20. The Republic of Uzbekistan is a State situated in Central Asia between the two largest rivers of the region, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya. It borders Kazakhstan to the north and north-east, Turkmenistan to the south-west, Afghanistan to the south, Tajikistan to the south-east and Kyrgyzstan to the north-east. Approximately four fifths of Uzbekistan is made up of desert plains, and the eastern and south-eastern regions of the country include hills and foothills of the Tien Shan and the Gissar range. Within the Turan Plate lie the Ustyurt plateau, the Amu Darya delta on the southern shore of the Aral Sea and the enormous Kyzylkum desert. Uzbekistan’s climate is extreme continental.
21. Uzbekistan has a total area of 447,400 square kilometers. The Republic comprises the Republic of Karakalpakstan, 12 viloyats (oblasts) and the city of Tashkent, 121 towns and 163 rural rayons. It has a population of 26 million, and its capital is the city of Tashkent.
Historical background 22. The first bits of historical information about the population of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan, date to the middle of the first millennium before Christ [BC]. In the sixth century BC, Central Asia was under the rule of the Persian dynasty of Achaemenid; in the fourth century BC, Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid dynasty. After that, all or part of Uzbekistan belonged to a series of large ancient States: to the successors of Alexander the Great, the Seleucids (fourth and third centuries BC); the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (third and second centuries BC); and the powerful middle-India Kushan Kingdom (first century BC to fourth century AD).
23. The formation of the Uzbek ethos, which has Turkic roots and is a titular nation, was influenced by various cultures and civilizations. The historical development of the Uzbeks took place in conditions of close contact and intermingling with Iranian peoples and culture.
24. In the eighth century, Central Asia, including the area occupied by Uzbekistan, was conquered by Arabs and was added to the possessions of the Arab Caliphate. The conquest was accompanied by the introduction of Islam. The new religion spread rapidly among the populace, although the people held on to some of Zoroastroism and certain other religions (Buddhism, Manichaeism, Nestorian Christianity). The spread of Islam resulted in that region becoming an area of Islamic civilization.
25. In the late ninth century, the reign of the Arabs was replaced by the rule of local dynasties. In the ninth through twelfth centuries, the states of the Samanids, the Karakhanids and the Seldzhukids existed in the territory of Uzbekistan..
26. In the early thirteenth century, Central Asia (along with Azerbaijan and Iran) belonged for a short period of time to the State of the Shahs of Khorezm, which ceased to exist after the attack of the hordes of Genghis Khan. Soon after, power shifted to the dynasty of the Temurids. That was the time of peak economic development and the flowering of the culture (the second half of the fourteenth century and the fifteenth century). Samarkand was the capital of the State of Amir Temur. The State of the Temurids in the Middle Ages consolidated an enormous territory, having created a unified legal and economic space. That epoch and the absolute monarchy that came about at the time may be regarded as the basis for the formation of the nationhood of Uzbekistan.
27. At the transition from the fifteenth century to the sixteenth century, the State of the Temurids was replaced by the State of the Shaybanids, who ruled through the sixteenth century. For nearly four centuries, from the sixteenth to the conquest of Central Asia by Russia in the second half of the nineteenth century, the territory of Uzbekistan was home to three Uzbek khanates: the Bukhara Khanate (an emirate beginning in the mid-eighteenth century), the Khivin Khanate and the Kokand Khanate.
28. In the second half of the nineteenth century, a large part of Central Asia, including modern Uzbekistan, was annexed to Russia. The Governorate-General of Turkestan was created.
29. After the revolution in Russia, in 1920, the Bukhara and Khorezm people’s soviet republics were formed..
30. In 1924, the national-state delimitation of Central Asia was effected. The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was formed on 27 October 1924. In the national delimitation, territories populated primarily by Uzbeks were included in the Uzbek SSR. The republic housed 82 per cent of the total number of Uzbeks living in the USSR; they constituted 76% of the total population of the newly formed republic. Uzbekistan was part of the USSR for nearly 70 years, and the features of its demographic and socio-economic development were influenced by the processes characteristic of the Soviet Union.
31. The date 1 September 1991 represented a crucial moment in the history of the country, when Uzbekistan declared its independent statehood. On 31 August 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Uzbekistan had adopted a resolution on the declaration of the independent statehood of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as the Constitutional law on the principles of the independent statehood of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Population 32. Most of the population (more than 21 million) consists of Uzbeks, a Turkic-speaking people with an ancient, distinctive culture. Also living in the republic are a considerable number of representatives of other peoples: Kazakhs, Tajiks, Karakalpaks, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Russians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Armenians, Koreans, Uighurs, etc.
33. In anthropological terms, Uzbeks are a people of mixed origin, including both Europeid and Mongoloid components. Anthropologists classify Uzbeks as southern Europeids of the Central Asian Mesopotamian type. The Uzbek population of cities and ancient agricultural oases has a comparatively small mixture of Mongoloid features.
34. The State language in the Republic of Uzbekistan is the Uzbek language. The literary Uzbek language belongs to the Karluk group of the western branch of Turkic languages. One of the characteristic features of the Uzbek language is its profound historical link to the Tajik language. The Karakalpak language belongs to the Kipchak group of Turkic languages.
35. In terms of religious affiliation, believers among Uzbeks and Karakalpaks are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafite branch (school of law). Typical of Islam in Uzbekistan, as in all of Central Asia, is the merging of orthodox Islam and Islamic mysticism, or Sufism, as well as the presence of pre-Islamic beliefs.