Site Information:  Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union



Public Affairs Source: Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Public Communication Description: Washington, DC Date: May 27, 19925/27/92 Category: Site Information Region: Eurasia Country: Uzbekistan, USSR (former) Subject: History, Democratization, Trade/Economics, Cultural Exchange Map: Central, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Republics [TEXT]


Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, Uzbekistan long has been a center of Muslim culture. First occupied by Muslim Arabs in the 7th century AD, its territory was overrun by the Mongols in 1220. In later centuries, separate Muslim city-states with strong ties to Persia emerged. Russian trade with Uzbekistan grew during the 16th and 17th centuries, and in 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent. In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded. Uzbekistan declared its independence on August 31, 1991. Uzbekistan is world-famous for the production of cotton and has developed a chemical industry based on the by-products of cotton processing. It also is an important region for raising cattle, sheep, and silkworms. Uzbekistan has large reserves gold, copper, lead, zinc, and tungsten, and is a major producer of machines and heavy equipment.

Uzbekistan at a Glance

The Uzbek national name is said to have originated with Khan Uzbek, a Mongol chief who embraced Islam and became a vigorous advocate for the faith. The "Uthman Qur'an," an original transcription of the Koran taken from the city of Samarkand by the Russians early in the 20th century, was returned after the Russian revolution to the Tashkent Museum of the History of the Peoples of Uzbekistan. The dutar, a two-stringed Uzbek folk instrument, has a pear- shaped body from which extends a long neck with a fingerboard of 13-20 frets made of animal tendons. It also is popular among the Turkmens.

Principal Government Officials

President: Islam Karimov Prime Minister: Abdulhashim Mutalov Minister of Foreign Affairs: Ubaidulla Abdurazakov Capital: Tashkent The largest and one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, Tashkent lies in an oasis along a major river. It is the economic heart of the region and also has a major cultural center. More than half of Tashkent's population is Russian, with the rest mainly Uzbek.