Republic of Uzbekistan
Oʻzbekiston Respublikasi / Ўзбекистон Республикаси (Uzbek)
|Anthem: Oʻzbekiston Respublikasining Davlat Madhiyasi / Ўзбекистон Республикасининг Давлат Мадҳияси|
"State Anthem of the Republic of Uzbekistan"
and largest city
41°19′N 69°16′E / 41.317°N 69.267°E / 41.317; 69.267
|Recognised regional languages||Karakalpaka|
|Common languages||Uzbek • Russian|
|Spoken languages||Karakalpak • Tajik • Koryo-mar • Turkmen • Ukrainian • Azerbaijani • Uyghur • Central Asian Arabic • Bukhori and others|
|Ethnic groups |
|Government||Unitary dominant-party presidential republic|
• Uzbek SSR established after national delimitation
|27 October 1924|
• Formally recognised
|31 August 1991|
|448,978 km2 (173,351 sq mi) (56th)|
• Water (%)
• 2022 estimate
|74.1/km2 (191.9/sq mi) (128th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2022 estimate|
|$420 billion (58th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2022 estimate|
|$93 billion (75th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2013)|| 36.7|
|HDI (2021)|| 0.727|
high · 101th
|Currency||Uzbek sum (UZS)|
|Time zone||UTC+5 (UZT)|
|Date format||dd/mm yyyyc|
|ISO 3166 code||UZ|
Uzbekistan (UK: /ʊzˌbɛkɪˈstɑːn, ʌz-, -ˈstæn/, US: /ʊzˈbɛkɪstæn, -stɑːn/; Uzbek: Oʻzbekiston, Ўзбекистон, pronounced [ozbekiˈstɒn]; Russian: Узбекистан), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzbek: Oʻzbekiston Respublikasi, Ўзбекистон Республикаси), is a double-landlocked country located in Central Asia. It is surrounded by 5 landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest. Its capital is Tashkent. Uzbekistan is a member of the Organization of Turkic States. The Uzbek language is the majority-spoken language in Uzbekistan, while Russian is spoken and understood throughout the country. Tajik is spoken as a minority language, predominantly in Samarkand and Bukhara. Islam is the predominant religion, most Uzbeks being Sunni Muslims.
The first recorded settlers in what later is Uzbekistan were Eastern Iranian nomads, known as Scythians, who founded kingdoms in Khwarazm, Bactria, and Sogdia in the 8th–6th centuries BC, and Fergana and Margiana in the 3rd century BC – 6th century AD. The area was incorporated into the Iranian Achaemenid Empire and, after a period of Macedonian rule, was ruled by the Iranian Parthian Empire and later by the Sasanian Empire, until the Muslim conquest of Persia in the seventh century. The early Muslim conquests and the subsequent Samanid Empire converted most of the people, including the local ruling classes, into adherents of Islam. During this period, cities such as Samarkand, Khiva, and Bukhara began to grow from the Silk Road, and became a center of the Islamic Golden Age. The local Khwarazmian dynasty was destroyed by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century, leading to a dominance by Turkic peoples. Timurid Empire's capital Samarkand became a centre of science under the rule of Ulugh Beg, giving birth to the Timurid Renaissance. The territories of the Timurid dynasty were conquered by Shaybanids in the 16th century, moving the centre of power to Bukhara. The region was split into 3 states: the Khanate of Khiva, Khanate of Kokand, and Emirate of Bukhara. All of Central Asia was gradually incorporated into the Russian Empire during the 19th century, with Tashkent becoming the political center of Russian Turkestan. In 1924, national delimitation created the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic as a republic of the Soviet Union. Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it declared independence as the Republic of Uzbekistan on 31 August 1991.
Uzbekistan is a secular state, with a presidential constitutional government in place. It comprises 12 regions (vilayats), Tashkent City, and 1 autonomous republic, Karakalpakstan. While non-governmental human rights organisations have defined Uzbekistan as "an authoritarian state with limited civil rights", reforms under second president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, have been made following the death of the first president, Islam Karimov. Owing to these reforms, relations with the neighbouring countries of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan have improved. A United Nations report of 2020 found progress toward achieving UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
The economy is in a gradual transition to the market economy, with foreign trade policy being based on import substitution. In September 2017, the currency became fully convertible at market rates. Uzbekistan is a producer and exporter of cotton. With power-generation facilities from the Soviet era and a supply of natural gas, Uzbekistan has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia. From 2018 to 2021, the republic received a BB- sovereign credit rating by both Standard and Poor (S&P) and Fitch Ratings. The Brookings Institution described Uzbekistan as having large liquid assets, high economic growth, low public debt, and a low GDP per capita. Uzbekistan is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The name "Uzbegistán" appears in the 16th century Tarikh-i Rashidi.
3 views exist as to the adjective accompanying -stan (in the family of Indo-Iranian languages: "place of"):
- "free", "independent" or "own master/leader" requiring an amalgamation of uz (Turkic: "own"), bek ("master" or "leader")
- eponymously named after Oghuz Khagan, also known as Oghuz Beg
- A contraction of Uğuz, earlier Oğuz, that is, Oghuz (tribe), amalgamated with bek "oguz-leader".
The first people known to have inhabited Central Asia were Scythians who came from the northern grasslands of what later is Uzbekistan, sometime in the first millennium BC; when these nomads settled in the region they built an irrigation system along the rivers. At this time, cities such as Bukhoro (Bukhara) and Samarqand (Samarkand) emerged as centres of government. By the fifth century BC, the Bactrian, Sogdian, and Tokharian states dominated the region.
As East Asia began to develop its silk trade with the West, Persian cities took advantage of this commerce by becoming centres of trade. Using a network of cities and rural settlements in the province of Transoxiana, and further east in what later is Xinjiang, the Sogdian intermediaries became the wealthiest of these Iranian merchants. As a result of this trade on what became known as the Silk Route, Bukhara and Samarkand eventually became more wealthy cities, and at times Transoxiana (Mawarannahr) was became influential Persian provinces of antiquity.
In the 9th and 10th centuries, Transoxiana was brought into the Samanid State. Later, it saw the incursion of the Turkic-ruled Karakhanids, the Seljuks (Sultan Sanjar) and Kara-Khitans.
The Mongol conquest under Genghis Khan during the 13th century brought 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 destruction, which saw parts of Khwarezmia being razed.
Following the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, their empire was divided among his 4 sons and the members of their families. For generations, there was an orderly succession, and control of most of Transoxiana stayed in the hands of the direct descendants of Chagatai Khan, the second son of Genghis Khan. An orderly succession, prosperity, and internal peace prevailed in the Chaghatai lands, and as a whole, the Mongol Empire remained a united kingdom, the Golden Horde.
After the decline of the Golden Horde, Khwarezm was ruled by the Sufi Dynasty until Timur's conquest of it in 1388.
In the 14th century, as the empire began to break up into its constituent parts, the peace which existed in the Chaghatai territory was disrupted as the princes of tribal groups competed for influence. 1 tribal chieftain, Timur (Tamerlane), emerged from these struggles in the 1380s as the dominant force in Transoxiana. Timur became the de facto ruler of Transoxiana and he proceeded to conquer all of western Central Asia, Iran, the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and the southern steppe region north of the Aral Sea. They invaded Russia before they died during an invasion of China in 1405. Their conquests were accompanied by genocidal massacres in the cities which they occupied. Timur initiated the last flowering of Transoxiana by gathering together artisans and scholars from the lands they had conquered into their capital, Samarkand. During their reign and the reigns of their immediate descendants, a range of religious and palatial constructions was undertaken in Samarkand and other population centers. Amir Timur initiated an exchange of medical discoveries and patronised physicians, scientists and artists from the neighbouring regions such as India; 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. The Timurid state split in half after the death of Timur. The 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 Emirate of Bukhara was established at this time.
In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to expand and spread into Central Asia. There were 210,306 Russians living in 1912. By the beginning of 1920, Central Asia was in the hands of Russia and, with some resistance to the Bolsheviks, Uzbekistan and the rest of 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 20 June 1990, Uzbekistan declared its state sovereignty. On 31 August 1991, Uzbekistan declared its independence after the failed coup attempt in Moscow. 1 September was proclaimed National Independence Day. The Soviet Union was dissolved on 26 December of that year. Islam Karimov, previously first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan since 1989, was elected president of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, they we're elected president of Uzbekistan. Karimov died in September 2016 and was replaced by their Prime Minister, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, on 14 December of the same year. On 6 November 2021, Mirziyoyev was sworn into his second term in office, after gaining a victory in presidential election.
Uzbekistan has an area of 448,978 square kilometres (173,351 sq mi). It is the 56th largest country in the world by area and the 40th by population. Among the CIS countries, it is the fourth largest by area and the second 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 Aralkum Desert (former Aral Sea) to the north and northwest, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to the southwest, Tajikistan to the southeast, and Kyrgyzstan to the northeast, Uzbekistan is the only Central Asian state to border all the other four. Uzbekistan shares a border (less than 150 km or 93 mi) with Afghanistan to the south.
Uzbekistan is 1 of 2 doubly landlocked countries in the world. 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, and formerly in the Aral Sea, which has largely desiccated in an environmental disaster. The rest is the Kyzylkum Desert and mountains.
The highest point is Khazret Sultan at 4,643 metres (15,233 ft) above sea level, in the southern part of the Gissar Range in the Surxondaryo Region on the border with Tajikistan, northwest of Dushanbe (formerly called Peak of the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party).
The climate is continental, with precipitation expected annually (100–200 millimetres, 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).
Uzbekistan is home to 6 terrestrial ecoregions: Alai-Western Tian Shan steppe, Gissaro-Alai open woodlands, Badghyz and Karabil semi-desert, Central Asian northern desert, Central Asian riparian woodlands, and Central Asian southern desert.
Decades of Soviet policies in pursuit of greater cotton production have resulted in a 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 was once the fourth-largest inland sea on Earth, humidifying the surrounding air and irrigating the arid land. Since the 1960s, when the overuse of the Aral Sea water began, it has shrunk to about 10% of its former area and divided into parts, with only the southern part of the western lobe of the South Aral Sea remaining permanently in Uzbekistan. Most of the water was and continues to be used for the irrigation of cotton fields, a crop requiring an amount of water to grow.
Due to the Aral Sea loss, salinity and contamination of the soil with heavy elements are included in Karakalpakstan, the region 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 use and contributes to soil salinity. Use of pesticides and fertilisers for cotton growing further aggravates soil contamination.
According to UNDP (United Nations Development Program), climate risk management should consider its ecological safety.
Oil and gas deposits have been discovered in the south.
Uzbekistan has been home to seismic activity, as evidenced by the 1902 Andijan earthquake, 2011 Fergana Valley earthquake, and 1966 Tashkent earthquake.
A dam collapse at Sardoba reservoir in May 2020 flooded farmland and villages. The devastation extended into areas inside neighbouring Kazakhstan.
This section may be confusing or unclear to readers. In particular, the last paragraph seems to lack preceding context. (August 2018)
Following Islam Karimov's death on 2 September 2016, the Oliy Majlis appointed Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev as interim president. While the chairman of the Senate, Nigmatilla Yuldashev, was constitutionally designated as Karimov's successor, Yuldashev proposed that Mirziyoyev take the post of the interim president instead in light of Mirziyoyev's "many years of experience". Mirziyoyev was subsequently elected as the country's second president in the December 2016 presidential election, winning 88.6% of the vote, and was sworn in on 14 December. Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov replaced him as prime minister.
Mirziyoyev removed most of Karimov's officials and urged the government to employ "new, young people who love their country." After a year in office, Mirziyoyev moved away from some of their predecessor's policies. They visited all the Uzbek regions and some cities to get acquainted with the implementation of the projects and reforms which they ordered. Analysts and Western media compared their rule with Chinese Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping or Soviet Communist Party general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. Their rule has been quoted as being an "Uzbek Spring". Shavkat Mirziyoyev is considered to be pursuing a less autocratic path by increasing co-operation with human rights NGOs, scheduling Soviet-style exit visas to be abolished in 2019, and reducing sentences for certain misdemeanor offences.
The Amnesty International report on the country for 2017–2018 found some remnant repressive measures and lack of rule of law in eradicating modern slavery. In February 2020, the United Nations announced that Uzbekistan made "major progress" on stamping out forced labour in its cotton harvest as 94% of pickers worked voluntarily.
The government has restricted American military use of the airbase at Karshi-Khanabad for air operations in neighbouring Afghanistan. Uzbekistan was an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism.
In July 2005, the government of Uzbekistan ordered the United States to vacate an airbase in Karshi-Kanabad (near Uzbekistan's border with Afghanistan) within 180 days. Karimov had offered use of the base to the U.S. after 9/11. It is believed by some Uzbeks that the protests in Andijan were brought about by the UK and U.S. influences in the area of Andijan.
In December 1994 Uzbekistan applied for the World Trade Organization membership and received an observer status to start the accession process. The Working Party on the Accession of Uzbekistan to the WTO held its fourth meeting on 7 July 2020 — almost 15 years after its last formal meeting.
In September 2006, UNESCO presented Islam Karimov an award for Uzbekistan's preservation of its culture and traditions.
Non-governmental human rights organisations, such as IHF, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and United States Department of State and Council of the European Union, define Uzbekistan as "an authoritarian state with limited civil rights" and express concern about "wide-scale violation of virtually all basic human rights". According to the reports, the most widespread violations are torture, arbitrary arrests, and restrictions of freedoms: of religion, of speech and press, of free association and assembly. It has been reported that forced sterilisation of rural Uzbek women has been sanctioned by the government. The reports maintain that the violations are most often committed against members of religious organisations, independent journalists, human rights activists and political activists, including members of the banned opposition parties. As of 2015, reports on violations on human rights indicated that violations were still going on without any improvement. In the 2018 Freedom in the World report, Uzbekistan was 1 of the 11 worst countries for Political Rights and Civil Liberties.
The 2005 civil unrest in Uzbekistan, which resulted in hundred people being killed, is viewed as a landmark event in the history of human rights abuse in Uzbekistan. Concern has been expressed and requests for an independent investigation of the events has been made by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
The government is accused of unlawful termination of human life and of denying its citizens freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The government rebuffs the accusations, maintaining that it merely conducted an anti-terrorist operation, exercising only necessary force. 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. Male homosexuality is illegal. Punishment ranges from a fine to 3 years in prison.
There are an estimated 1.2 million modern slaves, most work in the cotton industry. The government allegedly forces state employees to pick cotton in the autumn months. World Bank loans have been connected to projects that use child labour and forced labour practices in the cotton industry.
Uzbekistan is divided into 12 regions (viloyatlar, singular viloyat, compound noun viloyati e.g., Toshkent viloyati, Samarqand viloyati, etc.), 1 autonomous republic (respublika, compound noun respublikasi e.g. Qoraqalpogʻiston Muxtor Respublikasi, Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic, etc.), and 1 independent city (shahar, compound noun shahri, e.g., Toshkent shahri). Names are given below in Uzbek, Russian, and Karakalpak languages when applicable, while variations of the transliterations of each name exist.
Uzbek: Андижон вилояти/Andijon Viloyati
Uzbek: Бухоро вилояти/Buxoro Viloyati
Uzbek: Фарғона вилояти/Fargʻona Viloyati
Uzbek: Жиззах вилояти/Jizzax Viloyati
|Republic of Karakalpakstan
Karakalpak: Қарақалпақстан Республикасы/Qaraqalpaqstan Respublikasiʻ
Uzbek: Қорақалпоғистон Республикаси/Qoraqalpogʻiston Respublikasi
Uzbek: Қашқадарё вилояти/Qashqadaryo Viloyati
Uzbek: Хоразм вилояти/Xorazm Viloyati
Uzbek: Наманган вилояти/Namangan Viloyati
Uzbek: Навоий вилояти/Navoiy Viloyati
Uzbek: Самарқанд вилояти/Samarqand Viloyati
Uzbek: Сурхондарё вилояти/Surxondaryo Viloyati
Uzbek: Сирдарё вилояти/Sirdaryo Viloyati
Uzbek: Тошкент вилояти/Toshkent Viloyati
The regions are further divided into districts (tuman).
Most populous cities
Largest cities or towns in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan mines 80 tons of gold annually, 7th in the world. Its copper deposits rank 10th in the world and its uranium deposits 12th. Uranium production ranks 7th globally. The Uzbek national gas company, Uzbekneftegaz, ranks 11th in the world in natural gas production with an annual output of 60 to 70 billion cubic metres (2.1–2.5 trillion cubic feet). The country has untapped reserves of oil and gas: there are 194 deposits of hydrocarbons, including 98 condensate and natural gas deposits and 96 gas condensate deposits.
Uzbekistan improved in the 2020 Ease of Doing Business ranking by the World Bank.
Along with 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. It has shown 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 varied, reaching almost 40% in 2010 and less than 20% in 2019.
Uzbekistan has a GNI per capita of US$2,020 in current dollars in 2018, giving a PPP equivalent of US$7,230. Economic production is concentrated in commodities. In 2011, Uzbekistan was the world's 7th-largest producer and 5th-largest exporter of cotton and the 7th-largest world producer of gold. It is a producer of natural gas, coal, copper, oil, silver and uranium.
Agriculture employs 27% of labour force and contributes 17.4% of its GDP (2012 data). Cultivable land is 4.4 million hectares, or about 10% of Uzbekistan's total area. Underemployment is estimated to be at least 20%. Cotton production in Uzbekistan is related to the national economy. Uzbek cotton is used to make banknotes in South Korea. The country has a production of carrots. The use of child labour has led 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. As of 2019, Uzbekistan's economy is diversified and makes the country an economic partner for China.
The gradualist reform strategy has involved postponing 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 2010s corruption scandals involving government contracts and international companies, including TeliaSonera, have shown that businesses are particularly vulnerable to corruption when operating.
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".
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.
Uzbekistan experienced inflation of around 1000% per year after independence (1992–1994). Stabilisation efforts implemented with guidance from 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 reduction of inflation to 3.8% (while 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 and have remained in the single-digit range.
The government of Uzbekistan restricts foreign imports in ways, including high import duties. Excise taxes are applied in a discriminatory manner to protect locally produced goods, while the excises taxes were removed for foreign cars in 2020. 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 reports a reduction by a factor of 2 in the volume of consumer goods imported. A number of CIS countries are officially exempt from Uzbekistan import duties. Uzbekistan has a Bilateral Investment Treaty with 50 other countries.
Thanks in part to the recovery of world market prices of gold and cotton (the country's export commodities), expanded natural gas and some manufacturing exports, and increasing labour migrant transfers, the current account turned into a surplus (between 9% and 11% of GDP from 2003 to 2005). In 2018, foreign exchange reserves, including gold, totalled around US$25 billion.
Foreign exchange reserves amounted in 2010 to US$13 billion.
Uzbekistan is predicted to be 1 of the fastest-growing economies in the world (top 26) in future decades, according to a survey by global bank HSBC.
As of 2022, Uzbekistan has the largest population out of all the countries in Central Asia. Its 36 million citizens comprise nearly half the region's total population. 34.1% of people are younger than 14 (2008 estimate). According to official sources, Uzbeks comprise a majority (84.5%) of the total population. Other ethnic groups include Russians 2.1%, Tajiks 4.8%, Kazakhs 2.4%, Karakalpaks 2.2% and Tatars 0.5% as of 2021.
While official state numbers from Uzbekistan put the Tajik population number around 5%, the number is said to be an understatement and some Western scholars put the number up to 10%–20%.
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 1989 (about 0.5% of the population according to the 1989 census), and 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 2007.
Russians in Uzbekistan represented 5.5% of the total population in 1989. 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, emigration of ethnic Russians has taken place, mostly for economic reasons.
In the 1940s, the Crimean Tatars, along with the Volga Germans, Chechens, Pontic Greeks, Kumaks and other nationalities were deported to Central Asia. Approximately 100,000 Crimean Tatars continue to live. The number of Greeks in Tashkent has decreased from 35,000 in 1974 to about 12,000 in 2004. The majority of Meskhetian Turks left the country after the pogroms in the Fergana valley in June 1989.
Life expectancy in Uzbekistan is 66 years among men and 72 years among women.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a law in March 2020 that demands a national census take place at least every 10 years. In November 2020, the first census was cancelled due to concerns about coronavirus and the sheer size of the task. It has been postponed to 2023.
Uzbekistan is a secular country and Article 61 of its constitution states that religious organizations and associations shall be separated from the state and equal before law. The state shall not interfere in the activity of religious associations. Islam is the dominant religion, while Soviet power (1924–1991) discouraged the expression of religious belief, and it was repressed during its existence as a Soviet Republic. The CIA Factbook estimate that Muslims constitute 88% of the population, while 9% of the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, 3% other religions and non-religious. While a 2020 Pew Research Center projection stated that Uzbekistan's population is 97.1% Muslim and Russian Orthodox Christians comprised 2.0% of the population. An estimated 93,000 Jews lived in the country in the 1990s. There are about 7,400 Zoroastrians left, mostly in Tajik areas like Khojand.
Uzbeks have practised versions of Islam. The conflict of Islamic tradition with agendas of reform or secularisation throughout the 20th century has left a variety of Islamic practices in Central Asia.
The end of Soviet control in Uzbekistan in 1991 did not bring an immediate upsurge of religion-associated fundamentalism, as some had predicted, but rather a gradual re-acquaintance with the precepts of the Islamic faith and a gradual resurgence of Islam. Since 2015 there has been an increase in Islamist activity, with organisations such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan declaring allegiance to ISIL and contributing fighters abroad.
During the rule of Tamerlane in the 14th century, Jews contributed to their efforts to rebuild Samarkand, and a Jewish centre was established there. After the area came under Russian rule in 1868, Jews were granted equal rights with the local Muslim population. In that period some 50,000 Jews lived in Samarkand and 20,000 in Bukhara. After the Russian revolutions in 1917 and the establishment of the Soviet regime, Jewish religious life (as with all religions) became restricted. By 1935 only 1 synagogue out of 30 remained in Samarkand; underground Jewish community life continued during the Soviet era. By 1970 there were 103,000 Jews registered in the Uzbek SSR. Since the 1980s most of the Jews of Uzbekistan emigrated to Israel or to the United States of America. A community of thousand remained in the country as of 2013[update]: some 7,000 lived in Tashkent, 3,000 in Bukhara and 700 in Samarkand.
The Uzbek language is the only official national language and since 1992 is officially written in the Latin alphabet.
Before the 1920s, the written language of Uzbeks was called Turki (known to Western scholars as Chagatai) and used the Nastaʿlīq script. In 1926 the Latin alphabet was introduced and went through revisions throughout the 1930s. 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 (Uzbek alphabet), which was modified in 1996 and is being taught in schools since 2000. Educational establishments teach only the Latin notation. At the same time, the Cyrillic notation is used among the older generation.
The Russian language is used in fields. Digital information from the government is bilingual. The country is home to approximately 1 million native Russian speakers.
The Tajik language (a variety of Persian) is in the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand because of their population of ethnic Tajiks. It is found in pockets in Kasansay, Chust, Rishtan and Sokh in Ferghana Valley, in Burchmulla, Ahangaran, Baghistan in the middle Syr Darya district, and in, Shahrisabz, Qarshi, Kitab and the river valleys of Kafiringan and Chaganian, forming altogether, approximately 10–15% of the population.
There are no language requirements to attain citizenship.
In April 2020, a draft bill was introduced to regulate the exclusive use of the Uzbek language in government affairs. Under this legislation, government workers could incur fines for doing work in languages other than Uzbek. While unsuccessful, it was met with criticism by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova. In response, a group of Uzbek intellectuals signed an open letter arguing for the instatement of Russian as an official language alongside Uzbek, citing historical ties, the Russian-speaking population, and the usefulness of Russian in higher education, together with the argument that only Russian language opened the communication with the other peoples of the region and the literature of the outside world. The Cyrillic Uzbek alphabet is used, and 862 Russian-language schools are functioning in the country, compared to 1,100 in 1991, with the fact that the Russian minority there has decreased from 1,7 million in 1990 to nearly 700,000 in 2022. Uzbeks in urban areas, as of 2019, are feeling more comfortable to speak in Russian, while Uzbek is present in the agricultural regions. Uzbek did not manage to become a state language, and some blame the intelligentsia.
According to the official source report, as of 10 March 2008, the number of cellular phone users reached 7 million, up from 3.7 million on 1 July 2007. Mobile users in 2017 were more than 24 million. 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., later a subsidiary of the Nordic/Baltic telecommunication company TeliaSonera AB).
As of 2019, the estimated number of internet users was more than 22 million or about 52% of the population.
Internet Censorship exists 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 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 when government troops fired into crowds of protesters killing 187 according to official reports and estimates of hundred by unofficial and witness accounts.
Tashkent, the capital city, has a 4-line metro built in 1977, and expanded in 2001 after 10 years' independence from the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are the only 2 countries in Central Asia with a subway system. It is promoted as 1 of the cleanest systems in the former Soviet Union.
There are government-operated trams and buses running across the city. There are taxis, registered and unregistered. Uzbekistan has plants that produce cars. The car production is supported by the government and the Korean auto company Daewoo. 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 buses and lorries. Afterward, it signed an agreement with Isuzu Motors of Japan to produce Isuzu buses and lorries.
Train links connect towns and neighbouring former republics of the Soviet Union. After independence 2 train systems were established. Uzbekistan launched the first high-speed railway in Central Asia in September 2011 between Tashkent and Samarqand. A 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.
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.
Following 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. 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. In 2020, it was revealed that the former US base was contaminated with radioactive materials which may have resulted in higher cancer rates in US personnel stationed there. The government has denied this statement claiming that there has never been such a case.
On 23 June 2006, Uzbekistan became a full participant in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and informed CSTO to suspend its membership in June 2012.
Uzbekistan has a mix of ethnic groups and cultures, with the Uzbek being the majority group. In 1995 about 71% of population was Uzbek. The chief minority groups were Russians (8%), Tajiks (3–4.7%), Kazakhs (4%), Tatars (2.5%) and Karakalpaks (2%). It is said that non-Uzbeks decline as Russians and other minority groups leave and Uzbeks return from other parts of the former Soviet Union.
When Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991, there was concern that Muslim fundamentalism would spread across the region.
According to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, the population is 96.3% Muslim, around 54% identifies as non-denominational Muslim, 18% as Sunni and 1% as Shia. And around 11% say they belong to a Sufi order.
Central Asian classical music is called Shashmaqam, which arose in Bukhara in the 16th century when that city was a regional capital.  Shashmaqam is related to Azerbaijani Mugam and Uyghur muqam.
99.9% of adults above the age of 15 are able to read and write. Uzbekistan has encountered budget shortfalls in its education program. The education law of 1992 began the process of theoretical reform. Students from wealthier families routinely bribe teachers and school executives to achieve grades without attending school, or undertaking official examinations.
The cuisine is influenced by local agriculture in which there is a deal of grain farming. Mutton is a variety of meat and is part of dishes.
There are regional variations of the palov dish. The fat found near the sheep tail, qurdiuq, is used. In the past, the cooking of palov was reserved for men, and the Soviets allowed women to cook it as well. Since then, it seems, the older gender roles have been restored.
Other national dishes include shurpa, a soup made of pieces of fatty meat (including mutton), and fresh vegetables; norin and laghman, noodle-based dishes may be served as a soup or a main course.
Green tea is a beverage consumed throughout the day; teahouses (chaikhanas) are of cultural importance. Black tea is preferred in Tashkent, and green and black teas are consumed daily, without milk or sugar. Tea accompanies a meal, and is a drink of hospitality that is automatically offered: green or black to every guest. Ayran, a chilled yogurt drink, is in summer.
Uzbekistan has 14 wineries, including the Khovrenko Winery in Samarkand (established in 1927). A number of vineyards in and around Tashkent are growing, including Chateau Hamkor.
Ruslan Chagaev is a former professional boxer representing Uzbekistan in WBA. They won WBA champion title in 2007 after defeating Nikolai Valuev. Chagaev defended their title twice before losing it to Vladimir Klitschko in 2009. Another boxer Hasanboy Dusmatov, light flyweight champion at the 2016 Summer Olympics, won the Val Barker Trophy for the outstanding male boxer of Rio 2016 on 21 August 2016. On 21 December 2016 Dusmatov was honoured with the AIBA Boxer of the Year award at a 70-year anniversary event of AIBA.
Uzbekistan is the home of the International Kurash Association.
Humo Tashkent, a professional ice hockey team was established in 2019 with the aim of joining Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), a top level Eurasian league in the future. Humo will join the second-tier Supreme Hockey League (VHL) for the 2019–20 season. Humo play their games at the Humo Ice Dome which cost over €175 million in construction; both the team and arena derive their name from the mythical Huma bird, a symbol of happiness and freedom. Uzbekistan Hockey Federation (UHF) began preparation for forming national ice hockey team in joining IIHF competitions.
Uzbekistan has its own Tennis Federation called the "UTF" (Uzbekistan Tennis Federation), created in 2002. Uzbekistan hosts an International WTA tennis tournament, the "Tashkent Open", held in Uzbekistan's capital city. This tournament has been held since 1999, and is played on outdoor hard courts. Some players from Uzbekistan are Denis Istomin and Akgul Amanmuradova.
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