the country can exchange most major currencies. Some businesses in Kyrgyzstan will accept U.S. dollars or euros as forms of payment, but soms are generally preferred.

Economy of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia and it was a Soviet republic until 1991. It is bordered by China to the east, Kazakhstan to the north, Tajikistan to the south and Uzbekistan to the west. Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country with a population of approximately 6 million people, most of whom reside rural areas. The country borders no ocean or sea. Its economy is driven largely by agriculture and the extraction of minerals, including gold, mercury, natural gas and uranium.

The chief exports of Kyrgyzstan are gold, cotton, tobacco, wool, meat and other metals and minerals. Despite its geographic distance, Switzerland is by far the country’s largest export trading partner. Approximately 60 percent of all Kyrgyzstan’s exports go to Switzerland, according to the most recent data available. Kyrgyzstan has an unfavorable balance of trade, as it imports more than twice as much as it exports. The country’s main imports are oil and gas, machinery and equipment, chemicals and food. China is the largest importer of goods to Kyrgyzstan, followed by Russia.

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