The Republic of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan (US: /ʊzˈbɛkɪstæn, -stɑːn/ (About this sound listen), UK: /ʊzˌbɛkɪˈstɑːn,
-ˈstæn/, Uzbek: Oʻzbekiston, pronounced [ozbekiˈstɒn], Russian: Узбекистан), officially also the
Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzbek: Oʻzbekiston Respublikasi/Ўзбекистон Республикаси, Russian: Республика
Узбекистан), is a doubly landlocked sovereign state in Central Asia. It is a secular, unitary
constitutional republic, comprising 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and a capital city.
Uzbekistan is bordered by five landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the
northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest.
What is now Uzbekistan was in ancient times part of the Iranian-speaking region of Transoxiana. The first
recorded settlers were Eastern Iranian nomads, known as Scythians, who founded kingdoms in Khwarezm
(8th–6th centuries BC), Bactria (8th–6th centuries BC), Sogdia (8th–6th centuries BC), Fergana
(3rd century BC – 6th century AD), and Margiana (3rd century BC – 6th century AD). The area was
incorporated into the Persian Empire and, after a period of Macedonian Greek rule, was ruled mostly
by Persian dynasties until the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, turning the majority of the population
towards Islam. During this period, cities such as Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara began to grow rich from
the Silk Road. The local Khwarezmian dynasty, and Central Asia as a whole, were decimated by the Mongol
invasion in the 13th century. After the Mongol Conquests, the area became increasingly dominated by
Turkic peoples. The city of Shahrisabz was the birthplace of the Turco-Mongol warlord Timur, also known
as one of Ghangis Khan's grandchildren, who in the 14th century established the Timurid Empire and was
proclaimed the Supreme Emir of Turan with his capital in Samarkand. The area was conquered by Uzbek
Shaybanids in the 16th century, moving the centre of power from Samarkand to Bukhara. The region was
split into three states: Khanate of Khiva, Khanate of Kokand, and Emirate of Bukhara. It was gradually
incorporated into the Russian Empire during the 19th century, with Tashkent becoming the political center
of Russian Turkestan. In 1924, after national delimitation, the constituent republic of the Soviet Union
known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it
declared independence as the Republic of Uzbekistan on August 31, 1991.
Uzbekistan has a diverse cultural heritage due to its storied history and strategic location. Its major
official language is Uzbek, a Turkic language written in the Latin alphabet and spoken natively by
approximately 85% of the population. Russian has widespread use as a governmental language; it is the
most widely taught second language. Uzbeks constitute 81% of the population, followed by Russians (5.4%),
Tajiks (4.0%), Kazakhs (3.0%), and others (6.5%). Muslims constitute 79% of the population while 5% of
the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, and 16% of the population follow other religions or
are non-religious. A majority of Uzbeks are non-denominational Muslims. Uzbekistan is a member of the
CIS, OSCE, UN, and the SCO. While officially a democratic republic, by 2008 non-governmental human
rights organizations defined Uzbekistan as "an authoritarian state with limited civil rights".
Following the death of Islam Karimov in 2016, the second president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, started a new
course, which was described as a A Quiet Revolution and Revolution from Above. He stated he intended to
abolish cotton slavery, systematic use of child labour, exit visas, to introduce a tax reform,
create four new free economic zones, as well as amnestied some political prisoners. The relations with
neighboring countries of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan drastically improved. However, the
Amnesty International report on human rights in the country for 2017/2018 described continued repressive
measures, including forced labour in cotton harvesting, and restrictions on movements of 'freed'
The Uzbek economy is in a gradual transition to the market economy, with foreign trade policy being
based on import substitution. In September 2017, the country's currency became fully convertible in the
market rates. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. The country also operates the largest
open-pit gold mine in the world. With the gigantic power-generation facilities of the Soviet era and an
ample supply of natural gas, Uzbekistan has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia.
Renewable energy constitutes more than 23% of the country's energy sector, with hydroelectricity and
solar energy having 21.4% and 2% respectively.