Republic of Uzbekistan
172,742.11 sq mi
447,400.00 sq km
24,755,519 (July 2000 est.)
Estimated Population in 2050
Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
99.0% total, 99.0% male, 99.0% female (1996)
Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%
60.09 male, 67.52 female (2000 est.)
Uzbekistani som (UKS)
GDP (per capita)
$2,500 (1999 est.)
Labor Force (by occupation)
agriculture and forestry 44%, industry 20%, services 36% (1995)
textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas
cotton, vegetables, fruits, grain; livestock
cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles,
food products, automobiles
machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals; foodstuffs
natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead and
zinc, tungsten, molybdenum
Current Environmental Issues
drying up of the Aral Sea is resulting in growing concentrations of
chemical pesticides and natural salts; these substances are then blown
from the increasingly exposed lake bed and contribute to desertification;
water pollution from industrial wastes and the heavy use of fertilizers
and pesticides is the cause of many human health disorders; increasing
soil salination; soil contamination from agricultural chemicals, including
Telephones (main lines in use)
1.976 million (1999)
Telephones (mobile cellular)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
The land along the upper Amu-Darya, Syr-Darya and their tributaries
has always been different from the rest of Central Asia. Its people
are more settled than nomadic, with patterns of land use and social
structures that changed little from the 6th century BC to the 19th century.
The region was part of several very old Persian states. During the 4th
century BC, Alexander the Great passed through and married the daughter
of a local chieftain near Samarkand. Under the Kushan empire, Buddhism
took hold and the Silk Road brought peaceful contact with the wider
world. Towns grew and the area became rich.
6th century AD, Western Turks rode out of the steppes, bringing Islam
and a written alphabet. When they moved on to greener pastures, Persia
took over again, until Jenghiz Khan and his hordes rolled over the country.
With the rise of the ruthless warrior Timur in the 14th century, Uzbekistan
again rose to prosperity and Samarkand became a glittering Islamic capital
thanks to his patronage of the arts.
this time, certain Mongol tribes took the name Uzbek. In the 14th century
they began moving south, eventually conquering Timur's empire. By 1510
they had control of everything from the Amu-Darya to the Syr-Darya,
and they have maintained control ever since. In the early 18th century
the khan of Khiva asked Peter the Great of Russia for aid in defending
his land against Turkmen and Kazaks, stirring the first Russian interest
in Central Asia. However, by the time the Russians got around to marching
on Khiva, the khan no longer wanted their help and massacred almost
the entire army. Apart from a few minor forays, the next major Russian
excursion was made in 1839 by Tsar Nicholas I, who was eager to prevent
British expansion in the area, but the mission was not a great success.
Twenty-five years later the Russians again made a serious move on Uzbekistan
and by 1875 the region was theirs.
1917 Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks proclaimed the Autonomous Soviet
Socialist Republic of Turkestan, despite the fact that most Central
Asians defined themselves not by country, but as ethnic Turks or Persians.
In October 1924, Uzbekistan was declared, although it changed shape
and size many times in the following decades. For rural Uzbeks, Soviet
rule meant forced collectivisation of their farms, and a huge shift
to cotton cultivation. For the intelligentsia it meant devastating purges.
serious non-communist popular movement was formed in 1989 to speak out
on cotton farming and the use of Uzbek as an official language. Although
(or because) the movement was very popular, it was not permitted to
contest elections. After Moscow's 1991 coup, Uzbekistan was declared
independent, and its Communist Party changed its name but retained everything
else. The party's leader, Karimov, has held onto power ever since, largely
because genuine opposition groups are still not allowed to contest elections.
In fact, since independence his power has grown and dissent has shriveled,
thanks to restrictions on travel, political activism and publishing,
the introduction of a virtual police state, and the ever-present threat
of violence. Officially Uzbekistan is a multi-party democracy, but in
reality opposition groups are terrorized out of existence. Karimov ran
unopposed in the 1995 elections.
militant Islamic groups struggled to overthrow the government. Sixteen
people were killed and hundreds injured in Tashkent by bomb blasts that
February. Uzbek fighter planes have not been successful in their attempts
to dislodge the Islamic gunmen who have stationed themselves across
the southern border. President Karimov has presented himself as a champion
of democracy at home and abroad, but human rights organisations and
activists have publicly questioned his sincerity. In reality he seems
to be committed to authoritarian rule. The country as a whole is seeking
to lessen its dependence on agriculture and to exploit its oil and mineral
reserves, although the country's non-convertible currency is likely
to impede any great economic progress in the near future.