Nation at a Glance - Uzbekistan

History

Russia conquered the territory of present-day Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after the Bolshevik Revolution was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic established in 1924. During the Soviet era, intensive production of "white gold" (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land degraded and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. Independent since 1991 upon the dissolution of the USSR, the country has gradually lessened its dependence on the cotton monoculture by diversifying agricultural production while developing its mineral and petroleum export capacity and increasing its manufacturing base. Uzbekistan’s first president, Islom KARIMOV, led Uzbekistan for 25 years until his death in August 2016. The political transition to his successor, then-Prime Minister Shavkat MIRZIYOYEV was peaceful, but sidelined the constitutional process where the chairman of the Senate would have served as the acting president. MIRZIYOYEV, who won the presidential election in December 2016, has sought to improve relations with Uzbekistan’s neighbors and proposed wide-ranging economic and judicial reforms.

Location: Central Asia, north of Turkmenistan, south of Kazakhstan

Border Countries: Afghanistan 144 km, Kazakhstan 2,330 km, Kyrgyzstan 1,314 km, Tajikistan 1,312 km, Turkmenistan 1,793 km

Total Area: 447,400 sq km Land: 425,400 sq km Water: 22,000 sq km

Climate: Mostly mid-latitude desert, long, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid grassland in east

Terrain: Mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Syr Darya (Sirdaryo), and Zarafshon; Fergana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west

Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead and zinc, tungsten, molybdenum

Land use: Agricultural land: 62.6% arable land 10.1%; permanent crops 0.8%; permanent pasture 51. Forest: 7.7% Other: 29.7% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, Other 2.5% (1996 est.)

Languages: Uzbek (official) 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, Other 7.1%

Religions: Muslim 88% (mostly Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, Other 3%

Population: 29,473,614 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 99.6%; Male: 99.7%; Female: 99.5% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 12 provinces (viloyatlar, singular - viloyat), 1 autonomous republic* (avtonom respublikasi), and 1 city** (shahar); Andijon Viloyati, Buxoro Viloyati, Farg'ona Viloyati, Jizzax Viloyati, Namangan Viloyati, Navoiy Viloyati, Qashqadaryo Viloyati (Qarshi), Qoraqalpog'iston Respublikasi [Karakalpakstan Republic]* (Nukus), Samarqand Viloyati, Sirdaryo Viloyati (Guliston), Surxondaryo Viloyati (Termiz), Toshkent Shahri [Tashkent City]**, Toshkent Viloyati [Tashkent province], Xorazm Viloyati (Urganch)

Economy: Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in which 51% of the population lives in urban settlements; the agriculture-rich Fergana Valley, in which Uzbekistan’s eastern borders are situated, has been counted among the most densely populated parts of Central Asia. Since its independence in September 1991, the government has largely maintained its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production, prices, and access to foreign currency. Despite ongoing efforts to diversify crops, Uzbek agriculture remains largely centered on cotton; Uzbekistan is the world's fifth-largest cotton exporter and seventh-largest producer. Uzbekistan's growth has been driven primarily by state-led investments, and export of natural gas, gold, and cotton provides a significant share of foreign exchange earnings. Recently, lower global commodity prices and economic slowdowns in neighboring Russia and China have hurt Uzbekistan's trade and investment and worsened its foreign currency shortage. Aware of the need to improve the investment climate, the government is taking incremental steps to reform the business sector and address impediments to foreign investment in the country. Since the death of first President Islam KARIMOV and election of President Shavkat MIRZIYOYEV, emphasis on such initiatives and government efforts to improve the private sector have increased. In the past, Uzbek authorities accused US and other foreign companies operating in Uzbekistan of violating Uzbek laws and have frozen and seized their assets. As a part of its economic reform efforts, the Uzbek Government is looking to expand opportunities for small and medium enterprises and prioritizes increasing foreign direct investment. In September 2017, the government devalued the official currency rate by almost 50% and announced the loosening of currency restrictions to eliminate the currency black market, increase access to hard currency, and boost investment.

Agriculture - products: Cotton, vegetables, fruits, grain; livestock

Industries: Textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, mining, hydrocarbon extraction, chemicals

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