Population:With 26,851,195 (in 2005) people, Uzbekistan has the largest population of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, and the third-largest population of any former Soviet republic. Population density is 60 people per sq km. The population was 37 per cent urban in 2003 and life expectancy was 61 years for men and 68 years for women. The country’s population growth rate was about 1.7 per cent per year in 2005.
Health Problems:In 1999 there were 354 people to each doctor, and in 2005 the infant mortality rate was 71 deaths per 1,000 live births. Expenditure on health in 2002 was 3 per cent of GDP.
Economy:The GDP per capita of Uzbekistan is a low $2000 US, with 33% of the population that lives below the poverty line. This even though it exports $5 billion f.o.b.
Tertiary, Primary, secondary industries:Agriculture contributed about 35 per cent of GDP and accounts for 34 per cent of total employment. Cotton is the primary crop… Uzbekistan is a leading producer of seed cotton. The republic is also the largest producer of silk and karakul pelts in the former USSR. Other important crops include wheat, rice, barley, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Since most of Uzbekistan’s agriculture is devoted to cotton-growing, however, the republic has become very dependent on outside sources of food. It must import about two thirds of the grain, one third of the meat, one quarter of the milk, and half of the potatoes consumed in the republic.
Legislation was passed in 1992 to permit private enterprise in agriculture and by 1996 more than 90 per cent of state farms had been transferred to the private sector, which accounted for more than 98 per cent of agricultural production in the same year.
Civil Unrest:Uzbekistan’s rate of violent crime, including against foreigners, has increased in recent years. In urban areas, travelers are urged to take the same precautions against crime that they would take in a large American city.
In Uzbekistan, many riots arise due to mainly political issues, sometimes causing a massive civil war. One major example of this is the ‘Andijan massacre.’ When Uzbek Interior Ministry and National Security Service troops fired into a crowd of protesters in Andijan, Uzbekistan on 13 May 2005. Estimates of those killed range from between 187 (the official count of the government) and 5,000 people, with most outside reports estimating several hundred dead. The exact number of victims is still uncertain. The bodies of many of those who died were hidden in mass graves after the massacre.
Colonial History:Although Uzbeks have lived in the area of present-day Uzbekistan for centuries, a national Uzbek political entity was formed for the first time in the 1920s. The region of present-day Uzbekistan was the site of the ancient Persian province of Sogdiana and was conquered by the Macedonian leader Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC and by the Arabs in the 8th century AD.
It was incorporated in the Mongol empire of ‘Genghis Khan’ in the 13th century and the Mongol empire of Tamerlane in the 14th century. The Uzbek khanates of Bukhara (also spelled Bukhoro) and Khiva emerged in the 16th century, and the Kokand khanate was formed in the 18th century. Russian control was extended over the region between 1865 and 1873, with Khiva and Bukhara remaining vassal states of Russia.
Natural Resources:Uzbekistan is rich in mineral resources that include natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, silver, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, and tungsten. Irrigation systems fed by the two major river systems sustain agricultural production around the fertile river valleys. Electrical production is principally by thermal plants but there are some hydroelectric sources.
Political Stability:Chief of state: President Islom KARIMOV (since 24 March 1990, when he was elected president by the then Supreme Soviet)Head of government: Prime Minister Shavkat MIRZIYAYEV (since 11 December 2003)Cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president with approval
of the Supreme AssemblyElections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term.
The election results: Islom KARIMOV reelected, % of vote = Islom KARIMOV – 91.9%, and Abdulkhafiz JALALOV – 4.2%-Last election was last held on the 9th January 2000 (next to be held in 2007). -Prime minister, ministers, and deputy ministers are appointed by the president.