A west central Asian country settled in ancient times, Uzbekistan was conquered by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane and finally overrun by Uzbek peoples in the early 16th century. Russia conquered the area in the 19th century. Split into various administrative territories after 1917, it was consolidated as a constituent republic of the USSR in 1924. Uzbekistan declared its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tashkent is the capital and the largest city.


Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia and occupies 447,400 square kilometers. The territory is landlocked and bounded to the north by Kazakhstan, to the east and southeast by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to the west by Turkmenistan, and to the south by Afghanistan. Uzbekistan possesses some of the most favorable natural and geographic conditions in Central Asian region. The territory of Uzbekistan is a mixture of plain and mountainous lands. The greatest part of the territory (about four fifth) is covered by plains. One of the main plains is the Turan plain. In the east and northeast are situated the spurs of Tyan-Shan and Pamir with the highest point of the country at 4643 meters above the sea level. To the north and the central part of the territory of Uzbekistan is situated is one of the largest deserts in the world - Kyzylkoum. Along with Liechtenstein, Uzbekistan is the only other doubly landlocked country in the world. The climate of Uzbekistan is sharply continental, characterized by high amplitude of day and night, summer and winter temperatures.


The territory of Uzbekistan was populated in the second millennium BC. There are findings of early human tools and monuments in Ferghana, Tashkent, Bukkhara, Khorezm (Khwarezm, Chorasmia), Samarkand regions. The first civilizations to appear in Uzbekistan were Sogdiana, Bactria and Khwarezm (Chorasmia). Territories of these states became a part of the Persian Achaemenid empire in the 6th century, hence becoming part of Persia for centuries. In fact, the Persian culture is preserved in Uzbekistan even up to today, as is evident in many areas where Persian is spoken. Alexander the Great conquered Sogdiana and Bactria in 327 BC. Its territory was overrun by Genghis Khan and his Mongol tribes in 1220.
In the 1300s, Timur (1336 - 1405), known in the west as Tamerlane, overpowered the Mongols and built an empire. In his military campaigns Tamerlane reached as far as the Middle East. He defeated Ottoman Emperor Bayezid I and captured Europe from Turkish conquest. Tamerlane sought to build a capital of his empire in Samarkand (largely a Tajik-populated city). The imagery of Tamerlane would be used later in history to construct an Uzbek national identity. In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to expand, and spread into Central Asia.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Central Asia was firmly in the hands of Russia and despite some early resistance to Bolsheviks, Uzbekistan and the rest of Central Asia became a part of the Soviet Union. After independence some two million Russians left the country for Russia.


Uzbekistan is a country with GNI per capita of USD 460 and PPP equivalent of USD 1,860. Economic production is concentrated in commodities. Uzbekistan is now the world's fourth-largest producer and the world's second-largest exporter of cotton and the seventh world major producer of gold. It is also a regionally significant producer of natural gas, coal, copper, oil, silver, and uranium. Agriculture contributes about 37% of GDP, employing 44% of the labour force. Unemployment and underemployment are estimated to be at least 20%. Much of Uzbekistan’s GDP growth comes from favourable prices for certain key exports, especially cotton, gold, and, increasingly, gas, but the revenues from these commodities are distributed among a very small circle of the ruling elite, with little or no benefit for the populace at large.
Following independence in 1991, the government sought to prop up its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. While aware of the need to improve the investment climate, the government still sponsors measures that often increase, not decrease, its control over business decisions. A sharp increase in the inequality of income distribution has hurt the lower ranks of society since independence. 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 tightening of borders have lessened the effects of convertibility and have also led to some shortages that have further stifled economic activity. The Central Bank often delays or restricts convertibility, especially for consumer goods. Potential investment by Russia and China in Uzbekistan's gas and oil industry would increase economic growth prospects. In November 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbekistan President Karimov signed an "alliance" treaty, which included provisions for economic and business cooperation. Russian businesses have shown increased interest in Uzbekistan, especially in mining, telecom, and oil and gas. In December 2005, the Russians opened a "Trade House" to support and develop Russian-Uzbek business and economic ties.


The Uzbeks, a Turkic-speaking group, who have a Persian culture and are mostly Sunni Muslims, make up 80% of the population. Russians (who live mostly in the cities) constitute more than 5%, and there are Tajik, Kazakh, and Tatar minorities. Under a 1992 constitution, Uzbekistan has an elected 250-member parliament, with an elected president as head of state; a referendum in 2002 extended the president's term to 7 years.

President Islam Karimov
Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev
Quick Facts

Official name

Republic of Uzbekistan


Central Asia, north of Afghanistan




27,307,134 (July 2006 est.)


Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)


Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%


Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%

National Day

Independence Day, September 1 (1991 from the Soviet Union)



Head of State

President Islam Karimov

Head of government

Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev


Ministers appointed by the president with approval of the Supreme Assembly


Uzbekistani soum (UZS)/ I USD =1,020 soums

Natural Resources

Natural gas, lignite, coal, gold, copper, tungsten, bismuth, and oil.


Cotton, vegetables, fruits, grain; livestock


Textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, gold, petroleum, natural gas, chemicals

Major trading partners
Russia , China, Ukraine, Turkey, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, South Korea, Germany, Kazakhstan

Khwarazm city
Khwarazm or Khorezm, an ancient and medieval state of central Asia, situated in and around the basin of the lower Amu Darya River, and now a region of NW Uzbekistan, is one of the oldest centers of civilization in central Asia. It was a part of the Achaemenid empire of Cyrus the Great in the 6 BC and became independent in the 4 BC. It was later inhabited by Indians who adhered to Zoroastrianism and used Aramaic script. Khwarazm was conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century and was converted to Islam. In 995 the country was united under the emirs of N Khwarazm, whose capital Urgench became a major seat of Arabic learning. The capital was a center of agriculture and trade and the residence of the ruling shahs. In the late 12th century, Khwarazm gained independence from the Seljuk Turks. It expanded its rule and at the height of its power in the early 13th century, from the Caspian Sea to Bukhara and Samarkand. It was conquered in 1221 by Jenghiz Khan. The development of caravan trade by the Mongols was profitable to Khwarazm. In the late 14th centur, Khwarazm, along with its vast irrigation system, was destroyed by Timur (Tamerlane). A century of struggle over Khwarazm between the Timurids, the descendants of Timur, and the Golden Horde was followed by the Uzbek conquest in the early 16th century. Khwarazm became an independent Uzbek state and was known as the khanate of Khiva after Khiva became the capital. There are ruins of ancient forts, one of which dates back to the 6th century BC. Great scientists such as Al-Khorezmi and Berunni lived and worked in this city. It is also the place of the first Academy of Sciences in the East

Bukhara miri arab madrassa

Capital, Tashkent

Kalta Minor Minaret
Covered with glazed bricks and majolica Minaret Kalta-Minor used to be the largest minaret in Central Asia

Khiva Kukhna ark

Bukhara kalyan minaret