The Kyrgyz also have retained a strong sense of cultural tradition. Figures from the 1989 Soviet census show that Kyrgyz males were the least likely of the men of any Soviet nationality to marry outside their people (only 6.1 percent of their marriages were "international") and that Kyrgyz women did so in only 5.8 percent of marriages. Moreover, although the degree of such changes is difficult to measure, Kyrgyz "mixed" marriages seem uncommonly likely to assimilate in the direction of a Kyrgyz identity, with the non-Kyrgyz spouse learning the Kyrgyz language and the children assuming the Kyrgyz nationality. Even ordinary citizens are thoroughly familiar with the Kyrgyz oral epic, Manas , a poem of several hundred thousand lines (many versions are recited) telling of the eponymous Kyrgyz hero's struggles against invaders from the east. Many places and things in Kyrgyzstan, including the main airport, bear the name of this ancient hero, the one-thousandth anniversary of whose mythical adventures were cause for great national celebration in 1995.
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