The largest city in the Issyk-Kul region. "Karakol", which means "Black Hand", was named after the eponymous name of the river on which it is located. This relatively young city was originally founded by Russian settlers in 1869 as a military and administrative center on the caravan route from Chu Valley in Kashgar. Located 400 km from Bishkek, in the eastern part of the Issyk-Kul coast.
On the eastern side of Karakol there is the mound complex, which consists of 6 large mounds of chain stretching in the north-south with earthen embankment. The diameter of 40-50 m, the height of 4-5 m. The excavations revealed iron lugs arrows, fragments of iron swords, jewelry, including gold, pottery, etc. grain grinders. Charred grains of wheat, millet husk were found, indicating agricultural and pastoral economy of Usuns (Cattle occupied the leading position). The complex dates from the III-I centuries BC, is under the modern urban development now.
Near the dock of Karakol, at the bottom of Issyk-Kul lake in the area of Chin Koisu the remains of the city (XIV-XV cc.) are burried. The ruins of several buildings of brick and stone, foundations, floors of the buildings, timber flooring can be found now.It was visited by many researchers. Among the scholars was the famous Russian traveler and explorer of Central Asia, NM Prjewalsky, who made an enormous contribution to the study of mountain areas. He died in 1888 on his way to his 5th trip and was buried at the shore of Issyk-Kul lake, near Karakol. In 1957 the memorial museum with the grave and the monument was opened in the bay of Mikhailovka near the pier on a high bank 9 km from the city.
Karakol is fourth largest town in Kyrgyzstan after Bishkek, Osh, and Jalal-Abad. The population of Karakol, according to the Population and Housing Census of 2009, was 67,100.Karakol is one of Kyrgyzstan's major tourist destinations, serving as a good starting point for the excellent hiking, trekking, skiing and mountaineering in the high central Tian Shan to the south and east.The town itself boasts a number of places that would be of interest to tourists, such as a very pretty wooden mosque built by Chinese artisans for the local Dungans between 1907 and 1910 entirely without metal nails and a similarly appealing wooden Russian Orthodox church, the Holy Trinity Cathedral, completed in 1895, used as an officer's club during Soviet times, but now restored and in use again. The Regional Museum, following some sponsorship from the nearby Canadian gold mining concern, has exhibits on the Issyk Kul Lake petroglyphs, Scythian bronze artifacts, and a short history of the geology and mineral exploitation in the region. There also is a small section of Russian colonial "gingerbread" style residential buildings. The Sunday livestock market is a good place to see remnants of the traditional nomadic rural life.Karakol is famous among skiers and snowboarders from former USSR for its ski resort. Situated just 20 minutes from the town, the Karakol Ski Base provides services significantly better than those available at Shymbulak, a resort outside Almaty, and has cheaper prices.