Osh is Kyrgyzstan’s second-biggest city and the administrative centre of the huge, populous province that engulfs the Fergana Valley on the Kyrgyzstan side. It is one of the region’s genuinely ancient towns (with a history dating back to at least the 5th century BC) but few souvenirs remain. In many ways it’s still quite a Soviet place: whereas other cities scrubbed Lenin’s name from their street maps, Osh merely shifted it politely one block away. A huge Lenin statue still stands opposite the city administration building.
Osh suffers a kind of demographic schizophrenia, being a major centre of Kyrgyzstan but with a strong (40%) Uzbek population more in tune with Uzbekistan and the rest of the Fergana Valley, but isolated from it by one of the world’s more absurd international borders.