Uzbekistan is a Central Asian country known for its ancient history, beautiful architecture and diverse culture. Once part of the USSR, today the country is an independent nation with much to interest those who plan to travel within its borders. These 44 facts about Uzbekistan will divulge many of the country’s highlights for travelers.
1. Once part of the ancient Persian Empire, what is now known as Uzbekistan was conquered in the fourth century B.C. by Alexander the Great.
2. During the eighth century invading Arab forces dominated the area and converted the nomadic Turkic tribes living there to Islam.
3. In the thirteenth century Ghengis Khan and the Mongols seized the region from the Seljuk Turks.
4. Next the territory became part of the empire of Tamerlane the Great and his successors. This lasted into the sixteenth century.
5. In the early sixteenth century the Uzbeks invaded and merged with the other inhabitants of the territory that today is Uzbekistan, breaking it into the separate principalities of the khanates (city-states) Khiva, Kokand and Bukhara.
6. The city-states resisted fiercely but were conquered by the Russian expansion into the area in the mid-19th century.
7. After World War I the population gave stiff resistance to the Red Army but they were eventually suppressed. A socialist Uzbek Republic was set up in 1924. The country became the independent Uzbekistan Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925.
8. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan gained its independence in 1991 and became a constitutional republic.
9. President Islam Karimov ran the country from 1991 until his death in 2016. He was widely held to be responsible for severe breaches of basic human rights (tortures and executions).
10. In 2016 Uzbekistan held its first election since 1991.
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People and Economics
11. Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s most populous country and the majority live in rural areas.
12. The economic trend is for urban residents to earn twice as much as their rural counterparts.
13. Though the Uzbekistan economy grew eight percent in 2015, it is still one of the least developed and poorest countries in Asia.
14. The majority of the country’s citizens are ethnic Uzbeks who speak Uzbek, the official language. Russian is the second most widely spoken language. Sunni Muslims make up 88 percent of the population though they are secular and not religious Muslims.
15. The country is the world’s second-largest cotton exporter and fifth largest producer. Other exports include gold, oil, and natural gas as well as uranium. The nation is resource rich but the money has typical gone to the president and his governmental ruling class.