Unlike in some other former Soviet republics, when Kyrgyzstan achieved independence in 1991 its government granted citizenship to all residents, regardless of ethnicity or language. The government hoped this would help to quell incipient ethnic tensions in the country before they got out of hand. It was argued that, in a constantly changing ethnic landscape, citizens' identification with the country above all other considerations, including ethnicity and religion, would introduce a degree of stability—a common denominator for all residents of Kyrgyzstan, where there is a relatively high level of ethnic diversity (see Table 1).

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