Uzbekistan, officially the Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzbek: O‘zbekiston Respublikasi or Ўзбекистон Республикаси / Üzbekiston Respublikasi) is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia, formerly part of the Soviet Union. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south.
Once part of the Persian Samanid and later Timurid empires, the region was conquered in the early 16th century by Uzbek nomads, who spoke an Eastern Turkic language. Half of the Uzbekistan’s population today belong to the Uzbek ethnic group and speak the Uzbek language, one of the family of Turkic languages. The other half is mostly Tajik.
Uzbekistan was incorporated into the Russian Empire in the 19th century and in 1924 became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbek SSR). It has been an independent republic since December 1991.
Uzbekistan’s economy relies mainly on commodity production, including cotton, gold, uranium, potassium, and natural gas. Despite the declared objective of transition to a market economy, Uzbekistan continues to maintain rigid economic controls, which often repel foreign investors. The policy of gradual, strictly controlled transition has nevertheless produced beneficial results in the form of economic recovery after 1995.
The Economy of Uzbekistan
In 2004 Uzbekistan’s cotton production exceeded one million tons, which is 5% of global production for that year. It is the 4th largest cotton exporter in the world and Central Asia’s leading producer.
In 2004 Turkmenistan produced 203,000 tons; Tajikistan – 172,000 tons; Kazakhstan – 148,000 tons and Kyrgyzstan, 40,000 tons - in contrast to Uzbekistan which produced 1,125,000 tons. However, the government has established a restricted import replacement policy to coordinate foreign trade and avoid capital outflow. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recommends that the state focus on “environmentally sustainable rural development, private sector development, regional transport and customs transit, and human capital. Governance is emphasized as a crosscutting theme”.
Russia and China are the main investors in the Uzbek oil and gas industry. In 2006 Uzbekistan became a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and, for a time, the Eurasian Economic Community (EurASEC), which it later left in 2008.