Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations



Uzbekistan was conquered by the Russian empire in the late 19th century.  A strong resistance to the Communist forces following World War I was eventually suppressed. A socialist republic was set up in 1924, and it was maintained until 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up into numerous states.  Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov became the president after independence and has continued to rule in an authoritarian manner, suppressing all opposition, contesting unopposed elections and extending his terms.  He has justified his repressive style of governance on the perceived Islamic threat to Uzbekistan. 

The world community has spoken out against Uzbekistan’s poor record of human rights and failure to introduce reforms by cutting aid.  The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced plans to slash aid in 2004. The World Bank followed suit in 2006. 

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, Uzbekistan allowed American forces to use a base in the war against Afghanistan.  In return, the US increased its aid to Uzbekistan.  

Uzbekistan continues to blame Islamic extremist forces for the occasional bombings in the recent years.  In May 2005, government forces massacred hundreds of unarmed protesters in the town square of the eastern city of Andijan. However, the government claimed only 190 people were killed. The massacre resulted in problems with the neighboring Kyrgyzstan: the UN and Human Rights Watch accused Kyrgyzstan of forcibly repatriaing Uzbeks seeking asylum across the border. In May 2009, Kyrgystan responded to Uzbek gunshots and explosions by closing its borders to Uzbekistan.

After Uzbekistan refused to heed to international requests for an impartial inquiry on the May 2005 massacre, the European Union introduced sanctions, and the US threatened to withhold aid.  In retaliation, Uzbekistan ended the agreement that allowed the US to maintain a base in the country. 

Uzbekistan has the potential to become an economic success story.  It is one of the world’s biggest producers of cotton and has rich reserves of natural resources, such as oil, gas and gold.  But the centralized political and economic system has created widespread poverty and unemployment.

Sources: BBC, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.

    Full Name:  Republic of Uzbekistan
    Form of Government:  Republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
   Year of Independence:  1991 (from Soviet Union)
   Population:  27606007
   Capital:  Tashkent
   Largest City:  n/a
   Major Religion:  Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%
   Area:  447,400 sq km (172,700 sq miles)
   Major Languages:  Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
   Life Expectancy:  69 years (men), 75 years (women)
   Monetary Unit:  1 Uzbek som = 100 tiyins
   Main Exports:  Cotton, textiles, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, motor vehicles, energy products, food products, machinery
   GDP - Per Capita (PPP):  $2,600 (2008 est.)
   Internet Domain:  .uz
   International Dialing Code:  +998