/ooz bek"euh stan', -stahn', uz-/, n.
a republic in S central Asia. 23,860,452; 172,741 sq. mi. (447,400 sq. km). Cap.: Tashkent. Formerly, Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.

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Introduction Uzbekistan -
Background: 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 insurgency by Islamic militants based in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, a nonconvertible currency, and the curtailment of human rights and democratization. Geography Uzbekistan
Location: Central Asia, north of Afghanistan
Geographic coordinates: 41 00 N, 64 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 447,400 sq km water: 22,000 sq km land: 425,400 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than California
Land boundaries: total: 6,221 km border countries: Afghanistan 137 km, Kazakhstan 2,203 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,099 km, Tajikistan 1,161 km, Turkmenistan 1,621 km
Coastline: 0 km (doubly landlocked); note - Uzbekistan includes the southern portion of the Aral Sea with a 420 km shoreline
Maritime claims: none (doubly landlocked)
Climate: mostly midlatitude desert, long, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid grassland in east
Terrain: mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Syr Darya (Sirdaryo), and Zarafshon; Fergana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sariqarnish Kuli -12 m highest point: Adelunga Toghi 4,301 m
Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead and zinc, tungsten, molybdenum
Land use: arable land: 10.8% permanent crops: 0.91% other: 88.29% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 42,810 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: NA Environment - current issues: shrinkage 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 buried nuclear processing and agricultural chemicals, including DDT Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: along with Liechtenstein, one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world People Uzbekistan -
Population: 25,563,441 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 35.5% (male 4,617,110; female 4,457,065) 15-64 years: 59.8% (male 7,567,510; female 7,726,753) 65 years and over: 4.7% (male 482,137; female 712,866) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.62% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 26.09 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 7.98 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.94 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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 (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 71.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 63.9 years female: 67.6 years (2002 est.) male: 60.38 years
Total fertility rate: 3.03 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ less than 100 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Uzbekistani(s) adjective: Uzbekistani
Ethnic groups: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)
Religions: Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%
Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% male: 99% female: 99% (yearend 1996) Government Uzbekistan -
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Uzbekistan conventional short form: Uzbekistan local short form: none former: Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic local long form: Uzbekiston 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)
National holiday: Independence Day, 1 September (1991)
Constitution: new constitution adopted 8 December 1992
Legal system: evolution of Soviet civil law; still lacks independent judicial system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: 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 Otkir SULTONOV (since 21 December 1995) 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; election last held 9 January 2000 (next to be held NA 2007); (previously was a five-year term, extended by national referendum on 27 January 2002) prime minister and deputy ministers appointed by the president
Legislative branch: unicameral Supreme Assembly or Oliy Majlis (250 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); note - on 27 January 2002, a referendum was held that will make the Assembly bicameral on the 2004 elections election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NDP 48, Self-Sacrificers Party 34, Fatherland Progress Party 20, Adolat Social Democratic Party 11, MTP 10, citizens' groups 16, local government 110, vacant 1 note: not all seats in the last Supreme Assembly election were contested; all parties in the Supreme Assembly support President KARIMOV elections: last held 5 December and 19 December 1999 (next to be held NA December 2004)
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 JALOLOV, first secretary]; Self-Sacrificers Party or Fidokorlar National Democratic Party [Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary]; note - Fatherland Progress Party merged with Self- Sacrificers Party Political pressure groups and Birlik (Unity) Movement [Abdurakhim
leaders: POLAT, chairman]; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party [Muhammad SOLIH, chairman] was banned 9 December 1992; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan [Abdumannob POLAT, chairman]; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan [Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman] International organization AsDB, CCC, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE,
participation: ECO, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer) Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Shavkat HAMRAKULOV FAX: [1] (202) 293-6804 consulate(s) general: New York telephone: [1] (202) 887-5300 chancery: 1746 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador John
US: Edward HERBST embassy: 82 Chilanzarskaya, Tashkent 700115 mailing address: use embassy street address; US Embassy Tashkent, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-7110 telephone: [998] (71) 120-5444 FAX: [998] (71) 120-6335
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and green separated by red fimbriations with a white crescent moon and 12 white stars in the upper hoist-side quadrant Economy Uzbekistan
Economy - overview: 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. The state continues to be a dominating influence in the economy and has so far failed to bring about much- needed structural changes. The IMF suspended Uzbekistan's $185 million standby arrangement in late 1996 because of governmental steps that made impossible fulfillment of Fund conditions. Uzbekistan has 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. 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 led to disappointing growth in 2001. However, in December 2001 the government voiced a renewed interest in economic reform, seeking advice from the IMF and other financial institutions.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $62 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,500 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 33% industry: 24% services: 43% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 3.1%
percentage share: highest 10%: 25.2% (1993) Distribution of family income - Gini 33.3 (1993)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 23% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 11.9 million (1998 est.) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 44%, industry 20%, services 36% (1995)
Unemployment rate: 10% plus another 20% underemployed (1999 est.)
Budget: revenues: $4 billion expenditures: $4.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.)
Industries: textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas, chemicals Industrial production growth rate: 3.5% (2000 est.) Electricity - production: 44.075 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 86.95% hydro: 13.05% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 41.89 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 4.1 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 5 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: cotton, vegetables, fruits, grain; livestock
Exports: $2.8 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: cotton 41.5%, gold 9.6%, energy products 9.6%, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles (1998 est.)
Exports - partners: Russia 16.7%, Switzerland 8.3%, UK 7.2%, Ukraine 4.7%, South Korea 3.3%, Kazakhstan 3.1% (2000)
Imports: $2.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment 49.8%, foodstuffs 16.4%, chemicals, metals (1998 est.)
Imports - partners: Russia 15.8%, South Korea 9.8%, US 8.7%, Germany 8.6%, Kazakhstan 7.3%, Ukraine 6.1% (2002)
Debt - external: $5.1 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: approximately $150 million from the US (2001)
Currency: Uzbekistani sum (UZS)
Currency code: UZS
Exchange rates: Uzbekistani sums per US dollar - 687.0 (January 2002), 325.0 (January 2001), 141.4 (January 2000), 111.9 (February 1999), 110.95 (December 1998), 75.8 (September 1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Uzbekistan - Telephones - main lines in use: 1.98 million (1999) Telephones - mobile cellular: 26,000 (1998)
Telephone system: general assessment: antiquated and inadequate; in serious need of modernization domestic: the domestic telephone system is being expanded and technologically improved, particularly in Tashkent and Samarqand, under contracts with prominent companies in industrialized countries; moreover, by 1998, six cellular networks had been placed in operation - four of the GSM type (Global System for Mobile Communication), one D-AMPS type (Digital Advanced Mobile Phone System), and one AMPS type (Advanced Mobile Phone System) international: linked by landline or microwave radio relay with CIS member states and to other countries by leased connection via the Moscow international gateway switch; after the completion of the Uzbek link to the Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber- optic cable, Uzbekistan will be independent of Russian facilities for international communications; Inmarsat also provides an international connection, albeit an expensive one; satellite earth stations - NA (1998) Radio broadcast stations: AM 20, FM 7, shortwave 10 (1998)
Radios: 10.8 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 4 (plus two repeaters that relay Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Tajik programs) (1997)
Televisions: 6.4 million (1997)
Internet country code: .uz Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 42 (2000)
Internet users: 7,500 (2000) Transportation Uzbekistan -
Railways: total: 3,656 km broad gauge: 3,656 km 1.520-m gauge (618 km electrified) (2000)
Highways: total: 81,600 km paved: 71,237 km (includes some all- weather gravel-surfaced roads) unpaved: 10,363 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1990)
Waterways: 1,100 km (1990)
Pipelines: crude oil 250 km; petroleum products 40 km; natural gas 810 km (1992)
Ports and harbors: Termiz (Amu Darya)
Airports: 267 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 10 over 3,047 m: 3 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 257 over 3,047 m: 3 2,438 to 3,047 m: 8 1,524 to 2,437 m: 11 914 to 1,523 m: 13 under 914 m: 222 (2001) Military Uzbekistan -
Military branches: Army, Air and Air Defense Forces, National Guard, Security Forces (internal security and border troops) Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 6,747,221 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 5,478,766 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 274,602 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $200 million (FY97)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 2% (FY97)
GDP: Transnational Issues Uzbekistan - Disputes - international: Uzbekistan border largely delimited with Kazakhstan, but unresolved dispute remains over sovereignty of two border villages, Bagys and Turkestan, and around the Arnasay dam; dispute over access to Sokh and other Uzbek enclaves in Kyrgyzstan mars progress on international boundary delimitation; Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan wrestle with sharing limited water resources and the regional environmental degradation caused by the shrinking Aral Sea; the undemarcated northern and western border with Uzbekistan is mined in many sections
Illicit drugs: limited illicit cultivation of cannabis and very small amounts of opium poppy, mostly for domestic consumption, almost entirely eradicated by an effective government eradication program; increasingly used as transshipment point for illicit drugs from Afghanistan to Russia and Western Europe and for acetic anhydride destined for Afghanistan

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officially Republic of Uzbekistan

Country, Central Asia.

The autonomous republic of Qoraqalpogʽiston (Karakalpakstan) is within its borders. Area: 172,700 sq mi (447,400 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 25,484,000. Capital: Tashkent. The Uzbeks constitute nearly three-fourths of the population; Russians, Tajiks, Kazakhs, Tatars, and Karakalpaks make up the remainder. Languages: Uzbek (official), Russian, Tajik. Religions: Islam (Sunnite), Russian Orthodoxy. Currency: sum. Uzbekistan lies largely between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. Although it contains fertile oases and high mountain ranges in the south and east, almost four-fifths of the country consists of flat, sunbaked lowlands. Two-thirds of the Aral Sea extends into Uzbekistan. It is a major producer and exporter of natural gas and has sizable reserves of petroleum, coal, and various metallic ores. It is one of Central Asia's major cotton growers and also produces fruits and vegetables and Karakul sheep. It is the main manufacturer of machinery and heavy equipment in Central Asia. It is a republic with one legislative body; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. A grandson of Mongol leader Genghis Khan received the territory as his inheritance in the 13th century AD. The Mongols ruled over a number of Turkic tribes, who would eventually intermarry with the Mongols to form the Uzbeks and other Turkic peoples of Central Asia. In the early 16th century a federation of Mongol-Turks invaded and occupied settled regions, including an area called Transoxania that would become the Uzbeks' permanent homeland. By the early 19th century the region was dominated by the khanates of Khiva, Bukhara, and Qoqon, all of which eventually succumbed to Russian domination. The Uzbek S.S.R. was created in 1924. In June 1990 Uzbekistan became the first Central Asian republic to declare sovereignty. It achieved full independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Its economy subsequently became the strongest in Central Asia.

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▪ 2009

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 27,345,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev

      In 2008 Uzbekistan continued to maintain good relations with Russia while seeking to improve its contacts with the West. In February, Uzbek Pres. Islam Karimov hailed Russian military assistance, and at the end of March the Uzbek Senate ratified Uzbekistan's return to the Collective Security Treaty Organization. During Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to Tashkent in September, an economic cooperation pact for 2008–12 was signed. Included in the accord was an agreement on the construction of a new pipeline for the export of Uzbek natural gas to Russia.

      During the course of the year, the sanctions imposed by the European Union were reviewed and largely dropped; in September, however, the Uzbek authorities appealed to the EU for an end to the “double standard” that they felt was being applied to them. The sanctions had been imposed after the Uzbek refusal to permit independent investigation of the Andijan events in 2005, during which government troops reportedly killed hundreds of unarmed demonstrators. International human rights groups and Uzbek activists appealed to the EU not to lift the sanctions merely because a few human rights activists had been released from prison. In September Uzbekistan officially banned the use of child labour in the cotton harvest, but this did not prevent refusals by U.S. and British firms to buy Uzbek cotton because children were forced to work as pickers.

      In April Karimov visited Kazakhstan, describing that country as a key partner of Uzbekistan in Central Asia, but he rejected the Kazakh concept of a Central Asian union. Relations were less smooth with Tajikistan. Much of the Central Asian region, including Uzbekistan, was affected by the extremely cold weather in January and February; the Uzbek authorities refused to honour an agreement to deliver electricity to Tajikistan, which was far more severely affected than was Uzbekistan, on the grounds that the power was needed at home. Only in March, after the worst of the winter was past, did Uzbekistan resume power supplies. In August Uzbekistan accused Kyrgyzstan of having violated a water-sharing agreement, holding back water that was needed for irrigation of Uzbek farms; Kyrgyzstan denied the charge. Agreements between the five Central Asian states in October raised hopes in the region that a solution might soon be found to resolving intraregional power and water-use problems.

Bess Brown

▪ 2008

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 27,372,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev

      The main political question of 2007 in Uzbekistan was whether or when there would be a presidential election. Pres. Islam Karimov had exceeded his constitutionally allotted term in office, and there was considerable speculation inside and outside the country on whether he would have his tenure extended indefinitely (as had Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov in Turkmenistan) or content himself with manipulating the choice of a successor. By September an election date of December 23 had been set, and in November delegates at a Liberal Democratic Party congress selected Karimov as their presidential candidate. He went on to win the election with 88% of the vote and thereby secured a third term in office. Karimov faced only token opposition, and many Western observers questioned the legitimacy of the vote.

      Throughout 2007 the Uzbek leadership sought to reverse the country's worsening economy. In February President Karimov told his cabinet that Uzbekistan urgently needed to expand its output of oil and natural gas and to improve the tax-collection rate by fighting the “shadow” economy. The population had been driven to rely on the shadow economy by Karimov's earlier restrictions on the import of consumer goods, which the country could not produce for itself. The import restrictions, however, remained. Throughout the year various officials called for increased domestic and foreign investment in the Uzbek economy. In late March, Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov asserted that the Uzbek economy was stable and growing and that foreign investment was increasing. In August the Uzbek authorities liquidated the long-running Uzbek-U.S. Zeravshan-Newmont gold-extraction joint venture and handed its assets to a local firm; this action did not send an encouraging signal to potential foreign investors.

      Uzbekistan was only partially successful in its efforts to persuade the European Union to relax sanctions imposed after the Uzbek government refused to permit an independent investigation of the violent events in Andijan in 2005. The international human rights community lobbied hard against relaxation of the sanctions, which were extended in May. The country's record on the observation of human rights remained poor: human rights activists were regularly harassed by the police, arrested, and imprisoned, and there was little evidence that an effort was being made to end the torture of suspects by law-enforcement officials.

      The world's attention was drawn to Uzbekistan on October 24 by the murder of independent Uzbek journalist Alisher Saipov. Saipov had published a political weekly highly critical of Karimov in the Kyrgyz town of Osh, near the Uzbek border. Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbai Bakir-uulu expressed the view of many journalists and others when he said on October 29 that he believed Uzbek special services were behind the killing, but Kyrgyz law-enforcement officials said that they could find no evidence to support that conclusion.

Bess Brown

▪ 2007

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 26,383,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev

 In 2006 Uzbekistan continued the political reorientation toward Russia that had begun a year earlier, after the West demanded an impartial investigation of the violence in Andijan in 2005. In January Uzbekistan joined the Eurasian Economic Community, a group consisting of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, explaining that it was doing so because of fears about regional stability. A Kazakh commentator complained that Uzbekistan did not belong in the group because it did not subscribe to the Community's principles of economic and trade liberalization. Later Uzbekistan initiated moves to join the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization.

      Repression of political oppositionists, human rights activists, and religious communities continued, at least partly in response to the Andijan events. In January, Saidjahon Zaynabiddinov, an activist who had witnessed the events in Andijan, was jailed for seven years on a charge of spreading false information. Two months later Mutabar Tojibayeva, an activist who had condemned government actions in Andijan, was sentenced to eight years for receiving Western funds to disrupt public order. By mid-June at least 11 human rights activists had been jailed, according to Human Rights Watch. The Ministry of Justice responded by accusing the human rights group of breaking the law by disseminating “tendentious” information. In March leaders of the Sunshine Coalition, a political opposition group promoting democratization, were sentenced to lengthy jail terms.

      Official irritation with the West led to the closure of Uzbek branches of many U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations, including Freedom House, the Eurasia Foundation, the American Bar Association's Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, and Counterpart Consortium, which had played a major role in assisting the development of civil society in Uzbekistan. In early March, Tashkent published a resolution restricting the work of foreign journalists. In the same month, the World Bank suspended new loans to Uzbekistan, though it continued to provide technical assistance to the Uzbek government. Also in March, the Uzbek authorities forced the closure of the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; the move was interpreted abroad as having been motivated by official Uzbek pique that UNHCR had arranged for more than 400 Uzbek refugees, who had fled to Kyrgyzstan after the 2005 events in Andijan, to move to third countries rather than being repatriated against their will. Various religious communities experienced increased levels of harassment, particularly Protestants, though human rights activists reported that pious Muslims continued to be persecuted as “extremists.”

Bess Brown

▪ 2006

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 26,593,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev

 Uzbekistan's standing in much of the international community declined precipitously in 2005 following an incident in the town of Andijan, where several hundred ordinary citizens may have died at the hands of government troops. Beginning in January, unrest was reported from various parts of the country, and groups of up to 1,000 people demonstrated against cuts in gas and electricity supplies. In February, Pres. Islam Karimov called for economic liberalization, but, as usual, no concrete steps were taken. In March the International Monetary Fund demanded deeper reforms, including the privatization of all banks and the removal of state restrictions on agriculture and trade. The following month an independent journalist was beaten in the town of Jizzak, apparently in retaliation for his articles, which accused local authorities of taking the best farmlands for themselves.

      In February, 23 successful businessmen were put on trial in Andijan, in eastern Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley, traditionally a region of strong Muslim piety. The defendants were charged with having established a group of religious extremists; some observers asserted that the success in business of those on trial had angered the authorities. On May 13 a demonstration in the main square of Andijan turned violent as supporters of the imprisoned businessmen broke into the prison, freed the inmates, and then crashed into the mayor's office and other public buildings, taking hostages and setting fires. According to eyewitnesses, troops then fired on the demonstrators in the square. Accounts of the event varied widely—the government insisted that there had been 173 deaths of law-enforcement personnel and criminals, while independent observers insisted that up to 1,000 persons—mostly unarmed civilians—had been killed. Several hundred Uzbek citizens fled into Kyrgyzstan.

      Karimov described events in and around Andijan as the work of terrorists, at least some of whom had come from abroad, and rejected international demands for an independent investigation. As international pressure increased, Uzbekistan demanded that the U.S. leave its air base at Khanabad and strengthened its ties with Russia and China, both of which had supported the actions of the Uzbek authorities in Andijan. Relations with Kyrgyzstan deteriorated sharply when the Kyrgyz authorities allowed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to evacuate 440 Uzbek refugees to a third country.

      On September 9, 15 persons went on trial in Tashkent for their role in the Andijan events. All pleaded guilty; some observers compared the conduct of the trial to the Stalinist show trials of the 1930s. On November 14 all defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 20 years.

Bess Brown

▪ 2005

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 26,009,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev

      Two terrorist episodes in 2004 drew international attention to the unstable security situation in Uzbekistan. In late March and early April, a series of blasts in Tashkent and Bukhara were carried out by suicide bombers—the country's first instances involving them—and according to official figures, these attacks on police stations resulted in the death of 28 persons and injuries to 50 others. Pres. Islam Karimov, whose repressive policies almost certainly bore some responsibility for the disaffection of the terrorists, blamed international terrorists and the Muslim extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir for having inspired the attacks. At the end of July, the U.S. and Israeli embassies, along with the prosecutor-general's office, were targets of bomb attacks. Seven people were killed, including the three bombers themselves. In response to the attacks, hundreds of persons were arrested throughout the country, many of whom were pious Muslims who denied that they had any connection with terrorism.

      Uzbekistan came under increasing criticism from the international community for its failure to register opposition political parties, its harassment of independent journalists, and its apparent inability to end torture of suspects in police stations and prisoners in correctional institutions. The country's oldest opposition group, Birlik, had its application for registration as a political party turned down in late June, which excluded it from participation in the December parliamentary elections. After a review of Uzbekistan's progress in implementing international human rights standards, Washington cut part of its assistance to the country while insisting that the U.S. wished to continue to cooperate in the struggle against terrorism. Apparently in retaliation, Tashkent refused to register American nongovernmental organizations working on political-party development and human rights.

      Relations with Russia improved with the signing of deals for Russian firms to develop the Uzbek natural gas industry; international observers speculated that Russia was seeking to take advantage of Uzbekistan's annoyance with the U.S. over American criticism of the Uzbek human rights record. In June the Uzbek promise to start removing land mines planted on its borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was hailed by the two countries. That same month Kazakh television reported that President Karimov had dismissed border protection chief Gafurjon Teshayev after a Kazakh citizen was shot dead by Uzbek border guards. The officers involved in the incident were prosecuted, and Tashkent admitted that the use of weapons had been unnecessary; previously, the Uzbek reaction to such incidents had been a defense of the border guards' right to use firearms.

Bess Brown

▪ 2004

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 25,640,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Otkir Sultonov

      Uzbekistan's economy in 2003 showed little of the dynamism needed to lift the country out of the ranks of the poorer successor states to the U.S.S.R. In April the independent newspaper Hurriyat reported that between 500,000 and 700,000 Uzbek citizens had gone abroad to find work. A World Bank assessment of living standards that was published in July found that over a quarter of the population was living below the poverty line. After a reported drop of 22% in foreign investment in 2002, which made Uzbekistan the state with the lowest rate of foreign investment in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Pres. Islam Karimov issued a series of decrees that were ostensibly intended to liberalize the country's economy and make it more attractive to foreign investors. Karimov announced that small business would be the engine for economic development, but small businessmen reported that they were being discouraged by widespread corruption. A decree in March was supposed to loosen state control over private farmers, but at the end of October a nationwide organization of farmers said its members were still being told what to plant by local government officials.

      Karimov regarded as a major triumph for his policy of gradual economic liberalization and minimal democratization the decision of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to hold the annual meeting of its board in Tashkent in May. The EBRD explained the choice as a means of encouraging Uzbekistan to improve its performance. Before the meeting international human rights groups soundly criticized the bank for appearing to ignore the human rights abuses committed by the Uzbek authorities; during the meeting some foreign participants lectured their Uzbek hosts on this issue, but critics complained that little was achieved beyond the setting of specific “benchmarks” that Uzbekistan had to meet in order for EBRD programs to continue. As the year continued, however, more and more citizens' groups picketed government institutions and demonstrated publicly in support of their specific demands.

      Many of the popular protests involved demands for a stop to the imprisonment of practicing Muslims who were arrested on charges of seeking to overthrow the country's constitutional order by spreading the ideas of the international Islamic extremist party Hizb ut-Tahrir. There were also protests against the continuing use of torture by law-enforcement and prison officials, despite official Uzbek promises to stop the practice after the country was censured by the UN Commission on Human Rights in March.

Bess Brown

▪ 2003

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 25,484,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Otkir Sultonov

      During 2002 Uzbekistan sought to strengthen and solidify the relationship it had established with the United States as one of the main partners in the international antiterrorist coalition. Although some questions were raised on the U.S. side about the depth of Uzbek Pres. Islam Karimov's commitment to economic reform and improving his country's human rights record, Uzbekistan appeared to be doing well out of the relationship. For 2002 the U.S. provided $193 million to promote democracy, market reform, and security projects, with the largest amount going for humanitarian aid. In March Karimov visited Washington, where he was promised that economic and military relations would continue to be close even after the departure of the U.S. military presence in Uzbekistan when operations ceased in Afghanistan.

      Human rights activists in Uzbekistan and abroad warned that Karimov would use Washington's overall support as an excuse to avoid reducing human rights abuses, a concern that seemed to be justified as the banned opposition political party Erk reported increased police harassment of its members and larger numbers of women were detained for what the authorities considered religious extremism. There were some improvements in human rights practices in the course of the year, however. In January four police officers were tried and sentenced for having tortured suspects, the first time law-enforcement officials had been known to have been held to account for such behaviour. In March the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan was registered by the authorities after a multiyear struggle; the human rights monitoring group promised that it would continue its very vocal defense of persons whose rights had been abused. Censorship, which was specifically prohibited in the Uzbek constitution, was officially abolished in May, but the announcement was greeted with skepticism by journalists and human rights activists.

      In October limitations on access to the Internet were lifted, and high tariffs on imports by small private traders were reduced after widespread complaints were voiced that the bazaars were empty because people could not afford the prices resulting from the high duties. Nor could Uzbekistan produce substitutes for the imported goods. The affected merchants were ambivalent about the reductions, saying that they were too small.

      In late September the International Monetary Fund criticized Uzbekistan for its failure to implement promised economic reforms and to liberalize the foreign currency exchange system. Earlier in the year the World Bank president, James Wolfensohn, warned the country that if it did not accelerate economic reform, living standards would continue to fall and its problems would increase.

Bess Brown

▪ 2002

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 25,155,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Otkir Sultonov

      Through much of 2001, Uzbekistan's position in the world community became more and more difficult. Although there was some understanding for the country's security concerns, it was criticized for its intransigence in the fields of economic reform, human rights, and restrictions on the information media and religious expression. Many international observers pointed out that the repressive policies of the Uzbek leadership were fueling the religious extremism that they feared. An international outcry occurred after the death of human rights activist Shovruk Ruzimuradov in police custody in July.

      Relations with neighbouring Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan worsened as citizens of those countries were injured or killed by Uzbek mines that were placed in border areas to hinder incursions by armed militants. Within Uzbekistan itself, arrests and trials of persons accused of religious extremism continued throughout the year. Leaflets of the banned Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir appeared in cities in various parts of the country, and numerous individuals were prosecuted on charges that they were members of the organization. Hizb ut-Tahrir activists insisted that they wanted to create an Islamic state in Central Asia by peaceful means, but the Uzbek authorities considered it a terrorist group.

      Already in February, Uzbek officials announced that the continuing drought in the region would probably reduce the amount of cotton that would be produced in 2001, which would in turn affect Uzbekistan's foreign export earnings. In April the International Monetary Fund withdrew from Uzbekistan on the grounds that the Uzbek authorities had failed to implement genuine economic reform as prescribed by the Fund. Two months later the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development warned that it would reduce its level of investment if economic reform was not accelerated. The World Bank considered reducing its credit program for the same reason. While the international lending agencies expressed their dissatisfaction with the rate of reform, foreign investors were quietly withdrawing from Uzbekistan, and by the end of the year many international companies had either closed down or drastically reduced their activities. Many small businesses suffered when the tourism industry effectively collapsed after the beginning of the campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda inAfghanistan.

      After the terrorist attacks in the United States, Uzbekistan quickly joined the international antiterrorist coalition, permitting U.S. forces the use of an air base near Karshi. According to official statements, the base was to be used for search and rescue operations, but by the end of October a small U.S. military presence was already well established in Uzbekistan.

Bess Brown

▪ 2001

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 24,756,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Otkir Sultonov

      During 2000 Uzbekistan's authoritarian president Islam Karimov actively sought international support against Islamic extremists whose program called for the overthrow of the secular constitution and the setting up of a radical Muslim state, much as the Taliban had done in Afghanistan. He described them as terrorists and had some success in persuading the international community to accept his interpretation. The Islamic militants, who had attempted to invade Uzbekistan in 1999, resumed their efforts in August 2000. The United States designated the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the main force behind the armed attacks in neighbouring countries and in Uzbekistan itself, as a terrorist organization funded by the Saudi extremist Osama bin Laden. The U.S. provided Uzbekistan with military transport vehicles, and Russian troops joined those from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan in antiterrorist exercises.

      In balloting on January 9, Karimov was reelected president with 92% of the vote—even the rival candidate said that he had voted for him. International observers asserted that the election was neither free nor fair, while the Uzbek opposition in exile described the election as a sham. The opposition in exile also rejected Karimov's appeal at the end of January for them to return to Uzbekistan to work for the good of the country. Exiled writer-politician Muhammad Solih, one of those to whom Karimov appealed by name, noted that the president's practice of imprisoning thousands of pious Muslims merely for exercising their beliefs was the main factor in creating extremism.

      On April 21 the heads of state of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan met in Tashkent and agreed to pool their efforts to counter terrorism, Islamic extremism, and the drug trade. Visiting India in May, Karimov sought support against terrorism, and he repeatedly called on Russia for assurances that the country shared Uzbekistan's concern about stopping terrorism. During a visit to Tashkent in May, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin threatened the Taliban with preemptive air strikes. The Taliban responded with a threat to attack Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and complained to the United Nations about Uzbek violations of Afghan airspace.

      Uzbek television reported on August 7 that Islamic militants had launched an attack in the Surkhandarya region that borders Afghanistan. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, based in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the incursion, which was apparently intended to set up weapons and supply depots within Uzbekistan for the future use of militant groups. Later in the summer militants assembled in northern Tajikistan apparently in order to penetrate Uzbek territory via Kyrgyzstan.

Bess Brown

▪ 2000

447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 24,449,000
Chief of state and head of government:
President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Otkir Sultonov

      The process of democratization in Uzbekistan received a sharp setback with the explosion of six car bombs in Tashkent on Feb. 16, 1999. Government buildings, in particular the Cabinet of Ministers building, were damaged in the blasts; at least 16 people were killed, and dozens were wounded. Pres. Islam Karimov, who had been scheduled to arrive at the Cabinet of Ministers at the time the first bomb went off, asserted that he was the primary target of the attacks. The incident was followed by a wave of arrests of Islamic activists and political oppositionists. Opponents of Karimov asserted that the Uzbek leadership was using the bombings as an excuse to silence them before parliamentary elections in December. Muhammad Solih, founder of Erk (Freedom), the deregistered democratic opposition party, was accused of recruiting and financing the training of terrorists. He and other opposition leaders in exile retorted that the president's policy of repressing differing political and religious viewpoints was causing the tensions in Uzbek society. The situation was further inflamed by broadcasts from Tehran by Tohir Yuldosh, head of the previously little-known Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who called for the overthrow of Uzbekistan's secular order and for the creation of an Islamic state. At the end of June, six persons were sentenced to death for their roles in the bombings.

      In August a group of Uzbek religious extremists who had sought refuge in Tajikistan attempted to make their way through southern Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan's part of the Fergana Valley in order to begin a campaign for institution of the Shariʿah (Islamic law) and an Islamic government. At the request of Kyrgyzstan, the Uzbek military tried to destroy the extremists with bombing raids. Similar attacks on targets in Tajikistan that were supposedly being used by the extremists provoked angry protests from the Tajik government and worsened Uzbekistan's already-fragile relations with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. By November the Uzbek extremists had retreated to Tajikistan, but they announced their intent to resume their attempt to reach the Fergana Valley, traditionally a centre of Muslim piety and social conservatism, the following spring. In late September more than 300 persons who had been imprisoned because of their membership in prohibited religious organizations—in particular the radical Muslim organization Hizb ut-Tahrir—were given amnesty. Uzbek authorities insisted that the amnesties were not gestures of conciliation to the Islamic opposition.

      In preparation for the presidential election scheduled for early January 2000, Karimov was nominated for reelection by three of the country's legal political parties. The People's Democratic Party, formerly the Communist Party, nominated its own leader to run against the president, but he was not widely regarded as a credible candidate.

Bess Brown

▪ 1999

      Area: 447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 24,091,000

      Capital: Tashkent

      Chief of state and head of government: President Islam Karimov, assisted by Prime Minister Otkir Sultonov

      The democratization process in Uzbekistan suffered setbacks in 1998 with the adoption of revisions in the legislation on elections that restricted the possibility of multiple candidates and limited active participation of political parties in the election process. In a speech to the Supreme Assembly in August, however, Pres. Islam Karimov called for the development of a civil society and a strong middle class as the best guarantees against economic and social instability and the spread of Islamic fundamentalism.

      Deeply frightened by the successes of the extreme fundamentalist Islamic Taliban movement in northern Afghanistan, Uzbekistan's leadership actively promoted a negotiated settlement, under UN auspices, of the fighting in the neighbouring country. In September the Uzbek foreign minister took part in a UN-sponsored meeting of the Contact Group of Afghanistan's neighbour states, plus the U.S. and Russia, to devise ways to restore peace in Afghanistan. At the same time, Uzbekistan sought to strengthen its security ties as well as its readiness to counter a military assault.

      Pressure on Islam was sharply intensified in 1998 with the adoption of a revised law on religion in April and with a wave of arrests in Namangan, a city in the Fergana Valley famous for its social conservatism and Muslim piety. Three groups were tried before Uzbekistan's Supreme Court on charges of seeking to overthrow the constitutional order by force and set up an Islamic state. Some of the defendants were also accused of having received training in terrorism at Islamic fundamentalist camps in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. The government of Pakistan angrily denied the existence on its territory of camps training Uzbek terrorists.

      Plans for expansion of Uzbekistan's industry were thwarted by another cotton harvest below expectation and also by a slowdown in foreign investment due to the nonconvertibility of the national currency, rampant corruption and bureaucratic intransigence, and continuing problems in repatriating profits. The government had little success in countering these drawbacks with tax breaks and other inducements. In connection with an important conference on energy in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, it was announced that six new oil and gas fields in the western part of the country would be open to foreign investment. (See Central Asian Oil Conflicts. (Central Asian Oil Conflicts ))

      In March the Uzbek government announced that the Zoroastrian new year, Navruz, would be celebrated as a national holiday and the occasion for a spring cultural festival.


▪ 1998

      Area: 447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 23,664,000

      Capital: Tashkent

      Chief of state: President Islam Karimov

      Head of government: Prime Minister Otkir Sultonov

      In 1997 Uzbekistan maintained its reputation for political stability but made little progress in the development of a civil society. Concealed censorship of the information media remained, although there was some improvement in the reporting of international events. Although its economy was widely considered to be the strongest in Central Asia, Uzbekistan's successes were offset by high inflation and severe restrictions on imports, which adversely affected the living standard of the population. International lending agencies were disillusioned by Uzbekistan's failure to honour its commitment to making its currency fully convertible. On the other hand, the automobile plant in Andijon, an Uzbek-South Korean joint venture, could not keep up with demand for its cars, and the start-up of an oil refinery in Bukhara in August made a major contribution toward ensuring energy self-sufficiency for the nation. Meanwhile, economic ties between Russia and Uzbekistan declined as political relations between the two countries cooled.

      Uzbekistan's main foreign policy concerns in 1997 were its eastern and southern neighbours. The Uzbek leadership sought international support to help end the fighting in Afghanistan, proposing the establishment of a contact group under the auspices of the UN and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to seek a peaceful settlement between the warring Afghan factions. The contact group envisaged in the Uzbek proposal would consist of the countries bordering Afghanistan, as well as the U.S. and Russia. Uzbekistan refused to sign the peace accords in June that formally ended the civil war in Tajikistan, arguing that the accords would lead only to political instability because too many Tajik groups had been excluded from the peace process. Subsequent events in Tajikistan seemed to bear out the validity of the Uzbek doubts, but by autumn Uzbekistan had signed the Tajik accords.

      This article updates Uzbekistan.

▪ 1997

      A republic of Central Asia, Uzbekistan borders the Aral Sea to the north, Kazakstan to the north and west, Turkmenistan to the southwest, Afghanistan to the south, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the east. Area: 447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 23,206,000. Cap.: Tashkent (Uzbek: Toshkent). Monetary unit: sum, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 40.05 sumy to U.S. $1 (63.09 sumy = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Islam Karimov; prime minister, Otkir Sultonov.

      Uzbekistan reaped the benefits in 1996 of policies that were far more responsive to Western concerns about human rights and the introduction of a market economy than had characterized the country in the first years of independence. In August Pres. Islam Karimov called on the parliament to adopt new legislation on human rights and admitted that human rights abuses had occurred in the past. The government's credibility was enhanced by the pardoning of a group of members of political opposition groups who had been sentenced to long prison terms and by the granting of permission for the Uzbek Human Rights Society to hold a conference in Tashkent in September. On his return to his homeland, the society's chairman, Abdumanob Pulatov, long an exile in the United States, spoke hopefully of the improved chances for the society to gain legal recognition.

      Although Karimov said in January that he approved of the concept of a customs union of former Soviet states, he made it clear in April that Uzbekistan would not join the customs union of Kazakstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and the Russian Federation because it created a "bloc mentality" and limited the options of its members to look out for their national interests. Karimov was also critical of what he termed "the trend in the Commonwealth of Independent States" toward the creation of supranational bodies, such as the customs union, that he believed would undermine the independence of the CIS member states and cause Central Asia to revert to its old role in the U.S.S.R. as a supplier of raw materials to more developed areas.

      Karimov underscored Uzbekistan's independent foreign policy with two major foreign visits in 1996. In April the president spent several days in France promoting trade and investment in Uzbekistan. Karimov's first official visit to the U.S. in late June was almost a triumphal progress, thanks in part to Uzbekistan's support of the U.S. embargo against Iran. Pres. Bill Clinton promised to help Uzbekistan establish strong ties with the West—Uzbekistan's top foreign policy priority—and achieve full integration in the world community. During the visit a number of oil and gas deals were signed with U.S. firms. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Uzbekistan.

▪ 1996

      A republic of Central Asia, Uzbekistan borders the Aral Sea to the north, Kazakhstan to the north and west, Turkmenistan to the southwest, Afghanistan to the south, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the east. Area: 447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 22,886,000. Cap.: Tashkent (Uzbek: Toshkent). Monetary unit: sum, with (Oct. 4, 1995) a free rate of 33.80 sumy to U.S. $1 (53.72 sumy = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Islam Karimov; prime ministers, Abdulhashim Mutalov and, from December 21, Otkir Sultonov.

      Throughout 1995 Uzbekistan's diplomatic representatives in the West made notable efforts to overcome the negative impression created in earlier years by their country's poor human rights record and the slow pace of market reform. Fearful of increasingly close Iranian ties with neighbouring Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan actively supported the U.S. trade embargo against Iran.

      In January Uzbekistan received a $74 million loan to help the country stabilize its currency and accelerate privatization. The International Monetary Fund noted that the inflation rate had been halved and the budget deficit cut to 3.5% of the gross national product, with a significant reduction in the unemployment rate. One of the major foreign deals of the year was an agreement on Japanese credits for the development of the Kokdumalak oil and gas field.

      Uzbekistan's new parliament, the Olii Majlis (Supreme Assembly), elected in December 1994 and January 1995, proposed a referendum on extending Pres. Islam Karimov's term in office until 2000 in order to maintain political stability. The referendum, on March 26, produced an overwhelming vote in favour of the president.

      A few days after the referendum, the Supreme Court sentenced several activists of the banned opposition Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party to jail terms ranging from 5 to 12 years on charges of seeking to overthrow the existing order. Protests by foreign human rights groups against the sentences and other human rights violations by the Uzbek authorities had little effect.

      Karimov refused to endorse Kazakh Pres. Nursultan Nazarbaev's scheme for a Eurasian Union comprising the successor states to the U.S.S.R. Although relations with Russia remained cordial, in May the Uzbek leader called for the creation of a "common Turkestan," a union of Central Asian states, to counter outside pressure on Central Asia, warning that unnamed powers could "conquer us one by one." Foreign observers concluded that his chief concern was the rise of imperialist sentiment in Russia. This concern did not prevent Karimov from expressing an interest in joining the customs union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan that went into force in 1995.

      Uzbekistan remained the main provider of foreign aid to civil-war-torn Tajikistan after the Russian Federation, but persistent reports throughout the year indicated that the Uzbek leadership was increasingly nervous at the presence of some 25,000 Russian troops on Tajik soil as part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping contingent stationed in that country. In early April Karimov infuriated the neocommunist government of Tajikistan when he failed to notify them that he planned to meet with the deputy head of the Tajik Islamic opposition prior to the start of talks between opposition and government representatives in Moscow. For Karimov this was a major reversal of policy, as he had been one of the chief supporters of armed CIS resistance to Islamic forces in Tajikistan since the beginning of the civil war in 1992. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Uzbekistan.

▪ 1995

      A republic of Central Asia, Uzbekistan borders the Aral Sea to the north, Kazakhstan to the north and west, Turkmenistan to the southwest, Afghanistan to the south, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the east. Area: 447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 22,382,000. Cap.: Tashkent (Uzbek: Toshkent). Monetary unit: sum (introduced July 1, 1994, to replace the sum-coupon at a rate of 1 sum to 1,000 sum-coupons; the sum-coupon had been introduced as an interim currency in November 1993 to replace the Russian ruble), with (Oct. 3, 1994) a free rate of 16 sumy to U.S. $1 (25.45 sumy = £ 1 sterling). President in 1994, Islam Karimov; prime minister, Abdulhashim Mutalov.

      In late January 1994 Pres. Islam Karimov launched privatization with a decree authorizing auctions of small shops and service enterprises. Price increases of up to 300% for basic goods and energy were announced in May, together with wage and pension increases. The Uzbek authorities appeared to be trying to avoid provoking the kind of popular discontent and disturbances that had accompanied the first postindependence price rises in 1992. In July the country's new currency, the sum, went into circulation. It was later declared Uzbekistan's sole legal tender, effective October 15.

      In April, Chinese Premier Li Peng (Li P'eng) discussed an exchange of Chinese consumer goods for Uzbek cotton and natural resources, but he complained that none of the existing Uzbek-Chinese joint ventures was succeeding because a Soviet-era bureaucracy still prevailed in Uzbekistan and its currency was weak. Karimov heard similar criticism in Japan.

      Repression of the Uzbek democratic opposition continued throughout 1994. In May opposition leaders were arrested, and the National Security Committee attempted to kidnap five exiled oppositionists while they attended a human rights conference in Kazakhstan. In late June two members of the banned democratic opposition Erk (Freedom) Party were reported to have been seized in Almaty, Kazakhstan, by Uzbek law-enforcement officials and taken to Tashkent; in October six Erk activists were put on trial on charges of antigovernment activity. All genuine opposition groups were excluded from the parliamentary election on December 25; only Karimov's People's Democratic Party (PDP), formerly the Communist Party, and the National Progress Party, a grouping of government officials and intellectuals set up with Karimov's blessing, were permitted to nominate candidates. In the first round of voting, the PDP and its supporters took 205 of the 250 seats.

      Uzbekistan continued to support the neocommunist regime in Tajikistan and was accused by Afghan officials of interfering in Afghanistan's internal affairs through active support of Uzbek Gen. Abd ar-Rashid Dostam, who was fighting the forces of Pres. Burhanuddin Rabbani. Although Uzbek authorities denied the charges, foreign journalists in northern Afghanistan confirmed the report.

      In January the leaders of the Central Asian states met in Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan, to set up a five-year program to improve the environmental situation in the Aral Sea basin. Foreign experts were concerned that Uzbekistan's leaders were interested only in limiting the ecological damage resulting from the desiccation of the sea. Uzbekistan needed the cotton grown with water from the Aral feeder rivers, however, and only a drastic reduction in irrigation could restore the sea. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Uzbekistan.

▪ 1994

      A republic of Central Asia, Uzbekistan borders the Aral Sea to the north, Kazakhstan to the north and west, Turkmenistan to the southwest, Afghanistan to the south, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the east. Area: 447,400 sq km (172,700 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 21,901,000. Cap.: Tashkent (Uzbek: Toshkent). Monetary unit: Russian ruble (the monetary systems of Uzbekistan and Russia were unified on Sept. 17, 1993), with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 1,165 rubles to U.S. $1 (1,765 rubles = £ 1 sterling). President in 1993, Islam Karimov; prime minister from January 8, Abdulhashim Mutalov.

      Political power in 1993 remained firmly in the hands of Pres. Islam Karimov and his People's Democratic Party, the name adopted by the former Communist Party of Uzbekistan. The crackdown on all political opposition, begun in 1992, continued throughout 1993; this included a ban on all opposition publications. Foreign criticism of the government's human rights record was ignored or rebuffed.

      The Uzbek nationalist Birlik (Unity) Movement, the most influential opposition group, had its activities banned for the first three months of the year while alleged legal violations by its members were investigated by the state prosecutor. Both Birlik and the Erk (Freedom) Party were effectively prevented from registering as political parties and hence from functioning legally.

      The Uzbek opposition also faced harassment in the form of physical assaults and arrests on trumped-up charges of insulting the president or seeking to overthrow the constitutional order. Some of the oppositionists who were put on trial in 1993 were granted amnesty after sentencing, but six who were accused of having sought to organize an alternate parliament under the name Melli Majlis (Popular Assembly) were sentenced to terms of 10-15 years in labour camps. Physical intimidation was also used against former vice president Shukrulla Mirsaidov, who had clashed with Karimov over economic reform.

      Karimov rejected rapid introduction of a market economy as a danger to the country's stability. In 1993 the government began to take tentative steps toward privatization of some state assets, but the president insisted that the pace would have to be slow in order to avoid potentially explosive social dislocation. He had a certain amount of justification for his concerns, as the severe social problems, including widespread unemployment, that accumulated in Uzbekistan in the last years of Soviet rule remained unsolved. During 1993 government officials announced that Uzbekistan was considering introducing its own currency; in September, however, it opted for the economic union and inclusion in a new ruble zone.

      To prevent the penetration into Uzbekistan of Islamic fundamentalism from Tajikistan, or from Afghanistan via Tajikistan, Karimov became the most vocal supporter of Commonwealth of Independent States intervention in the Tajik civil war. He sent his new army to help Tajikistan's government put down the Islamic resistance and to attempt to seal the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border to Tajik opposition groups armed and trained by Afghan fundamentalists. On October 12 a law reinstating the Latin alphabet for the Uzbek language went into effect. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Uzbekistan.

* * *

officially  Republic of Uzbekistan , Uzbek  Ŭzbekiston , or  Ŭzbekistan Respublikasi 
Uzbekistan, flag of country in Central Asia. It lies mainly between two major rivers, the Syr Darya (ancient Jaxartes River) on the northeast and the Amu Darya (ancient Oxus River) on the southwest, though they only partly form its boundaries. Uzbekistan is bordered by Kazakhstan on the northwest and north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on the east and southeast, Afghanistan on the south, and Turkmenistan on the southwest. The autonomous republic of Qoraqalpoghiston ( Karakalpakstan) is located in the western third of the country. The Soviet (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) government established the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic as a constituent (union) republic of the U.S.S.R. in 1924; Uzbekistan declared its independence from the Soviet Union on Aug. 31, 1991. The capital is Tashkent (Toshkent).

The land (Uzbekistan)

      Nearly four-fifths of Uzbekistan's territory, the sun-dried western area, has the appearance of a wasteland. In the northwest the Turan Plain rises 200 to 300 feet (60 to 90 metres) above sea level around the Aral Sea in Qoraqalpoghiston. This terrain merges on the south with the Kyzylkum (Uzbek: Qizilqum) Desert and farther west becomes the Ustyurt Plateau, a region of low ridges, salt marshes, sinkholes, and caverns.

      Southeast of the Aral Sea, small hills break the flatness of the low-lying Kyzylkum Desert, and, much farther east, a series of mountain ridges partition Uzbekistan's territory. The western Tien Shan includes the Karzhantau, Ugam, and Pskem ranges, the latter featuring the 14,104-foot (4,299-metre) Beshtor Peak, the country's highest point. Also part of the western Tien Shan are the Chatkal and Kurama ranges. The Gissar (Hissar) and Alay ranges stand across the Fergana (Farghona) Valley (Fergana Valley), which lies south of the western Tien Shan. The Mirzachol desert, southwest of Tashkent, lies between the Tien Shan spurs to the north and the Turkestan, Malguzar, and Nuratau ranges to the south. In south-central Uzbekistan the Zeravshan valley opens westward; the cities of Samarkand (Samarqand) and Bukhara (Bukhoro) grace this ancient cultural centre.

      Disastrous depletion of the flow of the two historic rivers—the Syr Darya and Amu Darya—has brought rapid change in the Aral Sea and greatly altered the delta of the Amu Darya. Most streams of the delta have dried up, and the Aral Sea, once the fourth largest inland body of water in the world, has lost more than three-fifths of its water (volume) and some two-fifths of its area since 1961. In some places the sea's shoreline has receded more than 75 miles (120 kilometres). On the north as well as on the east, huge shallow and dead ponds have become separated from the main Aral, cut off by sandbars that emerged as the water level dropped some 45 feet between 1961 and 1992. Overuse of water from the Syr Darya and Amu Darya in both agriculture and industry brought about this dangerous decline. The Syr Darya ceased to deliver any appreciable amount of water to the Aral Sea by about 1978, and the Amu Darya gives the sea a paltry 0.24 to 1.2 cubic miles (1 to 5 cubic kilometres) of water annually, compared with 9.6 cubic miles in 1959. The southern rivers tributary to the Amu Darya—the Surkhan and Sherabad, followed by the Zeravshan (Zeravshan River) and Kashka—contribute little flow, for the last two trickle into nothing in the desert. The Syr Darya, the second largest river in Uzbekistan, forms there by the confluence of the Naryn and Qoradaryo rivers.

      The diversion of the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya has resulted in intense salinization of the sea, which also has suffered tremendous pollution from insecticides and chemical fertilizers during the past several decades. This chemical pollution and the decline in water level have killed the once-flourishing fishing industry, grounded most ships that formerly worked within the Aral's shores, and contaminated wide areas around the sea with salty, lethal dust. This, in turn, has poisoned vegetables and drinking water, most harmfully affecting the health and livelihood of the human population around the Aral Sea littoral.

      Marked aridity and much sunshine characterize the region, with rainfall averaging only 8 inches (200 millimetres) annually. Most rain falls in winter and spring, with higher levels in the mountains and minimal amounts over deserts. The average July temperature is 90° F (32° C), but daytime air temperatures in Tashkent and elsewhere frequently surpass 104° F (40° C). Bukhara's high summer heat contrasts with the cooler temperatures in the mountains. In order to accommodate to these patterns, Uzbeks favour houses with windows facing away from the sun but open to porches and tree-filled courtyards shut off from the streets.

      Although more than 600 streams crisscross Uzbekistan, the climate strongly affects drainage, because river water rapidly escapes through evaporation and filtration or runs off into irrigation systems.

Plant and animal life
      Vegetation patterns in Uzbekistan vary largely according to altitude. The lowlands in the west have a thin natural cover of desert sedge and grass. The high foothills in the east support grass, and forests and brushwood appear on the hills. Forests cover less than 12 percent of Uzbekistan's area. Animal life in the deserts and plains includes rodents, foxes, wolves, and occasional gazelles and antelopes. Boars, roe deer, bears, wolves, Siberian goats, and some lynx live in the high mountains.

Settlement patterns
      Most of the population lives in the eastern half of the country. Heavily populated oases and foothill basins are covered with an extensive network of canals intersecting fields, orchards, and vineyards. The fertile Fergana Valley in the extreme east, the most populous area in Central Asia, supports both old and new cities and towns and traditional rural settlements. Much of Qoraqalpoghiston, in the west, is under threat of depopulation caused by the environmental poisoning of the Aral Sea area.

      Good public housing continued to be in short supply well into the late 20th century, despite large outlays by the government in this sector. As late as the 1990s, private ownership of urban housing had not become common in Uzbekistan, though suburban plots around Tashkent and other cities became available in large numbers for citizens able to erect their own houses—usually simple, low structures, like those in the past, built around courtyards planted with fruit trees and gardens open to the skies but closed off from the streets.

The people (Uzbek)
      Uzbeks make up about three-fourths of the population (Uzbekistan), followed by Russians, Tajiks (Tajik), Tatars (Tatar), Kyrgyz, Ukrainians, Kazaks (Kazakh), and Karakalpaks. The Uzbeks speak a language belonging to the southeastern, or Chagatai (Turki), branch of the Turkic language group. The Uzbeks are Sunnite Muslims (Islāmic world), and they are considered to be among the most devout Muslims in all of Central Asia. They are also the least Russified of the Turkic peoples formerly under Soviet rule, and virtually all of them still claim Uzbek as their primary language. The majority of Uzbeks live in rural areas. Two-fifths of the population of Uzbekistan lives in urban areas; the urban population has a disproportionately high number of non-Uzbeks. Slavic peoples (Slav)—Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians—held a large proportion of administrative positions. In the late 1980s and early '90s, many Russians and smaller numbers of Jews (Jew) emigrated from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states, changing the ethnic balance and employment patterns in the region.

      Uzbekistan's population is quite youthful in comparison to those of nationalities of the western parts of the former Soviet Union. This age structure results from the high birth rate: of all the former Soviet republics, Uzbekistan has the greatest number of mothers with 10 or more living children under the age of 20.

      The cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Tashkent have histories that extend back to ancient times. Andijon (Andizhan), Khiva, and Qŭqon ( Kokand) also have served the region as cultural, political, and trade centres for centuries. Soviet-era architects purposely laid out some newer towns, including Chirchiq, Angren, Bekobod (Bekabad), and Nawoiy (Navoi), close to rich mineral and energy resources. Soviet planners also sited Yangiyul, Guliston, and Yangiyer in areas that produce and process cotton and fruit.

The economy
      Uzbekistan is among the world's leading cotton producers. The country also produces and exports a large volume of natural gas. Known for its orchards and vineyards, Uzbekistan is also an important region for raising Karakul sheep and silkworms. Uzbekistan's mineral and oil and gas reserves are substantial.

      The country's resources include metallic ores; in the Olmaliq (Almalyk) mining belt in the Kurama Range, copper, zinc, lead, tungsten, and molybdenum are extracted. Uzbekistan possesses substantial reserves of natural gas, oil, and coal. The country consumes large amounts of its natural gas, and gas pipelines link its cities and stretch from Bukhara to the Ural region in Russia as well. Surveys show petroleum resources in the Fergana Valley (including major reserves in the Namangan area), in the vicinity of Bukhara, and in Qoraqalpoghiston. The modern extraction of coal began to gain importance, especially in the Angren fields, only during World War II. Hydroelectric dams on the Syr Darya, the Naryn, and the Chirchiq rivers help augment the country's nuclear-, coal-, and petroleum-powered generation of electricity.

      Centuries-old rumours of extensive gold deposits in Uzbekistan evidently arose from a basis in fact. Rich polymetallic ores have been found in the Ohangaron (Akhangaran) field southeast of Tashkent. Miners there extract copper, some gold, lead, molybdenum, tungsten, and zinc. In the Muruntau field in the Kyzylkum Desert of north-central Uzbekistan, the Newmont Mining Corporation in the mid-1990s began construction of a huge plant for heat-leaching gold from low-grade ore; revenue from this project is to be shared with the government.

      Uzbekistan requires greater water resources. By the early 1980s the government considered the shortage of water desperate. Officials in Moscow and Tashkent developed a plan to divert substantial amounts of water out of the Irtysh River far to the north into a pumped system that would aid in watering parts of lower Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. The project was killed, however, before it began, leaving Uzbekistan with chronic water shortages.

      Ample sunlight, mild winters of short duration, fertile irrigated soil, and good pastures make Uzbekistan suitable for cattle raising and the cultivation of cotton. Irrigation has fallen into disfavour owing to the depletion of the great rivers, and the construction of new irrigation systems has been prohibited or curtailed. Already existing grand canals include the Great Fergana, Northern Fergana, Southern Fergana, and Tashkent. Several large artificial lakes and reservoirs have been created on the Zeravshan and other rivers.

      In addition to the high and stable cotton yield in this most northerly of the great cotton regions of the world, growers have raised silkworms systematically since the 4th century AD. The silkworms are fed mulberry leaves from the many trees planted along streets and ditches. The Fergana Valley is especially noted for silk production.

      Varieties of melons, apricots, pomegranates, berries, apples, pears, cherries, and figs grow abundantly, as do vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and greens. Uzbekistan's grapes are made into wine or raisins or are eaten fresh. Fruits and vegetables are sold both in the bazaars of Tashkent, Samarkand, Fergana, and other localities and in trade with neighbouring states. Korean agriculturalists cultivate rice along the middle Syr Darya. Sheep are the principal livestock.

      Uzbekistan is the main producer of machinery and heavy equipment in Central Asia. The republic manufactures machines and equipment for cotton cultivation, harvesting, and processing and for use in the textile industry, irrigation, and road construction. This emphasis on making machinery also makes ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy important. The first metallurgical plant began operation at Bekobod in 1946.

      Light industry includes tea-packing plants and factories for garment making.

      The leading exports from Uzbekistan consist largely of extracted natural resources or raw materials—cotton, natural gas, oil, coal, silk, fruit, and Karakul pelts. Some fresh produce reaches Moscow and other northern markets. Manufactured goods such as machines, cement, textiles, and fertilizer are also exported.

      The great obstacle to further development of markets for Uzbekistan's copious truck gardening and fruit growing remains the antiquated means of distribution. Neither the surface nor air transport now available can efficiently or with adequate refrigeration handle the volume produced in Uzbekistan and needed by the Baltic states, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.

      Old railways connect the republic's major urban centres with other Central Asian republics and extend to Moscow and Siberia. Uzbekistan never had a domestic airline of its own, but, after independence in 1991, former Soviet Aeroflot airplanes and their pilots were chartered to fly rather infrequently from such cities as Samarkand and Tashkent to nearby cities. Air service now connects Tashkent with London, New York, and other international cities.

      Trucks transport most of the freight carried, and the roadways, like other facilities, require much repair—virtual reconstruction—and widening before they can support the modernizing economies that their builders once hoped to link with each other. The Great Uzbek Tashkent-Termiz Highway runs south almost to the border with Afghanistan. Termiz remains virtually a dead end in terms of trade, however, especially since the Soviet intervention (1979–89) in the Afghan War. A second road, the Zeravshan Highway, connects Samarkand with Chärjew, Turkmenistan, in the west. The Fergana Ring links the main settlements within the populous Fergana Valley.

Administration and social conditions

      In 1992 Uzbekistan adopted a new constitution to replace the Soviet-era constitution that had been in effect since 1978. The new constitution provides for legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, dominated by a strong executive. Personal liberties generally are protected, but the government is given the right to restrict some of these liberties in certain circumstances. Nationalist or religious political parties are prohibited.

      A 150-member legislature (the Oliy Majlis, or Supreme Assembly) consists of members elected by territorial constituencies to five-year terms. The legislature has the authority to amend the constitution, enact legislation, approve the budget, and confirm presidential appointees.

      The president is the head of state and is elected for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms, though the term can be extended by referendum. The president appoints the cabinet and the high court justices, subject to parliamentary approval, and has the authority to issue binding decrees and repeal legislation passed by local administrative bodies.

      The highest courts are the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Higher Economic Court (for commercial cases), in addition to two high courts for the autonomous republic of Qoraqalpoghiston. Judges are appointed by the president, subject to approval by the legislature.

Health and welfare
      Hospital care for Uzbeks improved after 1924. Death rates at first fell markedly, but new problems later arose in public health because of environmental contamination, especially around the Aral Sea (see above Drainage (Uzbekistan)), and maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates now rank among the highest in the former Soviet states. The longevity of adult males also continues to lag behind rates elsewhere in the former Soviet republics. The poor quality of health care in Uzbekistan is attributable to discriminatory allocations for health care during the Soviet period and to a lack of sufficient attention to environmental problems by public health officials.

      The famed medieval seminaries (madrasah) (madrasahs) of Bukhara, Khiva, Samarkand, and the Fergana Valley, long in decline, underwent a revival in the late 18th and again in the late 19th century that prepared new generations for carrying on Muslim education throughout Central Asia. Thousands of seminarians had flocked to those great institutions from inside and outside the region. Owing to both the renewed concern for education in the 1890s and the models offered by sudden activism among modernizers in Egypt, India, Turkey, and Tatarstan, Central Asia instituted its own educational reform movement known as the New Method (usul-i jadid) during the first two decades of the 20th century. The leaders of the Jadids, as they called themselves, included Munawwar Qari in Tashkent, Mahmud Khoja Behbudiy in Samarkand, Sadriddin Ayniy in Bukhara, and ʿAshur ʿAli Zahiriy in Kokand (Qŭqon). They exerted a strong influence on education during the initial decades of the Soviet period, and their methods and aims have reemerged since independence.

      After the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail) instituted policies of glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) in the mid-1980s, Uzbekistan's school administrators and teachers acknowledged openly the inadequacies of public education and began intensive efforts to modernize primary and secondary education; among other measures, Uzbek (Uzbek language) replaced Russian (Russian language) as the primary language of instruction. These efforts rendered most schoolbooks, which were written in Russian, unusable. The new language emphasis and the change in ideology created a need for hundreds of thousands of copies of entirely new instructional materials in Uzbekistan's elementary and secondary school system. In response to that need, several histories of Uzbekistan—somewhat liberated from communist ideological strictures but still showing Marxist influence—appeared soon after independence, written by scholars experienced in Soviet historiography. Higher education, too, began the massive switch from Russian-language instruction and teaching materials to a curriculum and classroom procedure based entirely on Uzbek.

      After the destruction of the informal Jadid system by communist authorities in the early 1920s, higher research shifted to such newer educational institutions as Tashkent State University and, after 1942, to the Uzbek S.S.R. branch of Moscow's Academy of Sciences (Sciences, Academy of). At its zenith, the latter academic complex supported some 200 scholarly institutes and centres. After independence, and to some extent starting even earlier, the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan declined in prestige and suffered large losses in subsidies. By 1992 many institutes had closed or combined with others, and competing institutions with funding from various state agencies arose to operate in the same field.

      Most educational institutions, except for the emerging Islāmic centres with their maktabs (primary schools) and madrasahs organized and supported by Muslim religious educators and their followers, continued to depend on the state for their budgets and therefore must follow the dictates of Uzbekistan's authoritarian leaders. In contrast, the network of Islāmic institutions—centred in the Fergana Valley—has attracted to religious instruction thousands of young people, of whom about half remain outside the public schools.

Cultural life
      During the 1980s religious practice surged, transforming many aspects of Uzbek life, especially in the towns of the Fergana Valley and other concentrations of Muslim believers. This resurgence affected the republic's cultural life through the increased activities of religious schools, neighbourhood mosques, religious orders, and religious publishing ventures and through the Islāmic Renaissance Party.

      Over the centuries, the territory of what is now Uzbekistan (Uzbek literature) has produced great scholars, poets, and writers whose heritage has enriched the general culture of humanity. The scholar and encyclopaedist al-Bīrūnī (Bīrūnī, al-), who lived in the 11th century, produced a series of geographic works about India and a wide range of writings in the natural sciences and humanities. In the 15th century the astronomer and mathematician Ulūgh Beg founded a famous observatory in Samarkand. The late 15th-century scholar, poet, and writer ʿAlī Shīr Navāʾī (Navāʾī, ʿAlī Shīr) greatly advanced Turkic-language literature and was also a talented artist and composer.

      The major writers of the early 20th century broke from the Navāʾī tradition in their style but continued to revere it in their literary history. In the Jadid era (1900–20) the foremost modern poets and prose writers included Abdalrauf Fitrat, Sadriddin Ayni, and Abdullah Qadiri, each of whom was bilingual in Uzbek and Tajik. These writers all began as poets and subsequently branched out to produce many of the first modern indigenous plays, stories, and novels of Central Asia. The younger poets Batu, Cholpán (Abdulhamid Sulayman Yunús), and Elbek (Mashriq Yunus Oghli) offered metres and rhyme schemes quite different from the verse composed in the traditions long employed by the poets of the region. Fitrat gained fame and popularity for such prose and poetic dialogues as Munazara (1909; The Dispute), and Mahmud Khoja Behbudiy became known for a stage tragedy, Padarkush (1913; The Patricide). Abdullah Qadiri became known for a first Uzbek historical novel, Otgän kunlär (1922–26; Days Gone By), and Cholpan introduced a new lyricism in his short poems. Hamza Hakim-Zada Niyaziy was also an early 20th-century playwright and poet later much favoured by Soviet authorities for his simplified, class-oriented plots and subjects.

      Most of these writers died violently either during the Russian Civil War or, more commonly, in Joseph Stalin's (Stalin, Joseph) purges of the 1930s. As a result, Uzbekistan's intellectual and cultural life suffered trauma for decades to come. Only since independence have its finest modern authors regained posthumous recognition.

      During the second half of the 20th century there was a great increase in the number of writers but not in the quality of the writing. Until the 1980s most Soviet Uzbek authors produced tendentious novels, plays, and verse in line with official Communist Party themes. Among the older generation of contemporary authors is Asqad Mukhtar (b. 1921), whose Socialist Realist (Socialist Realism) novel Apä singillär (Sisters; original and translation published during the 1950s), has been translated into English and other languages. Mukhtar, along with others of his generation, effectively encouraged the creative efforts of younger Uzbek poets and authors, a group far less burdened than their elders by the sloganeering characteristic of Soviet “Socialist Realism.” Among these newer voices, Razzaq Abdurashid, Abduqahhar Ibrahim, Jamal Kamal, and Erkin Wahid, all born in the 1930s, and Rauf Parfi, Halima Khudayberdiy, Muhammad Ali, Sharaf Bashbek, Mamadali Mahmud, all born in the 1940s or later, stand out. Several of these new writers have contributed striking dramas and comedies to the theatre of Uzbekistan. Privately organized drama and theatre were very active in Samarkand, Margilan, Tashkent, and other cities before 1917. In the difficult economic situation of the 1990s, however, the loss of government subsidies led to a drastic decline in theatrical activity, and the cinema and television have further emptied the seats in legitimate theatres.

      Musical tradition throughout southern Central Asia provides a distinctive classical form of composition in the great cycles of maqoms handed down from master performers to apprentices. Television and radio as well as concert halls offer maqom cycles in live performances.

      Uzbekistan's cultural heritage includes magnificent monuments in the national architectural tradition: the mausoleum of the Sāmānid ruler Ismāʿīl I (9th and 10th centuries) in Bukhara, the great mosques and mausoleums of Samarkand, constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries, and many other fine tombs, mosques, palaces, and madrasahs. An interesting recent development is the reclamation, renovation, and reconsecration of many smaller old mosques (mosque), some very elegant though badly damaged; these had been relegated by communist authorities to serve as garages, storehouses, shops, slaughterhouses, or museums. Muslim rebuilders now accurately reconstruct these damaged buildings as part of a comprehensive drive to re-create the Islāmic life suppressed by the communists between 1920 and 1990.

Edward Allworth

 Humans lived in what is now Uzbekistan as early as the Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age), some 55,000 to 70,000 years ago. The great states of Bactria, Khwārezm, and Sogdiana emerged during the 1st millennium BC in the fertile region around the Amu Darya, which served as a centre of trade and cultural exchange on the Silk Road between East and West.

      After the 8th-century introduction of Islam into Central Asia, several streams of population flowed into the territory now forming the land of Uzbekistan. Some migrations contributed to the demographic diversity that characterizes Uzbekistan. Before the lasting conquest by the Russians in the late 19th century, however, military invaders generally withdrew soon from the area. Arabs after AD 711, Mongols under Genghis Khan from the 13th century, Dzungars (Dzungar) in the 15th–17th centuries, and Persians in the 18th century exerted less impact upon the makeup of the population than upon the social and political systems, because they left behind relatively small, assimilable numbers of their people.

The early Uzbeks
  One great incoming human wave that did substantially change the demography of the region brought the ethnonym Uzbek to the heart of that territory. These Turkic-Mongol tribes came from northwestern Siberia, where they probably adopted the name Uzbek from the admired Muslim ruler of the Golden Horde, Öz Beg (Uzbek) Khan (reigned 1312–41). A descendant of Genghis Khan, Abūʾl-Khayr (Abū al-Khayr) at age 17 rose to the khanship of the Uzbek confederation in Siberia in 1428. During his 40-year reign, Abūʾl-Khayr Khan intervened either against or in support of several Central Asian Timurid (Timurid Dynasty) princes and led the Uzbek tribes southeastward to the north bank of the Syr Darya. (See Timur; Timurid Dynasty.) However, a number of Uzbek tribes broke away, adopting the name Kazak (Kazakh), and fled east in the mid-1450s; their departure weakened the Uzbeks. Abūʾl-Khayr continued to lead the main Uzbek body until 1468, when he was killed as the Uzbek confederation was shattered in combat with invading Dzungars (Dzungar).

      Recovering rapidly, the mounted Uzbek tribesmen regrouped, and in 1494–95 they conquered key portions of Transoxania (the region between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, roughly corresponding to modern Uzbekistan). The leader of those tribes, Abūʾl-Khayr's grandson Muḥammad Shaybānī Khan (reigned 1500–10), ejected the last Timurid sultans, Bābur and Ḥusayn Bayqara, from Samarkand and Herat, respectively. The Uzbeks occupied major cities, including Bukhara, Khiva, Samarkand, and Khujand, and moved their numerous tribes permanently into Mawaraunnahr, Khorāsān, and adjacent lands. Muḥammad Shaybānī established and gave his adopted name to the potent Shaybānid dynasty, which ruled from its capital, Bukhara, for a century.

      While renowned as military commanders, several Shaybānid khans also gained wide recognition for their Sunni (Sunnite) religious orthodoxy and as cultured patrons of the arts. Muḥammad Shaybānī, for example, was an accomplished poet and wrote pious tracts in the ornate Chagatai literary language. Monuments of architecture erected by the Uzbeks during the Shaybānid period further testify to the aesthetics of the dynasty's rulers. In Bukhara, great well-endowed seminaries and mosques arose under royal patronage, as did many major buildings and bridges.

      During the reign of the greatest Shaybānid ruler, ʿAbd Allāh Khan II (reigned 1557–98), Shaybānid authority was expanded in Balkh, Samarkand, Tashkent, and Fergana. Uzbek hegemony extended eastward as far as Badakhstān and East Turkistan and westward to Khorāsān and Khwārezm.

      The Shaybānids' successor, the Ashtarkhanid (Astrakhanid, or Janid) dynasty, ruled Transoxania after 1599. From the elevated political and cultural accomplishments of the Shaybānids, the level and extent of Uzbek influence slid into decline under Ashtarkhanid rule, reaching a low point by the mid-1700s. The severe jolt that Iran's Afshārid ruler, Nādir Shāh, administered in his quick defeat of Bukhara and Khiva in 1740 decapitated the Ashtarkhanid dynasty, which was finally extinguished in 1785. By then, power in southern Central Asia had already shifted to three energetic tribal formations: the khanates of Bukhara (Uzbek khanate) (which included the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand), Khiva (northwest of Bukhara on the Amu Darya), and Kokand (centred in the Fergana Valley in the east).

      In Bukhara, which became the dominant Central Asian power, Manghīt tribal chieftains during the late 18th century energized the khanate and revived its fortunes under the leadership of Emir Maʿsum (also known as Shah Murād; reigned 1785–1800), a remarkable dervish emir who forwent wealth, comfort, and pomp. In the khanate of Khiva, the Qonghirat tribe succeeded the Ashtarkhanid dynasty and prevailed until 1920, leaving Khiva a museum capital of architectural, cultural, and literary monuments. The Uzbek Ming tribe, imperial in ambition, founded a new dynasty in Kokand about 1710 as the Ashtarkhanids faltered. Known for the elegant civilization at their courts, the rulers ʿUmar Khan (reigned 1809–22) and Muḥammad ʿAlī Khan (also known as Madali Khan; reigned 1822–42) gave the Uzbek Ming dynasty and the Kokand khanate a reputation for high culture that joined with an expansionist foreign policy. At its height the khanate dominated many nearby Kazak and Kyrgyz tribes and resisted Russian aggression. Subsequent rulers in the dynasty, however, failed to sustain either the cultural or the political standards of their predecessors.

Russian and Soviet rule
      Though the geographic isolation of Central Asia slowed the southward advance of Russian forces, Bukhara was invaded in 1868 and Khiva in 1873; both khanates became Russian protectorates. An uprising in Kokand was crushed in 1875 and the khanate formally annexed the following year, completing the Russian conquest of Uzbek territory; the region became part of the Russian province of Turkistan.

      Subdued by tsarist Russian weaponry and colonial administrators, Central Asians at the turn of the 20th century diverged along two cultural and social orientations. The old intelligentsia and clergy of Bukhara and Khiva generally persisted on their antiquated course, resisting the modernization of educational, religious, economic, and governmental institutions. Simultaneously, a small but vigorous expression of dissent emerged in the form of an active reform movement. Reformers were centred in Samarkand but were also present in Bukhara, Tashkent, and Fergana. Jadids, as the reformers called themselves, were inspired and assisted by Crimean Tatar reformers such as Ismail Gasprinski (Gasprinski, Ismail) (Ismail Bey Gaspirali (Gasprinski, Ismail)). (See BTW: Activities of the Jadid reformers.) The Jadids enjoyed sporadic protection by tsarist governors in Turkistan, and they were able to prepare numbers of young urban intellectuals for moderate change in their society and culture. Modernization also came to Turkistan with the advent of the telegraph, telephone, and press; railroads reached Samarkand and Tashkent by 1905.

      The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought instability and conflict to Turkistan. Muslims (Islāmic world) convoked a National Congress in Kokand and established an autonomous government under Mustafa Chokayev, which was liquidated in February 1918 by Red Army forces sent from Tashkent. This action provoked a prolonged resistance movement known as the Basmachi (Basmachi Revolt) (Qorbashi) Revolt. Slavic and European troops and colonists controlling Tashkent successfully moved to depose the emir of Bukhara and the khan of Khiva in 1920. New leaders initially came from the ranks of the Jadids, but, by the end of 1921, communist-dominated politicians held power in both old capitals.

      In 1924–25, politicians directed by the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks (Bolshevik)) redrew the Central Asian map according to a monoethnic principle for each major entity and its people. Karakalpakstan and Uzbekistan arose overnight as ethnically designated territories within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), which had been established in December 1922. The authorities soon granted Uzbekistan the formal status of constituent republic of the U.S.S.R. Karakalpakstan was transferred to the Uzbek S.S.R. in 1936, though it retained autonomous status. Uzbeks remained a minority in the capital city of Tashkent and were underrepresented in the Soviet bureaucracy and administration. Uzbeks quickly learned that real political authority was held by the Communist Party of Uzbekistan (CPUz), the republic's branch of the central Communist Party. The core membership of the CPUz, and for decades its majority, consisted of Slavs and others from outside Central Asia who made all important local decisions except those reserved to the Soviet centre.

      The trauma introduced in Uzbekistan by the communist political purges of the 1930s exacted heavy casualties, especially among Uzbekistan's relatively small class of intelligentsia and leaders. World War II (1939–45) brought further emphatic cultural changes as the Soviet authorities moved thousands of Russian, Polish, and Jewish managers, intellectuals, and cultural figures to the towns and villages of Uzbekistan. The death of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1953 helped free Uzbek institutions from some of the negative pressures of his era. In 1954–55 Tashkent was again opened to noncommunist visitors from the West after decades of isolation, and Uzbekistan slowly regained direct contact with the outside world. Uzbeks rose to high levels in Soviet politics; Nuritdin A. Muhitdinov, Sharaf R. Rashidov, and Yadgar S. Nasriddinova made Uzbeks visible in the U.S.S.R., serving actively in Soviet diplomacy and foreign affairs.

      Despite the easing of some controls on the press and on assembly initiated during the 1980s by the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail), the communist leadership of Uzbekistan continued its firm control over the republic. In August 1991, CPUz chiefs led by Islam Karimov supported the Russian coup attempt against Gorbachev; after the coup failed, Uzbekistan moved quickly to declare independence from the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) The communists—the only experienced politicians in the republic—retained mastery over the new country, and Karimov easily won the 1991 presidential election.

      Like much of Central Asia, Uzbekistan persistently ignored democracy in its practical politics if not in its statements of principle. Opposition parties were prohibited from participating in elections, and democratic activists were kidnapped or attacked. Karimov was reelected in 2000 in a ballot that was generally viewed as fraudulent. The government's human rights record drew international criticism.

Edward Allworth
      In the early years of independence, Uzbekistan adopted symbols of sovereignty such as a new constitution, currency, national anthem, and flag. However, the degree of diversity in Uzbekistan's population diminished as many people, including Jews, Crimean Tatars, Germans, Greeks, Meskhetian Turks, and Slavs, became apprehensive of Uzbek ethnocentrism and began emigrating. Islamic militants attempted to gain a foothold in the country, leading to an outbreak of violence and persecution of many practicing Muslims. Uzbekistan supported the U.S. government's campaign in Afghanistan, allowing U.S. forces to use an Uzbek air base beginning in 2001.


Additional Reading

Recent accounts from travelers to Central Asian countries include Philip Glazebrook, Journey to Khiva (1992); Georgie Anne Geyer, Waiting for Winter to End: An Extraordinary Journey Through Soviet Central Asia (1994); Scott L. Malcomson, Borderlands—Nation and Empire (1994); Colin Thubron, The Lost Heart of Asia (1994); and Charles Undeland and Nicholas Platt, The Central Asian Republics: Fragments of Empire, Magnets of Wealth (1994). On Uzbekistan itself, studies include Edward Allworth, The Modern Uzbeks: From the Fourteenth Century to the Present: A Cultural History (1990), and Uzbek Literary Politics (1964); William K. Medlin, William M. Cave, and Finley Carpenter, Education and Development in Central Asia: A Case Study of Social Change in Uzbekistan (1971); William Fierman, Language Planning and National Development: The Uzbek Experience (1991); James Critchlow, Nationalism in Uzbekistan: A Soviet Republic's Road to Sovereignty (1991); I.A. Karimov, Uzbekistan: The Road of Independence and Progress (1992); and Bakhtiyar A. Nazarov, Denis Sinor, and Devin DeWeese (eds.), Essays on Uzbek History, Culture, and Language (1993); and International Monetary Fund, Uzbekistan (1992), on the economy.

René Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia (1970; originally published in French, 1939), although dated, is still the most comprehensive and basically sound survey of the region in English. Denis Sinor, Inner Asia: History—Civilization—Languages, 2nd rev. ed. (1971), serves as a broad overview. Additional works on the region's history include Gavin Hambly (ed.), Central Asia (1969; originally published in German, 1966); Geoffrey Wheeler, The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia (1964, reprinted 1975); and A.H. Dani et al. (eds.), History of Civilizations of Central Asia (1992– ). Various topics on Central Asia are treated in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed. (1954– ). The best short sketch on the region's history is found in Eshan Yarshater (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 5, fascicles 2–3 (1990–91). On Uzbekistan itself, studies include James Critchlow, Nationalism in Uzbekistan: A Soviet Republic's Road to Sovereignty (1991); I.A. Karimov, Uzbekistan: The Road of Independence and Progress (1992); and Bakhtiyar A. Nazarov, Denis Sinor, and Devin DeWeese (eds.), Essays on Uzbek History, Culture, and Language (1993).Edward Allworth David Roger Smith Gavin R.G. Hambly Denis Sinor

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