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Country Profiles: Uzbekistan


Flag, map and facts courtesy of CIA World Factbook 2004

Background Russia conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic set up 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 poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves. Current concerns include terrorism by Islamic militants, economic stagnation, and the curtailment of human rights and democratization.
Location Central Asia, north of Afghanistan

Map of Uzbekistan
Area total: 447,400 sq km
land: 425,400 sq km
water: 22,000 sq km
Area - comparative slightly larger than California
Climate mostly midlatitude 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
Elevation extremes lowest point: Sariqarnish Kuli -12 m
highest point: Adelunga Toghi 4,301 m
Natural resources natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead and zinc, tungsten, molybdenum
Land use arable land: 10.83%
permanent crops: 0.83%
other: 88.34% (2001)
Natural hazards NA
Environment - current issues shrinkage of the Aral Sea is resulting in growing concentrations of chemical pesticides and natural salts; these substances are then blown from the increasingly exposed lake bed and contribute to desertification; water pollution from industrial wastes and the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides is the cause of many human health disorders; increasing soil salination; soil contamination from buried nuclear processing and agricultural chemicals, including DDT
Geography - note along with Liechtenstein, one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world
Population 26,410,416 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure 0-14 years: 34.1% (male 4,583,228; female 4,418,003); 15-64 years: 61.1% (male 7,990,233; female 8,157,136); 65 years and over: 4.8% (male 513,434; female 748,382) (2004 est.)
Population growth rate 1.65% (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate total: 71.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 67.39 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 75.03 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth total population: 64.09 years
male: 60.67 years
female: 67.69 years (2004 est.)
Ethnic groups Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)
Religions Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%
Languages Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.3%
male: 99.6%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
Government type republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Capital Tashkent (Toshkent)
Independence 1 September 1991 (from Soviet Union)
Legal system evolution of Soviet civil law; still lacks independent judicial system
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Flag description three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and green separated by red fimbriations with a white crescent moon and 12 white stars in the upper hoist-side quadrant

Flag of Uzbekistan
Economy - overview Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country of which 11% consists of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. More than 60% of its population lives in densely populated rural communities. Uzbekistan is now the world's second-largest cotton exporter, a large producer of gold and oil, and a regionally significant producer of chemicals and machinery. Following independence in December 1991, the government sought to prop up its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. Uzbekistan responded to the negative external conditions generated by the Asian and Russian financial crises by emphasizing import substitute industrialization and by tightening export and currency controls within its already largely closed economy. The government, while aware of the need to improve the investment climate, sponsors measures that often increase, not decrease, the government's control over business decisions. A sharp increase in the inequality of income distribution has hurt the lower ranks of society since independence.
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line NA
Labor force 14.2 million (2003 est.)
Unemployment rate 0.5% plus another 20% underemployed (2003)
Industries textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas, chemicals
Agriculture - products cotton, vegetables, fruits, grain; livestock
Exports - commodities cotton 41.5%, gold 9.6%, energy products 9.6%, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles (1998 est.)
Imports - commodities machinery and equipment 49.8%, foodstuffs 16.4%, chemicals, metals (1998 est.)

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