Uzbekistan means “land of the Uzbeks” – “stan” means land or place. Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. About 60% of the land area are semi-deserts and deserts, 20% are oases with settlements and the remaining 20% are in the mountains.
Short for UZ on ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG, Uzbekistan was part of the USSR (“Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” – for short: Soviet Union) until 1991. It was called the “Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic”. Today’s independent Uzbekistan includes 12 regions and the Karakalpak Autonomous Republic in the north-west on the Aral Sea.
In terms of size, the country is around a quarter larger than Germany, but only has around a quarter of Germany’s residents.
Tashkent has been the capital of Uzbekistan since 1930.
Important data about the country
|Surface:||447 400 km²|
|Population density:||59 residents / km²|
|Growth of population:||1.5% / year|
|Life expectancy:||67 years|
|State capital:||Tashkent – “city made of stone”, 2.2 million residents, twin town of Berlin|
|Form of government:||republic|
|Languages:||Uzbek, Russian, minority languages|
|Religions:||Muslims, Russian Orthodox Christians|
|Climate:||Summer hot continental climate of the temperate zone|
|Land use:||3% forest, 10% arable land, 70% desert|
|Economic sectors (share of employees 2003):||Industry 22%
Services 43% Agriculture 35%
|Export goods:||27.5% cotton, 13.7% services, 10.3% energy and energy sources, 6.6% metals, 5.4% food, 3.4% machines and equipment, 2.9% chemical products.|
|Gross National Product:||GDP: US $ 9,949 million (2003)US $ 420 / residents (2003)|
About two thirds of the land area of Uzbekistan is taken up by the Turan lowlands, a basin without drainage, the rivers of which have no connection to the oceans. The landscape is quite monotonous. Wide, almost flat areas are only interrupted by individual plateaus. In the south-east of the country the foothills of the Tienschan and the Fergana chains extend into the vicinity of Tashkent and Samarkand. The highest point at 4299 m is the Beschtor mountain.
Uzbekistan is frequently hit by earthquakes. Large parts of the capital Tashkent were destroyed in a severe earthquake in 1966.
The Amu Darya flows in the south as a border river to Turkmenistan and the Syr Darya in the north. Both rivers are alien rivers. The Syr Darya arises from the confluence of the Naryn and Karadaja, which flows along the Fergana Basin on the northeastern edge of the Kyzylkum desert and has a length of 2 212 km. The Amu Darya rises in the Hindu Kush, its length is 2 540 km. The oases and other agricultural areas are irrigated with the water of these two rivers via extensive canal systems (approx. 1,500 km in length).
In 1960 the Aral Sea was the fourth largest inland lake on earth, today it ranks only eighth of the large inland lakes. It was once called the “Sea of Central Asia”. Until the end of the 50’s of the 20th century, Amu Darya and Syr Darya still flowed into the Aral Sea. However, due to the excessive use of the river water to irrigate the growing areas for cotton growing until 1991, Amu Darya and Syr Darya can no longer reach the Aral Sea. Because of this overuse, they seep away well over 100 km from the Aral Sea.
The death of the Aral Sea is one of the greatest human-made ecological disasters of our time. Former coastal towns with a strong fishing industry, such as Kasachdaria, are now more than 100 km from the Aral Sea, have suffered economic decline and enormous population emigration. The drying up of the region around the Aral Sea, together with the salinisation of the soil, the death of freshwater-loving vegetation and climate change, also affects the health of the population, especially in the Karakalpak Autonomous Republic. Around three million people suffer from the fact that, especially in spring and autumn, storms blow the sand of the dry seabed, which has been enriched with pesticides and fertilizers from rice and cotton cultivation, into the atmosphere. The concentration of dioxin in blood and breast milk in the Aral Sea region is five times higher than the Western European comparison values. A 12-fold higher concentration of the pest control agent DDT (dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane) was found in root vegetables.
From a climatic point of view, Uzbekistan is located in the hot summer continental climate of the temperate climate zone (Fig. 5). Large temperature fluctuations between summer and winter are characteristic. In January the mean daytime temperatures are between -6 °C and 2 °C and in July between 26 °C and 32 °C. The summers are dry and very warm, the winters with little snow and cold. Winter lasts up to two months in the south and up to five months in the north.
There is little rainfall in Uzbekistan. In the Turan lowlands, the mean annual precipitation is between 50 and 150 mm. The lowlands are therefore arid to semi-arid. On the windward sides of the mountains, between 400 mm and regionally up to 1000 mm of precipitation fall per year. This increase in precipitation can already be seen in Samarkand.
There are two deserts in Uzbekistan. In the south there is the Karakum desert, which means something like black sand, but there is no such sand here, rather the word “kara” has to be translated as “threatening”. The Kysylkum desert (= red sand) can be found in the north of Uzbekistan.
The deserts are not pure sandy deserts, but are overgrown with plants. In March a blanket of grass (sandried) appears in the desert. Herb steppes cover the mountains; larger forest areas are missing. Saxaul bushes, tamarisks and sand acacias are characteristic.
Uzbekistan is rich in fossil and mineral resources. Therefore, the country was one of the most important suppliers of raw materials to Russia and the USSR. Particularly noteworthy here are the petroleum storage facilities in the Fergana Basin, to which an important industry is linked today. The most important natural gas reservoir is in Gasli. Lignite and copper are other natural resources. The gold deposits are of greater importance, especially in the mountain regions and in the Kyzylkum desert. The coveted precious metal is extracted in 10 gold mines. Nevertheless, the dissolution of the USSR, the loss of supply relationships within the Union and the implementation of economic reforms, as in many other former Soviet republics, also led to an economic slump. The consequences of this are a shortage of machine parts, fuels and other import goods.
The market economy has only been partially introduced in Uzbekistan to this day. State price and wage controls have prevented social tensions and the impoverishment of large sections of the population. The government is attempting to regulate imports through customs duties and import regulations and only allow goods into the country that are not produced in Uzbekistan (e.g. machines and equipment for building the industrial base).
Foreign direct investments are primarily used to build up a processing industry: the automotive industry, textile industry, food and luxury goods industry, and oil refineries. Important foreign investors are South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the USA and Japan.
With a 35% share in the economic sectors (industry 23%, services 42%), agriculture is of great economic importance for Uzbekistan. Fertile soils, which also contain significant proportions of blown loess in the desert areas, and the favorable warmth conditions enable several harvests a year where irrigation takes place. Demanding crops such as cotton, wine, fruit, grain and rice are grown.
In cattle breeding, the focus is on keeping sheep – including Karakul sheep – cattle and goats as well as poultry.
Uzbekistan ranks fifth in cotton fiber production worldwide. In 1999 1.2 million t were harvested. The cottonis still grown as a monoculture, even if the area under cultivation has been reduced by more than 500 hectares since 1992.
The cotton is an annual plant (sowing in March / April, harvesting in September / October) that reaches about 50 cm in height. It places high demands on the growing conditions: high water requirements through irrigation for growth, no precipitation while the cotton bolls are ripe, at least 200 frost-free days, air temperatures from May to September over 18 °C, lots of sun.
The harvest is mainly done by hand. Many residents of Uzbekistan are helping with this. City dwellers, for example, take vacation and move to the country for several weeks. Each field has to be picked three to five times because the capsules ripen differently. The cotton plant provides the raw material for over 200 products. In addition to textile products, this includes edible oil, oil cake as animal feed, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
A rail network of 7,000 km and a road network of 43,463 km runs through Uzbekistan. The Silk Road must be mentioned in particular. It represents a network of widely ramified trade routes with important nodes in Uzbekistan, which still plays a major role today. The Silk Road has always been a caravan route for long-distance trade. At the same time, there are important cultural cities of Uzbekistan: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. The Silk Road is to be revitalized as a trans-Asian route and connect China with Europe by land. It already represents an important tourist route that secures income from international tourism.
Overall, the transport infrastructure is poorly developed, but work is being done on it: airports are being expanded or renovated, railway lines are being built and renewed, the road network is being expanded.
The Uzbeks have lived in their present territory for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that a national political Uzbek entity was formed. Mainly four powerful invaders have shaped the cultural image of today’s Uzbekistan over the centuries: the Greeks, the Arabs, the Mongols and the Russians.
4th century BC: Conquest of the area by Alexander the Great
8th century: Conquest of the area by the Arabs
13th century: Incorporation into the Mongol Empire under Dschinigis Khan
14th century: Incorporation into the Mongol Empire under Timur Lenk
1599: The empire disintegrates into khanates: the Bukhara and Khiva khanates are formed
1867: penetration of the Russian Empire into the area; Khiva and Bukhara became vassal states of Russia (protectorates)
1916: General uprising of the Uzbeks and other Central Asian peoples against the tsarist rule
1918: Formation of the Republic of Turkestan
1920: Khiva and Bukhara became independent Soviet People’s Republics
1924: Establishment of the Union Republic of Uzbekistan
1936: incorporation of the Karalpak Republic
1991: Exit from the Soviet Union, declaration of independence, formation of a democratic republic with a president at the head
1992: Uzbekistan joins the United Nations