Country Listing

Uzbekistan Table of Contents


Historical Background

BEFORE THE COLLAPSE of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan was the third largest Soviet republic by population and the fourth largest in territory. Because it has a population that is more than 40 percent of the combined population of the five Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union, and because it has rich natural resources, many experts believe that Uzbekistan is likely to emerge as the dominant new state in Central Asia. But Uzbekistan's history also has given rise to serious problems: deeply rooted ethnic tensions; serious economic, political, and environmental challenges; and an uncertain security and foreign policy environment. Like its neighbors in Central Asia, Uzbekistan emerged suddenly from more than sixty years within a highly structured, and in many ways protective, political and economic system. In the years following that emergence, survival has depended on the development of new international relationships as well as on solutions to the dilemmas of the Soviet era. By 1996 Uzbekistan showed signs of progress in both directions.

Data as of March 1996