About Uzbekistan

Area: 447,400 sq. km., slightly larger than California.
Major cities: Capital–Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million);
Samarkand (600,000); Namangan (378,000); Bukhara (350,000).
Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.
Climate: Mid-latitude desert; long, hot summers, mild winters.

Nationality: Uzbek.
Population (July 2011 est.): 28.128 million.
Ethnic groups (1996 est.): Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5%.
Religions: Muslim 88% (mostly Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.
Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.
Education: Literacy–99.3% (total population).
Health (2011 est.): Life expectancy–69.48 years men; 75.71 years women.
Work force (15.28 million): Agricultural and forestry–28.2%; industry–33.9%; services–37.9%. (Source: World Development
Indicators Database, April 2009).

Type: Republic. Independence: September 1, 1991. Constitution: December 8, 1992. Branches: Executive–president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative–bicameral Supreme Assembly or Oliy Majlis consists of an Upper House or Senate (100 seats; 84 members are elected by regional governing councils to serve 5-year terms and 16 are appointed by the president) and a Lower House or Legislative Chamber (150 seats; elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms). Judiciary–Supreme Court, constitutional court, economic court. Administrative subdivisions (viloyatlar): 12, plus Republic of Karakalpakstan and city of Tashkent.

Political parties and leaders: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party–established February 18, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in the Legislative Chamber of the parliament 18, Ismail Saifnazarov, first secretary; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Partiya) or MTP–established on June 3, 1995 in Tashkent, and merged with the National Democratic Party “Fidokorlar” (“Selfless men”) on June 20, 2008, number of seats in the Legislative Chamber of the parliament 31, Ulugbek Muhammadiev, chairman; People’s Democratic Party or PDPU (Uzbekiston Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party)–established November 1, 1991 in Tashkent, number of seats in the Legislative Chamber of the parliament 32, Ulugbek Vafoev, first secretary; Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan–established December 3, 2003, number of seats in the Legislative Chamber of the parliament 52, Muhammadyusuf Teshaboev, chairman; Ecological (“Green”) Movement–established 2009 in Tashkent (15 seats, as reserved according to the constitution), Boriy Alixonov, chairman.

Other political or pressure groups and leaders: Birlik (Unity) Movement–Abdurakhim PULATOV, chairman; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party–Mohammad SOLIH, chairman (banned Dec. 1992); party of Agrarians and Entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan–Marat ZAHIDOV, chairman; Ozod Dehkon (Free Farmers) Party–Nigara KHIDOYATOVA, general secretary; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan–Abdujalil Boymatov, chairman; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan–Ismoil ODILOV, chairman; Ezgulik–Vasilya INOYATOVA, chairwoman. Suffrage: Universal at age 18, unless imprisoned or certified as insane. Defense: Manpower fit for military service–males age 16-49 fit for military service: 6,566,118 (2010 est.), females age 16-49 fit for military service: 6,745,818 (2010 est.); 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 1-year conscript service obligation.

(Note: Government of Uzbekistan statistics are not consistently reliable. This report relies on unofficial estimates and states clearly when a figure is an estimate. Estimates by international financial institutions also use Government of Uzbekistan statistics.) GDP: 2011 real GDP growth was 8.3%, according to Government of Uzbekistan statistics. Actual GDP growth was likely lower; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate is 7.1%. Inflation: The IMF estimated that consumer price inflation reached 13.1% in 2011, though actual inflation was likely higher, over 20%. Per capita GDP: Estimated per capita GDP in 2010 was $1,336; GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis was $3,012. Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, gold, coal, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, molybdenum. Natural gas production in 2010 was 60.1 billion cubic meters (bcm); oil production was 3.7 million tons. Agriculture: Products–cotton, fourth-largest producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock. The agricultural production growth rate in 2011 was 6.6%.

Industry: Types–textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas, automobiles, chemical. The industrial production growth rate in 2011 was 6.3%; electricity production was 51 billion kilowatt hours. Budget (2012 projections): Revenues–$11.5 billion; expenditure and net lending–$12 billion. Trade: Exports (2009)–largest contribution from energy products, cotton, gold, mineral fertilizers, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, food products, services, and automobiles. Imports (2009)–largest imports were machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Major trade partners (2010)–Russia 29.2%, China 9.5%, Kazakhstan 8.3%, South Korea 7.4%, Turkey 4.4%. External debt (total gross, 2011 est.): $7.7 billion.

Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s most populous country. Its 28 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are nearly half the region’s total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the least developed republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. Uzbek is the predominant ethnic group. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, and Tatar 1.5%. The nation is approximately 88% Sunni Muslim. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-to-day government and business use.

The educational system has achieved 99% literacy, and the mean amount of schooling for men is 12 years and for women is 11 years. However, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated and poorly kept. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency. Uzbekistan continues to enjoy a highly educated and skilled labor force.

Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road–Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva–are located in Uzbekistan, and many well-known conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the 8th century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Genghis Khan and his Mongols overran its territory in 1220.

In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan’s most noted tourist sites date from the Timurid dynasty. Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates.

Russia placed the rest of Central Asia 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 Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories including the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Ferghana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton growing and natural resource potential.

The extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than a third of its original volume, making this one of the world’s worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991.