Kyrgyzstan is one of the principal members of the Soviet Union and is one of the oldest republics in the Union. It remained in the Soviet Union despite ethnic tensions that were flaring up between the Kyrgyz and the Uzbeks living in the republic.
Agriculture is an important sector of the economy in Kyrgyzstan. By the early 1990s, the private agricultural sector provided between one-third and one-half of some harvests. In 2002 agriculture accounted for 35.6% of GDP and about half of employment. Kyrgyzstan's terrain is mountainous, which accommodates livestock raising, the largest agricultural activity, so the resulting wool, meat and dairy products are major commodities. Main crops include wheat, sugar beets, potatoes, cotton, tobacco, vegetables and fruit. Agricultural processing is a key component of the industrial economy as well as one of the most attractive sectors for foreign investment.
Kyrgyzstan is rich in mineral resources but has negligible petroleum and natural gas reserves; it imports petroleum and gas. Among its mineral reserves are substantial deposits of coal, gold, uranium, antimony and other valuable metals. Metallurgy is an important industry, and the government hopes to attract foreign investment in this field. The government is actively extracting and processing gold. The country's plentiful water resources and mountainous terrain enable it to produce and export large quantities of hydroelectric energy.