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O‘zbekiston Respublikasi
O‘zbekiston Jumhuriyati
Republic of Uzbekistan
Flag of Uzbekistan Coat of Arms of Uzbekistan
Flag of Uzbekistan Coat of Arms of Uzbekistan
National anthem National Anthem of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Capital Tashkent
President Islam Karimov
Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev
Official language Uzbek
 – Total
 – % water
Ranked 55th
 447,400 km²
 – Total (2002)
 – Density
Ranked 41st
 – Date
From Soviet Union
 September 1, 1991
Currency Uzbekistani Som (UKS)
Time zone UTC +5
Calling Code 998
Internet TLD .uz

The Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south.



Main article: History of Uzbekistan

For thousands of years the present area of Uzbekistan was a part of the Persian Empire. Before the gradual arrival of the Turkic invaders the area was populated by the Persian-speaking people of Iranian stock who still comprise a large minority in Uzbekistan and are called Tajiks today. The area was a bone of contention between the Uzbek emirs and the Persian Kings for many centuries.

Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the 8th century AD, the indigenous Persian Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Samanids brought about a revival of the Persian culture in the area. Its territory was overrun by Jenghis Khan and his Mongol tribes in 1220.

Gur Imir, Mausoleum of Tamerlane (Amir Timur), Samarkand
Gur Imir, Mausoleum of Tamerlane (Amir Timur), Samarkand

In the 1300s, Timur (1336 - 1405), known in the west as Tamerlane, overpowered the Mongols and built an empire. In his military campaigns Tamerlane reached as far as the Middle East. He defeated Ottoman Emperor Bayazid and rescued Europe from Turkish conquest. Tamerlane sought to build a capital of his empire in Samarkand.

In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to expand, and spread into Central Asia. The "Great Game" period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 a second less intensive phase followed. At the start of the 19th century there were some 2000 miles separating British India and the outlying regions of the Tsarist Russia. Much of the land in between was unmapped.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Central Asia was firmly in the hands of Russia and despite some early resistance to Bolsheviks, Uzbekistan and the rest of Central Asia became a part of the Soviet Union. On August 31, 1991, Uzbekistan reluctantly declared independence, marking September 1 as a national holiday. In subsequent ethnic tensions, two million Russians left the country for Russia.

On May 13, 2005, protests broke out in Andijan over the imprisonment of 23 Muslims accused of being Islamist extremists. The protestors took thirty hostages. Soldiers started to fire on the protestors, leaving many of them dead. The number of dead is greatly disputed varying from 176 to 1,000 (see the Chronology sidebar in the #Human rights in Uzbekistan since 1989 section, for details).

On the same day in Tashkent, a man mistakenly believed to be a suicide bomber was shot dead outside the Israeli Embassy.

The country now seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture (it is the world's third-largest exporter of cotton) while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves.



Following is a chronology of major political events in Uzbekistan since 1989:

1989 - Islam Karimov becomes leader of Uzbek Communist Party. - Violent attacks take place against minorities in Ferghana Valley. Nationalist movement Birlik (Unity) is founded.

1991 - Uzbekistan declares independence from the Soviet Union, joining the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) -- a grouping of former Soviet republics -- after the Soviet Union's collapse. - Karimov is returned as president in elections in which few opposition groups are allowed to field candidates.

1992 - Karimov bans the Birlik and Erk (Freedom) parties. Large numbers of opposition party members are arrested for alleged anti-state activities.

1995 - A number of Erk party activists are given prison sentences for allegedly conspiring to oust the government.

1999 - Bomb blasts in the capital, Tashkent, kill more than a dozen people. Karimov blames the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). -IMU broadcasts a declaration of jihad from a radio station in Iran demanding the resignation of the Uzbek leadership. -IMU insurgents launch a series of attacks against government forces from mountain hideouts.

2000 - Karimov is re-elected president. Western observers call the elections neither free nor fair. - New York-based Human Rights Watch accuses Uzbekistan of widespread use of torture.

June 2001 - Uzbekistan jails 73 people for up to 18 years for aiding Islamic extremists in its southern Surkhandarya region in 2000.

October - Uzbekistan allows the United States military to use its airbases for attacking the Taliban in Afghanistan.

January 2002 - Karimov wins backing for extending his presidential term from five to seven years in a referendum derided by the West as a ploy to hang on to power.

August - Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan military leader Juma Namangany is reported killed.

June 2003 - Erk opposition party holds first formal meeting since it was banned 11 years earlier.

December - Karimov sacks Prime Minister Otkir Sultanov, citing the country's poorest cotton harvest on record. Shavkat Mirziyayev is appointed to replace him.

March 2004 - Uzbek special forces storm a suspected Islamic militants' hideout, killing up to 23 people after a day-long siege.

July - Suicide bombers target U.S. and Israeli embassies in Tashkent. A third blast hits a state prosecutor's office, killing three people.

November - New restrictions on trading practices lead to civil disorder in eastern town of Kokand. Several thousand people are reported to have taken part in street protests.

May 13, 2005 - Hundreds are feared dead when Uzbek troops fire on thousands of protesters in the eastern town of Andijon. Uzbek authorities maintain that only 176 people died during the clashes, most of them "terrorists" and their own soldiers. Conservative estimates put the death toll around 500[1], with other sources citing as many as 700[2] to 1000[3] killed during the clashes.

Main article: Politics of Uzbekistan

Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for democracy. In reality, the executive holds almost all power. The judiciary lacks independence and the parliament has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, Karimov's first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to yet again extend Karimov's term. The referendum passed and Karimov's term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament, consisting of a lower house (the Oliy Majlis) and an upper house (Senate). Members of the lower house are to be "full time" legislators. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on December 26, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval but have yet to show interest in advocating alternatives to government policy. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members, and hold conventions and press conferences, but have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. Terrorist bombings were carried out March 28-April 1, 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara. It is not yet clear who committed the attacks. The government reaction to the attacks, thus far, has been restrained.

Human rights in Uzbekistan since 1989

Uzbekistan is nominally democratic but has been described as a police state. Several prominent opponents of the government have fled, and others have been arrested. The government severely represses those it suspects of Islamic extremism, particularly those it suspects of membership in the banned Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir). Some 5,300 to 5,800 suspected extremists are incarcerated.

In May 2005, several hundred demonstrators were killed after Uzbek troops fired into a crowd protesting against the imprisonment of 23 local businessmen. (For further details, see May 2005 unrest in Uzbekistan.)

Freedom of expression

In the area of freedom of expression, the Karimov regime maintains an iron grip on the country's media. State media routinely black out coverage of bombings by Islamic insurgents while foreign journalists and media outlets are harassed for reporting on growing unrest. Authorities also block Web sites that provide independent news, including those of Arena and the new Uzbek-language BBC.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Uzbekistan is the leading jailer of journalists in Europe and Central Asia, with four behind bars as of December 2004. Reporters Without Borders says the fight against terrorism is used as an excuse by authorities to step up their crackdown on independent media.

Two members of the Bethany Protestant Church in Tashkent have already been punished for "illegally" teaching their faith, while six others – including Pastor Nikolai Shevchenko – are due to face trial next month for leading an unregistered religious organization. The church has repeatedly been denied registration in a district of the city where mosques are also banned.

On June 10, 2005 a criminal court sentenced Nail Kalinkin to 15 days in prison and fined his wife, Marina, the equivalent of $68. They were found guilty of expounding the meaning of biblical texts. Uniformed and plain clothes police officers burst into the Bethany Church during the Sunday service June 12. The authorities cut short the service, saying that the church could not meet there any more. They demanded the pastors write statements explaining the reason for the meeting.

When interrogations began, Shevchenko asked for an attorney to be present. "Those at the police station answered us that they required neither lawyer nor summons, because all they needed was to destroy us," he said. He has been repeatedly fined since 2000 for leading an unregistered religious community. In 2001, he was accused of unlawful religious activity and faced criminal charges, but the case was closed after pressure from the international community.


Main article: Geography of Uzbekistan

Charvak Lake
Charvak Lake
Map of Uzbekistan
Map of Uzbekistan

With an area of 447,000 square kilometers (approximately the size of France or California), Uzbekistan stretches 1,425 kilometers from west to east and 930 kilometers from north to south. Bordering Turkmenistan to the southwest, Kazakstan to the north, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the south and east, Uzbekistan is not only one of the larger Central Asian states but also the only Central Asian state to border all of the other four. Uzbekistan also shares a short border with Afghanistan to the south.

Uzbekistan is a dry, double-landlocked country of which 10% consists of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. It is one of two double-landlocked countries in the world - the other being Liechtenstein, although in the case of Uzbekistan this is less clear, since it has borders with two countries (Kazakhstan in the north and Turkmenistan in the south) bordering the landlocked but non-freshwater Caspian Sea from which ships can reach the Sea of Azov and thus the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the oceans.

The highest point in Uzbekistan is Adelunga Toghi at 4301 meters.

See also: List of cities in Uzbekistan


Main article: Subdivisions of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is divided into 12 provinces (viloyatlar, singular - viloyat, [viloyati] in compound, eg. Toshkent viloyati, Samarqand viloyati), 1 autonomous republic [respublika], respublikasi in compound, Qoraqalpog'iston Avtonom Respublikasi, Karakalpakistan Autonomous Republic, and 1 independent city [shahar] or [shahri] in compounds, the Tashkent city, Toshkent shahri; Names are given below in the Uzbek language, although numerous variations of the transliterations of each name exist.

Political Map of Uzbekistan
Division Capital City Area (sq. km) Population Key
Andijon Viloyati Andijon 4,200 1,899,000 2
Buxoro Viloyati Buxoro (Bukhara) 39,400 1,384,700 3
Farg'ona Viloyati Farg'ona (Fergana)  6,800 2,597,000 4
Jizzax Viloyati Jizzax 20,500 910,500 5
Xorazm Viloyati Urganch 6,300  1,200,000 13
Namangan Viloyati Namangan 7,900 1,862,000 6
Navoiy Viloyati Navoiy 110,800 767,500 7
Qashqadaryo Viloyati Qarshi 28,400 2,029,000 8
Qoraqalpog'iston Respublikasi Nukus 160,000 1,200,000 14
Samarqand Viloyati Samarqand 16,400  2,322,000 9
Sirdaryo Viloyati Guliston 5,100 648,100 10
Surxondaryo Viloyati Termez 20,800 1,676,000 11
Toshkent Viloyati Toshkent (Tashkent) 15,300  4,450,000 12

The statistics for Toshkent Viloyati also include the statistics for Toshkent Shahri.

Enclaves and exclaves

There are four Uzbek exclaves, all of them surrounded by Kyrgyz territory in the Fergana valley region where Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan meet. Two of them are the towns of Sokh (area 325 km² and a population of 42,800 in 1993, although some estimates go as high as 70,000; 99% are Tajiks, the remainder Uzbeks [4]) and Shakhrimardan (also known as Shakirmardon, and Shah-i-Mardan, area 90 km² and a population of 5,100 in 1993; 91% are Uzbeks, the remainder Kyrgyz); the other two are the tiny territories of Chong-Kara (or Kalacha, roughly 3 km long by 1 km wide) and Dzhangail (a dot of land barely 2 or 3 km across). Chong-Kara is on the Sokh river, between the Uzbek border and the Sokh exclave.

Uzbekistan has a Tajikistan enclave, the village of Sarvan, which includes a narrow, long strip of land (about 15 km long by 1 km wide) alongside the road from Angren to Kokand. Last but not least, there is a tiny Kyrgyzstan enclave, the village of Barak (population 627), between the towns of Margilan and Fergana.


Main article: Economy of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan was one of the poorest areas of the former Soviet Union with more than 60% of its population living in densely populated rural communities. Uzbekistan is now the world's third largest cotton exporter, the seventh world major producer of gold and natural gas, and a regionally significant producer of chemicals and machinery.

Following independence in September 1991, the government sought to prop up its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. Faced with high rates of inflation, however, the government began to reform in mid-1994, by introducing tighter monetary policies, expanding privatization, slightly reducing the role of the state in the economy, and improving the environment for foreign investors. The state continues to be a dominating influence in the economy, and reforms have so far failed to bring about structural changes. The IMF suspended Uzbekistan's $185 million standby arrangement in late 1996 because of governmental steps that made fulfillment of Fund conditions impossible. Uzbekistan has responded to the negative external conditions generated by the Asian and Russian financial crises by tightening export and currency controls within its already largely closed economy. Economic policies that have repelled foreign investment are a major factor in the economy's stagnation. A growing debt burden, persistent inflation, and a poor business climate cloud growth prospects in 2000.


Main article: Demographics of Uzbekistan Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 25 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are nearly half the region's total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. Uzbek is the predominant ethnic group. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5% (this number indicates the total of the remaining Russian-speakers), Tajik 15%, Korean 4.7% (these may also be attested as Russian-speaking population), [Kazakhs|Kazakh]] 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, and Tatar 1.5%. The nation is 88% Muslim and 9% Eastern Orthodox. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-to-day technical, scientific, government and business use.

The Turkestan region remained one of the most illiterate districts in the world. The Soviet educational system in Uzbekistan achieved 97% literacy. Nowadays the state deliberately closes Russian-speaking schools, reduces the total amount of schools in the country or turns them into incomplete educational institutions. Besides, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated, inappropriate, and poorly kept. Additionally, the proportion of school-aged persons enrolled has been dropping. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Thus, the percentage of the literate population should be expected to have decreased drastically from 97% since the reception of incdependence from the USSR in 1991. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency. The government also implements a birth-rate control policy, "Kizil Olma" The Red Apple, among the local population. This includes free distribution of pregnancy prevention means.


Main article: Communications in Uzbekistan


Main article: Transportation in Uzbekistan


Uzbekistan possesses the largest and most competent military forces in the Central Asian region, having around 65,000 people in uniform. Its structure is inherited from the Soviet armed forces, although it is moving rapidly toward a fully restructured organization, which will eventually be built around light and Special Forces. The Uzbek Armed Forces' equipment is not modern, and training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate yet for its new mission of territorial security. The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a non-nuclear state), and has supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniye Island). The Government of Uzbekistan spends about 3.7% of GDP on the military but has received a growing infusion of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and other security assistance funds since 1998. Uzbekistan approved U.S. Central Command's request for access to a vital military air base, Karshi-Khanabad Airbase, in southern Uzbekistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Following the Andijan riot and the U.S. reaction to it, Uzbekistan has demanded to withdraw the airbases from the territory of the country and now it is due to execution by the U.S. part.

Main article: Military of Uzbekistan

Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. However, it is opposed to reintegration and withdrew from the CIS collective security arrangement in 1999. Since that time, Uzbekistan has participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan and in UN-organized groups to help resolve the Tajik and Afghan conflicts, both of which it sees as posing threats to its own stability. Uzbekistan was an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism and joined the coalitions that have dealt with both Afghanistan and Iraq. The relationship between Uzbekistan and the United States began to deteriorate after the so-called "color revolutions" in Georgia and Ukraine (and to a lesser extent Kyrgystan), however. When the U.S. joined in a call for an independent international investigation of the bloody events at Andijon, the relationship took an additional nosedive and President Islam Karimov moved more closely into the orbit of Russia and China, countries which refused to criticize Uzbekistan's leaders for their behavior. In late July, 2005, the government of Uzbekistan ordered the United States to vacate an air base in Karshi-Kanabad (near the Uzbek border with Afghanistan) within 180 days. Karimov had offered use of the base to the U.S. shortly after 9/11. It is a member of the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Partnership for Peace, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It belongs to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization--comprised of the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the GUAM alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova), which was formed in 1997 (making it GUUAM), but pulled out of the organization in 2005. Uzbekistan is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and hosts the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent. Uzbekistan also joined the new Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) in 2002. The CACO consists of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is a founding member of and remains involved in the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, joined in March. 1998 by Tajikistan.

Previously close to Washington, the government of Uzkekistan has restricted American military use of the airbase at Karshi-Khanabad which is used for air operations in neighboring Afghanistan. See AP article


Main article: Culture of Uzbekistan


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Countries in Central Asia

Afghanistan | China (PRC) | Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Mongolia | Russia | Tajikistan | Turkmenistan | Uzbekistan

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Flag of CIS
Armenia | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Georgia | Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Moldova | Russia | Tajikistan | Turkmenistan | Ukraine | Uzbekistan
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