Kyrgyzstan’s lakes number almost 2,000, but most of these are small lakes caused by glaciers. Most are between 2,500 and 4,000 meters above sea level. Only 16 lakes have a surface area of over 1 square km, and some are only temporary, appearing when snow melts and disappearing when the water evaporates or drains.

In Kyrgyz, the word for lake is kul, as in Issyk-Kul, Son-Kul, and Chatyr-Kul.