Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN

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Uzbekistan Wikipedia




Coordinates: 41°N 69°E / 41°N 69°E / 41; 69
Republic of Uzbekistan



  • Oʻzbekiston Respublikasi

    Ўзбекистон Республикаси



  • Oʻzbekiston Jumhuriyati

    Ўзбекистон Жумҳурияти
FlagEmblem
Anthem: 


O'zbekiston Respublikasining Davlat Madhiyasi


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Capital


and largest city
Tashkent


41°16′N 69°13′E / 41.267°N 69.217°E / 41.267; 69.217
Official languagesUzbek
Recognised regional languagesKarakalpak
Ethnic groups (1996)
  • 81.1% Uzbek
  • 5.4% Russian
  • 4.0% Tajik
  • 3.0% Kazakh
  • 2.5% Karakalpak
  • 1.5% Tatar
  • 2.5% others
DemonymUzbek
GovernmentUnitary presidential republic
 - PresidentIslam Karimov
 - Prime MinisterShavkat Mirziyoyev
 - Chairman of the SenateIlzigar Sobirov
 - Chairman of the Legislative ChamberDiloram Tashmukhamedova
LegislatureSupreme Assembly
 - Upper houseSenate
 - Lower houseLegislative Chamber
Independence from the Soviet Union
 - Formation1747 
 - Uzbek SSR27 October 1924 
 - Declared1 September 1991 
 - Recognized8 December 1991 
 - Completed25 December 1991 
Area
 - Total448 978 km2 (56th)


172,742 sq mi
 - Water (%)4.9
Population
 - 2013 estimate30,183,400 (41st)
 - Density61.4/km2 (136th)


159.1/sq mi
GDP (PPP)2014 estimate
 - Total$123.577 billion (69th)
 - Per capita$4,038 (135th)
GDP (nominal)2014 estimate
 - Total$61.720 billion (73rd)
 - Per capita$2,017 (136th)
Gini (2003)negative increase 36.8


medium · 95th
HDI (2013)Increase 0.654


medium · 114nd
CurrencyUzbekistan som (O'zbekiston so'mi) (UZS)
Time zoneUZT (UTC+5)
 - Summer (DST)not observed (UTC+5)
Drives on theright
Calling code+998
ISO 3166 codeUZ
Internet TLD.uz
a.Official Uzbek statistics.[citation needed]
b.As the Emirate of Bukhara, Kokand Khanate, and Khwarezm.
Uzbekistan (U.S. pronunciation: Listeni/ʊz.ˈbɛk.ɪ.ˌstæn/, U.K. pronunciation: Listeni/ʊz.ˌbɛk.ɪ.ˈstɑːn/), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzbek: O'zbekiston Respublikasi, Ўзбекистон Республикаси and Oʻzbekiston Jumhuriyati, Ўзбекистон Жумҳурияти), is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia. It is a unitary, constitutional, presidential republic, comprising 12 provinces, 1 autonomous republic, and 1 independent city. Uzbekistan is bordered by five countries: Kazakhstan and the Aral Sea to the north; Tajikistan to the southeast; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest. Between 1924 and 1991, it was part of the Soviet Union.

Once part of the Turkic Khaganate and later Timurid Empires, the region which today includes the Republic of Uzbekistan was conquered in the early 16th century by nomads who spoke an Eastern Turkic language. This region was subsequently incorporated into the Russian Empire in the 19th century, and in 1924 it became a bordered constituent republic of the Soviet Union, known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbek SSR). It subsequently became the independent Republic of Uzbekistan on 31 August 1991 (officially, as of the following day). Most of Uzbekistan's population today belong to the Uzbek ethnic group and speak Uzbek, a language belonging to the family of Turkic languages.

Uzbekistan's economy relies mainly on commodity production, including cotton, gold, uranium, and natural gas. Despite the declared objective of transition to a market economy, its government continues to maintain economic controls which deter foreign investment and imports in favour of domestic 'import substitution'. The policy of a gradual, strictly controlled transition to the market economy has produced beneficial results in the form of economic recovery after 1995.[citation needed]

Uzbekistan is a secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. Uzbekistan, out of the Post-Soviet states, includes the highest number of political prisoners, a complete lack of freedom of speech, assembly, media, and movement, widespread torture, forced labor and religious persecution. The country's official language is Uzbek, spoken natively by approximately 85% of the population. Uzbeks constitute 81% of the population. Minorities include Russians (5.4%) and others (13.5%). The vast majority of the population is Muslim. Uzbekistan is a member of the CIS, OSCE, UN, and the SCO.

Contents

        Geography

        Main article: Geography of Uzbekistan
        See also: List of cities in Uzbekistan



        Map of Uzbekistan.
        Uzbekistan has an area of 447,400 square kilometres (172,700 sq mi). It is the 56th largest country in the world by area and the 42nd by population. Among the CIS countries, it is the 5th largest by area and the 3rd largest by population.

        Uzbekistan lies between latitudes 37° and 46° N, and longitudes 56° and 74° E. It stretches 1,425 kilometres (885 mi) from west to east and 930 kilometres (580 mi) from north to south. Bordering Kazakhstan and the Aral Sea to the north and northwest, Turkmenistan to the southwest, Tajikistan to the southeast, and Kyrgyzstan to the northeast, Uzbekistan is one of the largest Central Asian states and the only Central Asian state to border all the other four. Uzbekistan also shares a short border (less than 150 km or 93 mi) with Afghanistan to the south.

        Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country. It is one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world (that is, a country completely surrounded by landlocked countries), the other being Liechtenstein. In addition, due to its location within a series of endorheic basins, none of its rivers lead to the sea. Less than 10% of its territory is intensively cultivated irrigated land in river valleys and oases. The rest is vast desert (Kyzyl Kum) and mountains.

        The highest point in Uzbekistan is the Khazret Sultan, at 4,643 metres (15,233 ft) above sea level, in the southern part of the Gissar Range in Surkhandarya Province, on the border with Tajikistan, just northwest of Dushanbe (formerly called Peak of the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party).

        The climate in the Republic of Uzbekistan is continental, with little precipitation expected annually (100–200 millimeters, or 3.9–7.9 inches). The average summer high temperature tends to be 40 °C (104 °F), while the average winter low temperature is around −23 °C (−9 °F).

        Major cities include Andijan, Ferghana, Bukhara, Samarkand, Namangan and the capital Tashkent.

        Environment




        Comparison of the Aral Sea between 1989 and 2008.
        Uzbekistan has rich and diverse natural environment. However, decades of questionable Soviet policies in pursuit of greater cotton production have resulted in a catastrophic scenario with the agricultural industry being the main contributor to the pollution and devastation of both air and water in the country.

        The Aral Sea used to be the fourth-largest inland sea on Earth, acting as an influencing factor in the air moisture and arid land use. Since the 1960s, the decade when the misuse of the Aral Sea water began, it has shrunk to less than 50% of its former area and decreased in volume threefold. Reliable, or even approximate data, has not been collected, stored or provided by any organization or official agency. Much of the water was and continues to be used for the irrigation of cotton fields, a crop requiring a large amount of water to grow.

        The question of who is responsible for the crisis remains open: the Soviet scientists and politicians who directed the distribution of water during the 1960s, or the post-Soviet politicians who did not allocate sufficient funding for the building of dams and irrigation systems.[citation needed]

        Due to the Aral Sea problem, high salinity and contamination of the soil with heavy elements are especially widespread in Karakalpakstan, the region of Uzbekistan adjacent to the Aral Sea. The bulk of the nation's water resources is used for farming, which accounts for nearly 84% of the water usage and contributes to high soil salinity. Heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers for cotton growing further aggravates soil pollution.

        History

        Main article: History of Uzbekistan



        Female statuette wearing the kaunakes. Chlorite and limestone, Bactria, beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.



        Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus.
        The first people known to inhabit the Central Asian region of modern-day Uzbekistan were Iranian nomads who arrived from the northern grasslands of what is now Kazakhstan sometime in the 1st millennium BC. These nomads, who spoke Iranian dialects, settled in Central Asia and began to build an extensive irrigation system along the rivers of the region. At this time, cities such as Bukhoro (Bukhara), Samarqand (Samarkand) and Chash (Tashkent) began to appear as centres of emerging government and high culture. By the 5th century BC, the Bactrian, Soghdian, and Tokharian states dominated and ruled over the region.

        As China began to develop its silk trade with the West, Iranian cities took advantage of this commerce by becoming centres of trade. Using an extensive network of cities and rural settlements in the province of Mouwaurannahr (a name given the region after the Arab conquest) in Uzbekistan, and further east in what is today China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Soghdian intermediaries became the wealthiest of these Iranian merchants. As a result of this trade on what became known as the Silk Route, Bukhoro and Samarqand eventually became extremely wealthy cities, and at the time Transoxiana (Mawarannahr) was one of the largest, most influential and powerful Persian provinces of antiquity.[full citation needed]



        Registan, Sher-Dor Madrasah



        Russian troops taking Samarkand in 1868.
        Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great conquered Sogdiana and Bactria in 327 BC, marrying Roxana, daughter of a local Bactrian chieftain. A conquest was supposedly of little help to Alexander as popular resistance was fierce, causing Alexander's army to be bogged down in the region that became the northern part of the Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. For many centuries the region of Uzbekistan was ruled by the Persian empires, including the Parthian and Sassanid Empires, as well as by other empires, for example those formed by the Turkic Hephthalite and Gokturk peoples.

        In the 8th century, Transoxiana, the territory between the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers, was conquered by the Arabs (Ali ibn Sattor) who enriched the region with the Early Renaissance. Many notable scientists lived there and contributed to its development during the Islamic Golden Age. Among the achievements of the scholars during this period were the development of trigonometry into its modern form (simplifying its practical application to calculate the phases of the moon), advances in optics, in astronomy, as well as in poetry, philosophy, art, calligraphy and many others, which set the foundation for the Muslim Renaissance.

        In the 9th and 10th centuries, Transoxiana was included into the Samanid State. Later, Transoxiana saw the incursion of the Turkic-ruled Karakhanids, as well as the Seljuks (Sultan Sanjar) and Kara-Khitans.

        The Mongol conquest under Genghis Khan during the 13th century would bring about a change to the region. The Mongol invasion of Central Asia led to the displacement of some of the Iranian-speaking people of the region, their culture and heritage being superseded by that of the Mongolian-Turkic peoples who came thereafter. The invasions of Bukhara, Samarkand, Urgench and others resulted in mass murders and unprecedented destruction, such as portions of Khwarezmia being completely razed.

        Following the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, his empire was divided among his four sons and his family members. Despite the potential for serious fragmentation, the Mongol law of the Mongol Empire maintained orderly succession for several more generations, and control of most of Transoxiana stayed in the hands of the direct descendants of Chagatai Khan, the second son of Genghis Khan. Orderly succession, prosperity, and internal peace prevailed in the Chaghatai lands, and the Mongol Empire as a whole remained a strong and united kingdom. (Ulus Batiy, Sattarkhan)[full citation needed]

        In the early 14th century, however, as the empire began to break up into its constituent parts. The Chaghatai territory was disrupted as the princes of various tribal groups competed for influence. One tribal chieftain, Timur (Tamerlane), emerged from these struggles in the 1380s as the dominant force in Transoxiana. Although he was not a descendant of Genghis Khan, Timur became the de facto ruler of Transoxiana and proceeded to conquer all of western Central Asia, Iran, Asia Minor, and the southern steppe region north of the Aral Sea. He also invaded Russia, Turkey, and Iraq, and placed Iran and India under his command before dying during an invasion of China in 1405.

        Timur was known for his extreme brutality and his conquests were accompanied by genocidal massacres in the cities he occupied.

        Timur initiated the last flowering of Transoxiana by gathering together numerous artisans and scholars from the vast lands he had conquered into his capital, Samarqand. By supporting such people, he imbued his empire with a rich Perso-Islamic culture. During his reign and the reigns of his immediate descendants, a wide range of religious and palatial construction masterpieces were undertaken in Samarqand and other population centres. Amir Timur initiated an exchange of medical discoveries and patronized physicians, scientists and artists from the neighbouring countries such as India; His grandson Ulugh Beg was one of the world's first great astronomers. It was during the Timurid dynasty that Turkic, in the form of the Chaghatai dialect, became a literary language in its own right in Transoxiana, although the Timurids were Persianate in nature. The greatest Chaghataid writer, Ali-Shir Nava'i, was active in the city of Herat (now in northwestern Afghanistan) in the second half of the 15th century.

        The Timurid state quickly split in half after the death of Timur. The chronic internal fighting of the Timurids attracted the attention of the Uzbek nomadic tribes living to the north of the Aral Sea. In 1501 the Uzbek forces began a wholesale invasion of Transoxiana. The slave trade in the Khanate of Bukhara became prominent and was firmly established. Estimates from 1821 suggest that between 25,000 and 60,000 Tajik slaves were working in Bukhara alone at that time. Before the arrival of the Russians, present Uzbekistan was divided between Emirate of Bukhara and khanates of Khiva and Kokand.

        In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to expand and spread into Central Asia. By 1911 Russians living in Uzbekistan numbered 210,306. The "Great Game" period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. A second, less intensive phase followed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. At the start of the 19th century, there were some 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) separating British India and the outlying regions of Tsarist Russia. Much of the land in-between was unmapped.

        By the beginning of 1920, Central Asia was firmly in the hands of Russia and, despite some early resistance to the Bolsheviks, Uzbekistan and the rest of the Central Asia became a part of the Soviet Union. On 27 October 1924 the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. From 1941 to 1945, during World War II, 1,433,230 people from Uzbekistan fought in the Red Army against Nazi Germany. A number also fought on the German side. As many as 263,005 Uzbek soldiers died in the battlefields of the Eastern Front, and 32,670 went missing in action.

        On 31 August 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan declared independence. 1 September was proclaimed the National Independence Day.

        Politics

        Main article: Politics of Uzbekistan



        The Legislative Chamber of the Supreme Assembly (Lower House).



        Islam Karimov, president of Uzbekistan, during a visit to the Pentagon in 2002.
        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. However, the election was not democratic; Karimov's party was culpable of harassing political opponents and allegedly interfered with votes at the ballot box.

        The first elections of the Oliy Majlis (Parliament or Supreme Assembly) were held under a resolution adopted by the 16th Supreme Soviet in 1994. In that year, the Supreme Soviet was replaced by the Oliy Majlis. Since then Uzbekistan has held presidential and parliamentarian elections on regular basis, but no real opposition candidates or parties are able to participate.[citation needed]

        The third elections for the bicameral 150–member Oliy Majlis, the Legislative Chamber, and the 100–member Senate for five-year terms, were held on 27 December 2009. The second elections that were held in December 2004–05. The Oliy Majlis was unicameral up to 2004. Its size increased from 69 deputies (members) in 1994 to 120 in 2004–05, and currently stands at 150.

        The executive holds a great deal of power, and the legislature has little power to shape laws. Under the terms of a 27 December 1995 referendum, Islam Karimov's first term was extended. Another national referendum was held 27 January 2002 to extend the Constitutional Presidential term from 5 years to 7 years.

        The referendum passed, and Islam Karimov's term was extended by an act of parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan for a bicameral parliament consisting of a lower house (the Oliy Majlis) and an upper house (Senate). Members of the lower house are to be "full-time" legislators. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on 26 December.

        The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organise, recruit members and hold conventions and press conferences, but they have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures.

        Human rights

        Main article: Human rights in Uzbekistan
        See also: Andijan massacre
        The Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan asserts that "democracy in the Republic of Uzbekistan shall be based upon common human principles, according to which the highest value shall be the human being, his life, freedom, honour, dignity and other inalienable rights."

        The official position is summarised in a memorandum "The measures taken by the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the field of providing and encouraging human rights" and amounts to the following: the government does everything that is in its power to protect and to guarantee the human rights of Uzbekistan's citizens. Uzbekistan continuously improves its laws and institutions in order to create a more humane society. Over 300 laws regulating the rights and basic freedoms of the people have been passed by the parliament. For instance, an office of Ombudsman was established in 1996. On 2 August 2005, President Islam Karimov signed a decree that abolished capital punishment in Uzbekistan on 1 January 2008.



        Old Uzbek man from central Uzbekistan.
        However, non-governmental human rights watchdogs, such as IHF, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, as well as United States Department of State and Council of the European Union define Uzbekistan as "an authoritarian state with limited civil rights" and express profound concern about "wide-scale violation of virtually all basic human rights". According to the reports, the most widespread violations are torture, arbitrary arrests, and various restrictions of freedoms: of religion, of speech and press, of free association and assembly. It has also been reported that forced sterilization of rural Uzbek women has been sanctioned by the government. The reports maintain that the violations are most often committed against members of religious organizations, independent journalists, human rights activists and political activists, including members of the banned opposition parties.

        The 2005 civil unrest in Uzbekistan, which resulted in several hundred people being killed, is viewed by many as a landmark event in the history of human rights abuse in Uzbekistan. A concern has been expressed and a request for an independent investigation of the events has been made by the United States, European Union, the United Nations, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The government of Uzbekistan is accused of unlawful termination of human life and of denying its citizens freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The government vehemently rebuffs the accusations, maintaining that it merely conducted an anti-terrorist operation, exercising only necessary force. In addition, some officials claim that "an information war on Uzbekistan has been declared" and the human rights violations in Andijan are invented by the enemies of Uzbekistan as a convenient pretext for intervention in the country's internal affairs.

        Administrative divisions

        Main articles: Provinces of Uzbekistan and Districts of Uzbekistan
        Uzbekistan is divided into twelve provinces (viloyatlar, singular viloyat, compound noun viloyati e.g., Toshkent viloyati, Samarqand viloyati, etc.), one autonomous republic (respublika, compound noun respublikasi e.g. Qoraqalpog'iston Muxtor Respublikasi, Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic, etc.), and one independent city (shahar, compound noun shahri, e.g., Toshkent shahri). Names are given below in the Uzbek language, although numerous variations of the transliterations of each name exist.



        Political Map of Uzbekistan
        DivisionCapital CityArea

        (km²)
        Population (2008)Key
        Buxoro ViloyatiBuxoro (Bukhara)39,4001,576,8003
        Jizzax ViloyatiJizzax20,5001,090,9005
        Navoiy ViloyatiNavoiy110,800834,1007
        Qashqadaryo ViloyatiQarshi28,4002,537,6008
        Samarqand ViloyatiSamarkand16,400 3,032,0009
        Sirdaryo ViloyatiGuliston5,100698,10010
        Surxondaryo ViloyatiTermiz20,8002,012,60011
        Toshkent ViloyatiToytepa15,300 2,537,50012
        Toshkent ShahriToshkent (Tashkent)3352,192,7001
        Fergana Valley Region
        Farg'ona ViloyatiFarg'ona (Fergana) 6,8002,997,4004
        Andijon ViloyatiAndijon4,2002,477,9002
        Namangan ViloyatiNamangan7,9002,196,2006
        Xorazm ViloyatiUrganch6,300 1,517,60013
        Qoraqalpog'iston RespublikasiNukus160,0001,612,30014
        The statistics for Toshkent Viloyati also include the statistics for Toshkent Shahri.

        The provinces are further divided into districts (tuman).

        Economy

        Main article: Economy of Uzbekistan



        Tashkent



        Samarkand
        Uzbekistan has the fourth largest gold deposits in the world. The country mines 80 tons of gold annually, seventh in the world. Uzbekistan's copper deposits rank tenth in the world and its uranium deposits twelfth. The country's uranium production ranks seventh globally. The Uzbek national gas company, Uzbekneftegas, ranks 11th in the world in natural gas production with an annual output of 60 to 70 billion cubic meters.[citation needed] The country has significant untapped reserves of oil and gas: there are 194 deposits of hydrocarbons in Uzbekistan, including 98 condensate and natural gas deposits and 96 gas condensate deposits.[citation needed]

        The largest corporations involved in Uzbekistan's energy sector are the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Petronas, the Korea National Oil Corporation, Gazprom, Lukoil, and Uzbekneftegas.[citation needed]

        Along with many Commonwealth of Independent States or CIS economies, Uzbekistan's economy declined during the first years of transition and then recovered after 1995, as the cumulative effect of policy reforms began to be felt.[citation needed] It has shown robust growth, rising by 4% per year between 1998 and 2003 and accelerating thereafter to 7%–8% per year. According to IMF estimates, the GDP in 2008 will be almost double its value in 1995 (in constant prices). Since 2003 annual inflation rates averaged less than 10%.[citation needed]

        Uzbekistan has GNI per capita (US$1,900 in current dollars in 2013, giving a PPP equivalent of US$3,800). Economic production is concentrated in commodities. In 2011, Uzbekistan was the world's seventh-largest producer and fifth-largest exporter of cotton as well as the seventh largest world producer of gold. It is also a regionally significant producer of natural gas, coal, copper, oil, silver and uranium.

        Agriculture employs 28% of Uzbekistan's labour force and contributes 24% of its GDP (2006 data). While official unemployment is very low, underemployment – especially in rural areas – is estimated to be at least 20%. At cotton-harvest time, all students and teachers are still mobilized as unpaid labour to help in the fields. Uzbek cotton is even used to make banknotes in South Korea. The use of child labour in Uzbekistan has led several companies, including Tesco, C&A, Marks & Spencer, Gap, and H&M, to boycott Uzbek cotton.

        Facing a multitude of economic challenges upon acquiring independence, the government adopted an evolutionary reform strategy, with an emphasis on state control, reduction of imports and self-sufficiency in energy. Since 1994, the state-controlled media have repeatedly proclaimed the success of this "Uzbekistan Economic Model" and suggested that it is a unique example of a smooth transition to the market economy while avoiding shock, pauperism and stagnation.

        The gradualist reform strategy has involved postponing significant macroeconomic and structural reforms. The state in the hands of the bureaucracy has remained a dominant influence in the economy. Corruption permeates the society and grows more rampant over time: Uzbekistan's 2005 Corruption Perception Index was 137 out of 159 countries, whereas in 2007 Uzbekistan was 175th out of 179 countries. A February 2006 report on the country by the International Crisis Group suggests that revenues earned from key exports, especially cotton, gold, corn and increasingly gas, are distributed among a very small circle of the ruling elite, with little or no benefit for the populace at large. The recent high-profile corruption scandals involving government contracts and large international companies, notably TeliaSoneria, have shown that businesses are particularly vulnerable to corruption when operating in Uzbekistan.

        According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, "the government is hostile to allowing the development of an independent private sector, over which it would have no control". Thus, the middle class is marginalised economically and, consequently, politically.[citation needed]

        The economic policies have repelled foreign investment, which is the lowest per capita in the CIS. For years, the largest barrier to foreign companies entering the Uzbekistan market has been the difficulty of converting currency. In 2003 the government accepted the obligations of Article VIII under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) providing for full currency convertibility. However, strict currency controls and the tightening of borders have lessened the effect of this measure.

        Uzbekistan experienced rampant inflation of around 1000% per year immediately after independence (1992–1994). Stabilisation efforts implemented with guidance from the IMF paid off. The inflation rates were brought down to 50% in 1997 and then to 22% in 2002. Since 2003 annual inflation rates averaged less than 10%. Tight economic policies in 2004 resulted in a drastic reduction of inflation to 3.8% (although alternative estimates based on the price of a true market basket, put it at 15%). The inflation rates moved up to 6.9% in 2006 and 7.6% in 2007 but have remained in the single-digit range.

        The government of Uzbekistan restricts foreign imports in many ways, including high import duties. Excise taxes are applied in a highly discriminatory manner to protect locally produced goods. Official tariffs are combined with unofficial, discriminatory charges resulting in total charges amounting to as much as 100 to 150% of the actual value of the product, making imported products virtually unaffordable. Import substitution is an officially declared policy and the government proudly reports a reduction by a factor of two in the volume of consumer goods imported. A number of CIS countries are officially exempt from Uzbekistan import duties.

        The Republican Stock Exchange (RSE) opened in 1994. The stocks of all Uzbek joint stock companies (around 1250) are traded on RSE. The number of listed companies as of January 2013 exceeds 110. Securities market volume reached 2 trillion in 2012, and the number is rapidly growing due to the rising interest by companies of attracting necessary resources through the capital market. According to Central Depository as of January 2013 par value of outstanding shares of Uzbek emitters exceeded 9 trillion.

        Uzbekistan's external position has been strong since 2003.[citation needed] Thanks in part to the recovery of world market prices of gold and cotton (the country's key export commodities), expanded natural gas and some manufacturing exports, and increasing labour migrant transfers, the current account turned into a large surplus (between 9% and 11% of GDP from 2003 to 2005) and foreign exchange reserves, including gold, more than doubled to around US$3 billion.[citation needed]

        Foreign exchange reserves amounted in 2010 to 13 billion US$.

        Uzbekistan is considered one of the fastest growing economies in the world (top 26) in the next decades according to a global bank HSBC survey

        Demographics

        Main article: Demographics of Uzbekistan



        Newlywed couples visit Tamerlane's statues to receive wedding blessings.



        Uzbek children
        Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 30,183,400 citizens comprise nearly half the region's total population. The population of Uzbekistan is very young: 34.1% of its people are younger than 14 (2008 estimate). According to official sources, Uzbeks comprise a majority (80%) of the total population. Other ethnic groups include Russians 5.5%, Tajiks 5% (official estimate and disputed), Kazakhs 3%, Karakalpaks 2.5% and Tatars 1.5% (1996 estimates).

        There is some controversy about the percentage of the Tajik population. While official state numbers from Uzbekistan put the number at 5%, the number is said to be an understatement and some Western scholars put the number up to 20%–30%. The Uzbeks absorbed, among others, the Sarts, a Turko-Persian population of Central Asian peasants and merchants. According to recent genetic genealogy testing from a University of Oxford study, the genetic admixture of the Uzbeks clusters somewhere between the Mongols and the Iranian peoples.

        Uzbekistan has an ethnic Korean population that was forcibly relocated to the region by Stalin from the Soviet Far East in 1937–1938. There are also small groups of Armenians in Uzbekistan, mostly in Tashkent and Samarkand. The nation is 88% Muslim (mostly Sunni, with a 5% Shi'a minority), 9% Eastern Orthodox and 3% other faiths. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2004 reports that 0.2% of the population are Buddhist (these being ethnic Koreans). The Bukharan Jews have lived in Central Asia, mostly in Uzbekistan, for thousands of years. There were 94,900 Jews in Uzbekistan in 1989 (about 0.5% of the population according to the 1989 census), but now, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, most Central Asian Jews left the region for the United States, Germany, or Israel. Fewer than 5,000 Jews remained in Uzbekistan in 2007.

        Russians in Uzbekistan represent 5.5% of the total population. During the Soviet period, Russians and Ukrainians constituted more than half the population of Tashkent. The country counted nearly 1.5 million Russians, 12.5% of the population, in the 1970 census. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, significant emigration of ethnic Russians has taken place, mostly for economic reasons.

        In the 1940s, the Crimean Tatars, along with the Germans, Chechens, Greeks, Turks, Kurds and many other nationalities were deported to Central Asia. Approximately 100,000 Crimean Tatars continue to live in Uzbekistan. The number of Greeks in Tashkent has decreased from 35,000 in 1974 to about 12,000 today. The majority of Meskhetian Turks left the country after the pogroms in the Fergana valley in June 1989.

        At least 10% of Uzbekistan's labour force works abroad (mostly in Russia and Kazakhstan).

        Uzbekistan has a 99.3% literacy rate among adults older than 15 (2003 estimate), which is attributable to the free and universal education system of the Soviet Union.

        Largest cities

        Largest cities or towns of Uzbekistan


        http://www.geonames.org/SY/largest-cities-in-uzbekistan.html
        RankNameProvincePop.RankNameProvincePop.
        Tashkent


        Tashkent
        1TashkentTashkent2 339 60011NavoiyNavoiy Province428 200Andijan


        Andijan
        Samarkand


        Samarkand
        2NamanganNamangan Province1 565 200
        3AndijanAndijan Province1 448 300
        4SamarkandSamarkand Province1 309 300
        5FerganaFergana Province1 419 400
        6QarshiQashqadaryo Province1 218 000
        7NukusKarakalpakstan843 000
        8JizzaxJizzax Province627 800
        9BukharaBukhara Province605 700
        10XorazmXorazm Province547 000

        Religion

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        Main articles: Islam in Uzbekistan and Christianity in Uzbekistan



        Shakh-i Zindeh mosque, Samarkand.



        Mosque of Bukhara.
        Islam is by far the dominant religion in Uzbekistan, as Muslims constitute 90% of the population while 5% of the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, and 5% of the population follow other religions according to a 2009 US State Department release. However, a 2009 Pew Research Center report stated that Uzbekistan's population is 96.3% Muslim. An estimated 93,000 Jews were once present in the country.

        Despite its predominance, the practice of Islam is far from monolithic. Many versions of the faith have been practised in Uzbekistan. The conflict of Islamic tradition with various agendas of reform or secularization throughout the 20th century has left the outside world with a confused notion of Islamic practices in Central Asia. 54% of Muslims are non-denominational Muslims, 18% are Sunnis and 1% are Shias.

        The end of Soviet power in Uzbekistan did not bring an upsurge of fundamentalism, as many had predicted, but rather a gradual re-acquaintance with the precepts of the faith.

        Although constitutionally maintaining rights to freedom of religion, Uzbekistan maintains a ban on all religious activities not approved by that state, with particularly harsh treatment of Protestant Christians being commonplace. See: Human Rights; Freedom of Religion, Uzbekistan

        Jewish community
        Question book-new.svg
        This section relies largely or entirely upon a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources. (August 2013)
        Main articles: Uzbek Jews and Bukharan Jews



        Jewish students with their teacher in Samarkand, c. 1910.
        According to local traditions Jews began to settle in the area 2,000 years ago after the exile from the kingdom of Israel by the Babylonians. Other traditions focus on Jewish merchants settling in the area of the silk road and Jews that came to the area after Persian persecutions some 1,500 years ago.

        The Jewish community flourished for centuries with occasional hardships during the reign of certain rulers. During the rule of Tamerlane in the 14th century Jews contributed greatly to his efforts to rebuild Samarkand and a great Jewish centre was established there. However, after Tamerlane's death Jews endured harsh treatment, strict Muslim authorities enacted humiliating and restrictive rules forbidding Jews from living outside the Jewish quarter, Jewish gates and shops had to be built lower than those of the Muslims. Jews had to wear a black cap and a cord belt, and accounts by Jewish witnesses in court were not valid for Muslims.

        After the area came under Russian rule in 1868, Jews were granted equal rights with the local population. In that period some 50,000 Jews lived in Samarkand and 20,000 in Bukhara. After the Russian revolution in 1917 and the establishment of the Soviet regime Jewish religious life was restricted. By 1935 only one synagogue out of 35 was left in Samarkand; nevertheless, underground community life continued during the Soviet era.

        During WW2 tens of thousands of Jews from the European parts of the Soviet Union arrived in Uzbekistan as refugees or were exiled by Stalin. By 1970 there were 103,000 Jews registered in the republic.

        At the late 1980s with the rise of nationalistic riots as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, damaging, among others, the Jewish quarter in Andijan, most of the Jews of Uzbekistan immigrated to Israel and to the US. A small community of several thousands remains today in the country: some 7,000 live in Tashkent, 3,000 in Bukhara and 700 in Samarkand.

        Languages

        Main article: Uzbek language



        A page in Uzbek language written in Nastaʿlīq script printed in Tashkent 1911
        The Uzbek language is the only official state language, and since 1992 is officially written in the Latin alphabet. The Tajik language is widespread in the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand because of their relatively large population of ethnic Tajiks. It is also found in large pockets in Kasan, Namangan and Khokand in Fergana valley, as well as in Ahangaran, Baghistan in the middle Syr Darya district, and finally in, Shahrisabz, Kitab and the river valleys of Kafiringan and Chaganian rivers, forming altogether, approximately 5–6% of the population of Uzbekistan

        Russian is an important language for interethnic communication, especially in the cities, including much day-to-day technical, scientific, governmental and business use. Russian is the main language of over 14% of the population and is spoken as a second language by many more. The use of Russian in remote rural areas has always been limited, and today most school children have no proficiency in Russian even in urban centres. However, it was reported in 2003 that over half of the population could speak and understand Russian, and a renewed close political relationship between Russia and Uzbekistan has meant that official discouragement of Russian has dropped off sharply.

        Before the 1920s, the written language of Uzbeks was called Turki (known to Western scholars as Chagatay) and used the Nastaʿlīq script. In 1926 the Latin alphabet was introduced and went through several revisions throughout the 1930s. Finally, in 1940, the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced by Soviet authorities and was used until the fall of Soviet Union. In 1993 Uzbekistan shifted back to the Latin script, which was modified in 1996 and is being taught in schools since 2005. Nevertheless, many signs and notices (including official government boards in the streets) are still written in Uzbek Cyrillic script[citation needed].

        Communications

        Main article: Communications in Uzbekistan
        According to the official source report, as of 10 March 2008, the number of cellular phone users in Uzbekistan reached 7 million, up from 3.7 million on 1 July 2007. The largest mobile operator in terms of number of subscribers is MTS-Uzbekistan (former Uzdunrobita and part of Russian Mobile TeleSystems) and it is followed by Beeline (part of Russia's Beeline) and UCell (ex Coscom) (originally part of the U.S. MCT Corp., now a subsidiary of the Nordic/Baltic telecommunication company TeliaSonera AB).

        As of 1 July 2007, the estimated number of internet users was 1.8 million, according to UzACI.[citation needed]

        Internet Censorship exists in Uzbekistan and in October 2012 the government toughened internet censorship by blocking access to proxy servers.Reporters Without Borders has named Uzbekistan's government an "Enemy of the Internet" and government control over the internet has increased dramatically since the start of the Arab Spring.

        The press in Uzbekistan practices self-censorship and foreign journalists have been gradually expelled from the country since the Andijan massacre of 2005.

        Transportation

        Main article: Transport in Uzbekistan



        Central Station of Tashkent



        Afrosiyob high-speed train built by Spanish company Talgo
        Tashkent, the nation's capital and largest city, has a three-line rapid transit system built in 1977, and expanded in 2001 after ten years' independence from the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are currently the only two countries in Central Asia with a subway system. It is promoted as one of the cleanest systems in the former Soviet Union. The stations are exceedingly ornate. For example, the station Metro Kosmonavtov built in 1984 is decorated using a space travel theme to recognise the achievements of mankind in space exploration and to commemorate the role of Vladimir Dzhanibekov, the Soviet cosmonaut of Uzbek origin. A statue of Vladimir Dzhanibekov stands near a station entrance.

        There are government-operated trams and buses running across the city. There are also many taxis, registered and unregistered. Uzbekistan has plants that produce modern cars. The car production is supported by the government and the Korean auto company Daewoo. The Uzbek government acquired a 50% stake in Daewoo in 2005[citation needed] for an undisclosed sum. In May 2007 UzDaewooAuto, the car maker, signed a strategic agreement with General Motors-Daewoo Auto and Technology (GMDAT, see GM Uzbekistan also). The government bought a stake in Turkey's Koc in SamKochAvto, a producer of small buses and lorries. Afterward, it signed an agreement with Isuzu Motors of Japan to produce Isuzu buses and lorries.

        Train links connect many towns in Uzbekistan, as well as neighboring former republics of the Soviet Union. Moreover, after independence two fast-running train systems were established. Uzbekistan has launched the first high-speed railway in Central Asia in September 2011 between Tashkent and Samarqand. The new high-speed electric train Talgo 250, called Afrosiyob, was manufactured by Patentes Talgo S.L. (Spain) and took its first trip from Tashkent to Samarkand on 26 August 2011.

        There is a large airplane plant that was built during the Soviet era – Tashkent Chkalov Aviation Manufacturing Plant or ТАПОиЧ in Russian. The plant originated during World War II, when production facilities were evacuated south and east to avoid capture by advancing Nazi forces. Until the late 1980s, the plant was one of the leading airplane production centers in the USSR. With dissolution of the Soviet Union its manufacturing equipment became outdated; most of the workers were laid off. Now it produces only a few planes a year, but with interest from Russian companies growing, there are rumours of production-enhancement plans.

        Military

        Main article: Armed Forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan



        Uzbek troops during a cooperative operation exercise.
        With close to 65,000 servicemen, Uzbekistan possesses the largest armed forces in Central Asia. The military structure is largely inherited from the Turkestan Military District of the Soviet Army, although it is going through a reform to be based mainly on motorized infantry with some light and special forces[citation needed]. The Uzbek Armed Forces' equipment is not modern, and training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate for its new mission of territorial security[citation needed].

        The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a non-nuclear state), and supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniye Island). The Government of Uzbekistan spends about 3.7% of GDP on the military but has received a growing infusion of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and other security assistance funds since 1998.

        Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., Uzbekistan approved the U.S. Central Command's request for access to an air base, the Karshi-Khanabad airfield, in southern Uzbekistan. However, Uzbekistan demanded that the U.S. withdraw from the airbases after the Andijan massacre and the U.S. reaction to this massacre. The last US troops left Uzbekistan in November 2005.

        On 23 June 2006, Uzbekistan became a full participant in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), but informed the CSTO to suspend its membership in June 2012.

        Foreign relations

        Main articles: Foreign
        Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzbekistan )
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