The earliest ancestors of the Kirghiz people, who are believed to be of mixed Mongol and Kipchak descent, probably settled until the 10th century around what is now the Tuva region of the Russian Federation. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the Kyrgyz migrated south. They did not emerge as a distinct ethnic group until the 15th century. Various Turkic peoples ruled them until 1685, when they came under the control of the Kalmyks (Oirats, Dzungars). Islam is the predominant religion in the region, and most of the Kyrgyz are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school.
The Epic of Manas is an ancient epic poem of the Kyrgyz people, who are an ethnic group primarily living in Kyrgyzstan, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. It is considered one of the world's longest epic poems, with more than half a million lines of verse, and is regarded as a masterpiece of Kyrgyz literature.