Islamic Countries - Uzbekistan
Russia conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic set up in 1924. During the Soviet era, intensive production of "white gold" (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves. Current concerns include terrorism by Islamic militants, a nonconvertible currency, and the curtailment of human rights and democratization.
Location:Central Asia, north ofAfghanistan
Area: total: 447,400 sq km
water: 22,000 sq km
land: 425,400 sq km
Coastline: 0 km (doubly landlocked); note -Uzbekistan includes the southern portion of the Aral Sea with a 420 km shoreline
Population: 25,981,647 (July 2003 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.63% (2003 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Ethnic groups: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)
Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country of which 11% consists of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. More than 60% of its population lives in densely populated rural communities. Uzbekistan is now the world's second-largest cotton exporter, a large producer of gold and oil, and a regionally significant producer of chemicals and machinery. Following independence in December 1991, the government sought to prop up its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. Uzbekistan responded to the negative external conditions generated by the Asian and Russian financial crises by emphasizing import substitute industrialization and by tightening export and currency controls within its already largely closed economy. The government, while aware of the need to improve the investment climate, sponsors measures that often increase, not decrease, the government's control over business decisions. A sharp increase in the inequality of income distribution has hurt the lower ranks of society since independence..
Industries: textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas, chemicals
Agriculture products: cotton, vegetables, fruits, grain; livestock
Telephones main lines in use: 1.98 million (1999)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 130,000 (2003)
Television broadcast stations: 4 (plus two repeaters that relay Russian programs), 1 cable rebroadcaster in Tashkent; approximately 20 stations in regional capitals (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 42 (2000)
Internet users: 100,000 (2002)
Railways: total: 3,950 km
broad gauge: 3,950 km 1.520-m gauge (620 km electrified) (2002)
Highways: total: 81,600 km
paved: 71,237 km
unpaved: 10,363 km (1999 est.)
Waterways: 1,100 km (1990)
Airports: 273 (2002)
conventional long form:Republic ofUzbekistan
conventional short form: Uzbekistan
local short form: Ozbekiston
former: Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic
local long form: Ozbekiston Respublikasi
Government type: republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Capital: Tashkent (Toshkent)
Administrative divisions:12 provinces (viloyatlar, singular - viloyat), 1 autonomous republic* (respublika), and 1 city** (shahar); Andijon Viloyati, Buxoro Viloyati, Farg'ona Viloyati, Jizzax Viloyati, Namangan Viloyati, Navoiy Viloyati, Qashqadaryo Viloyati (Qarshi), Qaraqalpog'iston Respublikasi* (Nukus), Samarqand Viloyati, Sirdaryo Viloyati (Guliston), Surxondaryo Viloyati (Termiz), Toshkent Shahri**, Toshkent Viloyati, Xorazm Viloyati (Urganch)
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 1 September 1991 (from Soviet Union)
Constitution: new constitution adopted 8 December 1992
Legal system: evolution of Soviet civil law; still lacks independent judicial system
chief of state: President Islom KARIMOV (since 24 March 1990, when he was elected president by the then Supreme Soviet)
head of government: Prime Minister Shavkat MIRZIYAYEV (since 11 December 2003)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president with approval of the Supreme Assembly
election results: Islom KARIMOV reelected president; percent of vote - Islom KARIMOV 91.9%, Abdulkhafiz JALALOV 4.2%
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (previously was a five-year term, extended by constitutional amendment in 2002); election last held 9 January 2000 (next to be held NA December 2007); prime minister and deputy ministers appointed by the president
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Supreme Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party [Anwar JURABAYEV, first secretary]; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish) or MTP [Aziz KAYUMOV, chairman]; People's Democratic Party or NDP (formerly Communist Party) [Abdulkhafiz JALALOV, first secretary]; Self-Sacrificers Party or Fidokorlar National Democratic Party [Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary]; note - Fatherland Progress Party merged with Self-Sacrificers Party
Mir-i-Arab Medressa in Bukhara, Uzbekistan(CORBIS.com)
Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%
The land along the upper Amu-Darya, Syr-Darya and their tributaries has 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.
In the 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.
Around 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.
After the 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.
The first 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. In 1999, 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.
Share this article