Uzbekistan is one of the Islamic federal republics that were part of the former Soviet Union. Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is divided into twelve autonomous provinces, many of which have a rich Islamic history.
The Uzbek language is one of the Turkic languages and is Uzbekistan’s only official state language. Since 1992, it has officially been written using the Latin alphabet. Although the Russian language is not an official language in the country, it is widely used in all fields, including official documents.
Uzbekistan has the largest population in Central Asia, up to 31 million people, according to 2016 estimates. Around 42% of the country’s population lives in urban areas, while 58% lives in rural regions. Uzbekistan has a diverse cultural heritage due to its storied history and strategic location.
Uzbeks constitute 80% of the population, followed by Russians (5.5%), Tajiks (5%), Kazakhs (3%), and others (6.5%). In Uzbekistan there are about 15 religions. Muslims constitute 88% of the population, while 5% of the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, and 7% of the population follow other religions or are non-religious. The Uzbek Constitution secures the freedom of religion for all Uzbek people, and everyone is equal before the law.
On 31 August 1991, Uzbekistan declared independence after a failed coup attempt in Moscow. The Soviet Union was dissolved on 26 December of that year.
Following its independence, Uzbekistan tackled its economic issues, low industrial production, high inflation, a decline in living standards, and the weakness of state institutions. The country sought to go from being a country that opposed capitalism to one that embraces property rights, profits, and free market competition.
The first step taken by Uzbekistan towards economic reform was the preparation of laws and regulations governing its economic course. The Uzbek Constitution secures the right of ownership and privatisation and works on attracting foreign investments.
In September 2017, the country fully liberalising its currency, no longer fixing it to the US dollar lifting restrictions on foreign currency movements. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. The country also operates the largest open-pit gold mine in the world. With the gigantic power-generation facilities of the Soviet era and an ample supply of natural gas, Uzbekistan has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia. Renewable energy constitutes more than 23% of the country’s energy sector, with hydroelectricity and solar energy at 21.4% and 2% respectively.
Uzbekistan is a country with potential for an expansive tourism industry. Many of its Central Asian cities were main points of trade on the Silk Road, linking Eastern and Western civilisations. Cultural tourism is the only major product Uzbekistan has offered visitors since its independence. Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva are hotspots of tourism.
Samarkand is the second largest city in Uzbekistan with a population of about 400,000. Samarkand is largely an old city characterised by ancient mosques and palaces. It is a major cultural centre in Asia, and it is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The most impressive place in Samarkand is the Registan Square, which means “a sandy place”. The Registan Square is a huge public square surrounded on three sides by religious complexes like mosques and madrasas (college for Islamic instruction). The Registan Square was rebuilt several times between 1370 and 1500 by the Timurids.
Bukhara was a big commercial trading post on the Silk Road. It is the nation’s fifth-largest city and it had a population of 247,644 as of August 2016. Bukhara was written about in Chinese scriptures around AD400 and it has more than 140 architectural monuments from the Middle Ages. The most famous landmark of Bukhara is the Kalyan minaret which was built in AD1127.
It is a large oasis region on the Amu Darya river delta in western Central Asia. It was the centre of the Iranian Khwarezmian civilisation and a series of kingdoms such as the Persian Empire. Today, Khwarezm belongs partly to Uzbekistan, partly to Kazakhstan, and partly to Turkmenistan.