Journey to the History of Uzbekistan: Heart of Central Asia
Journey to the History of Uzbekistan | Heart of Central Asia
Uzbekistan is one of the Central Asian republics of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). At the end of 1991, the fall of the Soviet Union transformed all republics of that union into independent states.
Located in the Heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan has a long and dramatic history. It first flourished economically because of the fabled Silk Road going through the wonderful city of Samarkand with a dazzling array of architectural and cultural treasures, Bukhara – known as Central Asia’s holiest city with an abundance of monuments, mosques and madrasahs – and Khiva, with its beautifully preserved old town. Three oasis towns over which caravans brought the products of Europe to exchange for those of Asia. Many famous conquerors passed through the land including Alexander the Great who stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. In the eighth century A.D., the territory was conquered by Muslim Arabs and, in the ninth century, the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire there. Uzbekistan was overrun by Genghis Khan (the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire) in 1220. In the 1300s Timur built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan’s heritage goes back about 2,500 years. In addition to its economic importance, this territory flourished as the medieval intellectualcenter of the Muslim world.
Russian influence in Central Asia
Russian trade with this region grew during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and, in 1865, Russian troops occupied Tashkent. By the end of the nineteenth century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia, placed it under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia’s infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.
In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the territories of the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand were united into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan. The Soviet era brought literacy and technical development to Uzbekistan. The Republic was valued for its cotton growing and natural resources. However, together with positive developments, there was communist domination which brought with it the suppression of local cultural and religious tendencies.
The Communist Party was the only legal party in the Uzbek SSR until 1990. The first secretary, or head, of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan was consistently an Uzbek. Long-time leader of the Uzbek SSR was Sharof Rashidov, head of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan from 1959 to 1983. Islam Karimov, leader of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan since 1989 and subsequently head of that party’s reincarnation, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), became president of the Uzbek SSR in 1990. On 20 June 1990, the Supreme Soviet adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Uzbek SSR, which took over the laws of the Soviet Union days after the Russian SFSR adopted theirs.
Flag of Uzbekistan/Uzbek SSR adopted in 18 November 1991 (фотопоставить)
The Uzbek SSR participated in the referendum in March 1991 as a part of the proposed Union of Sovereign States. This never came to pass after unsuccessful coup attempt events between 19–21 August 1991 in Moscow. In the aftermath, the Uzbek SSR was renamed the Republic of Uzbekistan and declared its independence on 31 August 1991, formally remaining a part of the Soviet Union until 26 December 1991. With the final collapse of the Soviet Union, the Uzbek SSR became the independent nation of Uzbekistan although the 1978 Constitution remained in use. The referendum was confirmed on 29 December 1991.
Geographically, Uzbekistan is located in the middle of Central Asia with flat, sandy terrain and broad, intensely irrigated valleys along the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya. Uzbekistan borders with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tadjikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan territory is 447,400 square kilometers (117,868 square miles) or slightly larger than California. The climate is characterized by long, hot summers and mild winters. Uzbekistan is subdivided into 12 regions, plus the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan. Tashkent has a population of two million and is the capital of Uzbekistan.
After Uzbekistan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, an election was held, and Islam Karimov was elected as the first President of Uzbekistan on 29 December 1991.
Following Islam Karimov’s death on 2 September 2016, the Supreme Assembly appointed then Prime Minister, ShavkatMirziyoyev as interim President of Uzbekistan on 8 September 2016. Although the Chairman of the Senate, NigmatillaYuldashev, was constitutionally designated as Karimov’s successor, Yuldashev proposed that Mirziyoyev take the post of Interim President instead in light of Mirziyoyev’s “many years of experience”. Mirziyoyev was subsequently elected as the country’s second President in the December 2016 presidential election, winning 88.6% of the vote, and was sworn in on 14 December 2016.
Politically, the country is a republic with the Constitution adopted 8 December 1992. People elect the President in direct election.
The Uzbekistan government has three branches:
- Supreme Court.
Economically, Uzbekistan was one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union. The population is heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood.
The work force is comprised of the following:
- agriculture and forestry – 44 %;
- industry and construction – 20 %;
- and other – 36 %.
In 1997 Uzbekistan GDP was $21.3 billion, and per capita GDP was $895. It is the world’s fourth largest producer of cotton. It also produces significant amounts of silk, fruits, vegetables, and other crops. As the world’s seventh largest producer of gold, about eighty tons per year, it also has the fourthlargest gold reserves. There are sufficient amounts of oil and an abundance of natural gas used for both domestic consumption and export and exportable reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. There is trade with Russia, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the neighboring countries, former Soviet republics, now called the newly independent states (NIS).
Socially and culturally, Uzbekistan is a contemporary mix. It is Central Asia’s most highly populated country with the population of over twenty-four million, i.e., nearly half the region’s total population. Approximately 98 percent of the total population is literate.
The population falls into the following ethnic groups:
- Uzbek – 80 %;
- Russian – 5.5 %;
- Tajik – 5 %;
- Kazakh – 3 %;
- Karakalpak – 2.5 %;
- Tatar – 1.5 %,
- and other – 2.5 %.
In terms of religion, the nation is:
- Sunni Moslem – 88 %;
- Eastern Orthodox – 9 %;
- others – 3 %.
The state language since 1991 is Uzbek, but Russian is the de facto language of interethnic and business communication. The Uzbekistan society exhibits characteristics of nepotism, clannishness, and even corruption as integral features of its culture.
Nowadays, Uzbekistan has all the appearances of a country on the rise. It is prosperous and stable by the standards of the region. It has a pivotal position in the heart of Central Asia that attracts the attention of major geopolitical players, who well understand that access to Uzbekistan is tantamount to access to the Middle East, a major One Belt, One Road thoroughfare and Russia. And Mirziyoyev’s liberalizations will only spark more interest from the international community.
Attractive trip packages and last-minute tours from “Travel Tour” will lead you to the most amazing and memorable journey across Uzbekistan. Our resident guides will introduce you to the traditions, culture and history of the ancient cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Kokand, Tashkent and many others.
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