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Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS UZBEKISTANIS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of Uzbekistan

Uzbekiston Respublikasi

CAPITAL: Tashkent (Toshkent)

FLAG: Horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and green separated by narrow red bands; white crescent moon and twelve stars on the blue band.

ANTHEM: n/a

MONETARY UNIT: The som (som) is the official currency, introduced when Uzbekistan left the ruble zone in November 1993. som1 = $0.00090 (or $1 = som1,114.17) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: Independence Day, 1 September.

TIME: 5 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Uzbekistan is located in central Asia bordering the Aral Sea, between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Comparatively, it is slightly larger than the state of California, with a total area of 447,400 sq km (172,742 sq mi). Uzbekistan shares boundaries with Kazakhstan on the n, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on the e, Afghanistan on the s, and Turkmenistan on the sw. Uzbekistan's boundary length totals 6,221 km (3,866 mi). Its capital city, Tashkent, is located in the eastern part of the country.

TOPOGRAPHY

Uzbekistan consists of mostly flat to rolling sandy desert with dunes. The Fergana Valley lies in the east surrounded by the Tian Shan mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Alai mountains lie to the extreme southeast. The highest point in the country is Adelunga Toghi, at an elevation of 4,301 meters (14,111 feet). The lowest point is Sariqarnish Kuli, which dips to 12 meters (39 feet) below sea level. The country is located in a seismically active region along the Eurasian Tectonic Plate, resulting in frequent earthquakes.

The Kyzyl Kum desert covers most of the interior of the country. With an area of about 297,850 square kilometers (115,000 square miles), it is the largest desert region in Central Asia and the ninth-largest in the world. In the northwest, the Aral Sea is shared with Kazakhstan. Covering area of about 64,500 square kilometers (24,900 square miles), it is the largest lake in the country and the fourth-largest lake in the world. The longest river in the country is the Amu Dar'ya, which has a total length of 2,540 kilometers (1,580 miles), only a portion of which runs through Uzbekistan.

CLIMATE

The climate is mid-latitude climatic desert. Temperatures range from 26° to 32°c (79° to 90°f) in the summer, with much higher figures in the desert. Average winter temperatures are between -6° and 2°c (21° to 36°f). There is very little rainfall in the country. The best watered areas only receive about 30 cm (12 in) annually.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Ecological damage has left much of the country devoid of animal life. Bird species include a variety of warblers, eagles, owls, buzzards, heron, ducks, and larks. Mammals include wolves, elk, hedgehogs, squirrels, and weasels. Leopards and wildcats can be found in some forested areas. As of 2002, there were at least 97 species of mammals, 203 species of birds, and over 4,800 species of plants throughout the country.

ENVIRONMENT

Uzbekistan's main environmental problems are soil salinity, land pollution, and water pollution. In 1992, Uzbekistan had the world's 27th highest level of carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 123.5 million metric tons, a per capita level of 5.75 metric tons. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 118.6 million metric tons. Chemicals used in farming, such as DDT, contribute to the pollution of the soil. Desertification is a continuing concern.

The nation's forestlands has also been threatened. Between 19901995, deforestation occurred at an annual average rate of 2.65%. However, reforestation efforts have begun as of the late 1990s.

The country's water supply also suffers from toxic chemical pollutants from industrial activity as well as fertilizers and pesticides. Uzbekistan has 16 cu km of renewable water resources, with 94% of annual withdrawals used for farming and 2% used for industrial purposes. The nation's cities produce an average of 45.8 million tons of solid waste per year.

The draining and evaporation of the Aral Sea has been considered one of the worst ecological disasters in the world. Irrigation withdrawals from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers have been a major cause of lake shrinkage. As a result, pesticides and natural salts in its water have become increasingly concentrated so that plant and wildlife habitats have been destroyed. As of 2002, the area of the Aral Sa was reported to cover less than half the size of the original basin.

As of 2003, only 2% of Uzbekistan's total land area is protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 7 types of mammals, 16 species of birds, 2 types of reptiles, 4 species of fish, 1 species of invertebrate, and 1 species of plant. Threatened or rare species include the markhor, Central Asia cobra, Aral salmon, slender-billed curlew, and Asiatic wild dog. The Jeseter hladky has become extinct.

POPULATION

The population of Uzbekistan in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 26,444,000, which placed it at number 43 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 35% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 1.6%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 33,851,000. The overall population density was 59 per sq km (153 per sq mi), with the population being most dense in the Fergana Valley.

The UN estimated that 37% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.38%. The capital city, Tashkent (Toshkent), had a population of 2,155,000 in that year. Samarqand (Samarkand) had a population of about 374,900.

MIGRATION

Emigration to other former USSR republics exceeded immigration by 328,200 during 197990. In 1991, an estimated 400,000 Russians departed from Uzbekistan. As of 1996, 250,000 Crimean Tatars had left Central Asia for the Ukraine; most of these Tatars were from Uzbekistan. In 1999, there were an estimated 30,000 Tajik refugees and 8,000 Afghan refugees living in Uzbekistan; however, only 1,135 refugees and asylum seekers were registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Until 1999, refugees and asylum seekers were assigned no special status and were considered ordinary foreigners. However, in 1999 the government completed a draft of the Migration Law, which passed the Cabinet of Ministers. In 2000 there were 1,367,000 migrants living in Uzbekistan, including the remaining refugees. In 2004 there were 44,455 refugees, mainly from Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and 477 asylum seekers. In that same year, some 450 Uzbekistani sought asylum in Sweden and the United States. In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as -1.16 migrants per 1,000 population The government views the emigration level as too high, but the immigration level as satisfactory.

ETHNIC GROUPS

According to the last official estimates (1996), about 80% of the population was Uzbek. Russians constituted 5.5%, Tajiks made up 5%, Kazakhs accounted for 3%, Karakalpaks for 2.5%, Tatars 1.5%, and others 2.5%. There are also small numbers of ethnic Koreans, Meskhetian Turks, Germans, and Greeks.

LANGUAGES

Uzbek, the state language, was the most widely spoken non-Slavic tongue in the USSR. It is a Turkic language with six vowelsvirtually identical to those of Tajik, which has surely influenced itrather than the original eight or nine. In 1993, it was decided that the language would be written in the Roman (Latin) alphabet rather than in the Cyrillic alphabet. Uzbek is spoken by about 74.3% of the population in Uzbekistan; Russian is spoken by 14.2%, Tajik by 4.4%, and other various languages by 7.1%.

RELIGIONS

Ethnic Uzbeks are primarily adherents of the Hanafi sect of Sunni Islam, but the Wahhabi sect has flourished as well in recent years. Muslims account for about 88% of the population; Eastern Orthodox Christians account for about 9%; and others for 3%. In 2002 Uzbekistan had a significant Jewish population of about 20,000 Ashkenazi and Bukharan Jews, primarily in the cities of Tashkent, Bukhoro (Bukhara), and Samarqand (Samarkand). Almost 80,000 Jews have emigrated to Israel or the United States since independence. Minority religions listed as "other" include small communities of Korean Christians, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Seventh-Day Adventists, Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, Buddhists, Baha'is, and Hare Krishnas.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the constitution of 1992 and there is a specific provision prohibiting the establishment of any state religion. However, the government has placed some restrictions on religious freedom. Proselytizing is prohibited by law. All religious groups must register with the government, but the government has placed strict criteria on the registration process and rejects applications on minor technicalities. For instance, a group must have a valid legal address in order to register, yet many smaller groups do not have such an office. Religious services conducted by unregistered groups are considered to be illegal. All religious literature is subject to censor by the government.

TRANSPORTATION

As of 2004, Uzbekistan had some 3,950 km (2,453 mi) of railroad track in common carrier service (not including industrial lines), all of it broad gauge. Separate lines serve eastern and western regions. In 2002, there were also 81,600 km (50,706 mi) of highways, of which 71,237 km (44,227 mi) are hard-surfaced. As a doubly landlocked nation, there is no direct connection to the open sea. The closest route to the sea is to the south through Termiz on the Afghanistan border. Conflict in Afghanistan blocks this route. The Zeravshan River is the largest inland waterway. In 2004, the country had 1,100 km (684 mi) of navigable inland waterways. Uzbekistan had an estimated 226 airports in 2004, of which 33 had paved runways as of 2005. In 2003, a total of 1.466 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

HISTORY

Some parts of present-day Uzbekistan have been inhabited since the Paleolithic era. The first states in the region were Khwarazm, Bactria, Sogdiana, and the Parthian Empire, in the first millennium bc. The territory was consolidated under the Achaemenids in the 6th century bc, until it was conquered by Alexander the Great, 329327 bc. The Greeks were displaced by the Tochari in the 3rd century bc. From the 1st century bc to the 4th century ad Uzbekistan was part of the Kushana Kingdom. This in turn was replaced by the Ephthalite state.

In the 6th century the area was part of the West Turkic Kaganate, a loose confederation of largely nomadic tribes. By the 8th century the region was conquered by the Arabs, who introduced Islam. The Ummayid dynasty was displaced by the Abbasids in 747750. In the 9th century the Samanids took control of most of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan. Turkic tribes again began to push into the area from the east in the 10th century, eventually forming the Karakhanid state. A lesser part of that state, Khwarazm, grew more powerful in the 12th century and came to dominate most of Central Asia.

Genghiz Khan's Mongols invaded in 1219, conquering all of Central Asia by 1221. In 1224 Genghiz Khan's son Chagatai was made ruler of this area. As Chingisid influence waned, Timur (Tamerlane, 13361405) established an empire in Samarqand (Samarkand). Upon his death it split into Khorasan, ruled by his son Shah Rukh, and Maweranahr, ruled by his grandson, Ulgh Beg. Although Timur is now claimed as the father of the modern Uzbeks, more likely candidates are the Sheibanid, nomadic Uzbeks who fought to take the area in the early 16th century. They settled among the other populations and became farmers, making Bukhoro (Bukhara) their capital.

In the 16th century Khwarazm, Balkh, and Khiva separated from Bukhara, becoming separate principalities. Bukhara was conquered by Persia in 1740, but sovereignty was retaken soon after by the Mangyt dynasty, which ruled until 1920. In the early 19th century the Kokand Khanate grew powerful in the eastern part of present-day Uzbekistan.

Russia had begun trading with Bukhara, Khiva, and Kokand in the 18th century. Concern about British expansion in India and Afghanistan led eventually to Russian conquest, which began in the 1860s and ended in the 1880s, when Uzbekistan became part of Turkestan guberniia, with Bukhara and Khiva administered as separate emirates under Russian protection.

In 1916 Tsar Nicholas II issued a call for Central Asian males to be drafted into labor battalions. This sparked resistance throughout the region, including in Uzbekistan, which was violently repressed. During the conflict from 191720, Uzbekistan was the site of competing attempts to create governments; the Bolsheviks announced a short-lived Turkestan Autonomous Republic, while a Muslim Congress also attempted an Autonomous Government of Turkestan. Red Army forces intervened savagely, but armed resistance continued as late as 1924, in the so-called Basmachi Rebellion.

The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created in 1925. In 1929, Tajikistan, which had been an administrative sub-unit, was elevated to full republic status, changing the boundaries. They were changed once again in 1936.

Under the leadership of long-time leader S. Rashidov, Uzbekistan was politically conservative during the 1970s and early 1980s. The republic was targeted for anticorruption purges in the mid-1980s, when considerable fraud in the cotton industry was discovered. The leader as of 2003, Islam Karimov, was appointed by Moscow in 1989.

In March 1990, Karimov was elected to the newly created post of president by the Uzbek Supreme Soviet. Uzbekistan declared independence on 1 September 1991, in the aftermath of the abortive Moscow coup of 1921 August. Karimov's presidency was reaffirmed in an election in December 1991. Since then, however, Karimov has been increasingly hostile to even the most basic tenets of democracy. True opposition parties were banned in 1992 and political reformers have been jailed or have fled the country. Parliamentary elections to the 250-seat Majlis were held on 24 December 1994 and 15 January 1995, with 231 seats going to Karimov's People's Democratic Partythe former Uzbek Communist Party. Following the elections, President Karimov held a referendum that extended his presidency until 2000 which was allegedly approved by 99% of voters.

Despite his antidemocratic leanings, Karimov received little criticism from the West or from Russia (which, in fact, supplies him with ample military backing) since he had been seen as a buffer against the fundamentalist Muslim political and revolutionary movements in Central Asianotably those in Afghanistan and in neighboring Tajikistan. In fact, Uzbekistan had supplied arms to the secular factions in both countries' civil wars.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a radical Islamic organization seeking to establish an Islamic state in Central Asia, has long been operational in Uzbekistan. In February 1999, five car bombs in Tashkent were attributed to the IMU by Karimov, who accused the group of attempting to assassinate him and destabilize the country. The IMU broadcast a declaration of jihad from a radio station in Iran, and demanded the resignation of the Uzbek leadership. That year, IMU fighters operating from mountain hideouts launched a several-year series of engagements with government forces. Militants also took foreigners hostage in 1999 and 2000, including four US citizens who were mountain climbing in August 2000, and four Japanese geologists and eight Kyrgyzstani soldiers in August 1999. IMU military leader Juma Namangani apparently was killed during a US-led air strike in Afghanistan in November 2001. In addition to the IMU, the Hizb-ut-Tahrir ("Freedom Party"), another radical Islamic organization, operates in the country, although, unlike the IMU, it does not use violent tactics to pursue its goals. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, and its subsequent military campaign in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime and al-Qaeda forces, all radical Islamic groups in the Central Asian nations were linked by most governments to terrorism.

Uzbekistan offered its airbases to the US-led coalition for its campaign in Afghanistan beginning in October 2001. In response, the United States provided the country with $60 million for 2002, in addition to a one-time contribution of $100 million. In March 2002, the United States and Uzbekistan signed a Declaration on Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Framework, in which both countries agreed to cooperate on economic, legal, humanitarian, and nuclear proliferation matters. In April 2004, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced its decision to limit investment in Uzbekistan, citing the government's lack of progress on democratic and economic reform benchmarks established one year earlier. Similarly, in July, the United States suspended $18 million of the $55 million originally earmarked for Uzbekistan in 2004. The decision was based on the 2002 Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Framework, which makes US assistance to the Uzbek government conditional on Tashkent's introduction of meaningful political reforms and curbs in human rights abuses.

On 27 January 2002, Karimov held another referendum to prolong his presidential term from 5 to 7 years, effectively keeping himself in power until 2007. The US Department of State refused to send election observers, arguing there had to be a "free and fair" presidential election before a referendum was valid.

In April 2003, parliament adopted legislation providing former presidents immunity from prosecution and lifelong state-funded security for them and their immediate family. Parliamentary elections in 2004, consisting of only parties which support the Karimov, resulted in the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan taking 41 seats, the People's Democratic Party with 32 seats, the Fidokorlar National Democratic Party with 17 seats, Democratic National Rebirth Party with 11 seats, the Adolat Social Democratic Party with 9 seats and 10 seats given to independents. The next parliamentary elections were scheduled for December 2009.

On 13 May 2005, unrest in Uzbekistan resulted in Uzbek troops firing on a crowd of protestors in the city of Anjian, killing between 500 to 1000 people. Although protests had been growing in size throughout 200405, never before had so many been killed. This incident has become known as the Anjian Massacre. The government, including president Karimov, stated it had acted in defense of its citizens as the protestors had stormed a military garrison and prison in the city seizing weapons and releasing around 4,000 prisoners on 12 May.

GOVERNMENT

The state constitution adopted on 8 December 1992 mandates a civil democratic society. The executive branch consists of the president and his appointed prime minister and Cabinet of Ministers. During the Soviet years, the legislative branch consisted of a unicameral Supreme Soviet of 150 seats. The judicial branch is appointed by the president, subject to legislative confirmation, for 5- and 10-year terms. The Supreme Assembly is now bicameral. It consists of an Upper House or Senate with 100 seats and a Lower House or Legislative Chamber with 120 seats. The last elections were held on 26 December 2004 and 9 January 2005 with the next elections scheduled for 2009. Not all of the seats in the Supreme Assembly election were contested, and all parties in the Assembly support President Islam Karimov. In 1992, President Karimov banned opposition parties. The president is the head of state and has responsibility for the functioning of the other branches of government as well as for making sure the constitution is observed. He essentially rules by decree. Karimov held referendums extending his presidency in 1995 and 2002, taking 92% of the vote in 2002. The president is elected for a seven-year term. The next presidential election was to be held in 2007.

POLITICAL PARTIES

In the Soviet period, the only legal political party was the Communist Party. As Soviet control began to disintegrate in 198990, a number of mass-based "informal organizations" appeared which grew to be the equivalents of parties, although not all were legally registered. The largest, claiming as many as 100,000 members, was Birlik (Unity), founded by Abdurakhim Pulatov in 1989. Erk (Freedom) was founded in 1990 by Muhammad Solih, who split away from Birlik; in 1991, Solih was a candidate for president, drawing approximately 12% of the vote. Another group, never legally registered, was the Islamic Renaissance Party.

After independence President Islam Karimov began to establish strong authoritarian control. Political opposition was forbidden. Opposition leaders have been beaten, jailed, and exiled. There were five registered parties as of 2003, but their platforms are essentially identical, and all parties with seats in parliament support the president. The People's Democratic Party (CDP) is the renamed Communist Party. Also registered were the Fatherland Progress Party (VTP); the Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party; the Democratic National Rebirth Party; and the Self-Sacrificers Party (the Fatherland Progress Party merged with Self-Sacrificers Party).

A political pressure group, the Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party, was reformed as a pro-Karimov party after repudiating its founder, Muhammad Solih, who was forced into political exile. Another pressure group, the Birlik (Unity) Movement was officially banned in mid-1993, but continued to exist.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The republic is divided into 12 oblasts, or provinces. There is also the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, which has the right of legal secession, though is unlikely to exercise it. Administration is performed by locally elected councils, overseen by presidential appointees.

An April 1999 decree by Karimov granted mahallas, the smallest communal or neighborhood units in Uzbekistan, a greater level of autonomy than they previously had. The mahallas are traditional institutions charged by law with regulating communal life, and carrying out many state functions, such as community policing, political surveillance, and distributing social welfare payments. This increase in decentralization for the mahallas has been welcomed by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) attempting to provide assistance to the mahallas and to strengthen the participation of communities in political, economic, and social matters.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The Soviet judiciary system, featuring trials by panels of three judges, still prevails. There are three levels of courts: district courts (people's courts) at the lowest level, regional courts, and the Supreme Court. District court decisions may be appealed through the higher levels. Under the constitution, the president appoints judges for five-year terms. There are also town, city, Tashkent city courts and arbitration courts appointed for five-year terms.

The judicial system also consists of a constitutional court, higher economic court, and economic court of the republic. The constitutional court judges the constitutionality of laws and acts passed by the Supreme Assembly, the decrees issued by the president, government enactments and ordinances of local authorities. It is also responsible for interpreting the constitution.

The Supreme Court's rulings are final and binding. It is the highest judicial body of civil, criminal, and administrative law. Defendants have the right to an attorney and most trials are open to the public. In political cases, the judiciary may experience pressure from the government. Prisons suffer from severe overcrowding and shortages of food and medicine. An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 political prisoners are being held in Uzbekistan's penal institutions.

The government officially abolished censorship in 2002, although the government controls major media outlets and newspaper printing and distribution facilities. Internet access is available but the government has blocked a number of non-Uzbek news Web sites. Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Uzbekistan and prominent human rights activist Ruslan Sharipov, was sentenced in 2005 to five and one-half years for the charge. In March 2004 he was transferred from prison to house arrest.

The 1998 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations prohibits activities including proselytizing and private religious instruction, requires groups to register and provides strict criteria for their registration. There are restrictions on foreign travel, including the use of a system of exit visas; under Uzbek law, a citizen must obtain a five-year exit visa to travel to countries with which Uzbekistan operates a visa regime. The ability to move to a new city is limited as permission is required from local authorities, and the authorities rarely grant permission to those wishing to move to Tashkent.

Crimes perpetrated against women, such as domestic violence or rape are rarely prosecuted as women are discouraged from pressing charges. Trafficking of women and children remains a serious problem. Human Rights Watch reports that local authorities frequently use children as free or cheap labor for agricultural harvests, particularly cotton which the primary export of Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is a member of many international organizations including the United Nations and is an observer at the World Trade Organization.

ARMED FORCES

As of 2005, Uzbekistan's armed forces numbered 55,000 active personnel. The Army numbered 40,000 active members and were armed with 340 main battle tanks, 13 reconnaissance vehicles, 405 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 309 armored personnel carriers, and over 487 artillery pieces. The Air Force had between 10,000 and 15,000 personnel and operated 136 combat capable aircraft, including 75 fighters and 50 fighter ground attack aircraft. The service also had 29 attack helicopters. In addition, there were up to 20,000 paramilitary personnel, under the Ministry of Interior, of which up to 19,000 were internal security troops, and another 1,000 comprised the National Guard. The defense budget for 2005 was $60 million.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Uzbekistan was admitted to the United Nations on 2 March 1992; it participates in ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the IAEA, FAO, the World Bank, UNCTAD, UNESCO, and the WHO. It is also a member of the Asian Development Bank, OSCE, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank, OSCE, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

In June 2001, leaders of Uzbekistan, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan met in China to launch the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and sign an agreement to fight ethnic and religious militancy while promoting trade. Also in 2001, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova formed a social and economic development union known as GUAAM; however, Uzbekistan withdrew from the partnership in 2005. Uzbekistan is also a partner in the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) and the Central Asian Union, both of which consist of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan is part of the Nonaligned Movement and the NATO Partnership for Peace.

In environmental cooperation, Uzbekistan is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Desertification.

ECONOMY

Although characterized by one of the lowest per capita incomes in the Central Asian and other post-Soviet republics, Uzbekistan's rich reserves of gold, oil, natural gas, coal, silver, and copper provide a promising endowment for future development. As a major source of cotton for the textile industry in the former USSR, and, as of 2006, the world's fifth-largest cotton producer and second-largest cotton exporter, Uzbekistan has a predominantly agricultural economy. In addition, much of the industrial production is linked to agriculture, including cotton harvesting equipment, textiles, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Only 12% of Uzbekistan's total cotton production and 60% of its silk cocoons were processed locally in the early 1990s, reflecting the country's principal role as supplier of raw material goods for downstream manufacturing elsewhere in the former USSR. In 2003, agriculture accounted for 38% of GDP, followed by services at 35.7% and industry at 26.3%.

Uzbekistan has a centrally planned economic structure in which most production and employment remains in the state sector, and all health, education, social security, and welfare services are provided by the government. Measures taken toward establishing a greater market orientation within the economy have been more cautious than in many other post-Soviet countries. A differentiated process of price control liberalization was applied to the wholesale and retail sectors in 1991 in an attempt to avoid socially destabilizing surges in consumer prices. Nevertheless, inflation ran 790% in retail prices and 2,700% in wholesale prices in 1992; by the end of the year, real wage earnings had declined by 56%. The disruption of trading arrangements with former Soviet republics and the cessation of transfers from the Union's central government is evident in the erosion of other major economic indicators in the 1990s. In addition to a seriously deteriorating fiscal balance, estimated GDP shrank by 17% between 1991 and 1994. Following a breakdown in agreements over the conditions of a new ruble zone with Russia and other CIS countries, Uzbekistan adopted its own currency, the som, in late 1993.

When it became apparent that the slow pace of economic reform was not working, the government increased efforts to move from a command-driven to a market-oriented economy. Reforms included tighter monetary policies, cooperation with international financial institutions, increased privatization of state-owned enterprises, and an improved environment for foreign investors. In response, the economy slowed its decline to 1% in 1996 and the inflation rate dropped to 35%, down from 1,300% in 1994. Additional reforms announced in 1996 aimed at increasing the private sector's share of GDP to 60%.

By 1999, the state continued to dominate the economy, however. GDP grew by 2.5% in 1997, and 4.4% in 1998, despite the Russian and Asian financial crises. Inflation was at 71% in 1997, but fell to 29% in 1998. In 1999 growth was 4.1% and in 2000, 4%, while inflation persisted at annual rates of 29% and 26% respectively. Continued inflation and a growing debt burden combined with the global economic slowdown in 2001 to reduce real growth to 3%. By 2005, the GDP growth rate had reached an estimated 5.4%, and the inflation rate had been tamed, to an estimated 7.1%.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Uzbekistan's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $52.2 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,900. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5.4%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 7.1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 38% of GDP, industry 26.3%, and services 35.7%.

Foreign aid receipts amounted to $194 million or about $8 per capita and accounted for approximately 2.0% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Uzbekistan totaled $5.45 billion or about $213 per capita based on a GDP of $10.1 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings.

Approximately 34% of household consumption was spent on food, 13% on fuel, 4% on health care, and 7% on education. It was estimated that in 2004 about 28% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

Uzbekistan's labor force was estimated at 14.26 million in 2005. As of 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), occupational breakdown data for the country's workforce was incomplete. Agriculture that year, accounted for 34.4% of the labor force, with industry at 20.3%. However data on the services sector was unavailable. The undefined occupation category was put at 32.7% for that year. Although unemployment in 2005 was officially put at 0.7%, another 20% of the workforce was estimated to be underemployed.

The labor code adopted in 1992 recognizes the right for all workers to voluntarily create and join unions, which may in turn associate with international affiliations. Unions also were granted independence from government administrative and economic bodies (except where provided by law), and were encouraged to develop their own charters, structure, and executive bodies. However, as of 2002, the union structure remained the same as under Soviet rule. There were no independent unions.

The standard workweek is 41 hours, and minimum wages are set by the Ministry of Finance. As of 2002, the minimum wage was about $3.00 per month. Some factories have reduced work hours to avoid layoffs, and overtime pay is rarely given. The minimum working age is 16, although 15-year-olds may work a shorter workday. The Labor Ministry has an inspection service to enforce compliance with this requirement. The Labor Ministry also inconsistently enforces occupational health and safely regulations, many industrial plants continue to be hazardous, and most workers lack protective clothing and equipment.

AGRICULTURE

Uzbekistan was the former Soviet Union's largest producer of fruits and vegetables. About 12% of the total area is crop land. In 2004, about 35% of GDP and 17% of exports came from agriculture.

During the Soviet era, cotton was grown on almost half of all sown land. Cotton is grown in the crescent beginning in the Fergana Valley and extending south along the Tien Shan Mountains to Samarqand (Samarkand) and Bukhoro (Bukhara), and then west along the Amu Darya River. All cotton is flood irrigated. Plantings are generally in April, with the harvest coming in late August or early September. Fields are usually planted with alfalfa or corn every four or five years, but many fields are planted without rotation, leading to declining yields. Since independence, Uzbekistan has embarked on a policy to diversify agriculture; annual cotton lint production was over 1.1 million tons in 2004/05. Almost 40% of the gross value of agricultural production is derived from cotton; Uzbekistan was the world's fifth-largest producer of cotton lint in 2004/05 (after China, the United States, India, and Pakistan), accounting for 4% of world supply. In 2004, Uzbekistan's agricultural trade surplus was $668.3 million.

Rice, wheat, barley, and corn are important grain crops. Rice is produced on 48 specialized state farms, and about 85% of the rice crop comes from the southwestern part of Karakalpakistan and the Khorezm region. In 2004, over five million tons of cereals were produced. Sesame, tobacco, onions, flax, and various fruits are also grown.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Sheep are the main livestock product, with Karakyl sheep (noted for their black wool) raised in the Bukhara region. The livestock population in 2005 included 9.5 million sheep, 5.4 million head of cattle, 1,000,000 goats, 90,000 pigs, 150,000 donkeys, 145,000 horses, 25,000 camels, and about 14.5 million chickens. Meat production that year totaled 551,000 tons, of which 82% was beef, 13% was mutton, 2% was pork, and 3% was poultry. Wool (greasy) production in 2005 was estimated at 16,000 tons. Mulberry trees have been grown for silkworm breeding since the 4th century; some 1,200 tons of silk were produced in 2005.

FISHING

Fishing occurs mainly in the Fergana Valley. The Aral Sea in the north (the world's fourth-largest lake) is too saline and becoming more so, especially since its water surface area has decreased by 33% since 1960. The total catch in 2003 was 7,112 tons, primarily carp.

FORESTRY

Forests make up 4.8% of the total land area, mostly in the Fergana Valley and Zeravshan regions. Commercial forestry is not a significant part of the economy. Uzbekistan imported $37.2 million in forestry products during 2004.

MINING

The mineral sector remained one of the chief contributors to the country's economic development. Along with natural gas and uranium, in which Uzbekistan was a world leader, and crude oil, in which it was self-sufficient, the country was significant to world mineral markets as a gold producerit has, at times, been a world leader. Gold was the second-leading export commodity in 2002, providing 22% of export earnings. Production of fertilizers was an important part of the domestic chemical industry, as fertilizers were used for the production of cotton. In 2002, cotton was the leading export, accounting for 45% of Uzbekistan's exports.

Uzbekistan produced an estimated 80,000 kg of gold in 2002. Uzbekistan also mined copper (65,000 metric tons in 2002), molybdenum, silver, and tungsten. Copper, molybdenum, and lead-zinc were mined at the Almalyk mining and metallurgical complex, Uzbekistan's major nonferrous-metals-producing enterprise, northeast of Tashkent. No bismuth, cadmium, lead, palladium, tin, or zinc has been mined from 1997 through 2002. It appears that mining operations have been curtailed sharply or have ceased. Control of one of the main lead-mining deposits, Altyn-Topkan, in the Kurama mountain range, was transferred to Tajikistan in 1999. Uzbekistan also produced cement, kaolin clays (an estimated 5.5 million metric tons in 2002), feldspar, graphite, iodine, mineral fertilizer, nitrogen, phosphate rock, and sulfur. No fluorspar output has been reported from 1999 through 2002. Uzbekistan also manufactured copper, gold, lead, molybdenum, silver, steel, tungsten, and zinc metals.

Uzbekistan's explored resources of gold were 5,300 tons. The main reserves, amounting to 3,200 tons, were in the central Kyzylkum region, containing the Muruntau deposit (2,230 tons), the largest gold deposit in Eurasia and among the largest in the world; Muruntau's milling operation, near Zarafshan, processed more than 22 million tons per year of ore. Zeravshana 5050 joint venture of an Uzbeck government conglomerate and Newmont Corp., of the United States, the leading foreign investor in Uzbekistan's gold industryproduced 15.4 tons in 2000, from gold-bearing tailings from the Muruntau operation, down from 16.7 in 1999. The drop was a result of lower gold content in the material received by the plant.

ENERGY AND POWER

Uzbekistan is one of the 10 largest producers of natural gas in the world. According to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), updated as of September 2005, Uzbekistan had natural gas reserves estimated at 66.2 trillion cu ft. In 2003, according to the EIA, natural gas production totaled 2.03 trillion cu ft, and according to preliminary data for 2004, natural gas output totaled 2.07 trillion cu ft. Dry natural gas consumption in 2002 totaled 1.6 trillion cu ft. Exports that year totaled 395.53 billion cu ft.

According to the EIA analysis, the Oil and Gas Journal estimates that Uzbekistan's proven reserves of oil total 594 million barrels. Uzbekistan's output of all petroleum liquids in 2003 totaled 155,000 barrels per day. In 2004, production was estimated at 150,000 barrels per day.

In 2002, Uzbekistan's electric power generating capacity totaled 11.631 million kW, of which conventional fossil fuel generating plants accounted for b9.921 million kW of capacity, with hydroelectric plants at 1.710 million kW. Electricity output in 2002 came to 46.942 billion kWh of which 86.5% was from fossil fuels and 13.5% from hydropower. Consumption of electricity in 2002 was 44.983 billion kWh.

INDUSTRY

Growth of Uzbekistan's industrial production averaged 3.2% in the 1980s, although on a per capita basis, the republic's industrial output remained less than half that of the USSR average by the end of the decade. Most industry was based on the processing of local agricultural products. Soft goods (mainly cotton, wool, and silk fiber) and processed foods (including cottonseed oil, meat, dried fruit, wines, and tobacco) accounted for about 39% and 13% of industrial production respectively in 1990; their manufacture was concentrated in Tashkent and the Fergana Valley.

Uzbeklegprom, the state association for the production of light industry goods, produces about 90% of Uzbekistan's textiles. In the late 1990s, Uzbeklegprom sought to boost capacity with the assistance of several joint venture partners. Investment projects such as the $194 million investment Korean Kabul Textiles and those by Turkish firms Astop and Tekfen began to modernize cotton processing, although most textile mills continue to use out-dated machinery with technology from the 1970s. The investment cost of updating the entire industry was estimated at between $500 million and $1 billion.

Food processing is Uzbekistan's second-largest industry, based on the country's abundant production of fruits and vegetables. The sector is also in need of investment to modernize its processing and packaging equipment.

Uzbekistan's machinery industry is the primary producer of machines and heavy equipment in Central Asia. Uzavtosanoat is the cornerstone of the country's automotive industry; it has developed joint ventures with Daimler-Benz (Germany) and Daewoo (ROK). The UzDaewoo-Avto plant in Andizhan began production in 1996 and produced about 200,000 units annually. Two models of cars, the Nexia and the Tico, and a microbus, the Damas, are the main models produced.

The aerospace industry centers around the Chkalov Tashkent Aircraft Production Co., a government-controlled enterprise that is one of the largest and most significant aircraft assembly plants in Central Asia. Equipment used on the Salyut and Mir space stations were among its products. Of more practical use have been developments in satellite imaging and communications.

Metal processing industries are clustered in the Olmaliq-Oharangan (Almalyk-Akhangaran) complex, southeast of Tashkent. Metal alloys, wire, rods and sheet and gas-based nitrogen are manufactured in Chirchiq, close to the Kazakhstan border in the northeast. Chemical fertilizers used mainly in cotton production are also produced in the Chirchiq.

Uzbekistan has three oil refineries, at Fergana, Alty-Arik, and Bukhoro (Bukhara), with a total capacity of 220,000 barrels per day. The 50,000-barrels-per-day-capacity facility at Bukhoro (Bukhara) was built after the breakup of the Soviet Union at a cost in excess of $400 million; it was expected to be expanded to a capacity of 100,000 barrels per day with the ability to handle both crude oil and gas condensate. In 2006, however, the refineries were operating well below capacity because of the decline in the Uzbekistan's oil production.

With estimated natural gas reserves of 66.2 trillion cu ft (Tcf), Uzbekistan is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the Commonwealth of Independent States (after Russia), and one of the top 10 natural gas-producing states in the world. Since becoming independent, Uzbekistan increased its natural gas production by over 30%, from 1.51 Tcf in 1992 to an estimated 2.07 Tcf in 2004.

In 2004, the industrial production growth rate was estimated at 9.4%.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The Uzbek Academy of Sciences, headquartered in Tashkent, has departments of physical-mathematical sciences; mechanics; control processes; informatics; chemical-technological and earth sciences; and biological sciences. Uzbekistan has 45 research institutes conducting research in agriculture and veterinary sciences, technology, natural sciences, and medicine. Twenty-three colleges and universities offer scientific and technical training. In the period 19902001, there were 1,754 scientists and engineers, and 312 technicians engaged in research and development per million people.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Although dominated by state-owned stores and distribution channels under the Soviet economy, retailing has seen a marked shift toward private business. Since 1992, thousands of small businesses have been privatized or leased to worker collectives, with the most progress in retail trade, consumer services, public catering, and local industry. However, the shift from state control to a free-market economy continued to move at a very slow pace. Urban markets provide an important outlet for the sale of vegetables and other foodstuffs. Government restrictions on trade and foreign investment have hindered the economy. Black market trade was still available as of early 2006.

Business hours are 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, and banks are open from 9 am to 4 pm. Department stores are open from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday.

Advertising by print and television is popular. Other forms of advertising include billboards, radio, and transportation (buses, trams) advertisements. Many affluent Uzbeks subscribe to Kamalak wireless cable television service.

FOREIGN TRADE

While supplying the former USSR with light industry goods (mainly cotton fiber) and basic equipment related to agriculture and agricultural processing, Uzbekistan has been highly dependent on the other former Soviet republics for critically needed grain, food, machinery, and other industrial inputs. Uzbekistan is a net exporter of natural gas, but had begun importing oil in the early 2000s.

In 2006, exports included cotton, gold, natural gas, fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, and automobiles. Imports included grain, machinery and parts, consumer durables, and foods.

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Uzbekistan was extremely reliant on cotton exports as a means of trade throughout its association with the former USSR, but earnings fluctuated widely from year to year depending on the performance of the agricultural sector. Exports of natural gas and petroleum generated much needed hard currency reserves within the next several years. Uzbekistan received substantial financial support from the World Bank, IMF, and other multilateral lending institutions. Proceeds were used to finance the cotton industry and oil and gas development, to provide a social safety net, to maintain the water supply, and to further privatization efforts.

The country lost almost half of its foreign exchange reserves in 1996, after the government imposed strict currency controls. As of the early 2000s, Uzbekistan was able to maintain reserve levels at or close to $1.2 billion, in large measure by restricting imports. Exports dropped as well, and as a result of this decline in trade, Uzbekistan managed to achieve a modest balance of payments surplus of $359 million in 1999. The country's external debt stood at $5.1 billion in 2001. Many creditors reassessed their lending to Uzbekistan due to this high debt burden, and foreign investment declined.

The estimated current account balance in 2003 was $270 million. By the end of that year, the country's total debt stock amounted to $4.6 billion. Trade volumes have fallen sharply since 1997, due in part to Uzbekistan's currency convertibility restrictions, which still continue for consumer goods, significant administration barriers for licensing and certification, and very high customs duties. However, high prices for gold and cotton, two of Uzbekistan's primary export commodities, resulted in a slight increase in trade revenues in the mid-2000s.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

After 1993, the banking system was headed by the now-defunct National Bank of Uzbekistan, the former local branch of the Soviet Gosbank. The NBU attempted to increase its supervision over Uzbekistan's banks, the most important of which are state-owned. In 2002, the Central Bank of Uzbekistan (CBU) was in charge of the country's two-tier banking system, and had the responsibility of issuing soms, the country's currency unit, and regulating the commercial banks by setting reserve requirements and the discount rate. The other important state bank was the Uzbek National Bank of Foreign Economic Activities (NBU), which dealt exclusively with the foreign exchange rate.

There were increasing hints from the government that the banking sector is in trouble. The first indicator of a banking crisis came with the sudden and unpublicized sacking in January 1997 of Ahmat Ibotov, the head of Promstroi Bank, the second-largest bank in Uzbekistan after the NBU. Then, on 26 February 1997, President Karimov launched a scathing attack on the country's banks, accusing them of being corrupt and bureaucratic. The president also blamed the banks for maintaining excessively high interest rates. The CBU has also criticized the banks for poor credit risk evaluation and poor procedures over the issuing of bank guarantees. Commercial banks in the country include the Uzbek Commercial Bank and the Uzbek Joint-Stock Innovation Bank. The country does not have a security market, but the trading of commodities is widely practiced in the country.

In 1996, the authorities closed three banks, all supposedly for breaching lending limits set by the CBU. One of the main problems in the banking sector is over-concentration. The three largest banks, all of which are state-owned, control 86% of commercial banks' assets. The main culprit is the NBU, which accounts for 45% of assets.

INSURANCE

Among the insurance companies doing business in Uzbekistan in 1997 were: GOSSTRAKH State Insurance Company of the Republic of Uzbekistan; JV, UMID Joint-Stock Insurance Co.; MADAD Joint-Stock Insurance Agency; and Uzbekinvest National Insurance Co. of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is government-owned.

PUBLIC FINANCE

Uzbekistan's spiraling inflation as a member of the ruble zone necessitated the introduction of a transition currency after it left the ruble zone in November 1993. In 1994, the government undertook economic reforms, but privatization efforts have fallen short of expectations. Subsidies for basic consumer goods (except some food staples and energy products) and subsidized credit to industrial enterprises were substantially reduced during 1994 and 1995. The external debt, $1.5 billion at the end of 1994, more than doubled to $3.3 billion by 1997. By 2005, it had exceeded $5 billion. An enterprise profit tax, a value-added tax, and an excise tax on cotton supply the bulk of government revenues. The government is officially committed to a gradual transition to a free-market economy, but is cautious in the actions it takes toward that goal. The restrictive trade regime has crippled the economy and currency convertibility is essentially unheard of.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Uzbekistan's central government took in revenues of approximately $2.8 billion and had expenditures of $2.9 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$102 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 39% of GDP. Total external debt was $5.184 billion.

TAXATION

As of 2005, Uzbekistan had a standard corporate tax rate of 18%. Capital gains are treated as taxable profits and are taxed at the corporate rate. Dividends and interest paid to resident companies and individuals, and to nonresident foreign companies without a permanent presence in the country, are subject to a 15% withholding tax. Royalties are subject to a 20% withholding tax, if paid to nonresident firms without a permanent presence in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan has a maximum personal income tax rate of 33%. The official minimum monthly wage rate in Uzbekistan is 3,430 soms, which is worth about $2 in the black market. People who earn less than 15,720 soms (about $9) a month pay 13%. On the increment between 15,720 soms and 31,140 soms ($18) per month the rate is 23%, and on income above 31,140, the new maximum rate is 33%. At the same time the government introduced a 20-som tax on each liter of gas.

Also levied is a 20% value-added tax (VAT) on all goods and services, although some are zero-rated or exempt. Other taxes include excise taxes, property taxes, an ecology tax, a subsurface use tax (imposed on natural resource extraction, road use taxes and social and pension fund contributions.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Uzbekistan is a member of the Economic Cooperation Organization, together with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Uzbekistan has also formed an economic union with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Imports are subject to customs duties at rates ranging from 14%. However, excise taxes have been much higher, as much as 90% for imported liquor.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

While Uzbekistan's store of valuable natural resources is likely to provide a strong basis for covering the costs of long-term economic development, significant amounts of external funding will be needed to support its short-term development plans over the next decade. To stimulate foreign direct investment, legislation adopted in mid-1991 provides tax incentives and guarantees against expropriation, though falling short of securing the right to repatriate profits and third-party dispute arbitration. By the end of 1992, 450 joint ventures were registered in the country but only 135 were actually operating. The largest of these is with the US-based Newmont Mining Corp. Negotiations over further Western participation in the exploitation of a major oil field discovered in the Fergana Valley in early 1992 followed. Fourteen bilateral agreements with China were signed in 1992.

In 1994, British-American Tobacco, one of the world's largest cigarette manufacturers, announced a $200 million deal to acquire 51% of state-owned Uztobacco. That same year, a Coca-Cola joint venture began operations in Uzbekistan. In August 1996, South Korea's Daewoo Group announced the planned investment of $2.5 billion in Uzbekistan to build telecommunications networks. Daewoo has invested $658 million to produce cars in Uzbekistan. In 2000 Uzbekistan and Israel announced plans to cooperate on the development of solar power technology.

The Uzbek government reported foreign direct investment (FDI) of $298 million in 1998 and $188 million in 1999. In 2003, FDI inflows were estimated at $70 million by the Economist Intelligence Unit; government figures listed FDI inflows at $167 million. Despite Uzbekistan's strategic location and considerable economic potential, the poor investment and business climate has caused the country to attract less FDI than any other CIS country. The largest percentage of FDI in 2003 originated from Russia (15.8%), South Korea (9.8%), and the United States (8.7%).

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Under centralized Soviet economic planning, Uzbekistan's economic growth was fueled by expanded agricultural production, as extensive stretches of land were brought under irrigation particularly for cultivation of cotton. While highly critical of the former Soviet's government emphasis on promoting cotton monoculture in the republic, the country's new government has found that the country's economic fortunes are closely tied to cotton production, which has fallen steadily since the Soviet era.

Since independence the government has aimed at facilitating a greater market orientation in the economy, though the steps taken toward this goal have been smaller and slower-paced than in other parts of the former USSR. A series of basic laws and new policies have been adopted regarding property ownership, land, privatization, foreign investment, price controls, trade, taxes, and banking. In 1995 the government announced a mass privatization program with the objective of increasing the private sector's share of GDP from 40% to 60%. Although nearly 60,000 small businesses (96% of the total) and 14,000 farms (accounting for 11% of arable land) had been privatized by 1997, only 20% of Uzbekistan's medium and large-sized enterprises were in private hands.

Developing the country's oil and natural gas fields, bolstering cotton exports through productivity enhancement, and sustaining gold exports are likely to be key strategies for procuring some of the necessary financing to support economic development. In 1992, Uzbekistan signed an agreement with Russia, transferring its share of the former Soviet Union's debt to the latter in exchange for relinquishing all claims on Soviet assets. One area of serious concern for the government is the increasing threat to public health and economic productivity posed by the environmental damage resulting from past development strategies. Addressing growing water shortages, severe river and lake pollution caused by the heavy use of chemical inputs in agriculture, the desiccation of the Aral Sea due to massive irrigation, and high levels of both air and water pollution in the country's industrial centers are among the country's most pressing environmental management problems.

In 2002 the government and the Central Bank embarked on an IMF staff monitored program (SMP) primarily designed to convince the IMF to approve a financial program. The SMP was aimed at accelerating the transition to a market economy and achieving macroeconomic stability. The main policies pursued were reducing the role of the state through progressive lifting of restrictions on private activity, as well as accelerated privatization state enterprises, plus tight monetary and fiscal policies to bring down inflation and reduce debt. As of 2002, World Bank commitments to Uzbekistan amounted to $463 million: a three-year Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) was aimed to prepare the country and its decision-makers for currency and trade liberalization. At the same time, it provided for investments in projects contributing to poverty reduction, public health, ecological disaster prevention, regional environmental degradation, and institution building.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has traditionally been one of the largest investors in Uzbekistan's economy. From 19932003, the EBRD signed 25 projects in the country, and its total financial assistance amounted to $727.9 million. These projects included the rehabilitation of the oil refineries and power plants, building of new production facilities, development of gold mines, assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and others.

Uzbekistan became a member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1995 and by 2003 had received 10 loans from it. ADB assistance was directed to transportation and communications, social infrastructure, agriculture and natural resources, and finance.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The social security system includes old age, disability and survivor's pensions, in addition to sickness, maternity, work injury, and unemployment benefits. Pensions are provided at age 60 for men and age 55 for women. The program is financed by a 33% contribution from employers and a 2.5% contribution by employees. Women are entitled to 126 days of maternity benefits plus three years unpaid maternity leave. Unemployment benefits are funded entirely by employers, with subsidies as needed from the government. All residents are have medical benefits, and maternity befits amount to 100% of wages for up to 140 days. Mothers with children under two years of age are entitles to paid leave. Family allowances cover all needy residents.

Violence against women and spousal abuse continues to be a common problem with little or no governmental intervention. Although nominally equal under the law, women hold few high-level positions. Traditional customs decree that women generally marry young, bear many children, and confine their activities to the home. This is particularly evident in rural areas. There is a reported increase in the incidence of suicide by self-immolation by women. Sexual harassment is not proscribed by law, and societal norms and lack of recourse make it difficult to assess the scope of the problem.

Human rights violations are prevalent. Security forces arbitrarily arrest and detain individuals, torture and beat prisoners, and confine them to unsafe prisons and labor camps. Freedom of speech and press are tightly restricted. Religious groups are closely monitored. The activities of human rights organizations are restricted, and human rights activists are frequently harassed.

HEALTH

The system of health care in Uzbekistan is comprehensive and services are provided mainly free of charge. Yet the overall efficacy of the Uzbek system was still relatively low as of 2000. The public often used hospitals for primary care. Health care reform objectives as of 2000 included improved quality of services overall and specifically in the areas of maternal and child health; promotion of privatization; and cost containment. Primary health care in rural areas is still provided by health posts staffed by physicians' assistants and midwives. Approximately 85% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 100% had adequate sanitation. As of 2004, there were an estimated 289 physicians, 997 nurses, 21 dentists, and 3 pharmacists per 100,000 people. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 4.1% of GDP.

The infant mortality rate was 71.10 per 1,000 live births in 2005. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 26.1 and 8 per 1,000 people. The average life expectancy was 64.19 years in 2005. It was estimated that 93% of children up to one year old were immunized against tuberculosis; 65% against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus; 79% against polio; and 71% against measles. The rates for DPT and measles were, respectively, 99% and 96%.

The heart disease rates were well above the countries classified as "medium human development" by the World Health Organization. The likelihood of dying after age 65 of heart disease was 508 for males and 538 for females per 1,000 adults.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 11,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 500 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

HOUSING

In 1989, 31.9% of all privately owned urban housing had running water, 11.3% had sewer lines, 21.1% had central heating, and 1.5% had hot water. In 1990, Uzbekistan had 12.1 sq m of housing space per capita and, as of 1 January 1991, 204,000 households (or 11.5%) were on waiting lists for urban housing. In 1996, it was estimated that about 90% of all households owned their own apartments or houses.

EDUCATION

For centuries, Uzbekistan was a noted Muslim educational center. Muslim schools in the cities of Bukhoro (Bukhara), Samarqand (Samarkand), Tashkent, and Khiva attracted students from other Muslim countries. In 1920, after the Soviet Union took control of the region, schools and mosques were closed down, and a secular state-funded educational system was established. In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on Uzbek literature, culture, and history.

Nine years of schooling is compulsory. Primary school lasts for four years, followed by general secondary school of five years. Students than have several options for continuing their upper secondary education, including general studies, technical or vocational programs, and specialized academic programs. Upper secondary courses usually cover two years of study. The academic year runs from September to June.

In 2001, primary schools enrolled 2,559,000 students. In the same year, secondary schools had 4,237,000 students. It has been estimated that nearly all students complete their primary education.

There are three universities in Uzbekistan: Tashkent State University; Nukus State University; and Samarkand Alisher Naroi State University. There are several other institutions offering specialized training. In 2003, it was estimated that about 16% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 99.3%.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The largest library in the country is the Alisher Navoi State Public Library of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, which serves as the national library and holds over 10 million items. The Central State Archive of Uzbekistan is also in Tashkent, as are the Republic Library for Science and Technology (two million volumes), the Foundation Library of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences (1.5 million), the Pedagogical Institute (808,000), Tashkent State University (2.46 million), and the Polytechnic Institute (808,000). Samarqand (Samarkand) State University's library holds 1.6 million volumes, and the Pedagogical Institute Ulugbek in Fergana holds 295,000 volumes.

The Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of History, the National Nature Museum, and the Sergey Yesenin Literary Museum are in Tashkent, as are the Central Museum of the Armed Forces and the Museum of Olympic Glory. The Museum of Culture and Art History and the International Museum of Peace and Solidarity are in Samarqand (Samarkand). The Termez Archaeological Museum was established in 2001.

MEDIA

Telephone links to other former Soviet Republics are provided by land link or microwave and to other countries through Moscow. In 2003, there were an estimated 67 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 38,900 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 13 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radio Tashkent, established in 1947, broadcasts in Uzbek, English, Urdu, Hindi, Farsi, Arabic, and Uighur. There is also a television station in Tashkent, and satellite earth stations receive Orbita and INTELSAT. In 2004, the government owned four television channels and two radio stations. There were about 30 to 40 privately owned local television stations and 7 privately owned radio stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 456 radios and 280 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, 19 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There was one secure Internet server in the country in 2004.

Though there are privately-owned newspapers, the government owns the entire publishing house and must grant approval for all publications printed. The most widely read dailies include Khalk Suzi (2002 circulation 52,000), Pravda Vostoka (35,000), and Sovet Uzbekistoni. The weekly Narodnoye Slovo has a circulation of 21,000.

Though the constitution provides for freedom of expression, the government is said to restrict those rights severely, controlling all information flow. A 1991 law prohibits offending the president. Though a 2002 law allowing for prepublication censorship has been eliminated, many media sources continue to practice self-censorship.

ORGANIZATIONS

The Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry promotes the country's exports in world markets. An umbrella organization, the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan, coordinates the activities of the country's trade unions.

The Academy of Sciences was established in 1943 to promote public interest in science while encouraging the work of scientific researchers and educators. The Physicians Association of Uzbekistan serves as a professional networking group and promotes research and education on public health issues.

National youth organizations include the Ulugbek Foundation for the Support of Talented Youth, the Youth of the Union of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Soglom Ovlun Uchun, an organization focusing on health and development for children and youth. There are many active sports associations promoting amateur competition for athletes of all ages.

Women's organizations include the Center for Women Leaders (in Tashkent) and the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan. The Society for Human Rights is an important political association. Several social action groups formed in the 1990s, many, such as Real Action (1994), the ECO Initiative Group (1999) and Ecopolis Cultural and Ecological Movement (1995), are focused on environmental and developmental issues. The Red Crescent Society is also active.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Uzbekistan tourist attractions include the Islamic cities of Samarqand (Samarkand), Bukhoro (Bukhara), Khiva, and Kokand. Muslims from Pakistan, Iran, and the Middle East have been drawn to these sites with their palaces, mosques, madrasses (religious colleges), and pre-Islamic remains.

In an effort to increase tourism in recent years, several hotels have been built in Uzbekistan, and historical monuments were reconstructed. In 2003, there were 231,000 visitors who arrived in Uzbekistan. Hotel rooms numbered 7,332 with 15,670 beds and an occupancy rate of 31%. The average length of stay was three nights. That same year, tourism expenditure receipts totaled $48 million.

According to 2004 US Department of State estimates, the cost of staying in Tashkent was $178 per day.

FAMOUS UZBEKISTANIS

Islam A. Karimov (b.1938) has been president of Uzbekistan since 1991. A famous 20th century writer is Abdullah Quaisi, who wrote the historical novels Days Gone By and the Scorpion from the Pulpit, published in the 1920s. Quaisi was killed in the 1930s during Stalin's purges. Ilyas Malayev (b.1936) is a popular poet and musician.

DEPENDENCIES

Uzbekistan has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Craumer, Peter. Rural and Agricultural Development in Uzbekistan. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, Russian and CIS Programme; distributed by the Brookings Institution, 1995.

Ferguson, Robert W. The Devil and the Disappearing Sea: A True Story about the Aral Sea Catastrophe. Vancouver, B.C.: Raincoast Books, 2003.

Human Rights and Democratization in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Washington, D.C.: Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 2000.

Kort, Michael. Central Asian Republics. New York: Facts On File, 2004.

Malcomson, Scott L. BorderlandsNation and Empire. Boston: Faber and Faber, 1994.

Melvin, Neil. Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic, 2000.

Nazarov, Bakhtiyar A. and Denis Sinor (eds.). Essays on Uzbek History, Culture, and Language. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University, 1993.

Northrop, Douglas Taylor. Veiled Empire: Gender and Power in Stalinist Central Asia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004.

Seddon, David (ed.). A Political and Economic Dictionary of the Middle East. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Uzbekistan
Region: East & South Asia
Population: 24,755,519
Language(s): Uzbek, Russian, Tajik
Literacy Rate: 99%
Academic Year: September-May
Number of Primary Schools: 9,432
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 7.7%
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 2,140,350
  Secondary: 3,318,900
  Higher: 638,200
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 78%
  Secondary: 94%
Teachers: Primary: 95,000
  Secondary: 340,200
  Higher: 24,787
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 21:1
  Secondary: 9:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 76%
  Secondary: 88%



History & Background

Uzbekistan is one the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. At the end of 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union transformed all republics of that union into independent states. Located in the heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan has a long and dramatic history. It first flourished economically because of the famous "Silk Road" going through the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Tashkent, the oasis towns over which caravans brought the products of Europe to exchange for those of Asia. Many famous conquerors passed through the land including Alexander the Great who stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. In the eighth century A.D., the territory was conquered by Muslim Arabs and, in the ninth century, the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire there. Uzbekistan was overrun by Genghis Khan in 1220. In the 1300s Timur built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan's heritage goes back about 2,500 years. In addition to its economic importance, this territory flourished as the medieval intellectual center of the Muslim world.

Russian trade with this region grew during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and, in 1865, Russian troops occupied Tashkent. By the end of the nineteenth century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia, placed it under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.

In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the territories of the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand were united into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan. The Soviet era brought literacy and technical development to Uzbekistan. The Republic was valued for its cotton growing and natural resources. However, together with positive developments, there was communist domination which brought with it the suppression of local cultural and religious tendencies. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991.

Geographically, Uzbekistan is located in the middle of Central Asia with flat, sandy terrain and broad, intensely irrigated valleys along the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya. Uzbekistan borders with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tadjikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan territory is 447,400 square kilometers (117,868 square miles) or slightly larger than California. The climate is characterized by long, hot summers and mild winters. Uzbekistan is subdivided into 12 regions, plus the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan. Tashkent has a population of two million and is the capital of Uzbekistan.

Politically, the country is a republic with the Constitution adopted 8 December 1992. People elect the President in direct election. Islam Karimov is the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the third consecutive time. The Uzbekistan government has three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Supreme Court.

Economically, Uzbekistan was one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union. The population is heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. The work force is comprised of the following: agriculture and forestry, 44 percent; industry and construction, 20 percent; and other, 36 percent. In 1997 Uzbekistan GDP was $21.3 billion, and per capita GDP was $895. It is the world's fourth largest producer of cotton. It also produces significant amounts of silk, fruits, vegetables, and other crops. As the world's seventh largest producer of gold, about eighty tons per year, it also has the fourth largest gold reserves. There are sufficient amounts of oil and an abundance of natural gas used for both domestic consumption and export and exportable reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. There is trade with Russia, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the neighboring countries, former Soviet republics, now called the newly independent states (NIS).

Socially and culturally, Uzbekistan is a contemporary mix. It is Central Asia's most highly populated country with the population of over twenty-four million, i.e., nearly half the region's total population. Approximately 98 percent of the total population is literate. The population falls into the following ethnic groups: Uzbek 80 percent, Russian 5.5 percent, Tajik 5 percent, Kazakh 3 percent, Karakalpak 2.5 percent, Tatar 1.5 percent, and other 2.5 percent. In terms of religion, the nation is 88 percent Sunni Moslem, 9 percent Eastern Orthodox, and 3 percent other. The state language since 1991 is Uzbek, but Russian is the de facto language of interethnic and business communication. The Uzbekistan society exhibits characteristics of nepotism, clannishness, and even corruption as integral features of its culture (Abramson 1999).


Constitutional & Legal Foundations


According to the Uzbekistan Constitution, everyone is entitled to an education. The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on education mandates equal rights for education without discrimination of any kind such as sex, language, age, race and ethnic origin, convictions, attitude towards religion, social background, place of residence, and duration of stay in the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Students in educational institutions are granted benefits, stipends, and dormitory housing (Article 20). The right to secular education is secured for every individual regardless of personal religious beliefs (Article 7 of the Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations"). However, clerical disciplines cannot be included into curricula and training programs. On 29 August 1997, the Oliy Majlis passed the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On Education," which includes The National Program of the Personnel Training System. Legislative acts recognize the priority of international agreements ratified by the Republic of Uzbekistan.

According to Islam Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan, "the individual is the main target of the radical transformation. A harmoniously developed generation is the basis for progress in Uzbekistan" (Karimov 1998). Dr. Saidahror Gulyamov, Minister of Higher Education, stated that setting up a free, prosperous, democratic society is impossible without changing consciousness and that those changes can only be made through education. To accomplish this, radical reform of the educational system is necessary (Gulyamov 1999).

Looking forward to globalization of the market, Uzbekistan is focused on the preparation of fully trained professionals able to work at the international level. Therefore, an educational system, which is comparable to international standards at all levels, is a must. The government sees "the transition from the education for the entire life to continuing education during the entire life" (Gulyamov 1999) as the way to accomplish this. The emphasis is on combining specific national characteristics with international experience and implementation of upto-date international innovations.


Educational SystemOverview


According to official sources, about 60 percent of Uzbekistan's population is covered under the system of education. The earlier educational system required 11 years of compulsory schooling for both men and women. In 1992 the policy decision was made to change from 11 to 9 years of compulsory education. After nine years of compulsory schooling, students can prepare for higher education in tenth or eleventh grade or turn to vocational training. After graduating from any type of secondary education, an individual can enter a higher education institution to obtain a bachelor's degree and continue study toward a master's or doctoral degree.

Budget constraints and other transition problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, have made it difficult to maintain and update educational buildings, equipment, texts, supplies, teaching methods, and curricula. Foreign aid for education is desperately needed, but has not been sufficient to compensate for the loss of central funding.

When viewed in general, the Uzbekistan educational system includes:

  • Preschool training (preprimary-from three to six years old)
  • General secondary education (from 6 to 15 years old)
  • Secondary vocational education (from 15 to 18 years old)
  • Higher education (undergraduate and graduate-from 18 years old).

Girls and boys are legally considered equal and study in the same classes and schools. Schools are open to all ethnic groups, and minorities in schools are rarely an issue.

The academic year begins on 2 September (the first of September is the Independence Day) or the first working day of September. The academic year ends in June for secondary schools and in July for higher education. Russian was a common language for over 100 nationalities living in the Soviet Union and played the same role as English for the United States. It was also the Lingua Franca of the socialist world that included Bulgaria, Poland, Mongolia, and other European and Asian countries. Without Russian as a common language, Uzbeks (and other ethnic groups) would have to learn Ukrainian, Belorussian, Moldovian, Armenian, and many other languages to communicate with the multinational population of the Soviet Union. Therefore, until 1991, Uzbeks preferred schools with instruction in Russian for their children. To not do so would have put them at a great disadvantage socially. After Uzbekistan gained its independence, Uzbek (not Russian) became the official language of instruction. In 1998-1999, some 76.8 percent of pupils at day schools were educated in Uzbek.

Examinations in the educational system of Uzbekistan are primarily oral. Universities, institutes, and some colleges still have entrance exams. Course exams occur only at the end of the course (semester). State exams are taken at higher education institutions at the completion of all coursework. The grading system of Uzbekistan is numerical. The highest grade is 5 (excellent = A), then follows 4 (good = B), 3 (satisfactory = C), and 2 (unsatisfactory = F). One is never used. Final grades are determined by test scores, papers, attendance, and class participation.

Because compulsory education is freely provided to all children of Uzbekistan, private schools have a difficult time justifying their existence. In fact, they were banned in 1993. Also, since Uzbekistan Law declares the separation of education from religion, there are no religious schools. However, in 1999, the establishment of the Tashkent Islamic University was allowed. Computer technology, thanks to international assistance, is being introduced to educational institutions and training centers. In 1994, the Central Asian Telecommunications Training Center (CATTC) was established in Uzbekistan under the Tacis Program of the European Commission. Training at the CATTC is provided using modern teaching aids, active methods, and individual and group methods by specialists and experts in different fields. The Computer Center at the University of Samarkand provides computer service to departments and research units and collaborates with other institutions and the private sector to run short training courses. At the secondary school level, computers are still rare.

As a result of decline in funding, the printing of books, textbooks, and other publications face numerous difficulties. This problem is common for all NIS countries. Nevertheless, despite obvious difficulties, according to UNESCO, Uzbekistan schools supplied about 60 percent of textbooks as a whole and for some selected subjects up to 100 percent. Publishing houses produced about 149 million copies of over 1700 various titles. From 1992 to 1997, some 174 textbooks with over 53,000 copies were published, including 138 original, 19 translated, 8 parallel in 2 languages, and 9 experimental textbooks. About 170 various tutorials and educational literature in 7 languages are published. Audiovisual materials are usually manually prepared by teachers. With the high price of copying and low salaries, teachers and professors must be creative.

In the Soviet-type higher education institution, most students studied for a full working week (five to six days a week, six to eight hours of classes a day). Evening and correspondence courses were also popular. The first and the second year of the curriculum usually included the study of social science with similar course requirements for all students. Specialization began in the third year and continued in the fourth year. Within this period a student had between 4,500 and 5,000 face-to-face hours of instruction in 20 to 30 subjects, depending on the field of concentration. Curriculum included general subjects like philosophy and economy, specialized subjects determined by the chosen profession, and very specific courses depending on the deeper specialization. Curriculum was very rigid and equal for all students. There were no choices. In the modern system higher education institutions, curriculum is certainly less rigid. However, the authorization of the curriculum is still the responsibility of a ministry, not a particular institution.

The expansion of curricula, including the addition of courses in French, Arabic, and English, has placed new stress on a limited supply of teachers and materials. In the mid-1990s, a major curriculum reform was begun. Western experts advised:

  • a more commercial approach to the mathematics curriculum
  • more emphasis in economics courses on the relationship of capital to labor
  • more emphasis in social science courses on individual responsibility for the environment
  • the addition of entirely new subjects, such as business management.

Because such changes involve new materials and a new pedagogical approach by staff, the reform period is estimated at 10 to 15 years. The current transformation of the educational system is performed along educational models in developed countries. According to Gulyamov, "During the process of developing the National Program the experience of reforming education in more than 30 leading countries in the world has been studied" (Gulyamov 1999).

In 1997, President Karimov founded "Umid," a program providing students with educational fellowships for obtaining education abroad. By the year 2000, over 700 students have been awarded the "Umid" Presidential Scholarship to pursue graduate and undergraduate degrees in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan. Certainly, returning graduates are expected to bring back "the influence," and those who have finished their studies are employed by the State. The Uzbekistan educators established contacts with the United Nations Organization and separate countries like France, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, and the United States. Many organizations like Peace Corp (USA), ACCELS (USA), British Council, Merci Project (Great Britain), Goethe Institute (Germany), NAFE (USA), and Save the Children Fund (Great Britain) participate in the educational efforts undertaken by Uzbekistan. For example, the Ministry of Education of Turkey assisted in forming 22 Lycea for over 4.8 thousand students. Another example is the American Council on Cooperation in Education (ANCALS) which within 4 years helped over 222 Uzbekistan students get education in the United States. Finally, within only 2 years, 25 Uzbekistan schools got the certificates of UNESCO Associated Schools Project (ASP).

An American Educational Advising Center (EAC) funded by the United States Information Agency (USIA) and administered by the American Council for Collaboration in Education and Language Study (ACCELS) was established in Tashkent to assist individuals interested in studying, training, and/or pursuing research in the United States. Tashkent EAC also monitors three similar regional educational advising centers located in the other cities. EAC provides ongoing training for the advisors.

Finally, the European Training Foundation (ETF) established an observatory to monitor the vocational education and training in Uzbekistan. It also disseminates the language training programs and helps the European Commission with the implementation of the Tempus program. Since 1994 the latter has financed over 12 projects, including the restructuring of the Geography Faculty at Samarkand State University and the development of a new history curriculum at Tashkent State University.

Education has and will continue to play a significant role in development. First, it increases an individual's internal potential, self-respect, and self-esteem. Second, it makes an individual a better prospect for employment. Third and most importantly, an educated individual gives more back to the society. Unfortunately, the results of education and training are less directly connected to revenue for immediate business growth, which is why the government tends to cut educational budgets.


Preprimary & Primary Education

In the past, kindergartens were part of state enterprises and factories, but the decline of the state economy led to the closure of many kindergartens. In the mid-1990s over 8,500 kindergartens accommodated 950,000 children, and there were plans for building new facilities to accommodate 135,000 more children. Out of over 90,000 teachers working in the preprimary education, about 20 percent have higher education and 77 percent have vocational education. Enrollment to the preprimary schools (detsky sad or kindergartens) is voluntary. Children enter elementary school (a part of secondary school) at the age of six or seven. One teacher teaches all subjects for four years. Children at elementary school are trained in Uzbek using the Latin script. Elementary schools, as a part of secondary schools, are mainly located in the same buildings.

With the lack of inspection, control, suitable materials, funds, and curricula reflecting all the changes that have occurred, preschool education quality has declined. On the primary school level, the new language orientation has caused major problems. New curriculum, new programs, and new teachers speaking Uzbek are limited. The quality of education differs depending on the location of the kindergarten or school. Urban kindergartens and schools traditionally have better teachers and financial support than the rural ones because parents have more influence. Moreover, new graduates of the pedagogical institutes prefer to settle in the cities with more cultural amenities. The highest-ranking graduates tend to select city schools. Less academically successful graduates go to rural schools; thus continuing a downward spiral.

Kindergarten teachers are called vospitatel, which literally means the upbringing person, not just a teacher who teaches. In order to work as a vospitatel in the kindergarten, an individual must have a diploma in vocational teachers' education, which is earned at the pedagogical uchilishe. Elementary (primary) schoolteachers are also graduates from the ped-uchilishe. Many of the kindergartens and schools lack qualified personnel, and additional teachers are recruited from pedagogical institute students.

At the preschool level, there are no repeaters and no dropouts. Underdeveloped children just move to the next year with their peers. In primary education (from 6 to 10), children are grouped together irrespective of intellectual ability and development. Children who fail to perform are required to repeat the course. They are given two opportunities to successfully repeat the course and, if they are still unsuccessful, they may be transferred to schools for the mentally impaired. Dropping out of the school was not an option in the Soviet-style system of education. Teachers and school directors (principals) would be responsible for any such a case, and all measures (including enforcement) would be taken to prevent this. Compulsory education meant that every person must be educated. Today, with the deep economic decline and lack of political and legal stability, the percentage of dropouts is growing.

Secondary Education

There are approximately 9,700 schools including about 1,850 secondary schools, 1,919 high schools, 75 evening schools, 107 centers of adult education, and 85 special schools for disabled children. In the year's 1999 to 2000, the number of pupils in these schools reached over 5.7 million. Compulsory-type education provided by the State (Republic of Uzbekistan) is free. This form of education allows the country to reach the 98 percent literacy rate. The Uzbekistan government builds schools; purchases equipment, material, and textbooks; educates teachers; conducts research; creates curricula and methodologies of teaching; and establishes examination procedures. The school system includes both urban and rural schools, all of which fall under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Education.

Secondary education is divided into two stages. The first stage includes nine years of compulsory schooling with the same programs all over Uzbekistan. The second stage covers education and vocational training after nine years. It includes general secondary education and specialized secondary education. Young people receive general secondary education while staying in school for the tenth and eleventh grades. Upon successful completion, they get a Certificate of Complete Secondary Education.

Specialized secondary education is provided through a net of schools:

  • Professionalno-Tehnicheskoye Uchilishe (PTU or Professional Technical School). Graduates receive a Junior Specialist Diploma equal to a Certificate of Complete Secondary Education.
  • Tehnikum (Technical College). Graduates receive a Junior Specialist Diploma equal to a Certificate of Complete Secondary Education.
  • Lytsei (Lyceum) or various training courses offered by higher education institutions or industry. Graduates receive a Junior Specialist Diploma equal to a Certificate of Complete Secondary Education.

Formerly, Soviet-type schools had one curriculum for all schools across the union. Today, the curriculum is less rigid and defined. However, there are two new subjects: the Uzbek language and a basic ecology course included in every teaching plan. All students of the same grade study together and change classes together.

Teachers grade oral answers during lessons and test papers. Standardized tests and multiple-choice tests are rare. At the end of the quarter (semester), grades are averaged. Exams, written or oral, are given at the end of the year. At the completion of secondary school, a certificate or diploma is awarded. The first certificate is awarded for the completion of the compulsory ninth grade after which the individual can go to any type of school. The second certificate, Certificate of Complete Secondary Education (attestat zrelosti or certificate of maturity), is awarded after the eleventh grade. Those who graduate from technical colleges receive a diploma that is legally equal to the certificate and also qualifies them in technical fields.

Teachers in the secondary education schools must be graduates of the pedagogical institute (old Soviet-style) or graduates at the Master's degree level in the new system. Teachers are taught many background professional subjects; general courses in philosophy, language, literature, and education-related courses like psychology (general, developmental, and educational); the history of education; and general educational methodology. They also study methodology in their area of specialization, for example, the methodology of teaching math or a foreign language. Teachers specialize at least in two subjects and traditional pairs are as follows: language/literature, math/physics, chemistry/biology, English/German (or French as a second foreign language), and history/geography. Another source of teachers comes from the professional community. For example, engineers would teach drafting and accountants would teach mathematics. In vocational schools, professionals teach their own specialties.

Students who fail to pass exams in one or two subjects are normally given a re-examination. Teachers and peers provide help. When the student fails a year exam, summer classes are prescribed, and a re-examination is given in the fall. A student who fails all possible reexaminations, demonstrates a poor attitude, and also has discipline problems must repeat the grade. Education is compulsory and dropping out is not permitted. Only a serious family reason, (such as the pupil being the only wage earner in the family, a trouble-maker, or a runaway) causes students to be considered dropouts. Teachers and administration do everything possible to keep children in school and to educate them to the required level.

There are about 440 Secondary Specialized Educational Institutions, including 209 trade (professional) schools, 180 academic Lycea, and 53 business schools. Approximately 221,000 individuals are trained in technical and vocational schools that offer more than 260 specialties. Vocational or specialized secondary education as a system exists in two traditional subsystems (PTU and Tehnikums ) and one relatively new subsystem (Lytsei ). Professional Technical School or prof-teh-uchilishe (PTU ) trains the blue-collar workers at a basic technical level like electricians, turners, technicians, cooks, hairdressers, plumbers, tailors, medical personnel, and machinists. About 60 percent of the students enter PTU after the ninth grade of compulsory school and some after the eleventh grade. This system trains about 260,000 students throughout the country. Today PTU has made a transition to preparing specialists of two to three modern professions. Depending on profession and preparation level, the training may be of different lengths. Annually, about 110,000 to 115,000 students graduate from these schools.

Under the former Soviet system, the Ministry of Public Education controlling the PTU's received "orders" from major enterprises on the type of specialists they needed. Approximately 50 percent of the students are still being trained to fulfill these "orders." Tehnikums (technical colleges) belong to a number of different ministries, but the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education has overall responsibility for the system. Tehnikums educate and train blue-collar workers of middle and higher qualification levels, as well as some white-collar professions who can be first level supervisors in the technical fields. Young people can enter Tehnikum after the ninth or eleventh grade, and depending on the profession, the program duration varies from one and a half to four years.

Approximately 180 Lycea were created, using the model of technical colleges, to fill the gap in new professions (mainly in the economic and service fields) that were not addressed by the previous system. Some Lycea are established by universities, and courses are taught by university instructors and professors. Since Lyceum takes three years (not two like the tenth and eleventh grade), the Bachelor's degree can be obtained in three years after that (not in four years like those who finish a traditional school). Experiments on this new multi-level system are being held on the basis of the Tashkent Pedagogical Institute. The government plans to have about 300 Lycea to educate about 1.5 million students in the next five to ten years.

Additionally, several training centers belonging to national enterprises and over 50 business-schools offer training for accountants, assistants, and business managers. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for the retraining of the active labor force for the labor market. It has three training centers, but prefers to direct trainees to other vocational training institutes. After finishing the eleventh grade of secondary school, PTU, Tehnikum, or Lytsei, regardless of the type of secondary training completed, a citizen of Uzbekistan at the age of seventeen-eighteen, may continue his or her education in higher education institutions. Despite this opportunity, every year 80,000 to 100,000 young people, who received a basic 9 year compulsory education, remain unclaimed by the industries.

Admission to all types of schools is based on the results of entrance exams. In 1993, standardized university admission exams were adopted. These tests are administered throughout Uzbekistan.


Higher Education


The Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education is responsible for the higher education system and its restructuring. During the transition period, higher education was hindered by a shortage of laboratories, libraries, computers, data banks, and publishing facilities to disseminate research findings; however, progress can also be seen. There are 62 higher education institutions, including 2 academies (in Uzbekistan, as it was in the Soviet system, the word academia means the top-level research and educational institutions), 16 universities (universitet ), and 44 institutes (institut ). In 1999 to 2000 the system provided education to about 166,000 students.

The Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences is the leading institution in all types of research. Only top graduate studies can be conducted within the Academy. Universities and institutes are both research and educational institutions. Universities are educational institutions responsible for the preparation of skilled professors and teachers, as well as academic staff and researchers in a variety of disciplines. Institutes are responsible for the preparation of various specialists.

Institutions of higher education belong to different Ministries:

  • The Ministry of Higher Education administers 32 universities and institutes to offer students a variety of programs including economics, engineering, finance, languages, oriental studies, architecture, chemistry, and technology.
  • The Ministry of Public Education administers six institutes for the training of teachers in elementary, secondary, and higher education.
  • The Ministry of Health administers seven institutes for medical and pharmaceutical training.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture administers four institutes for training students in agriculture, agricultural mechanization, irrigation, and economics.
  • The Ministry of Justice administers one law institute in Tashkent.
  • The Ministry of Culture administers three institutes for the study of art, music, theater, and cinema of which all are in Tashkent.
  • In Samarkand, Uzbekbirlashov, the cooperative company administers the Cooperative institute.

Finally, there is the Uzbek State Institute for Physical Training, the Tashkent Institute of Railway Engineers, the Institute for Civil Aviation, and the University of World Economics and Diplomacy. The latter comes under the auspices of the President and prepares students majoring in journalism, world diplomacy, and economics.

The number of majors offered in higher education in Uzbekistan is over 270, and the number of specialties is over 600. The Soviet-style higher education system differed greatly from the western model. A five-year education was equal to the Master's degree level in the West, for example. Today this causes confusion in recalculating the degrees. Educational authorities therefore decided to adopt the western system and reduce higher education programs to four years. According to some sources, the transition from five-years of higher education to the international system with Bachelor's (four years) and Master's degrees (two years) has been completed. However, according to American Council for Collaboration in Education and Language Study (ACCELS) administering the American Educational Advising Center (EAC) in Tashkent, only some of the accredited higher education institutions have changed. One example is the University of World Economics and Diplomacy that offers Bachelor's degrees after four years of study and Master's degrees after two additional years of study. Medical institutes have five to six year programs depending on specialty.

In Uzbekistan, all universities and institutes are public. Private institutions of higher education are not yet available. To be admitted to university-level studies, an individual must complete any form of secondary school and have either a Certificate of Complete Secondary Education or a Diploma equal to this certificate. Because higher education in the Soviet system was free and the government provided assistance in the form of stipends, the demand for the university seats was always very high. Thousands of people competed for the limited slots (sometimes over 10 candidates per slot). This system allowed universities and institutes to select the best individuals by giving entrance exams, but caused millions to be deprived of the opportunity for higher education. Additionally, admission occurred only once a year for the same program. Unfortunately, results of these examinations and selections were too often influenced by high-ranking officials and senior leaders trying to help their youngsters. This was the area where nepotism, clannishness, and even corruption were normal. This caused even the most talented and gifted school graduates to be rejected.

Since 1993, entrance exams have been changed to tests. All entrance tests take place simultaneously on 1 August throughout the republic. Admission to higher educational institutions is based primarily on merit. However, in some institutions, authorities require an interview to determine the student's aptitude and motivation in a given field. Universities and institutes also require a basic medical check to ensure that students are free from all types of infections and fit to pursue their studies.

Traditionally, universities and institutes were divided into fakultets. Facultets are like schools (of business or of education, for example) in American universities. They are structural units reflecting major fields of specialization. Fakultet is further divided into specific kafedras or chairs (departments) dedicated to narrower specialties. As an example, it may be the German language kafedra (chair) and French language kafedra (chair) within the fakultet of Foreign languages. The latter may belong to the Pedagogical Institute that also has a facultet of physics and math (educating teachers of physics and math), a facultet of geography (educating teachers of geography), and a fakultet of biology (educating teachers of biology). Each institution of higher education is headed by a rector with the fakultets led by deans and the kafedras (chairs) led by chair chiefs.

In addition to normally enrolled students, universities and institutes often accept some candidates with marginal scores compared to the already enrolled students that can replace poor performing students or possible dropouts. Teaching styles and techniques at the higher education level differ greatly from, for example, a pure lecture style to absolute improvisation. Using technology, such as TVs and VCRs, is possible (if the equipment is available), but computers and LCD projectors are quite rare because of the high cost, inferior maintenance structure, and high probability of theft. In the Soviet system, studying in the institutions of higher education was free of charge, and moreover, the government paid students some stipends. These stipends covered at least some of life's expenses because students did not have any time for work. Many students had to have their parents' support or work at night to sustain them.

Since 1995, due to the processes of democratization, many institutions introduced admission on a contractual basis with tuition charges paid by the student. In the 1999 to 2000 academic year 25 higher education institutions admitted 2012 students to the undergraduate courses and 830 of them (41.3 percent) were on the contract basis. In general, out of 39,500 students studying for their bachelor degree, 17,600 (44.6 percent) have been admitted on the contract basis. Further commercialization of the educational system will make this situation normal.

Classes generally last five to six hours a day every day of the week. Students often study on Saturdays and usually have 30 to 36 hours of studying a week. Semester courses have an exam at the end of semester. If courses last for more than a semester, then there is zachet (test with no grade that is pass or fail) at the end of the first semester and an exam at the end of the course. Semester requirements allow no more than five examinations (two exams plus three zachets or three exams plus two zachets ) to be taken. During the last two to three years of education, students also have some writing examinations in the form of a "diploma paper" that shows the student's ability to conduct research. Students also take one or two State Exams that cover all the specialty material studied. Generally, the State Examination Commission includes the industry representatives or science authorities from other universities. Successful graduates get a Diploma of a Specialist that is accepted at all jobs.

With the decline of the Soviet system and lack of financial support, professional education and training for specialists has also declined. What was previously called kursy povysheniya kvalifikatsii (qualification raising courses) seldom occurs. Conferences and symposia for teachers and other professionals to exchange experiences are often canceled. Professional journals and magazines are no longer available, and foreign editions are often too costly. Some industries and commercial entities that have their own centers can afford retraining and targeted training. Otherwise, teachers and many other specialists are left on their own in their quest for perfection.

In 1998, almost 300 educational and research institutions employed over 25,000 scientists and researchers. Most talented graduates from the university or institute enter aspirantura (postgraduate trainingfirst level). After three years of study, two to three exams, and the writing and Defending of a dissertation, a Kandidat Nauk degree (Candidate of Sciences, which is equivalent to a Ph.D.) is conferred by the Cabinet of Ministers. Kandidat Nauk (unlike the Ph.D. in the United States) is not a terminal degree. The highest scientific level is the Doktor Nauk (Doctor of Sciences) degree, which is approximately equal to the postdoctoral level in the United States. Because this degree is highly honored and influential, the government places significant requirements on those pursuing it. To apply for this degree and/or to enter doktorantura, an individual must:

  • become a distinguished researcher in their chosen field
  • provide a very broad generalization for the field of study,
  • patent and implement a very important (revolutionary) invention
  • discover or establish a new field of research or new science.

To obtain this degree, the scholar must also have many years of experience and publications in major scientific journals. Such a scholar either enters a doktorantura (no exams, only a competitive dissertation proposal and the highest credentials), or writes the dissertation during his or her free time. There are no formal classes or exams because the student is practically the first "specialist" in a particular field. The dissertation (two times longer than the Ph.D. dissertation) is formally and publicly defended in the presence of the scientific council with 10 to 20 specialists of the Doctor of Sciences level. So after two to three years of doktorantura, if the dissertation is accepted and successfully defended, the scholar earns the Doctor of Sciences degree conferred by the Cabinet of Ministers (not by University authorities as it is traditionally done in the West). His or her contribution opens new areas of research for future Ph.D. candidates, and the scholar becomes a scientific mentor in their research or establishes a school. Government requirements, defending procedure, and conferring authority are what differentiates the Doctor of Sciences degree from Western postdoctoral studies. This former Soviet system-based degree, which is required to get a full professorship, is available in Uzbekistan (as well as in many other European and Asian countries, including Denmark, Latvia, and so on).

All top administrators and rectors of universities and colleges, deans of schools, and heads of departments have a Doctor of Sciences degree. Finally, in order to become a full member of the Academy of Science, this degree is a must. In very rare cases when the quality of research and dissertation is exceptionally high, a Doctor of Sciences degree may be awarded right after the Kandidat Nauk dissertation. From 1994 to 1998 the number of Doktor Nauk (Doctors of Sciences) in Uzbekistan grew by 8 percent and has reached 2.5 thousand, while the number of Kandidat Nauk (Candidates of Sciences) grew by 9 percent and reached 155,000.

In order to be admitted to the university, foreign students should hold a Complete Secondary Education Certificate (or its equivalent) and fulfill certain entry requirements. Applicants must contact the proper embassy to obtain information on visa regulations and educational requirements. Since the languages of instruction in the educational institutions of Uzbekistan are Uzbek and Russian, most institutions offer Uzbek and Russian courses for foreign students. Uzbekistan, as is the case with many other developing countries, builds its international future through educating new generations abroad. In addition to over 700 students and young professionals studying abroad thanks to the sponsorship of the Umid Foundation, the Ustoz foundation was established to ensure the re-training of teachers on leading pedagogical technologies and innovations both in Uzbekistan and abroad. American specialists and organizations also help to identify talented and gifted students for study in the United States.

Most schools have their own libraries. The majority of school libraries have only 70-75 percent of required materials. As a result, pupils have inadequate access to information. Some of the higher institution libraries, such as the Samarkand State University library that contains over three million volumes (including 10,000 unique medieval manuscripts,) are big. Others are small and contain a few hundred books. Libraries also offer a number of current magazines and periodicals. In addition to the school libraries, regions, towns, and cities have their own public libraries. Libraries traditionally play a significant role in education and the daily life of the citizens.

New electronic libraries are being introduced with the help of the international community. For example, LIBANTA (LIBrary ANtverpen TAshkent) was built as an international project with Belgium at the Tashkent Electrotechnical Institute of Communication. It includes a graduate center equipped with lecture halls, computer classes with Internet access, and a scientific-technical library with automation data. It also offers students video-cassettes and CD-ROMs.


Administration, Finance, & Educational Research


All educational institutions come under control of Ministries. For instance, the Samarkand State University is administered through the University Council headed by the rector, who is appointed by a presidential decree. The other members of the Council include a vice-rector, Deans of Facultets (Schools), and representatives of departments and research centers. The rector administers the educational, administrative, and financial affairs of the University. He or she represents the university to other organizations and implements the resolutions approved by the council. The vice-rector assists the rector in conducting the business of the university; supervises the educational, cultural, recreational, and social activities of the students; and presides over the Board of Postgraduate Studies and Research.

To accelerate major changes that are currently underway, the administration of Uzbekistan education has been streamlined. In place of the former bureaus and departments scattered about in different locations, there is now a single Republic Education Methodology Center in Tashkent. This center coordinates all the institutions supervised by the Ministry of Education, including preschools, general academic schools, teacher training schools, pedagogical institutes, qualification-raising centers, and special schools.

The Uzbekistan system of education is administered by the Ministry of Public Education and the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education. The Ministers, as with all other members of the cabinet, are appointed by the President. Education absorbs about 8 percent of the GDP per annum. In 1998, however, according to Europa Publications, budgetary expenditure on education was 107,484 million or 22.8 percent of the budget. State educational institutions are funded from Republic and local budgets, as well as additional funds. The government also looks for heavy financial investments in the construction and equipment of new colleges, the development and implementation of modern training programs, and the system of pre-service and in-service training for teachers. The Minister of Education stated that, "The priority of education in the area of social development of the country, the development of the educational sphere, and therefore the investment into human resources, is one of the government priorities" (Gulyamov 1999).

Typical budget expenditures include the construction and reconstruction of new buildings, the acquisition of educational equipment and materials, and the acquisition of academic and research funds. Educational research is conducted by numerous Kandidat Nauk (Candidate of Pedagogical Sciences) and directed by the Doctor Nauk (Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences) in all universities and institutes. The results of research are published in journals and generalized by the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences. Scientific research is viewed as an essential part of every higher education institution. Contemporary budgets are restricted though. Research activities are therefore funded through university budgets, grants from the Republican State Committee of Science, and international foundations.


Nonformal Education

Nonformal education is the education given in either volunteer or non-certifiable form. This type of training is provided through numerous kruzhki (hobby or vocational circles) in schools or culture clubs, which make it possible for children to follow their interests. There may be fine arts, performance, sewing, culinary, or any other kruzhki that bring children together on a regular basis and give them skills and knowledge. Teachers, parents, or volunteers from the neighborhood can be leaders.

There are also various sektsii (sections) for athletic training. Those normally are used for training in basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, and other similar activities. No professional diplomas or certificates (except for winning) are awarded at the end of these programs. No specialists are prepared for this type of education either. Athletic training is provided by sections at schools, palaces of sports, or stadiums. Usually, a physical education teacher takes care of these extra-curricular activities to prepare the school basketball, soccer, volleyball, and other teams for competitions at the region, city, or even republic levels.

Traditionally, those who have not finished school attend the evening schools or centers of adult education. Approximately 93,000 students attend the evening classes in technical schools only. In addition to traditional education and professional training, the adult education system must solve some other problems. One of them is the retraining of adults from Cyrillic to Latin script. The second is training in new disciplines like democratic principles, which are necessary for participation in any international communication. The third one is management skills, which were never taught under the old system.

Due to low income and high computer prices, access to computer technology is limited, and massive distance learning (DL) is still an issue for the future. However, some institutes, like the Tashkent Electrotechnical Institute of Communications, do have DL centers and offer several courses on line. In March 1999, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), sponsored by the United States Information Agency, organized the third in a series of conferences and seminars addressing the development of distance learning in Uzbekistan.


Teaching Profession

According the US State Department, in the early 1990's, Uzbekistan higher education produced about 20,000 new teachers annually for the primary and secondary levels and another 20,000 for higher education. In 1993 the ratio of staff to students was 1 to 12 in preschool institutions, 1 to 11.5 in primary and secondary schools, 1 to 12 in vocational schools, and 1 to 6.8 in institutions of higher education. Experts indicate the need to reduce the teacher-training program to concentrate funds. Since experts suggest that the existing staff is inadequately trained to deal with upcoming curriculum changes and the requirement to teach in Uzbek. They also noted the necessity to open a few high-quality research and training centers for intensive retraining and inservice training for teachers. The implementation of this National Program requires in-service training of more than half a million teachers and pre-service training of new teachers for the system of secondary specialized and vocational training.

Thanks to the concentration of funds efforts in the 1990s, the government has made significant improvements in teacher salaries and benefits. A monthly salary of teachers ranges from 40 to 60 American dollars. These salaries are closer to those of engineers and doctors (who are also poorly paid); however, many teachers leave the educational sector because salaries are still not competitive with those elsewhere in the economy. In higher education, professors get about 60 to 70 dollars per month, which is more competitive with those in other occupations in Uzbekistan, but certainly not with those on the international teaching market. Finally, as it was stated by many high-ranking officials, including the Ministry of Education, there is not sufficient money to raise teacher salaries to a level that will attract and keep them in the profession.


Summary


Two main ideas, the democratization of education (as a political slogan) and the global free-market orientation (as economical reality), define the transitional period of the Uzbekistan educational system. The democratization of education means that there is liberation from the Soviet ideology, doctrines, and centralized stiffness. Global free-market orientation means that there is a risk of lacking support from the state and the obvious necessity to seek support abroad with the goal of one day to becoming self-sustained. Uzbekistan education is going through two types of transformations in regard to its structure and content. New administrative structures, educational institutions as new forms, restructured old institutions as renewed forms, and seemingly the same schools with less or more years to study all need new content for education. The change of ideology, language, and orientation all lead to dramatic changes in the taught subjects, tested knowledge, and results of education.

Political leaders state that the new Constitution, laws, and regulations provide a political foundation for the restructuring of Uzbekistan economical life and education that will take at least 10 to 15 years. According to educational leaders, new standards based on international experience have been developed for all four levels of education. New textbooks and instructive materials for schools in the Latin script are being published. In collaboration with various international organizations and financial institutions, a number of projects for the restructuring of the system of education in Uzbekistan are being implemented. The gradual transition to a market economy leads to the introduction of a network of business-schools and new technologies and the establishment of distant education.

However, the country is still on the same level as developing countries. With its high literacy rate (98 percent) achieved by the former Soviet system, Uzbekistan is seeking international standards and financial help to become accepted on the international market. The modernizing efforts and reforms of the educational system, as well as the tuning of it to fit the free market global economy, will take a lot of time. Estimations by politicians' of 10 to 15 years for noticeable results should probably be doubled.

International programs assisting the transformation of Uzbekistan education generally work in the following directions:

  • language help and instructional help in language acquisition
  • financial help to individuals and organizations open for change
  • technological help (libraries, computer centers, and research and communications equipment)
  • organizational (restructuring existing structures, aiming for reform and change, introducing new structures, and providing help to self-growing structures), and informational help.

Many foreign entities, including the American Embassy in Tashkent, as well as hundreds of volunteers, work with Uzbek universities and secondary schools in hopes of improving the quality of English instruction. The idea is to increase access to internationally available information and resources in order to ensure the process of opening. Teacher training activities and information exchange lie at the center of this process. Some universities introduce community outreach activities to involve students; others introduce a weekly English language radio program and the publication of an English newspaper. Volunteers make efforts to introduce English as early as possible and to reach youth. They organize day camps for Uzbekistan youth to teach English and discuss issues of common interest.

In 1998 almost 600 teachers and students participated in international conferences, and over 300 professors from other countries worked at the universities of Uzbekistan. Education in Uzbekistan is undergoing significant change. It needs and seeks change. The educational system and educators liberated from Soviet control are heading toward the future. The needs are numerous. One of the most serious needs is the change of an ideological system from stable Marxism to eclectic, but flexible free-market ideology. Teachers and professors have been trained in a predominantly atheistic way of thinking, and this ideological core has influenced all aspects of education. It will take time and effort to overcome this influence. The fact that the president of Uzbekistan and most of its modern leaders are former Communist leaders, and the leading political party is the former Communist party, only adds to the complexity of the situation.

There is the need for language changes. This touches domains such as language education, history, and literature with less involved scientific education. However, in a few years with the students speaking only Uzbek, it will also be necessary to use Uzbek in teaching sciences. There will be a significant need for teachers and professors newly trained in Uzbek. Not all teachers and professors are able to do so. There is also a need for new textbooks. Leading experts from the Uzbek Academy of Sciences have been called upon to produce new books for the secondary schools. The Republic Education Methodology Center planned to introduce "Stories of the History of the Peoples of Uzbekistan" in pictures to the fourth grade in 1993 and a country history for eighth and ninth grades.

The ultimate success of educational reforms will depend on funding, public or private. The latter will become more likely when Uzbekistan demonstrates a desire to join the mainstream of the world economy. The eventual goal of the country is to move from state to private funding and make the system self-supporting or self-sufficient. According to Gulyamov, the educational system must go through the following phases of change:

  • The first phase (1997-2001) foresees the creation of a legislative foundation for the restructuring of the system and the renovating of educational content. During this period, teachers must be trained and retrained for the use of new techniques, educational standards, and training programs.
  • The second phase (2001-2005) foresees the implementation of the main objectives of the National Program on Personnel Training, which includes implementation of the necessary transformations to fit the labor market and social conditions.
  • The third phase 2005 and further foresees the further improvement of educational system on the basis of the twenty-first century's accumulated experience.

Bibliography

Abramson, David M. "Civil Society and the Politics of Foreign Aid in Uzbekistan." Central Asia Monitor 6 (1999).

Aleinikov, Andrei G. "First Class Science. In the Third World Environment: the Tragedy of Russians." The Third World: On the Brink of the Twenty-First Century. 14th Annual Meeting Association of Third World Studies. Montgomery, October 1996.

. Mega-Creator: From Creativity to Mega-, Giga-, and Infi-Creativity. Montgomery: MIMII, 1999.

. "Theoretical Foundations of Creative Linguistics." Doctor of Sciences diss., Moscow Military University, 1992.

Capisani, Giampaolo R. The Handbook of Central Asia: A Comprehensive Survey of the New Republics. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2000.

Critchlow, James. Nationalism in Uzbekistan: a Soviet Republic's Road to Sovereignty. Boulder: Westview Press, 1991.

Davis, Anthony. "Tensions in Central Asia (in the Southwest corner where Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan Meet)." Jane's Defence Weekly 32 (September 1999): 20.

Gulyamov, Saidahror. "Keynote address to the 1st World Congress of Colleges and Polytechnics." 1 June 1999. Available from http://worldcongress.accc.ca/keynotes/gulyamov.htm.

International Research and Exchanges Board. 2001. Available from http://www.irex.org.

Karimov, I.A. Uzbekistan on the Threshold of the Twenty-first Century: Challenges to Stability and Progress. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Khalilova, Fazilat. Educational Developments in Uzbekistan. OSEAS. Available from http://www.bibl.uszeged.hu/oseas/uzbek.html.

Mandelbaum, Michael (Ed.). Central Asia and the World: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994.

Melvin, Neil J. Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road (Postcommunist States and Nations). Harwood Academic Pub, 2000.

"Nations of the World: Uzbekistan." World Almanac & Book of Facts 2001, 2001.

Nettleton, Susanna. "Uzbek Independence and Educational Change." Central Asia Monitor 3 (1992).

PADITEL(Post Academic Degree in Telematics). LIBANTA-LIBrary ANtverpen Tashkent. Available from http://www.uzpak.uz/paditel/.

Recknagel, Charles. "Revival in Uzbekistan." Chronicle of Higher Education 40 (March 23, 1994): A49-A50.

Simpson, Erica Sapper. "Islam in Uzbekistan: Why Freedom of Religion is Fundamental for Peace and Stability in the Region." Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 2 (1998/99): 110-150.

U.S. Embassy in Tashkent. U.S. Embassy Sponsors Training for Uzbek Teachers of English. Available from http://www.usembassy.uz/news/relo.htm.

"Uzbekistan." In Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. London: Europa Publications Limited, 2000.


"Uzbekistan." In The Europa World Year Book 2000. London: Europa Publications Limited, 2000.


The World Fact Book, Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 2000.


Andrei G. Aleinikov

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Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN

Republic of Uzbekistan

Major City:
Tashkent

Other Cities:
Andizhan, Bukhara, Samarkand, Karakalpakstan

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated November 1995. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

Many of the cities of the fabled Silk RoadSamarkand, Bukhara, Khivaare located in UZBEKISTAN , and many famous conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in the 4th Century B.C. and married Roxanna, the daughter of a local chieftain. Genghis Khan and his Mongols arrived in 1220 and leveled everything in their path, leaving only one tower in Bukhara standing from earlier ages. Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, was born in Shahrisabz, turned Samarkand into the cultural capital of the world, and established the greatest empire of the time (14th century), becoming the most feared warrior since Genghis Khan. His grandson, Ulug Beg, helped found the modern science of astronomy, and his grandson Bobur went to India to establish the Moghul Empire. Alisher Navoi, the greatest Uzbek writer, wrote not only in Persian but in Uzbek; as the first to do so, he did what Luther did for German and is venerated as Shakespeare is in Britain.

Russian incursions into Central Asia began in the mid-1800s, when the demand for cotton led Slavic settlers and Imperial troops into the region. The power of traditional entities such as the Khanates of Kokand and Khiva and the Emirate of Bukhara waned as Imperial Russia strengthened its grip. In the wake of the October Revolution, the Red Army enforced Bolshevik control. The Basmachi movement offered fierce resistance. Total Soviet control came in the 1930s with the imposition of collectivization and a culture of repression; many perished in the purges, and others fled abroad. In Stalinist times, Soviet authorities resettled displaced and deported peoples from other parts of the USSR in Uzbekistan, including Ukrainian Kulaks, Crimean Tatars, Volga Germans, Koreans, Meskhetian Turks, Armenians, and others. Moscow used Uzbekistan as a resource base, promoting a cotton monoculture and shipping natural resources to Russia for processing. During these years, it had one of the lowest levels of per capita income among Soviet republics. In the wake of the failed Moscow coup attempt in August 1991, Uzbekistan declared its independence.

MAJOR CITY

Tashkent

Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and its largest city, with a population of approximately 2,495,000, making it the fourth largest city in the former Soviet Union, behind Moscow, St. Petersburg, and approximately the same size as Kiev. Tashkent sits in the Chirchik River Valley (the River feeds into the Syr Darya), and two main canals, the Ankhor and the Bozsu, run through the city. Though the climate is semiarid, the extensive system of canals, parks, gardens, and tree-lined avenues gave Tashkent the reputation of being one of the greenest cities in the USSR. The spring rains usually subside by mid-May; the greatest heat, often over 104°F (40°C), comes in July and early August, but nighttime temperatures are much lower. Fall can extend into November and early December, with a short January-February winter occasioned by scattered snow falls but few sustained freezing spells.

While located on a historical site along the Silk Road, Tashkent can be considered a relatively modern city. It was a small community before the Russians conquered it and made it their administrative center in 1865, a time when Samarkand and Bukhara were the main cities in Central Asia. The Russians then developed the city in a primarily Imperial Russian architectural style. After the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, a core of radicals established a Soviet which controlled Tashkent, the first foothold of Bolshevism in a region generally hostile to the revolutionary ideas. During World War II, when much of the European part of the Soviet Union crumbled and starved under the Nazi onslaught, Tashkent became known as the "City of Bread." In 1966, a devastating earthquake leveled much of the old city. The 14 other republics of the USSR were each given a section of Tashkent to rebuild; the resulting lack of coordination contributed to Tashkent's current dispersed layout. Remnants of the old city can be found in the neighborhoods northwest of the center of town. The architecture elsewhere, however, is decidedly contemporary Soviet. In addition to the central city administration ("hokimiat"), there are 13 district hokimiats which provide many of the services normally associated with city administration. Long-term residents of Tashkent will often identify more with their makhallah (neighborhood/district) and the chaikhana (tea-house) there than with any city-wide institution or identity.

Tashkent boasts the only underground metro system in Central Asia; ongoing construction aims to add a third line to the two presently in place. The Supreme Soviet recently voted to spend $500 million to construct a new airport complex in an effort to bolster Tashkent's potential as an air gateway between Europe and Asia.

Many of the Russians, Ukrainians and other nationalities who came to rebuild the city in the aftermath of the earthquake preferred the warmer climate and decided to settle here, further diluting the Central Asian character of the City. As a result of the lengthy Russian presence and the use of Tashkent as a regional center for Central Asia, Tashkent is home for over 100 nationalities and retains the flavor of an international city. It is here that you will find the largest concentration of Russians (17% vs. 8% countrywide). The smaller Korean community makes its presence known in the marketplaces and in restaurants around town.

Despite its size and status as a capital, Tashkent can seem surprisingly provincialthere is little night life and few restaurants. Ample parks and other recreational facilities, however, help to offset this reality and make life interesting in this city.

Food

Fresh vegetables and fruits are available in season in Tashkent year 'round. Available fruits include pomegranates, grapes, pears, cherries (bing and sour), apples, oranges, lemons, limes, nectarines, melons, peaches, plums, apricots, raspberries and strawberries. Canned fruits are available but most residents prefer to can their own. Vegetables in the market include eggplant, pumpkin, squash, green beans, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, onions, garlic, green and red peppers, cauliflower and leaf lettuce. Potatoes, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes are available year 'round.

Beef, lamb, pork and chickens are generally available in the markets; the quality ranges from average to poor. Ham, bacon and sausage are also available at Tashkent's main market. Smoked fish is available throughout the year, but may involve health risks; fresh fish, of varying quality, is seasonally available. There is no other seafood. Eggs are available and good, usually fresh. Locally produced butter, milk and other dairy products are scarce; and due to improper hygienic conditions in handling and packaging, their use is not recommended (except for hard cheese). Occasionally, Turkish butter, long life milk and imported cheeses are available. Flour and sugar are rationed items and not always available. Bread is plentiful through state-controlled bread stores, and is heavier than American-type bread, is preservative-free, tasty and freezes well. About five or six different kinds, including a French-type loaf and an Uzbekistan-style pita, are baked fresh and shelved several times during the day.

Hard currency shops stock limited supplies of hard liquor and wines, and beer is usually available from those shops or from street vendors. Prices are somewhat high. Coca-Cola has recently opened a bottling plant in Tashkent and a limited variety of other Western products, including Pepsi-Cola, is available. Locally produced soft drinks are plentiful and good.

Clothing

Tashkent is not a particularly fashion-conscious city; good quality clothing is not available, and many residents who are well dressed make their own.

Men: Social life is informal; blacktie affairs are rare. Men wear coats and ties and dark suits for more formal occasions. A lined raincoat is useful; heavy winter coats are occasionally necessary. In summer, lightweight suits are useful for the office, and short-sleeved shirts are acceptable. In winter, light-to medium-weight wool or wool-synthetic blend suits are useful.

As in Southern Europe, men do not wear shorts outside of their own house. Use discretion while playing sports or hiking in the mountains, and change to trousers.

Women: There are two dress codes, one for most parts of Tashkent and one for everywhere else. In Tashkent: It is acceptable in many places to wear short skirts, tops with bared shoulders, and pants. Outside Tashkent: The dress is much more closed. A dress or skirt should be below the knee; short sleeves are fine, but the shoulder and front should be fully covered. Pants are acceptable if covered by a long top, as is done in Uzbek or Pakistani national dress. Women do not need to cover their heads, as is the case in more Muslim countries.

In Tashkent, there are few occasions for cocktail dresses, but dressy evening outfits will be used. In summer, cotton, linen, blends and knits in casual styles are most comfortable for office and home wear. Revealing dresses or shorts are not suitable for street wear, particularly in bazaar (market) areas. Younger Uzbek women wear slacks, and they are acceptable in restaurants, modern shopping areas, etc., in Tashkent only. For winter, medium-to heavyweight woolens will be comfortable, as will be a warm coat. Dresses, skirts, blouses, sweaters, jackets, suits, slacks, etc., are all worn. Although houses have central heat, winter dampness makes it feel much colder than it actually is. Wool stoles and sweaters are also useful on many winter evenings. Tashkent has no storage facilities for furs.

Walking shoes with low heels are good for shopping and sight-seeing. Shoes are not worn inside homes and are removed at the entrance. Rubbers or wet-weather-type shoe/boots are essential. Lingerie, pantyhose and the like are not available locally.

Supplies and Services

Toilet articles and cosmetics are few and far between, as are drugs and medications, and cleaning products.

Dressmaking and tailoring are available; work can be good and is reasonable. Shoe repair in Tashkent can be satisfactory. Dry-cleaning is available, but of poor quality.

Adequate beauty shops abound. Some Americans take their own shampoo, or shampoo at home and go to the shop for a cut and/or set only. Most hairdressers don't speak enough English to understand instructions. Barbershops are also available; prices are much lower than in the U.S.

Much of Tashkent commerce is conducted in "bazaars," open-air markets around town. Tashkent has five main bazaars, with many smaller ones scattered through the city. There are also stores that have essential and local mass-produced goods. There are places to buy handicrafts and souvenirs, but they are limited and not necessarily oriented to the needs and desires of tourists.

With the freeing of most food prices, bazaars have the widest selection of foods and offer the best quality. Buyers should be aware of the sanitary conditions of the food.

For goods, bazaar sales are catch as catch can; what may appear new could well be broken, and what may appear antique probably is an imitation. Prices are never fixed, and first demands should never be paid; intuition and desire are the best guides.

Tashkent does not have hard-currency stores that offer the range of goods found in a U.S. convenience store. There are small stores scattered around the city which sell Western alcohol (beer, some wine and spirits), soft drinks, cigarettes, sweets and some dairy products. Some carry consumer electronics and a variety of other luxuries. Selection is limited and prices are very high by U.S. standards.

Despite its storied Silk Road heritage and legendary cities, Uzbekistan has surprisingly little to offer to the casual buyer or tourist; even finding post cards can be demanding and unsuccessful. The best quality goodsfrom rugs and tapestries to silk and potterycan be obtained directly from factories, mostly located outside Tashkent.

Religious Activities

Uzbekistan is a Muslim country. There are, however, communities of ChristiansOrthodox, Catholic, and Protestantand Jews, all of which maintain places of worship and conduct services.

Education

A small international school opened its doors in September 1994 to approximately 50 students. It will be somewhat larger in 1995-96, with kindergarten through grade ten, using correspondence courses. The school is not accredited.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Samarkand. Timur's capital city is a four-hour drive or an hour's flight from Tashkent, either of which could facilitate a day trip. The five main sites are: Gur Emir, Tamerlane's tomb; the Registan, the most magnificent Square in Central Asia; Shah-i-Zinda, Tomb of the Living King; Bibi-Kanim Mosque; and Ulug Beg's Observatory. The best way to travel by car is to hire a driver with vehicle for the day; they are quite available, and reasonable. It's more convenient to travel to Samarkand by plane; but once there, a car will be needed. Guides are available for hire at the Intourist Hotel or the Business Center.

Bukhara. Bukhara is another 2-3 hours by car beyond Samarkand; the flight from Tashkent is 1.5 hours one way. It is possible to visit many of the sites of Bukhara on foot, but one might wish to arrange a vehicle for airport pickup and transfer to outlying sites. Guides are available. Sites include the Pool in the City Square, the Tower before which Genghis Khan bowed, the unique 11th century Mausoleum, various madrassas, and the Summer Palace located a few kilometers outside of town.

Khiva. Khiva is less accessible than either Samarkand or Bukhara. One must fly about two hours to Urgench, and travel the last 25 kilometers by bus, minibus or taxi. Old Khiva is a museum city, in which the many madrassas, palace and other ancient buildings have been restored. The Museum of Applied Arts, well worth a visit, is near the palace tower, which provides a good view of the city. One of the city's mosques boasts 200 carved wooden pillars.

Shahrisabz. The birthplace of Tamerlane has several monuments of note, including the remains of Timur's massive gate. Shahrisabz is 80 kilometers from Samarkand over a steep mountain pass which is closed in winter, but offers a great view from spring through early fall.

While most people have heard of the Silk Road cities, few know of the beauty and serenity of the mountains and nature preserves within an hour or two of Tashkent. In all cases, it is best to drive, by either personal or hired vehicle. Popular destinations include:

Chirvak. A reservoir which offers swimming, sail boating, wind surfing and hang gliding.

Chimgan. An area for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. The Beldeersai chairlift is 2 km long and offers intermediate and advanced ski slopes. Helicopter skiing can be arranged.

Chatkal Nature Reserve. This reserve facilitates hiking and has a beautiful ranger station/caravanserai with river swimming.

For travel outside Uzbekistan, there are frequent direct flights to such places as London, Moscow, Frankfurt, Tel Aviv, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, New Delhi, Islamabad/Peshawar and Sharja (providing access to Abu Dhabi and Dubai).

Entertainment

Aside from the ballet, concerts and theater described in the section on Arts and Education, Tashkent offers dinner shows at many restaurants around the city. The food served at these establishments is adequate, although the variety is quite limited and the quality average to poor, as are the sanitary standards. Oftentimes, music is providedeither live or recordedfor dancing after the floor show. The larger hotels have "night bars" where people can gather until the early morning hours. There are also theaters which screen movies in the local languages; some even boast an occasional screening in English

Social Activities

A sports center is located about five minutes from the U.S. Embassy. For a nominal monthly fee, one may use its outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool and gyms catering to weightlifters, boxers and gymnasts. Tennis courts, and lessons, are available. The Hippodrome has facilities for boarding horses, but horses available locally for riding are definitely not for the amateur.

Since outside social activities are limited, many people entertain at home with dinners, cocktail parties, card parties, and the like. Currently, there is a Hash House Harriers event on Sundays, with the group gatheringon a rotating basisat a participant's home after the run/walk.

An international women's group meets monthly; the group can offer programs relating to archeological, cultural and social aspects of life in Uzbekistan, as well as various special activities such as gourmet cooking, handicrafts, exercise, bridge lessons, etc., depending on the interest of the group.

OTHER CITIES

ANDIZHAN is a cotton growing and transport (road and rail) center. Located in the Fergana Valley, the city is 155 miles southeast of Tashkent. The region is subject to earthquakes and the city was rebuilt after a severe 1902 quake caused massive destruction. Andizhan has over 300,000 residents.

BUKHARA , 140 miles west of Samarkand, is a historic city. Once known as an Islamic intellectual center and holy place, the city has many magnificent ancient monuments. The population of Bukhara is more than 230,000.

SAMARKAND , located 180 miles southwest of Tashkent, is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. Many of its ancient monuments and buildings, dating from the 13th century, represent some of the best of Central Asian architecture. With a population of 370,000, Samarkand is the second largest Uzbek city. Now a rail and industrial center, much of the city's industry is dependent on the area's agricultural crops. Major industries include cotton and silk processing, canning, and the production of fertilizers, textiles, and wine. The city has a university and is known as a center for karakul sheep breeding research.

Spanning the delta of the Amu Darya and comprising nearly one-third of the territory of Uzbekistan, KARAKALPAKSTAN is an autonomous republic within the Republic of Uzbekistan. Karakalpakstan has its own legislature and executive branches, as well as its own constitution, but its autonomy does not apply in areas such as foreign affairs, defense or security. About 1.2 million people live in Karakalpakstan, a third of them Karakalpaks, who are closer ethnically and linguistically to Kazaks than to Uzbeks. Karakalpakstan has borne the brunt of the ecological damage associated with the Aral Sea disaster.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Located between the Amu Darya (OXUS) and Syr-Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan lies at the heart of Central Asia. Along its borders are Afghanistan to the south, Turkmenistan to the west and south, Kazakhstan to the north and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the east. Covering an area of 500,000 sq. km, Uzbekistan is roughly the size of California. Most of the country is desert (the Kyzylkum and the Karakum) or irrigated steppe, but it has rugged mountains in the east (a branch of the Tien Shan range). The area has a severe continental climate that is dry and hot in the summer months and cool and wet in the winter. In the long summer, daytime temperatures often reach 40°C (104°F); during the short winter, daytime temperatures generally stay above freezing, but on occasion can dip well below, and snow is not unusual. Spring and fall are the most comfortable seasons. In all seasons, the differences between daytime and nighttime temperature and humidity is much greater than most parts of the U.S.

Population

Uzbekistan has an estimated population of 24.4 million people. Of these, approximately 16 million are ethnic Uzbeks and between one and two million are Russian. The rest of the population is made up of Tajiks, Tatars, Kazaks, and Karakalpaks, along with over 100 other ethnic groups. Most of the population lives in the eastern part of the country, particularly the Fergana Valley, and in the parts of the desert made habitable by heavy irrigation.

The Uzbeks (as well as the Karakalpaks, Kazaks, Turkmen and Tatars) are a Turkic people and speak a Turkic language. The language and culture in Uzbekistan has also been strongly influenced by the Mongols and Persians (Iranians, Tajiks). The Uzbek language employed Arabic script until 1929 and the Latin alphabet for a decade, but since 1940 it has been written in Cyrillic; the Supreme Soviet recently decreed that the transition back to the Latin script should occur by the year 2000. Although Uzbek is the official language of the country, Russian is also widely spoken in the cities, particularly among the educated elite and government officials. The historical towns of Bukhara and Samarkand are primarily Tajik speaking; and in the countryside, Russian is hardly spoken at all.

Aral Sea Crisis

The Aral Sea lies between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in a vast geological depression, fed by the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, with no outlet. Before its drastic decline, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest inland water lake in the world. In the past 30 years, the Aral Sea has lost nearly two-thirds of its volume and half of its previous surface area; its level has dropped nearly 50 feet, splitting it in two. Its salinity has increased nearly threefold. The almost total use of water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers for irrigation purposes has been exacerbated by excessive use of chemicals for growing cotton and rice, much of which returns to the Rivers upstream. The desiccation of the Aral Sea has wiped out its fishing industry and destroyed nearby ecosystems. Toxic blowing salts from the exposed seabed and the pollution of surface and groundwater have caused serious health problems and damaged agricultural production. The United Nations Environment Program has stated that, in terms of its ecological, economic, and social consequences, the Aral Sea is one of the most staggering disasters of the twentieth century. Restoring the Aral Sea to its pre-disaster (1960) conditions is generally considered impossible, given expanding populations and pressures for increased agricultural production.

All five republics of Central Asia depend on the two river systems, but Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are heavily dependent upon existing allocations of water. International and regional efforts to stabilize the ecological situation on the basis of available river flows and more efficient irrigation techniques will take years to achieve, so international assistance also focuses on the health problems among those living near the Aral Sea.

Public Institutions

Uzbekistan's political institutions, inherited from the Soviet Union when Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991, are gradually evolving away from their Soviet models. A new constitution was adopted in December 1992, and a new parliamentary election law passed a year later provided the basis for electing a new parliament, the Oliy Majlis, which met for the first time in February 1995. The Constitution provides for a strong President; in addition, opposition parties and public criticism of the President have been suppressed. President Islam Karimov was elected for five years in December 1991, and his term was extended until 2000 by referendum in March 1995. While many Soviet laws are still valid, they are steadily being replaced by new ones, and even some of the new laws (especially those affecting business) have been revised. Radical changes are rare, but the changes in public life are continuous and cumulative.

Social Customs

There is no question that Uzbekistan is a male-dominated society. Much of the local social life revolves around the chaikhanas (tea-houses). While foreign women are allowed in, the chaikhanas basically serve as a men's club where they congregate and talk; local women do not frequent the establishments. When there are large social gatherings of mixed company, the women and men usually sit in separate groupings (again, exceptions are made for "honored foreign guests"). Mosques are segregated during regular prayers, and head coverings for women may be required. Women should take the lead in greetings and in offering a handshake; Uzbek women normally do not shake hands, and well-behaved men do not take the lead in greeting unknown women. Women should avoid walking alone in the evening or in crowded public places such as the bazaar, and should dress more conservatively there.

Uzbeks are a very friendly people, especially when foreigners take the trouble to learn a few introductory greetings in Uzbek. Most people will be happy to help with directions, and Uzbeks often invite people to their homes. On such occasions, small gifts, especially for children would be appreciated but not expected; your hosts are more likely to offer you small gifts/souvenirs.

The standard Uzbek celebratory meal is lengthy and expansive; be careful not to eat too much during the first several rounds. The end of the meal is near when the plov (national dish of rice with some vegetables and sheep meat) is served, followed by tea. Plov is traditionally eaten from a communal plate using the right hand as a scoop, with a garnish of sliced tomatoes and onions. Uzbeks fill their tea bowls only halfway, so the guest knows that he or she is not expected to leave immediately upon finishing.

Arts and Education

In the last decades of the Soviet Union, Tashkent had become one of its most vibrant and progressive artistic and intellectual centers, because of the rich mix of Asian and European cultures here, especially, because intellectuals and artists who did not end up in the Gulag but who were exiled from Moscow frequently moved to Tashkent. Since independence in September 1991, state subsidies for the arts and for education have fallen precipitously; and a good number of European-nationality artists, intellectuals, and journalists have emigrated. Furthermore, independent Uzbekistan is experiencing the cultural dislocation common to post-colonial situations. The dominant Soviet/Russian culture is beginning to wane, and Uzbek culture is moving to the fore. Tashkent, as well as Samarkand and Bokhara, as they have long been, are the artistic and intellectual centers of Uzbekistan.

Uzbek culture, long repressed under the Soviet Empire, strongly emphasizes tradition and ceremony, especially on the life-cycle occasions of weddings, circumcisions, and funerals. For the first two, the celebration features traditional Uzbek music, poetry, and dance. Professional artists who perform at these events are highly regarded in the Uzbek communityand highly paid. A wedding celebration, with its procession of musicians, is an event not to be missed.

Tashkent is the most Europeanized city in the country. The National Museum of Art has a representative selection of Russian, Soviet, European, and Uzbek paintings and other objects from the 17th century to the present. The museum occasionally hosts temporary exhibits from other countries. The Museum of Applied Arts, housed partly in a restored 19th-century trader's mansion, has a permanent exhibit of the traditional arts and contemporary glass and ceramic products of Uzbekistan. Both of these museums have small but interesting consignment shops which sell Central Asian and Russian antiques, carpets, jewelry, and contemporary arts and crafts. Handwritten signs in these shops note that it is illegal to take anything out of the country which was made before 1947.

Uzbekistan's rich collection of Central Asian antiquities and jewelry has been put into storage awaiting the opening of the Uzbekistan Historical Museum, which will be housed in the former Lenin Museum, a lattice-covered modernist cube located across the street from Independence Square. Tashkent also has a Museum of Natural History, a Museum of Military History, the Museum of Ancient Oriental Manuscripts, as well as other small, specialized museums. Several small, private art galleries also exist and are gathering spots for the artistic and bohemian communities of the capital. The Archduke Romanov's home as Governor of Turkestan in the 1890s has been fully restored and is now used as a reception hall by the Foreign Ministry. The Samarkand Museum, abutting the world-famous Registan ensemble of medieval buildings, has one of the best displayed and richest exhibits of the arts of daily life in all of Central Asia.

The Navoi State Opera and Ballet Theater is the most prestigious in the country and has a full season of Western opera, ballet and symphony productions, which sometimes star visiting artists from Russia. Tashkent also has ten theaters with regular repertoires. The most popular are Ilkhom Theater, Young Spectator's Theater, Khidoyatov Uzbek Drama Theater, and Gorky Russian Drama Theater, and Russian Operetta Theater. The Conservatory of Music, one of the best of the former Soviet Union, sponsors numerous concerts and recitals during the year. All performances in Tashkent begin at 5 or 6 p.m., and audiences are home before 10 p.m.

Uzbekistan may become a major tourist destination because of its world-class monuments of medieval Islamic architecture. Samarkand is the richest city with its Registan ensemble, the ruins of Bibi Khanum Mosque, the tomb of Amir Timur (Tamerlane), and the haunting Street of Mausoleums. Bokhara and Khiva, great cities of the Silk Route, also merit visits. UNESCO has begun a 20-year project to restore properly these World Heritage sites and to develop a responsible tourism industry.

As elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, education had high priority in Uzbekistan. With independence, the language of instruction is shifting from Russian to Uzbek, and a number of non-Uzbek nationality educators and scholars have emigrated. Some students and educators complain that the quality of education and the integrity of academic administration have fallen. All education is under the Ministry of Higher Education or the Ministry of Public Education. No private schools are accredited, although a few private academies exist, especially to teach business subjects. Tashkent has an extensive system of specialized high schools for students gifted in the sciences, the arts, and languages.

There are four important universities in Tashkent: The University of World Economy and Diplomacy (the elite school for government service), Tashkent State Economics University, Tashkent State University, and the University of World Languages. There are also many institutes and think tanks in Tashkent, including the prestigious Oriental Studies Institute. Tashkent State University has recently decentralized and upgraded provincial training centers to the status of state universities.

Commerce and Industry

Since its independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has been engaged in the process of converting from a planned to a market economy. The government regularly states its determination to complete this process, but that it must be done carefully, in keeping with Uzbekistan's unique conditions, to maintain social stability. The result has been slower and more centrally-managed reform than in some other former Soviet republics. Following introduction of Uzbekistan's own currency, the som, in summer 1994, macroeconomic stabilization measures met with IMF approval and led to an agreement in early 1995.

Uzbekistan's economy is primarily based on agriculture and agro-processing, accounting for about one-half of the GNP. Uzbekistan is the world's third largest producer of cotton (second largest exporter after the U.S.), and cotton accounts for over 40% of the agricultural production. Much of the industrial production is linked to agriculture, including the production of cotton harvesting equipment, textiles, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Uzbekistan also has promising mineral reserves, including significant amounts of gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, wolfram and tungsten. Uzbekistan is a net exporter of natural gas and hopes to achieve oil self-sufficiency.

Although Uzbekistan is a large net exporter of fruits and vegetables, mostly to the former Soviet Union, it must import four million tons of wheat each year, much of it from the United States. Uzbekistan hopes to reach wheat self-sufficiency in the near future by increasing yields and shifting land from cotton to wheat cultivation. However, it is likely that the country will remain a net importer in the near term.

Uzbekistan has a very liberal investment code which, in theory, allows for, among other things, free and full repatriation of profits and tax holidays of 2-5 years, depending upon the type of investment. However, in practice, even negotiating and registering joint ventures is a cumbersome process (taking anywhere from three to six months). This requires the approval of numerous government agencies and usually at the highest levels of government. Repatriation of funds, the system for which is still unclear, is complicated by the limited amount of foreign exchange in the country. Uzbekistan signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty with the U.S. in late 1994.

The government has targeted oil and gas, mining, processing of agricultural commodities, textiles and tourism as priority areas for foreign investment. However, foreign ownership is limited in "strategic" industries, such as in the mining, energy, cotton processing and oil and gas sectors.

American firms currently operating in Uzbekistan include Newmont Mining, Bateman Engineering, M.W. Kellogg/Dresser, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Price Waterhouse, Deloitte Touche, KPMG Peat Marwick, and others. Prospects for long-term opportunities in this market are excellent and we expect to see the number of American firms in this market increase dramatically over the next several years.

Transportation

Local

The public transportation system within Tashkent consists of buses, trolleybuses, trams, taxis and a metro system. City bus service is one class and inexpensive; however, it is not recommended for use because of crowding and petty crime. The underground "metro" system, the only one in Central Asia, currently has two lines; a third is under construction. It, too, is inexpensive, and the crowds can be intense at rush hour, but it is reliable. Taxis, used frequently by Americans, are readily available during daylight hours. They are marked with the checkerboard stamp on the side. Accepting rides from "private" taxis late at night can be dangerous and is discouraged. If the taxi is not equipped with a meter, the fare should be determined prior to the journey.

Regional

All-weather roads exist between the larger cities and points of interest. But most of these roads are in poor repair and can wreak havoc on your auto. Highway driving at night is dangerous due to pedestrians, and unlit parked and moving vehicles.

The use of personal vehicles for overnight trips outside the city is discouraged unless someone will be with the car at all times; vandalism is prolific. Cars and drivers are available for hire on an hourly, daily, or several-day basis for a reasonable fee.

Communications

Telephones

The quality of the phone lines in Uzbekistan is abysmal, and for local calls, you will frequently need to try many times before making contact. Making long-distance calls can be a frustrating experience if you are not a Russian speaker. The operator often demands that the calls be paid for beforehand and places a 10-minute limit on calls. Direct-dial capability is available, but can be an extremely frustrating experience due to the low number and quality of lines.

Radio and TV

Both radio and TV in Uzbekistan are government-operated in Uzbek and Russian. Shortwave reception of STAR TV, BBC-TV, BBC-Radio and VOA are, at best, sporadic. However, in August 1993, an Uzbek-American joint venture, Kamalak-TV, began offering cable service with eight channels in addition to the five available on local TV, and have promised to add CNN.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Subscriptions to the International Herald Tribune, Newsweek and The Economist through a private expediter arrive a few days late and are very expensive. There are currently no English-language periodicals available in Tashkent. Avoid having magazines or newspapers sent through international mail.

Health and Medicine

A subscription international clinic has recently been established, under the operation of a nurse practitioner. There are no doctors, medical or dental facilities of western standards, or adequately stocked pharmacies in Uzbekistan.

Residents of Tashkent should take appropriate precautions against the health conditions existing in Tashkent. Following are recommended vaccines for Uzbekistan:

Diphtheria, Tetanus: boosters every 10 years.

Hepatitis A: a series of three shots over a 6-month period.

Hepatitis B: a series of three shots over a 6-month span.

Meningococcal: every three years.

Rabies: three injections over a one-month period; booster recommended every 2 years.

Tuberculin skin test: if initial test comes up positive, further investigation required.

Typhoid: oral every 5 years; not completely effective; water still needs to be treated.

Food Preparation and Storage

Tap water, restaurant water, and ice throughout Uzbekistan are unsafe, particularly during the warmer months. All water should be filtered and treated. A distiller, which boils the water and produces sedimentfree water, is recommended. Another option is to boil the water and use a basic charcoal filter, such as the Brita system, which removes sediment and improves taste. Make sure plates, glasses and flatware in restaurants are dry.

Produce which will be peeled should be washed. Other vegetables and fruit should be soaked in a chlorine (three drops Clorox per liter) for 15 minutes. (State Department no longer recommends iodine.)

Meat in local markets has been exposed to dust and flies; it should be rinsed well, allowed to dry, and cooked very thoroughly. Eggs should be washed well just before use.

Dairy products in state stores or hard currency shops should be safe, having been pasteurized, but are poorly handled; those in the market normally have not been pasteurized. Fresh milk should be brought to a boil before being used. Soft cheese should be avoided; hard cheese is okay.

Remember to wash hands before preparing food and before eating.

Brush teeth with "safe" water (boiled, distilled, or chlorine-filtered).

Be aware of problematic snacks at receptions (cream-filled pastries; chicken, etc.).

Community Health

Garbage is usually dumped on the street and is collected infrequently. Flies, rodents and mosquitoes can be a problem, as can cockroaches, ants, and other household pests. Stray cats and dogs might be infested with parasites; if you want to take one of them into your home, have it checked by the veterinarian.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs & Duties

The best way to reach Tashkent is by air from Frankfurt or Istanbul, but London, Moscow and other points can also be convenient. Make reservations as far in advance as possible.

A passport and visa are required; official invitations from a sponsoring organization or individual are no longer required for American citizens. Visas are issued by Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Visitors coming from countries where Uzbekistan does not have diplomatic or consular representation should obtain visas in a third country. Visas are not available upon arrival at any Uzbek airport.

Importantly, Uzbek visas indicate not only the validity of the visa, but also the period of time a person is allowed to stay in Uzbekistan on a given trip. Although Uzbek visas given to private American citizens are generally valid for four years with multiple entries, a visitor will have to leave the country after the number of days indicated as the duration of stay on the visa. Therefore, it is important to indicate your intended period of stay when applying for your Uzbek visa.

Further visa information is available at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, located a 1746 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone (202) 887-5300; http://www.uzbekistan.org; or the Uzbek Consulate in New York, located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 327A, New York, N.Y. 10017; telephone (212) 754-6178 or (212) 754-7403; http://www.uzbekconsul.org.

All travelers, even those simply transiting Uzbekistan for less than 72 hours, must obtain an Uzbek visa before traveling to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has suspended the 72-hour transit rule that allowed travelers with visas from other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States to transit Uzbekistan without an Uzbek visa.

On December 1, 2001, the Uzbek Government imposed travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya Oblast region bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. Foreign citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad.

All travelers present in Uzbekistan for more than three days must register with the Office of Entry, Exit, and Citizenship. Hotel guests are registered automatically, but all other travelers are responsible for registering themselves. Visitors without proper registration are subject to fines and possible harassment by local authorities. Uzbek law mandates that visitors carry a medical certificate attesting that they are not infected with HIV. However, this requirement is only sporadically enforced.

Travelers to Uzbekistan are subject to frequent document inspections. Therefore, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport and their Uzbek visa with them at all times so that they may more readily prove that they are U.S. citizens.

Uzbek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export from Uzbekistan of items such as armaments and ammunition, space technology, encryption devices, X-ray and isotope equipment, nuclear materials, poisons, drugs, precious and semi-precious metals, nullified securities, pieces of art and antiques of historical value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Uzbekistan in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Foreigners must complete a customs declaration upon entering Uzbekistan and may face fines upon departure if unable to produce certificates verifying legal conversion of foreign currency. Old U.S. dollar bills (prior to 1990) and/or those in poor condition (with tears, writing or stamps) are not acceptable forms of currency in Uzbekistan. Although payment in U.S. dollars is required for certain hotel charges, plane tickets, and visa fees, other dollar transactions, as well as black market currency exchanges, are prohibited.

Americans are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security in Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, is located at Ulitsa Chilanzarskaya, 82. The main Embassy telephone number is (998 71) 120-5450, fax (998 71) 120-6335; the Consular Section's direct line is (998 71) 120-5444, e-mail address: [email protected] Current information may also be obtained from the Embassy web site at http://www.usembassy.uz.

Pets

Pets should arrive with all inoculations, including rabies, up to date. Vaccines are not available locally. A health certificate from a veterinarian and certificate showing a current and valid rabies inoculation are required for dogs and cats entering the country. No quarantine is required.

There is no dog food of American quality and standards available in Uzbekistan. Appropriate food for your pets should be shipped with consumables.

Veterinarian services in Tashkent are below U.S. standards, and have been used by Americans with varying degrees of success.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

In general, Uzbekistan is a cash-only economy, with the majority of transactions in the local currency, the Sum. Many vendors and merchants, however, will request payment in cash dollars once they discover you are American. Prices for goods that are available for sums are usually quite reasonable by Western standards; because of low prices and constantly changing exchange rates, it is recommended to exchange only small amounts of cash per accommodation transaction.

Travelers checks are generally not accepted in Uzbekistan. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Tashkent; the few shops which do accept credit cards add a service charge to the price of the merchandise to cover costs.

Uzbekistan uses the metric system of weights and measures. A metric tape measure is useful.

Disaster Preparedness

Uzbekistan is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 7 Christmas (Orthodox)

Mar. 8 Women's Day

Mar. 21 Novruz

Apr/May Good Friday*

Apr/May Easter*

May 1 Labor Day

May 9 Victory Day

Sept. 1 Independence Day

Oct. 1 Teacher's Day

Nov. 18 Flag Day

Dec. 8 Constitution Day

Id al-Adha*

Ramadan*

Id al-Fitr*

Hijra New Year*

Mawlid an Nabi*

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

Akchurian, Morat. Red Odyssey. An entertaining account by a Tashkent native of a car trip through Central Asia at the time of the breakup of the USSR.

Akiner, Shirin, ed. Cultural Change and Continuity in Central Asia. New York: Keegan Paul, 1991.

Allworth, Edward, ed. Central Asia: 120 Years of Russian Rule. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989.

. The Modern Uzbeks: From the Fourteenth Century to the Present, a Cultural History. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1990.

. The Nationality Question in Soviet Central Asia. New York: Praeger, 1973.

. Uzbek Literary Politics. The Hague: Mouton, 1964.

Bacon, Elizabeth. Central Asians under Russian Rule: A Study in Culture Change. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980.

Bailey, F.M. Mission to Tashkent. Memoires of a British agent who was trapped in Tashkent during the Bolshevik Revolution. Solid political and social history as well as an exciting read.

Critchlow, James. Nationalism in Uzbekistan. Westview Press. One of the best modern political histories of Uzbekistan.

Fierman, William, Ed. Soviet Central Asia: The Failed Transformation. Westview Press. 1991. An excellent collection by outstanding Western commentators on Soviet Central Asia.

. Language Planning and National Development: The Uzbek Experience. New York: Mouton de Grayter, 1991.

Grousett, Rene. Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. A classic account of the peoples of the Steppe, from the 13th-18th centuries.

Hopkirk, Kathleen. Central Asia: A Traveler's Companion. John Murray (Publishers) Inc. 1993. An alphabetical handbook to the region and an epic tale of violence and treachery, courage, faith and vision.

Hopkirk, Peter. Foreign Devils on the Silk Road, Kodansha Int'l. Set on the Silk Road, especially the Chinese Central Asian region. Describes the great explorers who found artistic artifacts in Chinese Central Asia and took them home.

. The Great Game. Kodansha International. Great Britain and Russia in 19th Century Central Asia.

. Setting the East Ablaze, Kodansha Int'l. Set in Tashkent, describes the sovietization of Central Asia.

Katz, Zeu, ed. Handbook of Major Soviet Nationalities. New York: Free Press, 1975.

Khanga, Yelena. Soul to Soul. The story of a Black Russian American Family. Tashkent in the 1930's.

Khodjayev, E., and V. Mizhiritsky. Uzbekistan: Questions and Answers. Tashkent: Uzbekistan, 1987.

Lansdell, Henry. Russian Central Asia. New York: Arno Press, 1970.

McClean, Fitzroy. Eastern Approaches. British Diplomat in Moscow travels in Central Asia.

Medlin, William K., William M. Cave, and Finley Carpenter. Education and Development in Central Asia: A Case Study of Social Change in Uzbekistan. Leiden: Brill, 1971.

Nahaylo, Bohdan and Victor Swoboda. Soviet Disunion: A History of the Nationalities Problem in the USSR. The Free Press, New York. 1990. An important and timely book about the many nations of the Soviet Union which are not Russian and which are currently campaigning for the restoration of their national rights and the transformation of the USSR from a Soviet Russian empire into a confederation of "free and equal" peoples.

Uzbekistan. Moscow: Novosti Press Agency Pub. House, 1987.

Whittell, Giles. Central Asia: The Practical Handbook. Cadogan Guide.

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Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN

Republic of Uzbekistan

Uzbekiston Respublikasi

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Uzbekistan is located in central Asia, bounded on the north and west by Kazakhstan (2,203 kilometers/1,369 miles), on the east by Kyrgyzstan (1,099 kilometers/683 miles) and Tajikistan (1,161 kilometers/721 miles), on the south by Afghanistan (137 kilometers/85 miles), and on the southwest by Turkmenistan (1,621 kilometers/1,007 miles). Uzbekistan has an area of 447,400 square kilometers (172,741 square miles), which is slightly smaller than California. Uzbekistan's area includes 22,000 square kilometers (8,494 square miles) of inland water, mainly the Aral Sea. It is one of only two countries in the world bounded only by other landlocked countries. The capital, Tashkent, is located in the eastern arm of the country, near the Kazakhstan border.

POPULATION.

The population of Uzbekistan was estimated at 25.1 million in July 2001 and it was youthful, with 36.3 percent aged 14 years or younger, and only 4.6 percent 65 or older. The birth rate was 26.1 births per 1,000 and the death rate was 8 per 1,000 people. The population growth rate was 1.6 percent in 2001, and the fertility rate was approximately 3 children per woman. Life expectancy was lower than in industrialized countries, 63.81 years total; 60.24 for men, and 67.56 for women. The average population density was 51.2 people per square kilometer (132.6 per square mile), but 1995 figures show that most of the population was concentrated in the fertile Fergana Valley at 474.5 persons per square kilometer (1,229 per square mile). The central and western desert areas were sparsely populated, at only 6.6 persons per square kilometer in the region of Navoi, and 8.5 in the region of Karakalpakstan in 1995. In Tashkent, the largest city in central Asia with a population of 2.1 million in 2000, the population density reached higher than 7,000 persons per square kilometer (18,130 per square mile). About 35 percent of the population in 2000 was urban, down from 41 percent in 1995.

Uzbeks, a Turkic people, comprised 80 percent of the population in 1996, while Russians (5.5 percent), Tajiks (5 percent), Kazakhs (3 percent), Karakalpaks (2.5 percent), Tatars (1.5 percent), and Koreans (1 percent) made up the rest. Religious groups include mostly Muslims (88 percent, mostly Sunni), and Orthodox Christians (9 percent). The official language is Uzbek, spoken by 74.3 percent of the population. Russian is spoken by 14.2 percent and is still predominant in business and science, while Tajik is spoken by 4.4 percent of the population.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Although rich in natural resources, particularly natural gas and gold, Uzbekistan was among the poorest republics of the Soviet Union before its independence in 1991. The Soviet regime stressed the development of heavy industry, particularly mining, machines, and chemicals, while neglecting consumer goods production and the country's infrastructure . Although it developed as a major producer and exporter of natural gas and gold and a sizable regional manufacturer of automobiles, aircraft, machinery, textiles, and chemicals, Uzbekistan remained predominantly rural. Nearly two-thirds of its population was concentrated in the heavily farmed river valleys where cotton production was the top priority of the central government. Uzbekistan was the principal cotton supplier to the Soviet Union and became the third largest cotton exporter worldwide in 2000. Monocultural (production of a single crop) agriculture and extensive irrigation in the arid Uzbek plains, however, caused severe environmental problems during the 1970s and 1980s. Poor land management resulted in the depletion of water supplies, the partial drying of the Amu Darya and Sir Darya rivers and the Aral Sea, heavy water and soil contamination, and newly formed patches of desert.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Uzbek manufacturing experienced some decline in demand from its former Soviet markets, but the industrial sector protected the economy from the massive contraction seen in other former Soviet republics. The government of communist leader Islam Karimov, who stayed in office as president throughout the 1990s, subsidized state-owned, loss-making companies to keep them open. Karimov adopted protectionist policies in order to boost domestic industry, leading to expensive and inefficient industrial import substitutions . Industrialization was achieved but with the accumulation of a large external debt (US$3.3 billion in 1999) that was to be repaid with cotton and gold exports. In the late 1990s, however, the world prices of these key exports dropped, and the lack of competitiveness of the new Uzbeki industrial sector produced a hard currency shortage. The situation was aggravated by the government's reluctance to introduce current-account convertibility of the sum. The sum is not freely convertible to foreign currencies, and exchange rates for different purposes are set by the administration. The financial crises in Asia and Russia in the late 1990s and the lack of sufficient foreign investment caused economic stagnation and additionally-tightened import controls, fueling inflation and a deficit of goods in the domestic consumer market. Poor cotton harvests in the 1990s added to the growing budget deficit , and by 1995, Uzbekistan had received US$276.6 million in foreign aid to help meet its financial obligations.

To counter the negative trend towards debt, by the mid-1990s, the government introduced tighter monetary controls, launched a privatization program, and tried to lure foreign investors. However, its legal regimes still lacked transparency and many foreign partners complained about slow decision-making and persistent bureaucratic control complicated by red tape. Before 2000 there were several designated strategic industries that were not subject to privatization, such as mining of precious metals and gems, oil and gas drilling and processing, defense, aerospace, and communications. But by 2000, about 20 enterprises with foreign capital were expected to manufacture a wide variety of consumer and other goods, from tomato paste to electrodes to marble and granite. Unfortunately, a large South Korean investor, Daewoo Motors, went bankrupt in late 2000, threatening the future of its automotive plant in Uzbekistan.

By 1995 the country had returned to the level of industrial production that it had reached before the collapse of the Soviet Union. By the late 1990s, however, reforms had not been able to restructure the economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspended a US$185 million loan due to the failure of Uzbekistan to meet its structural adjustment program requirements. Without IMF aid and without hard currency, external debt default (suspension of all debt repayments) became likely. However, the IMF insisted that Uzbekistan adopt a stabilization program requiring a radical change in economic policy, including further privatization, an end to import substitutions, and a shift to the convertibility of the sum.

In early 2001 a 2-year government program was launched, envisaging the privatization of 1,244 enterprises. Thirty-eight of these, including several strategic enterprises and banks, were to be turned into joint-stock companies with the participation of foreign investors who would be offered between 39 percent and 70 percent of the shares. Approximately 49 enterprises were to be sold directly to foreign investors on the understanding that they would renovate their production processes, introducing modern technology and management. The number of firms with shares placed on the securities market and the off-exchange market to foreign investors in early 2001 reached 535, covering practically all sectors of the economy. Convertibility of the sum, however, was not yet on the government's agenda in 2001.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Uzbekistan declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and a new constitution was adopted in 1992, declaring a multiparty democracy and a presidential republic. Since reelection in 2000, President Karimov has consolidated the government's power to run more like a dictatorship than a democracy. The 250-seat unicameral Ali Majlis (supreme council/parliament) has very little political clout. Although there has been universal suffrage since early Soviet times, members of parliament are nominated by local governors or selected from the People's Democratic Party (the former communist party) and other pro-government groups. The cabinet is headed by a prime minister who is nominated by the president, exerting total control on all other high-ranking national-and local-level officials. Other pro-government parties include the Home-land Progress, the National Revival, and the People's Unity Movement. Opposition groups, such as Birlik (Unity) and Erk (Will), were either silenced or banned in the early 1990s, and their leaders were banished. Only 2 human rights groups have survived under the strict government control. None of them has any large political role or represents any particular social group, and no opposition party at all existed legally in 2000. Adolat (Justice), an Islamic movement, was disbanded in 1992 and most of its members were incarcerated.

President Karimov considers Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism a major threat to the country, repeatedly citing it to justify his authoritarian rule to the public and the international community. Tajikistan is seen as a potential source of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism against Uzbekistan, as was Afghanistan prior to the toppling of that country's ruling fundamentalist Taliban regime in 2001. In many cases, the government's overreaction to real or imagined terrorist threats had the unintended effect of arousing sympathy from Uzbekistani citizens and pushing devout Muslims towards fundamentalism. Economic hardship also became a fertile ground for religious dissent during the 1990s. During the pre-1990 Soviet atheist regime, knowledge of Islam was minimal in central Asia. Even in early 2001, an attempt to overthrow the secular government and to establish Islamic rule was hardly thinkable. But in the late 1990s, tens of thousands of people were arrested by the government for their fundamentalism and put on trial to discourage the possibility of an Islamic fundamentalist revolution.

The key to understanding Uzbekistan politics lies in the domestic society's traditional clan structure, based on both kinship and territorial proximity. This society has survived the cultural impositions of both the czarist and the communist Russian regimes. Uzbekistan is ruled by representatives of the renowned Samarkand-Bukhoro clan. The clan's leader, President Karimov, took office in 1989 as a result of a compromise between the country's major clans, but he was resented by the powerful Fergana and Tashkent clans. In 1992 Vice President Shukrullo Mirsaidov, the chieftain of the Tashkent clan, along with the Birlik and Erk opposition groups tried to uproot Karimov but failed. The weakness of the opposition groups was mostly due to their inability to agree on one leader. In the early 1990s several independent organizations were created by young technocrats and businessmen, forming an important talent pool that the president was able to draw on for technical and political support for his policies. The importance of traditional clans is expected to shrink with the modernization of the country.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Turkey was regarded as the bridge between Europe and the central Asian states, including the ethnically Turkic Uzbekistan. By 2000 Turkey's importance as a mediator declined considerably because Uzbekistan turned eastward to its former trading partners for political and economic support. Post-Soviet integration was more active than western European integration, and Uzbekistan was still dependent on Russia for its security and for more than half of its trade. Since the mid-1990s, the United States has also boosted its presence in Uzbekistan and considers it as an important ally against the spreading of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in central Asia.

Taxation in Uzbekistan is considered rather restrictive, although the actual collection rate is quite low. In 2001, the government proposed a reduction of the income tax rate from 31 percent to 26 percent to boost investment. Foreign debt service problems are very serious given the country's lack of foreign exchange revenues and shrinking exports. The government plans to pay off its official debt, which is owed to other governments, before paying back its debt to private creditors. In this manner, Uzbekistan hopes to stay in the good graces of multilateral lenders such as the IMF, from which it receives debt assistance.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Uzbekistan's infrastructure is extensive, but badly needs modernization. In 1993 there were 3,380 kilometers (2,113 miles) of railroads, 300 kilometers (187.5 miles) of which were electrified, and 81,600 kilometers (51,000 miles) of highways, 71,237 kilometers (44,523 miles) of which were paved, including gravel. The construction of a 2,300 kilometer (1,437.5 miles) long high-speed highway is expected to start in 2002. An international tender will be announced for implementing the project, and credits from international organizations and local budget resources are to be mobilized. The system of inland waterways included 1,100 kilometers (687.5 miles) in 1990: crude oil pipelines 250 kilometers (156 miles), petroleum products pipelines 40 kilometers (25 miles), and natural gas pipelines 810 kilometers (506 miles) in 1992. There was 1 port at Termiz on the Amu Darya River and 3 airports with paved runways in 1997.

The policy of import substitution has made Uzbekistan self-sufficient in energy. Since independence, oil production increased by 189 percent to 8.1 million tons in 1998, thereby eliminating oil imports. This self-sufficiency was not achieved with foreign investment, but through the compulsory allocation of national credit and large amounts of government-guaranteed foreign debt. Natural gas production rose from 41.9 billion cubic meters in 1991 to 54.8 billion cubic meters in 1998, but most natural gas is exported to former Soviet markets that pay late, if at all. Relations with neighboring Kyrgyzstan deteriorated in 2000 when the Uzbekistan government demanded that Kyrgyzstan hand over part of its land as payment for natural gas.

The Uzbeki energy sector has lost efficiency since 1991 because of government-controlled energy prices favoring individuals over industries. According to the IMF, industrial gas users payed 812.5 percent more than private families in 1997, though this disparity fell to 203 percent in 1998. Smuggling oil out of Uzbekistan is a widespread occurrence since the domestic price is very low when converted at the free market exchange rate. Despite self-sufficiency in fuel production, fuel is in short supply, encouraging drivers to buy smuggled imported gasoline from private traders at a premium of more than 45 percent above the official price. Electricity production generally meets the needs of the country, standing at 43.47

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Uzbekistan 3 465 275 N/A 1 N/A N/A 0.05 8
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Russia 105 418 420 78.5 5 0.4 40.6 13.06 2,700
Turkmenistan N/A 276 201 N/A 1 N/A N/A 0.56 2
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

billion kilowatt hours in 1998. Approximately 85.2 percent of Uzbekistan's electricity is generated in thermal plants, and 14.2 percent is generated at hydropower stations in the mountains. In 2000, the government launched a US$113 million import substitution program for power-sector machinery. It also planned to increase local coal production at the Angren mine from 3 million tons in 1999 to 5 million tons by 2007. Elimination of energy imports has come at the heavy price of high foreign debt, which Uzbekistan is finding difficult to service.

The Uzbekistan telephone system is outdated, with only 1.976 million main lines in 1999, and 26,000 cellular phones in 1998. In the late 1990s, the telephone system was expanded and improved under contracts with foreign companies, particularly in and around Tashkent and Samarkand. By 1998, 6 cellular networks were in operation, 4 of them of the European GSM type (Groupe Spéciale Mobile; or Global System for Mobile Communications). Uzbekistan communications are linked with other post-Soviet republics and other countries by a leased connection via the Moscow international switch. With the opening of a link to the Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic cable, the country will become independent of Russia for its international communications. There was only 1 Internet service provider in 1999 and computer usage was low. In 2000 a shortage of hard currency made the state-owned telecommunications company Uzbektelekom repay its US$1.2 million debt to Kazakhstan's Kazakhtelekom in supplies of Uzbek telephone boxes and natural gas. Kazakhtelekom cut off calls coming from Uzbekistan in August 2000, claiming that the debt was in fact US$4.4 million.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

Agriculture contributed 28 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1999 and employed 44 percent of the workforce in 1995. Most agricultural and light industry output is related to cotton, accounting for 30.8 percent of total exports in 1999. Lack of environmental and management reform has plagued the agricultural sector. The cotton crop failed twice, in 1996 and 1998, and remained below the government's target of 4 million tons in 1999. The government's pursuit of self-sufficiency in food production led to some land reserved for cotton being reassigned for food growing.

Industry produced 21 percent of GDP in 1999, employing 20 percent of the workforce in 1995. Manufacturing made up the greatest part of the industrial sector and accounted for 13.9 percent of GDP and 12.8 percent of the workforce in 1999. A car factory in Andijan assembled Daewoo cars from imported components, while an aircraft factory assembled Russian aircraft. The rest of the industrial sector was comprised of truck and bus assembly, electrical engineering, textiles, agricultural machinery, and agricultural processing. Gold mining and refining is the country's next largest industrial endeavor, accounting for 10.4 percent of GDP in 1999. Most gold is mined at Muruntau in Navoi, where annual output is about 80 tons per year. Gold brings in less money than it did during Soviet times due to a drop in its price in the late 1990s.

Approximately 51 percent of GDP came from services in 1999; the sector employed 36 percent of the workforce in 1995. Economic volatility and isolation, the lack of consumer credit, and government controls have inhibited the development of a modern services sector. Outside of education and health, there were 398,000 employees in the services sector in 2000, or just 4.5 percent of the total workforce.

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture in arid central Asia is heavily dependent on irrigation. Arable land comprises only 9 percent of the territory because much of the land is desert. Only 1 percent is covered by permanent crops, about 3 percent is occupied by forests, and 46 percent is permanent pastures used by sheep and other livestock. Under the Soviet regime vast formerly-deserted terrain has been reclaimed for cotton growing, and agriculture was collectivized into large state-controlled farms. These lands remain under the control of the Uzbekistani government. The cotton sector is still the most important employer and export producer, characterized by the extensive use of machines and chemicals. The drying up of the Aral Sea due to excessive irrigation in the cotton fields has resulted in growing concentrations of pesticides and salts blown from the exposed bed of the lake. Mismanaged irrigation has contributed to soil contamination, desertification , water pollution, and many health disorders.

Apart from cotton, leading products include vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock, and animal products, including the world-famous karakul sheep. In 1998, President Karimov threatened to impose criminal penalties on local leaders who anticipated food shortages and restricted the sale of food at market in order to stockpile food locally. In 2000 the grain and cotton harvests were low due to persistent drought and mismanagement of water resources. The government would not raise water prices to encourage farmers to use it more efficiently, because allowing the sale of water at market prices defies the communist ideal of a state-run economy. To ensure that water shortages would not happen again in 2001, the government reached an agreement with Tajikistan (where its rivers originate) to cooperate on water use. Another pricing problem exists in the cotton industry: the domestic cotton fiber price was just 43 percent of the world price in 2000. In order to achieve self-sufficiency in grain production, the government is still shifting land from cotton to grain production, which deprives the economy of export revenue. A ton of cotton on the world market in 2000 was worth around US$1,100 in export revenue, while a ton of grain was worth approximately US$200.

INDUSTRY

Manufacturing in Uzbekistan is based on its wealth of natural resources including natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and molybdenum. Mining and metallurgy are the most important areas, but textiles, food processing, machine building, and electrical engineering are also well developed. Due to self-sufficiency policies, the industrial production growth rate was 6 percent in 1999, but the sector was performing poorly financially.

OIL AND GAS.

Uzbekistan has failed so far to promote oil and gas exports due to its isolationist economic policy. The prices that Uzbekistan gets for its oil and gas exports in post-Soviet markets are low, and payments are insecure. Approximately 41.5 billion cubic meters of gas was produced in the first 9 months of 2000, up by 1 percent from 1999. Most gas is consumed locally by enterprises at prices above the cost of production, and by households at subsidized prices. Officially recorded crude oil production fell in the first 9 months of 2000 to 5.7 million tons, down by 6.2 percent from 1999. Refined oil production was rising though. It is likely that oil is illicitly exported to Kazakhstan. Fuel oil production, at 1.3 million tons, increased slightly during 2000, and the kerosene output of 300,000 tons rose by 17.1 percent in 2000. The government intended to increase investment in the state-owned oil and gas giant Uzbekneftegaz by taking on further external debts, expanding exploration and production in 2001. Free-market domestic prices were seen as a more efficient method to generate the capital for industrial investment domestically, without increasing the large external debt burden. The government also planned to sell 49 percent of Uzbekneftegaz to foreign investors in 2001. The subsidiaries of Uzbekneftegaz also were scheduled for partial sale to foreign investors, including 44 percent in Uzneftegazdobycha (exploration and development), and 39 percent in each of Uzneftepererabotka (oil refineries), Uzburneftegaz (drilling), and Uzneftegazstroi (oil and gas construction).

GOLD.

Uzbekistan is the world's eighth largest producer of gold. The gold mine is owned by the Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine (NGMK), a Soviet-era, state-owned firm that the government refuses to privatize or reform. The estimated output in 1999 was 80 tons but there was no independent confirmation. Gold accounts for 10 to 20 percent of export earnings and the drop in its price since 1997 has discouraged foreign companies from investing. Yet, Newmont Mining of the United States has entered a joint venture with NGMK to extract gold from a 242 million-ton pile of tailings left beside the mine from the Soviet era. The project, with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) funding, should produce almost 143 million grams (5 million ounces) over 17 years.

MOTOR VEHICLES.

As a result of the policy of import substitution, most industrial production supplies the domestic market and is not export-oriented. Even Uzdae-motors, a joint venture between Daewoo Motors and state-owned Uzavtosanaot that assembles motor vehicles, produces cars primarily for the Russian and domestic market. Production started in 1996 when investment was expected to reach US$658 million. Supplies were ordered from Russia and South Korea. Uzbekistan was to provide the labor; however, Russia's economic problems in 1998 damaged export prospects, and few locals could afford to buy Daewoo cars. As a result, production in 2000 was even less than the 1997 target of 125,000 units and the 1998 target of 80,000 units. Although Daewoo's stake reached 70 percent in 1998, the Uzbekistan government kept the venture operational after the bankruptcy of Daewoo in 2000, switching it from a foreign investment into another government asset backed with foreign debt.

FOOD PROCESSING.

In 1997 Jahn International of Denmark joined Intertrade from the United States and local Tashkent Sud to form Sun Juice, a fruit juice company. Nestle of Switzerland plans to invest US$30 million for the construction of a chocolate factory in Namangan, while British companies have invested in the Uzbek tobacco industry.

SERVICES

FINANCIAL SERVICES.

Due to excessive government restrictions and controls, financial services are poorly developed. The central bank is not independent and acts as a money printing press for the finance ministry. Banks do not act as financial intermediaries for their clients, rather they pay negative interest rates on deposits, confiscate savings, and funnel government credit and foreign loans to enterprises and sectors selected by the government. The government refuses to push insolvent state-owned enterprises into bankruptcy, allowing them to stay in business. Banks fund their operations by refusing to pay back creditors, suppliers, and workers, eroding the banking sector. Of the 31 banks in Uzbekistan in 2000, just 4 small ones were private. Most banks were considered insolvent by international lenders, relying on further foreign debt inflows for survival. The largest bank was the state-owned National Bank of Uzbekistan (NBU), with 70 percent of the total loan portfolio and around 66 percent of the foreign exchange turnover in the country. The NBU is 1 of 4 banks allowed to deal in foreign exchange and makes a good profit by borrowing from the EBRD, nearly doubling the interest rate when lending to Uzbekistan firms. The government plannedbut failedto sell a 40 percent stake in the NBU in 1999. The main foreign-owned bank is ABN-AMRO (Nether-lands), which operates in a joint venture with NBU.

RETAIL.

Trading in domestically produced food and imported consumer goods in the vibrant traditional oriental bazaars is a major economic activity and important income source. Many government and other employees add to their income as small traders, and the vast majority of Uzbekistan people shop at the local bazaar. The largely unregulated bazaars have so far survived the govern-ment's restrictions, with illegal currency traders providing the dollars that fund the smuggling of consumer items into the country. Outside of the bazaars, Tashkent is the fourth most expensive city in the world, and its modern retail complexes are reserved for the rich and for foreigners. Levi Strauss (United States) and Benetton (Italy) have outlets in both, and Sony (Japan) and Daewoo have large consumer electronics stores. Several other international retailers entered the market in the late 1990s, including Jahn International, and Nestle. Uzbekistan may have a future in imported consumer goods trade since it shares a border with all central Asian states and has the largest domestic population, making it a natural distribution center. Yet in 2000, most consumer goods were flowing into Uzbekistan illegally from its neighbors.

TOURISM.

Uzbekistan has many important historic and cultural monuments in the medieval capitals of Samarkand, Bukhoro, and elsewhere. The lack of adequate facilities and high prices for western goods have prevented the development of any significant international tourism. No particular government plans in the area have been revealed.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

The Uzbeki policy of self-sufficiency prevents active international trade. The country exports cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, foods, and automobiles; it imports machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, and foods. Russia is Uzbekistan's principal trade partner, responsible for 53 percent of volume (1999). Russian imports include machinery and tools, metals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paper and lumber, and grains; exports to Russia include raw cotton (70 percent of all Russian imports in 1999), metals, chemicals, and farm products. There were about 250 Russo-Uzbekistani joint ventures in 2000. Other major export destinations included Switzerland (10 percent), the United Kingdom (10 percent), Belgium (4 percent),

Trade (expressed in millions of US$): Uzbekistan
Exports Imports
1994 3044 2478
1995 3100 2900
1996 4590 4721
1997 4387 4522
1998 3528 3288
1999 N/A N/A
SOURCE: United Nations. Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (September 2000).

Kazakhstan (4 percent), and Tajikistan (4 percent) in 1998. Imports to Uzbekistan originated from South Korea (11 percent), Germany (8 percent), the United States (7 percent), Turkey (6 percent), and Kazakhstan (5 percent) in 1998. Uzbekistan has a large current-account deficit and the ratio of external debt to exports in 1999 was 96 percent. With a more precise account of exchange rates, however, it might be as high as 137 percent.

MONEY

Despite government pledges that in 2000 the sum would be convertible (freely exchangeable for foreign currencies at market rates), Uzbekistan continued to operate a system of administratively-set multiple exchange rates in 2001. These were used to protect import substitution industrialization, including a set commercial bank rate and an administratively set commercial exchange rate, which kept the sum at around 50 percent of the commercial bank rate. The black market is widely used. In December 2000 President Karimov said that convertibility would take 3 to 5 years, but he was pushed to take action when a default on the country's external debt was imminent because of a threatened halt to IMF funding. Uzbekistan is plagued by a hard currency shortage and has serious problems with servicing its debt. It was scheduled to make US$900 million of repayments in 2000.

The Tashkent Stock Exchange is 26 percent government-owned, and most of the stocks in companies that are listed are owned by the employees of those companies. Trade at the Tashkent Stock Exchange is predominantly conducted through treasury bills because they are considered a liquid and safe asset, despite the fact that yields are negative and the market is extremely small.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

Under the Soviet regime, Uzbekistan was arguably a land of economic equality, although among the poorest republics of the Soviet Union. The vast majority of the population was state-employed, no private initiative was allowed, and central funds were allocated comparatively

Exchange rates: Uzbekistan
Uzbekistani soms per US$1
Jan 2001 325.0
2000 141.4
1999 111.9
1998 110.95
1997 75.8
1996 41.1
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Uzbekistan N/A N/A N/A 1,338 1,007
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Turkmenistan N/A N/A N/A 1,154 486
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

equitably as free health care, higher education, pensions, and other benefits. The only exceptions of the modest standard of living were the nomenklatura (the communist party elite) and the organized crime and black market economy players. The market reforms in the 1990s generated new wealth for a limited number of entrepreneurs who were well connected to the government yet understood the economic hardships of everyday Uzbeki life. In 1995 the country's Gini index was 33.3, lower than that of the United States and the United Kingdom but higher than in most former communist countries. Due to the government's policies of protectionism and import substitution, unemployment is still a minor problem, but the loss-making state industries and struggling agricultural sector are no longer able to sustain the living standards of the 1980s. Monthly salaries in the state manufacturing sector reached as low as US$34 in 1994, and had increased only slightly by 2001. Inflation, at 29 percent in 1999, is also a concern. Many Uzbekistanis suffer from problems other than financial insolvency such as a poor health system, the lack of safe water, epidemics, and excessive soil pollution and desertification. These problems are most apparent in the intensely farmed river valleys, where almost two-thirds of the population are concentrated. On many occasions throughout the 1990s, the government has appealed to international organizations for aid in dealing with severe droughts. In particular,

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Uzbekistan
Lowest 10% 3.1
Lowest 20% 7.4
Second 20% 12.0
Third 20% 16.7
Fourth 20% 23.0
Highest 20% 40.9
Highest 10% 25.2
Survey year: 1993
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Uzbekistan 34 3 13 4 7 9 30
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Turkmenistan 32 6 14 6 18 11 14
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Karakalpakstan has been an environmental disaster area plagued by the drying up of the Aral Sea and unprecedented scarcity of water.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Uzbekistan is party to all major universal legal instruments on economic and social rights, the rights of the child, the right to equal compensation and collective bargaining, and the elimination of employment discrimination. Its labor force numbered 12 million in 1999, and official unemployment was low at 2.2 percent in 1995, but no data have been released since. The hidden unemployment figure, made up of workers who receive no pay from cash-stripped companies or who are put on mandatory leave, affected about 1 million people in the agricultural sector in 2000. State employees' wages increased by 36 percent in 1996 (from a US$34 monthly average in 1994) but remained among the lowest of the former Soviet republics. The government has tried to hold wages in check to prevent inflation, setting the minimum wage to 75 percent of a typical consumer's spending. Pay raises in both the state and private sector are limited to a maximum of 70 percent of the sector's increase in output and are subject to government approval. Labor unions are government controlled. Many labor practices are inefficient due to obsolete technology, lack of management skills, and import substitutions.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

100s B.C. The territory that is now Uzbekistan becomes a part of the Silk Road, linking China with the Middle East and Europe.

600s A.D. Arab invaders conquer Uzbekistan and introduce Islam.

1300s. The land is ruled by the empire of Tamerlane. Samarqand becomes the capital in 1369. Nomadic Turkic tribes form the Uzbek confederation and start moving south into Uzbekistan.

1700s. The Kokand principality emerges in the Fergana Valley. The Turkic-speaking Karakalpaks in the Amu Darya delta are subjugated by the new khanate of Khiva. Feudal agricultural economy develops.

1850. Russian forces march on Kokand, Tashkent, Bukhoro, and Khiva and take them over by 1876. A modern commodity economy starts developing but many locals resent the non-Muslim administration and colonists.

1916. Burdened with Russian demands to aid in its World War I effort, the locals revolt against a military draft but are suppressed.

1917. The Bolsheviks seize power in Russia and establish new political divisions in central Asia ruled by local soviets (councils), which are opposed by guerrillas of the Action for National Liberation party (called Basmachi by the Russians).

1918. Southern central Asia, including part of Uzbekistan, is organized into the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic.

1919. The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic is carved out from Turkestan (with the Bukharan and the Khorezmian republics), officially becoming a republic of the Soviet Union in 1922.

1928. Land is collectivized into state farms.

1931. The Uzbek S.S.R. is enlarged with the addition of the Karakalpak ASSR.

1941. In World War II, many industries are relocated to Uzbekistan from the western regions of the Soviet Union. Many non-Uzbek nationals immigrate to the republic.

1960s. Excessive irrigation brings an ecological disaster in the Aral Sea basin.

1991. Uzbekistan declares independence from the Soviet Union and joins the new Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Presidential elections, in which most opposition groups are not allowed to participate, leave Islam Karimovthe incumbent president and former communist leaderin office. Karimov establishes an authoritarian regime, banning opposition parties and claiming that more democracy would render the country vulnerable to Islamic fundamentalism.

FUTURE TRENDS

With President Karimov firmly in office, Uzbekistan will likely be characterized by political stability, but the policy of import substitution and the lack of sufficient structural reform may further aggravate economic problems. Poor cotton crops and recurrent droughts may add to the crisis. If accompanied by economic crisis, the president's exaggerated security threatsparticularly about Islamic groupscould contribute to the authoritarian character of the regime and lead towards further political violence.

Particularly troublesome will be the persistent inconvertibility of the sum, the lack of hard currency, and the growing external debt. The country will not be able to serve its financial obligations in the 21st century without IMF help, but the IMF requires the closure of many loss-making industrial enterprises that would be particularly difficult for the government to effect. Significant reforms were promised in 2000, and there were hints that some harmful old policies would be abandoned.

Growth in the former Soviet area, Uzbekistan's main export market, is expected to be robust, but a weakening global economy in 2001 will restrain growth because of its impact on key commodity prices, especially of cotton and gold. Due to its natural wealth and strategic location, Uzbekistan has significant growth prospects once it implements market reforms and controls environmental hazards.

DEPENDENCIES

Uzbekistan has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Curtis, Glenn E., editor. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan: Country Studies. Library of Congress: Washington, D.C., 1997.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Uzbekistan. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Eurasia Information Analytic Center. Uzbekistan. <http://www.eurasia.org.ru/main/inform.html>. Accessed April 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed September 2001.

Valentin Hadjiyski

CAPITAL:

Tashkent (Toshkent).

MONETARY UNIT:

Uzbekistani sum (UZS). One sum equals 100 tyyn. Notes come in denominations of 100, 50, 25, 5, and 1 sum. Coins include 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tyyn.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, and automobiles.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, and foodstuffs.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$60 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$2.9 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$2.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.).

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Uzbekistan
Region (Map name): East & South Asia
Population: 25,155,064
Language(s): Uzbek, Russian, Tajik
Literacy rate: 99.0%
Area: 447,400 sq km
GDP: 7,666 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 4
Number of Television Sets: 6,400,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 254.4
Number of Cable Subscribers: 74,400
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 3.0
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 25,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 1.0
Number of Radio Stations: 37
Number of Radio Receivers: 10,800,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 429.3
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 120,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 4.8

Background & General Characteristics

The state of the press in Uzbekistan has to be viewed in the context of a century old repressive Russian rule, first as a part of the authoritarian Czarist regime and then as a constituent of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). On September 1, 1991, Uzbekistan cut itself loose from the Soviet Union and proclaimed itself a sovereign republic. It has the distinction of being the most authoritarian country in Central Asia, with no real domestic opposition; its media is generally tightly controlled media despite the constitutional provisions for a free press without censorship. The head of Uzbekistan's authoritarian government, President Abduganiyevich Karimov, is a long-time, high-profile member of the Uzbek Communist Party's Central Committee and a cabinet minister in the Soviet Uzbek government (most notably as finance minister), He is accustomed to political obedience from one and all including the press. In 1990, Karimov became president of the Soviet Uzbek republic, and in December 1991, following the fall and break-up of the Soviet Union, he became the country's elected president. When the country first gained its independence. there was a somewhat benign attitude toward the media in keeping with the Birlik movement, the Uzbek equivalent of perestroika. Analysts have noticed that his authoritarianism has worsened since the mid-1990s, perhaps because of his determination to root out the Islamic fundamentalism that has raised its head since the Soviet defeat in neighboring Afghanistan; he wants his government to remain secular.

Although President Karimov periodically mouths platitudes espousing the cause of freedom of the press and asking his ministers and officials to work closely with the media, his numerous legislative measures, administrative fiats, and pressure placed on the judiciary to mete out severe punishments to independent-minded journalists leave no doubt about his policy to streamline the press and make it support his political agenda,, including economic policies. His policies resemble those of China in combining economic liberalization with political repression. Part of the latter includes tightening controls over the press and ending "intolerance of defiance" among journalists and broadcasters.

Historical Traditions

Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous country, located between Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, has had a long and glorious heritage. Its famous citiesSamarkand, Bukhara, and Khivalay on the vital Silk Road, the trading artery of premodern times linking China with the Middle East and the Mediterranean. On his way to India, Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand long enough to marry Roxana, daughter of a local chieftain. Uzbekistan came under Arab rule in the eighth century A.D. The local Samanid dynasty established an empire in the ninth century. In 1220, the Mongol leader, Genghis Khan conquered the territory. In the fourteenth century, Timur Lane built an empire with Samarkand as his capital, which he adorned with many monuments. The empire then broke into several principalities, some of which joined Persia. In 1865, when Czarist Russia conquered Tashkent, the present capital of Uzbekistan, the major political entities in the present-day Uzbekistan were the Khanates of Kokand, Bukhara, and Khiva. Russia incorporated Kokand in 1876 and allowed the other two to remain as protectorates.

Following the formation of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was established in 1924 from the territories of the protectorate Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva, and Ferghana, which constituted a portion of the former Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet Union's control, Uzbekistan was developed into one of the largest cotton growing centers thanks to an irrigation system based on the Aral Sea. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, its Central Asian Republics proclaimed their independence; Uzbekistan did so on September 1, 1991, under the leadership of Islam Karimov, the powerful former First Secretary of the Uzbekistan Communist Party. He was elected president of the country in December of the same year.

Constitution

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became independent on September 1, 1991. Under a constitution effective December 8, 1992, it became a republic with a separation of powers. Although the executive consists of the president, prime minister, and the cabinet, in reality, President Islam Karimov holds firm control over the government as President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers. He also appoints and dismisses provincial governors, who answer only to him. Under the terms of a referendum held in December 1995, Karimov's first term was extended by five years; another referendum held on January 27, 2002 extended it to December 2007. The constitution provided for a unicameral legislature, the Olly Majlis, or Supreme Assembly, of 250 members. It meets only a few days each year and has very little power to shape legislation. The referendum of January 2002, proposed a bicameral parliament. The judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court, constitutional court, and economic court, lacks independence.. The country is divided into 12 villoyatlars, or administrative subdivisions, plus the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan and the city of Tashkent. All those 18 and above have the right to vote "unless imprisoned or certified as insane." Uzbekistan is theoretically a multiparty democracy. However, government approval is needed for the formation of a party. The prominent parties in the current Supreme Assembly are: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party, which was established in 1995; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Party, or MTP, established in 1995; Fatherland Progress Party (Vatan Tarakiyoti, or VTP), which merged in April 2000 with the National Democratic Party (Fidokorlar, or Fidokorlar Milly Democratic Partiya); and the People's Democratic Party, or PDPU (Uzbekistan Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party, which was established on November 1, 1991).

Newspapers

In 1999, there were 471 newspapers and magazines, of which 328 were published by the various ministries and departments of the government, state enterprises, or "political parties." Almost all newspapers are printed at the state printing facilities, which makes it convenient and not-so-obvious for the print copy to be censored. Of the total number, 66 may be regarded as national, 68 regional (although the government does not accept such a category on grounds that Uzbekistan is not split into regions), and the remaining local. Some 109 were public or organizational, representing trade unions, the military, or other associations. The remaining 34 were in the private sector, which is a growing segment and financially independent of the government. They were mostly commercial or religion-based.

Listed below are the principal newspapers of Uzbekistan, the year of their founding, name of the owner, and circulation (wherever available):

Uzbek Newspapers:

  • Uzbekistan Ovozi, June 21, 1918; People's Democratic Party; 40,000
  • Uzbekistan Adabieti Va Sanati (Literature and Art of Uzbekistan ); January 4, 1956; Ministry of Culture & Association of Writers; 6,500
  • Marifat (Education ), 1931, Ministry of Education, 21,500
  • Adolat (Justice ); February 22, 1995; "Adolat" Socialist Democratic Party; 5,900
  • Turkiston, 1925, "Kamolot" Youth Foundation, 8,000
  • Toshkent Hakikati (Tashkent Truth ), February 1954, Tashkent Oblast Administration, 19,000
  • Mulkdor (Proprietor ); January 10, 1995; Real Estate Exchange & State Committee for Entrepreneurship; 20,000
  • Hurriyat, December 1996, Fund for Democratization of Media, 5,000
  • Savdagor; August 19, 1992; Uzbeksavdo & Uzbekbirlashuv firms, 17,000
  • Fidokor, May 1999, NDP, 32,000
  • Sport; June 2, 1932; State Committee for Sport & Physical Training; 8,500
  • Respublika; September 1, 1998; UzA Government Wire Service; NA

Uzbek/Russian Newspapers:

  • Narodnoe; January 1, 1991; Government; 50,000
  • Biznes Vestnik Vostoka (BVV), August 1991, Pravda Vostoka and Uzfininvest Joint Stock Company, 20,000
  • Novosti Nedeli, August 1996, National Commodity Exchange, 5,000
  • Na postu/Postda; May 12, 1993; Ministry of the Interior; 18,000
  • Soliqlar va Bojhona I Tamojennie Vesti, January 1994, State Tax Committee, 45,000
  • Vechernly Tashkent/Tashkent Oqshomi; January 1, 1966; City Mayor's Office, NA

English Newspapers:

  • Good Morning
  • Uzbekistan Ovozi Times
  • Business Partner
  • Business Review

Russian Newspapers:

  • Pravda Vostoka (Truth of the East ); April 2, 1917; 20,000
  • Tashkentsaya Pravda, February 1954, Tashkent Oblast Administration, 6,400
  • Business Partner Uzbekistana
  • Golos Uzbekistana (Voice of Uzbekistan ); June 21, 1918; PDP; 40,000
  • Uchitel Uzbekistana (Teacher of Uzbekistan ); January 1, 1980; Ministry of Education; 7,000
  • Norodnoe Slovo (People's Word )
  • Molodyozh Uzbekistana (Youth of Uzbekistan ), November 1926,"Kamolot" Youth Foundation & "Career-Service" Agency, 6,000
  • Vechernij Tashkent (Evening Tashkent )
  • Business-vestnik Vostoka, Bvv (Business News of the East )
  • Novly Vek (formerly Kommercheskij Vestnik, Commercial News), January 1992, State Property Committee, 22,000
  • Chastnaya Sobstvennost, May 1994, State Property Committee, 8,000

Russian/English Newspapers:

Delovoy Partner, 1991, Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, 20,000

Economic Framework

Uzbekistan has a large agricultural sector and is a leading exporter of cotton. The economy is primarily based on agriculture and processing of agricultural products. The country is a part of the large Central Asian oil and gas fields. Its potential, particularly for the export of natural gas, is immense. Uzbekistan is also a major producer of gold, with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world, and has substantial deposits of copper and strategic minerals.

Uzbekistan's economic performance, however, is mediocre, largely because of the restrictive trade and investment climate that is a hangover of the communist system. Of late, the government has publicly committed itself to a gradual transition to a free market economy. China seems to be the government's role model, combining economic liberalization and political repression. Yet, it falls far short of the intended liberalization, which is the reason why there is very little foreign direct investment in the country. In 2002, Uzebekistan signed the Staff Monitored Program (SMP) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to introduce current account convertibility. Thus far, a very restrictive exchange regime is justified on grounds of the need to limit the imports of consumer goods and to channel the foreign exchange to finance the import of machinery and high technology. If the IMF reforms are implemented, the country would attract much-needed foreign direct investment. Analysts point out that what is really needed to move the economy forward is major structural reform, which should include getting rid of the state controls over the vital agricultural sector.

In March 2002, Uzbekistan devalued the exchange booth rate from approximately 920 to about 1,300, much closer to the curb market rate. The aim is to reduce the gap between the official and market rates, with the curb rate not to exceed 20 percent by June 2002. In April, 2002, a new decree allowed the sale of bonds by the Central Bank of Uzbekistan, which utilizes technical advice from the World Bank, the UNDP, and the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Technical Assistance. All these measures are expected to pump some momentum in the country's fiscal and monetary policy to make them truly market-oriented.

Uzbekistan's exports, according to 2000 government statistics, were $3.26 billion, mainly cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, and food products. Major export markets are Russia, 16.7 percent; U.K., 7.2 percent; Switzerland, 8.3 percent; South Korea, 3.3 percent; and Kazakhstan, 3.1 percent. The imports were $2.94 billion, mainly machinery and equipment, chemicals and foodstuffs. Major partners were: Russia, 15.8 percent; South Korea, 9.8 percent; United States, 8.7 percent; Germany, 8.7 percent; Kazakhstan, 7.3 percent; and Ukraine, 6.1 percent. Uzbekistan's external debt in 2001 were estimated at U.S.$ 4.5 billion.

Financial Condition of Newspapers

In terms of finance, the government subsidizes only a very limited number of newspapers. Most of them sustain themselves on the revenues they receive from advertisements, many of which are in the form of announcements, notices, or calls for tenders from various state agencies. Another source of income indirectly provided by the government is mandatory subscriptions by the various state offices to the state publications, The newspapers do not get much advertising from international companies, which find it difficult to operate because of the laws disallowing currency convertibility.

Press Laws

The Constitution of Uzbekistan plainly provides "freedom of thought, speech and convictions." Article 67 of the Constitution states that "media are free censorship is impermissible." Yet in reality, the press and the other media experience censorship. Moreover, there are registration requirements that are misused to screen those who want to start a newspaper or magazine or renew their licenses. The basic law governing the media was adopted on June 14, 1991, three months before Uzbekistan's independence from the Soviet Union. It was supplemented by several decrees and regulations, including decree number 244, which laid down rules for registration. On November 26, 1996, the Uzbek Parliament promised liberalization of the press, to bring it in line with international standards. The following February, it adopted several laws on the relationship between the government and the media. Article 4 of the Law on Mass Media reiterated: "In the Republic of Uzbekistan, censorship on mass media is not permitted. No one has the right to request that materials and reports be approved prior to publication, or that any text be altered or completely removed from print (air)."

Censorship

Although the constitution of Uzbekistan and the Law on Mass Media forbids censorship, the government has "enforced a virtual censorship." The Committee for the Protection of State Secrets at the State Print Committee acts as an unofficial censor, having the authority to approve the newspaper copy before it goes for printing. Significantly, the Law on Mass Media does not provide for solving the disputes in court; it gives that authority to the State Print Committee, actually placing the latter above appeal or arbitration proceedings. In fact, this committee censors newspapers before publication and radio and TV texts and footage before they are broadcast. Television and radio stations practice self-censorship so well that the Committee, by and large, does not find it necessary to censor the broadcasts on a daily basis.

The process of self-censorship is further helped by the fact that most editors and media executives fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President, or some minister or the other. Therefore, editors and the top echelons of the media hierarchy put certain types of programs "off limits" by way of self-censorship. The self-censorship is also encouraged by a number of administrative measures. The government's ire is manifested through endless delays in registration and license renewals, judicial decrees, or obstacles in purchasing news-print. Consequently, as a professional organization commented, the "media landscape is one-sided. There are no opposition media in the country; the independent media in the private sector simply refrain from political reporting. The media appear to compete for the title 'most loyal to the authorities."'

In mid-1996, President Karimov announced he would liberalize the press. Six months later, even while the new law was on the legislature's anvil, the newspaper Vatan was temporarily closed down for publishing an analytical article on the President's human rights policy agenda. In February 1997, the parliament passed laws on the access to information and the rights of journalists. Although these appear liberal on paper, they have not been implemented, nor has their been qualitative change in the working conditions of journalists or in the subtle standards of censorship imposed through "self-censorship." The 1991 law prohibiting writing that would "offend the honor and dignity of the president" continues. The new laws hold journalists responsible for the accuracy of their reporting and potentially subjects them to criminal prosecution if the government officials who are under scrutiny disagree with news reports. The new laws also permit closure of any media outlet without court judgments, prohibits incitement of ethnic or religious conflict, and disallow the registration of organizations whose purposes include "subverting the constitutional order." And although there is no official censorship, no newspaper can be printed (all printing facilities are state-owned) without the prior approval of the Committee for the Control of State Secrets.

Even the newspapers and magazines in the private sector are not free from editorial constraints. In fact, "true" opposition papers ceased to exist in 1993, when severe restrictions were imposed on the media. Although the restrictions were relaxed in 1997, the harsh sentence of 11 years meted out to a Samarkand state radio reporter, Shodi Mardiev, in 1998, and the manhandling of two Russian journalists for talking with human rights activists in the same year, were enough proof that the government expected self-censorship of all journalists.

State-Press Relations

In practice, the government created a process that effectively compels obedience and loyalty on the part of the press through self-censorship. This was done through the Uzbekistan State Committee on the Press, which was supposed to protect the rights of the press and the journalists. Instead, its chairman, who is close to the president's office, has been placed in charge of the registration and renewal of licenses to media companies, as well as the accreditation of journalists. The authority is often used to streamline those deemed "prejudicial to the public good". The State Committee on the Press also regulates the availability of newsprint, which is a monopoly held by a state-owned agency. In order to enforce the provisions of the "law," the committee maintains an Inspectorate.

The other laws affecting the media adopted in 1997 includes one guaranteeing freedom of access to information. It lists the various categories of information "except for the state secrets" to which the citizen would have access. Most of the access guaranteed under article 3 of the law was taken away by the limits set in article 9, which forbid "state agencies, bodies of citizen self-government, public associations, enterprises, institutions, organizations and officials" to provide information containing "national secrets or other secrets protected by law." Another piece of legislation entitled "On the Protection of the Professional Work of Journalists" defined a journalist and listed his/her basic rights, notably in investigative journalism. It also laid down guidelines for the accreditation of foreign journalists working in Uzbekistan and for Uzbeki journalists working abroad. As for the broadcasting media, they come under the Ministry of Communications for the issue and renewal of licenses. The Uzteleradio, the Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan, which operates in the capital as well as in the provinces, is directly responsible to the government through the Ministry of Broadcasting for their programming.

In sum, although the extensive 1997 legislation concerning the media was in keeping with President Karimov's promise in mid-1996 that he would improve journalists' working conditions, in practice, the several laws passed by the Parliament in 1997 have "not translated into a free and pluralistic media landscape." Besides, the new laws did not invalidate the 1991 law that prohibited any criticism "offending the honor and dignity of the president." Reviewing the media laws and the bureaucratic structure controlling the media, Roger D. Kangas lamented: "For organizations that have followed Uzbekistan's policy of complete media control, such laws might very well be considered empty additions to the litany of legislation that has little substantive meaning. the reality has been a system wherein the media remains completely censored by the government and void of serious debate on current political issues."

Can such restrictions, including self-censorship, be viewed differently from the working conditions of journalists in countries where the freedom of the press is truly guaranteed by the courts? Thus, the practice of self-censorship may rightly be equated with official censorship and condemned in truly democratic countries. However, in societies accustomed to tight government control of many aspects of life, self-censorship may not appear tyrannical. A survey conducted in the year 2000 indicated that 38 percent of journalists in Uzbekistan felt some kind of censorship was necessary to protect against anarchy. A prominent Uzbek TV journalist and station director, Shukhrat Babadjanov, attributed such thinking to "the absence of democratic thinking in the mentality of the Uzbek journalist."

One major exception to such self-censorship is the independent Uzbek-language Hurriyat (The Liberty ), which publishes articles and stories critical of government officials in numerous state enterprises but not of the top hierarchy.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The presence of foreign media in Tashkent is impressive for its comprehensiveness but not for its staffing, which, with the exception of Russian Public Television (ORT), is mostly at the level of local stringers. The foreign media represented are: Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Russian news agencies (Interfax; ITAR-TASS; Novosti, ORT news bureau), Internews (U.S.), Associated Press, UPI, BBC, VOA, Radio Liberty, and Chinese Economic Daily. The government is polite and helpful to foreign media and though it expects them to follow the same guidelines as the domestic media, in practice, the foreign media, particularly those from Western Europe and the United States, prefer to have a low-profile presence rather than confrontation with the government.

Russian Media In the CIS and In Uzbekistan

Rus-sian is widely spoken throughout the CIS, including in Uzbekistan. The Moscow-based media, notably the Russian Public Television (ORT), is available everywhere and is almost invariably more popular than the domestic state-controlled TV channel. Russian channel 1, RTR, as well as the private channels TV-6 and NTV, are fairly popular thanks to the greater freedom their news broadcast and current affairs programs, mostly political, show. Another reason for their popularity is that both the ORT and RTR include American soaps in their programming, which makes the channels popular with large audiences. Some CIS members, however, like Uzbekistan, have taken steps to delay and censor the Russian transmission because they fear the impact of the discussions on current affairs unpalatable to the governing regime in Uzbeki-stan.

Russian newspapers and magazines do not have an equally attractive market in Uzbekistan, or for that matter, in the CIS. One major reason is the problem with currency convertibility, which makes the cover price of Russian newspapers prohibitive in Uzbekistan. Even so, prominent newspapers such as Pravda, Izvestya, Argumenti I Facti and Trud are available on newsstands in Tashkent and are regularly read by the political elite and Uzbeki media persons.

News Agencies

There are three main news agencies. UzA is the national information agency, owned by the state and serving as a channel of information which is carefully screened before its distribution to newspapers. Jahon News Agency is run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reporting mostly on the Uzbek presence and activities of its diplomatic establishments abroad. It also assists the flow of information from Uzbekistan to the outside world and, in the process, controls the content. It also serves as a liaison with representatives of the foreign media in the country. Lastly, Turkiston Press Outside World Agency is a new, independent agency established by young, professional journalists. It has so far managed to steer clear of government intervention.

Broadcast Media

Radio

Just as in television, there are state-owned and independent radio stations in Uzbekistan. The State Radio has FM, medium-wave and short-wave transmissions. The State Radio has four channels, each with its own specialty: Channel 1 ("Uzbekistan") is the most important channel, paralleling Uzbek TV 1 in its programming (frequencies; LW, MW, SW, FM); Radio Channel 2, popularly known as "Mashal" (MW and FM), is directed to the youth and has more entertainment programs than others. Radio Channel 3, known as "Dostlik" (MW and FM) focuses on the minorities in the country; Radio Channel 4, known as "Yoshlar" (MW and FM), is directed toward the youth. Yet another government-owned radio station, "Radio Tashkent" broadcasts on a short-wave to numerous countries in 12 languages.

There are seven FM radio stations in the capital city of Tashkent, one independent station that covers the three provinces of Ferghana, Andijan, and Namanghan. Five out of those in Tashkent are independent, Radio Grande (FM-101.5 MHZ) being the most popular among them. It was established in 1999 with substantial assistance from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Germany and the International Center for the Training of Journalists. It has one-hour programs in Russian, Uzbek, and English every day and besides music, it broadcasts hourly news local, national, and international. Among the other private FM stations is radio Sezum, an Uzbek-US joint venture.

Television

According to the U.S. nongovernmental organization, Internews, there are about 35 independent TV stations in Uzbekistan along with the State TV and Radio Company. It is not designated as a "state" company by a decree of the Uzbek Cabinet, which expects it to be financially fully independent "as soon as possible." Analysts observe that, given its size and operations and the state of the private sector, it is likely to be state-owned for a long time.

The State TV, which was predominantly dependent on Russian programs in the first few years, has reduced the transmission of broadcast hours of Russian channels like ORT and RTR. In order not to deprive people who would like to continue to watch Russian television as well as to cater to the sizeable ethnic Russian population in the cities, the government has encouraged the growth of cable TV, which operate as small stations providing individuals with such a service for a monthly fee. Such cable TV stations often provide international programs with channels such as CNN, TNT, ESPN, and BBC. The largest of the cable TV stations is Kamalak TV, with as many as 10 Russian and international channels.

The Uzbek government manages not to allow any "independent" TV stations to operate in the capital city of Tashkent, where political sensitivities matter far more than in smaller cities and towns and the rural areas. The one exception is Channel 30 in Tashkent, which walks a tightrope in terms of self-censorship. It also transmits foreign and Russian licensed programs. The independent stations mostly broadcast to provincial areas. Even so, they practice self-censorship, only less than the State TV. Most independent stations have outmoded equipment and depend on the U.S. Internews, which helps them by providing equipment and training. Because most independent stations do not and cannot afford sophisticated editorial staff, the Internews collects news reports from most of these stations, develops them into a program, and then redistributes the news program to the stations ready for broadcast.

Although all independent stations are, by definition, financially independent, some of them, such as those in Samarkand and Andijan are well-funded and can afford plans for expansion and quality improvement. They have their own news programs at the local level and are not, to that extent, completely dependent on the Internews. Besides, they have their own talk shows, which they broadcast on their own FM radio stations as well.

The State TV has four channels, each with a different coverage, language of broadcast, and content. The Uzbek Channel 1 is the primary channel, and bears a resemblance to C-SPAN, with an emphasis on all government activities, speeches, and public events, with a pronounced political and economic bias. It broadcasts in Uzbek (except for news in Russian) and is the most censored of all State TV channels. The Uzbek Channel 2 is called "Yoshlar," or Youth Channel. It covers one-half of the geographical area of the country. Although the channel is supposed to compete with Channel 1, its coverage, apart from some emphasis on "entertainment of the youth" covers political events such as presidential and parliamentary elections, political events, and talk shows on political and economic issues. The channel uses both Uzbek and Russian in its broadcasts, It is, like Channel 1, subject to strict censorship. Channels 3 and 4 are entertainment-oriented with movies, and sports;Channel 3, also known as TTV because of its coverage focused on Tashkent, sometimes creates its own programs.

All four channels retransmit pirated western and Russian movies and other programs by downloading them off satellites and dubbing them into Uzbek and/or Russian. Copyright violations are routine in Uzbekistan despite the country's membership in the International Intellectual Property Organization.

Electronic News Media

There are several companies that provide paging, cellular phones, and cable TVall of them based in Tashkent: Kamalak-TV; Radio Page; Kamalak-paging; Orbitel Ltd. Scooner Trading Telecom, U-tel, and Uzdunrobita. In the decade following its independence from the former Soviet Union, Uzbekistan's telephone services have improved remarkably. So has the demand for telephones despite the increase in the tariff since the mid-1990s. The demand from rural areas has outpaced that from urban centers, with the overall increase in telephone connections totalling 250 per cent since 1991. While it is almost impossible to gauge the numbers of users of the Internet anywhere, the impact of the Internet is far greater than such numbers may indicate. According to Yash Lange, who regularly monitors the media in the CIS, the access to the Internet is so far "confined to the educated, successful or (often) young" limited by the "obsolete telecommunication infrastructure" that inhibits expansion. Thus, a survey conducted in January 1997 placed the number of hosts in Uzbekistan at 122, which compares most unfavorably with Russia: 50,000; Ukraine: 6,966; Kazakhistan: 807; Georgia: 210; and Armenia: 175.

There are several reasons for such a limited use of the Internet. Only a small minority can afford an IP connection that would enable them to surf the Web or have access to e-mail. It is also not possible to determine the exact number of users since the number of subscribers at the providers gives the number of connections, not the number of users, who pay a small fee to the subscribers for the facility. This is especially true of universities and research institutes where a single connection may be used by several faculty, researchers, and students. While the cost of a connection is prohibitive, even the hourly use charge can be very high, particularly to young people who do not have access to a common academic facility.

The impediments to Internet expansion include poor telecommunications infrastructure, the over-loaded, low-speed international channels which make the use of the Web complicated. This is so in Russia itself; it is many times worse in the CIS including, Uzbekistan. Another problem is the alphabet used by the receiver and the sender in transmitting the data if it is not in Roman script, which is used on the Internet. Moreover, the Internet is predominantly in English. "As data travels from one system," Lange notes, "the messages may change (parts of words disappear) because the server where the message travels through on its way to its final destination may not support the type of coding. When messages are sent from east to West it becomes much more pronounced." Yet, the greatest hurdle in the expansion and use of the Internet would be the will of the government and its desire to link its citizenry with the world, in seeing the inevitability and long-term benefits of such an interaction. Uzbekistan is, in this respect, way behind Russia and Ukraine; its newspapers are not yet on line.

Education & Training

Training in journalism and telecommunications is given at the Electro-technical and Communication Institute, 108 Amir Temur Street, Tashkent (Tel. 35-0934).

Summary

The contradiction in President Karimov's pronouncements on the freedom of the press and the reality of repression was most clearly manifested in the case of Shodi Mardiev, a Uzbek state-run radio reporter sentenced by a Samarkand court on June 11, 1998 to 11 years in prison. He was found guilty of slandering an official in a program satirizing the alleged corruption of the Samarkand deputy prosecutor and of attempting to extort money from him. According to the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), the prosecution and the sentence were "in reprisal" for Mardiev's generally critical stance toward government officials. In addition to writing to the Uzbekistan president, the CPJ drew attention to the plight of Mardiev and two other imprisoned journalists at hearings on human rights in Washington D.C. in April 2000 and July 2001. It was a matter of great relief and joy to the media community that Shodi Mardiev was released in January 2002, in terms of a presidential amnesty order of August 22, 2001, marking the 10th anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence from the former Soviet Union. The amnesty was extended to some 18,000 ordinary prisoners including about 700 religious and political detainees. Mardiev was eligible for early release on grounds that he was over 60 (he was 63 at the time of his release). A special circumstance that is advanced by the government as an excuse for "supervising" the media, is the need to contain the insurgency conducted by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Ironically, on June 27, 2001, declared "Press and Media Workers Day" in Uzbekistan, President Karimov warned the journalists that they would suffer serious consequences if they complained about restrictions even where the national security was involved. It is not just the issues related to Islam that provoke the government's ire. Even expressions of discontent over the government's economic performance are closely "monitored" by the government, and frequently editors of newspapers and magazines receive callsthey never writefrom the State Press Committee or from the President's office ordering changes. Eurasianet.org and the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Institute (New York) have brought to light instances of government's back-door censorship, although there is no official censorship. As Eurasianet comments: "The government appears unconcerned by the contradictions between existing legislation and its own actions to restrict media freedom." Such practices have not gone well with all journalists, some of whom have chosen to resist the government's tight grip over what appears in print. In April 2002, Tashpulat Takhmatullaev, publisher of the weekly independent newspaper, Samarkand, published an article, "Who loves his Motherland morethe one who praises it, or the one who criticizes it?" along with some blank space, which government officials had asked to be cut. The excised portions asked for abolition of censorship in the country. Similar pressures are applied to independent TV stations; those who offer "alternative point of view" are often punished. Thus, Shukhrat Babadjanov, director of the independent ALC-TV in Urgench, received orders closing down his station as many as four times since 1995. In April 2002, the government confiscated its frequency, completely disabling the operation of the TV station. Another extreme case was the death of Imin Usmanov, a well-known Uzbek writer and journalist, in the basement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on March 10, 2002. The local press was completely silent about the incident, which was widely rumored to have been a "punishment" for incendiary writing.

Significant Dates

  • 1990: Karimov becomes President of the Soviet Uzbek Republic.
  • 1991, June 14: The Basic Law for the Media approved.
  • 1991, September 1: Uzbekistan becomes an independent Republic.
  • 1991, December: Karimov becomes President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
  • 1992, December 8: Uzbekistan adopts a constitution.
  • 1995, December: Referendum held; Karimov's term as president extended by five years.
  • 1996, November 26: Parliament promises liberalization of the press.
  • 1997, February: Parliament approves law on access to information.
  • 1999: Radio Grande inaugurates its services
  • 2002, January 27: Referendum held; extends Karimov's term as president till December 2007.

Bibliography

Bey, Yana. "When a Free Press Might Aid Terrorists, Getting News in Uzbekistan," World Press Review Online (November 14, 2001).

Internews, Uzbekistan, "Radio Stations of Uzbekistan," available online at www.internews.uz/uzradio.html

Internews, Uzbekistan, "TV Stations of Uzbekistan," available online at www.internews.uz/uztvs.html )

Kangas, R. D. "New Media Law in Uzbekistan: Finally Turning the Corner?" OMRI Analytical Brief no. 556 (February 24, 1997).

Kabirov, Lutfulla. "Structural Reconstruction of Uzbek Press," Post-Soviet Media Law and Policy Newsletter nos. 4-49 (September 15, 1998). Kabirov is director of the Creative Center for Journalists, Likhom, in Tashkent.

Johnson, Eric, with Martha Olcott and Robert Horwitz. "The Media in Central Asia. An Analysis Conducted by Internews for USAID." April 1994.

Lange, Yasha. "Media In the CIS:Uzbekistan," (May 13, 1997) Available online at www.internews.ru.books.

Open Society Institute (New York), Central Eurasia Project. "Journalists Struggle to Cope with Censorship in Uzbekistan." (July 3, 2001). Available at http://www.Eurasianet.org.

Republic of Uzbekistan. "Law on the Mass Media." (December 26, 1997) Available on www.internews.uz/law4e.html.

U.S. Department of State. Uzbekistan Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997. (January 1998) Available online at www.state.gov/.

Damodar R. SarDesai

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan (ŏŏzbĕkĬstän´), Uzbek Ozbekiston, officially Republic of Uzbekistan, republic (2005 est. pop. 26,851,000), 173,552 sq mi (449,500 sq km), central Asia. The republic borders on Afghanistan in the south, on Turkmenistan in the southwest, on Kazakhstan in the west and north, and on Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the east. Tashkent, the capital, and Samarkand are the chief cities.

Land and People

The terrain of the republic encompasses two unequal sections: the larger northwest area, which is part of the Kyzyl Kum desert; and the smaller southeast area, which has fertile loess soil and touches on the Tian Shan mountain system. The Aral Sea lies on the northwest frontier. Central Asia's two major rivers—the Amu Darya and Syr Darya—pass through Uzbek territory. The Khiva oasis is irrigated by the Amu Darya, the fertile Fergana Valley by the Syr Darya and its tributaries, the Tashkent oasis by the Chirchik and Angren rivers, and the Samarkand and Bukhara oases by the Zeravshan. Uzbekistan has a dry continental climate. In the Fergana Valley, several small sections of Uzbekistan form enclaves in Kyrgyzstan, and there are a Kyrgyzstani and a Tajikistani enclave in Uzbekstan. The jumbled geography has led at times to border incidents.

The Uzbeks, a Turkic-speaking group who have a Persian culture and are mostly Sunni Muslims, make up 80% of the population. Russians (who live mostly in the cities) constitute more than 5%, and there are Tajik, Kazakh, Karakalpak, and Tatar minorities. About 10% of the population belong to the Orthodox Eastern church. Uzbek is spoken by about 75% of the people; other languages include Russian and Tajik.

Economy

Uzbekistan's rivers and many irrigation canals furnish water for the cotton crop, the country's main export; the annual cotton harvest is dependent on the used of forced labor. Large quantities of rice also come from Uzbekistan (notably from the Zeravshan valley). Other crops include cereals, fruits, vegetables, alfalfa, wine grapes, sesame, tobacco, and sugarcane. There is extensive use of irrigation for farming, but the diversion of water for irrigation from the tributaries of the Aral Sea is drying up the sea and reducing the flow of freshwater in the region. Livestock are raised in the more arid western areas; Uzbekistan also produces Karakul sheep pelts. Cotton, silk, and wool provide the basis for Uzbekistan's extensive textile industry. Traditional crafts such as silk dying and carpet weaving, discouraged under Soviet rule, have enjoyed a renaissance since independence.

Industrialization increased after the transfer during World War II of many industries from European Russia to the less vulnerable Uzbek region. Food processing, machine building, metallurgy, and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, fertilizer, and building materials are leading industries. Uzbekistan has more than 20 hydroelectric power plants. The Trans-Caspian RR and the Great Uzbek Highway are the republic's main transportation routes.

Uzbekistan is rich in mineral resources. The Fergana Valley, an important cotton, silk, and wine region, is also the site of oil fields. Western Uzbekistan has large natural-gas deposits. Gold, coal, lead, zinc, copper, tungsten, molybdenum, fluorspar, and uranium are also found. Remittances from citizens working abroad, especially in Kazakhstan and Russia, are also important to the economy. Government corruption is a significant problem; it has resulted in losses for foreign firms investing in Uzbekistan.

Cotton, gold, natural gas, oil, fertilizers, metals, textiles, food products, machinery, and automobiles are the major exports. Imports include machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, and metals. The main trading partners are Russia, China, South Korea, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.

Government

Uzbekistan is governed under the constitution of 1992 as amended. The president, who is head of state, is popularly elected and may serve two terms. The president's term was extended from five to seven years by a 2002 constitutional amendment, then reduced to five years again by a 2011 amendment. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is nominated by the president. There is a bicameral legislature, the Supreme Assembly. Of the 100 members of the Senate, 84 are elected by regional councils and 16 are appointed by the president. Of the 150 members of Legislative Chamber, 135 are popularly elected; 15 seats are reserved for the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan. All legislators serve five-year terms. In practice, most opposition parties are banned, opposition figures are monitored and frequently jailed, and the president rules in an autocratic manner. Administratively, Uzbekistan is divided into 12 provinces or wiloyats, one autonomous republic (the Karakalpak Republic), and the capital city.

History

Early History

Uzbekistan was the site of one of the world's oldest civilized regions. The ancient Persian province of Sogdiana, it was conquered in the 4th cent. BC by Alexander the Great. Turkic nomads entered the area in the 6th cent. AD It passed in the 8th cent. to the Arabs, who introduced Islam, and in the 12th cent. to the Seljuk Turks of Khwarazm. Jenghiz Khan captured the region in the 13th cent., and in the 14th cent. Timur made his native Samarkand the center of his huge empire. The realm was much reduced under his successors, the Timurids, and began to disintegrate by the end of the 15th cent.

Throughout these turbulent times, the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Tashkent, situated on major trade routes to China, India, Persia, and Europe, were centers of prosperity, culture, and fabulous luxury. In the early 16th cent., the Uzbek, formerly called Sarts, invaded the region from the northwest. A remnant of the empire of the Golden Horde, they took their name from Uzbeg Khan (d. 1340), from whom their dynasty claimed descent. Later in the 16th cent., the Uzbek leader Abdullah extended his domain over parts of Persia, Afghanistan, and Chinese Turkistan; but the empire soon broke up into separate principalities, notably Khiva, Kokand, and Bukhara.

Modern History

Weakened by internecine warfare, these states were conquered by Russian forces, who took Tashkent in 1865, Samarkand and Bukhara in 1868, and Khiva in 1873. Kokand was annexed outright to the Russian empire, but Khiva and Bukhara remained under their native rulers as vassal states of Russia. Efforts by Uzbek leaders to establish a European-style democratic republic in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917 were unsuccessful.

In 1918 the Turkistan Autonomous SSR was organized on Uzbek territory, in 1920 the Khorezm and Bukhara People's Republics were established, and finally, in 1924, the Uzbek-populated areas were united in the Uzbek SSR. Tajikistan was part of the Uzbek SSR until 1929, when it became a separate republic. In 1936 the Kara-Kalpak Autonomous SSR was joined with Uzbekistan. In 1956 and 1963, the Mirzachul Steppe ( "Hungry Steppe" ) was transferred from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan. Some of the area was returned in 1971.

In June, 1990, the Uzbek parliament passed a resolution declaring the republic's sovereignty. Islam Karimov, who had been named Uzbekistan's Communist party chief in 1989 and given the new title of president earlier in 1990, initially did not oppose the abortive coup of Aug., 1991, in Moscow (see August Coup), but he denounced it when it failed. On Aug. 31, Uzbekistan was declared independent, and it joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December. During the same month, Karimov was elected president by popular vote.

Karimov began a crackdown against political opponents, some of whom were jailed; at the same time, some free-market reforms were undertaken. Karimov also established controls on devout Muslims, which grew increasing harsh and indiscriminate during the late 1990s, when such Muslims were among the few remaining critics of his rule. In 1995, in a referendum in which voters' preferences could be observed by election officials, Karimov won an overwhelming endorsement to remain in office until the year 2000.

Several people were killed by car bombs outside government offices in Tashkent in Feb., 1999, in an apparent attempt on the president's life; a number of radical Islamists were held in connection with the bombings. In Jan., 2000, Karimov was reelected to the presidency, again by a lopsided majority. In August there were clashes with Uzbek Islamic guerrillas who had crossed into Uzbekistan from bases in Tajikistan. The following year, Uzbekistan allowed U.S. forces to use bases there in its campaign against Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban; the U.S. campaign there also weakened Uzbek Islamic guerrillas supported by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. In 2002, after a referendum that was criticized by Western nations, Karimov's term was extended to Dec., 2007.

In Mar., 2004, there was an outbreak of terrorist violence in Tashkent and Bukhara in which several dozen people died, and in July there were suicide attacks in Tashkent. Islamic groups were blamed for the attacks, but international rights groups said that Karimov's rigid authoritarian regime created a climate that fostered Islamic militancy and antigovernment attacks. In November there protests in several cities against new regulations on traders in the bazaars; the most serious one, in Kokand, involved attacks on police and other officials. Despite Uzbekistan's strategic alliance with the United States, the country failed to win U.S. certification for aid in 2004. At the same time, however, relations with Russia, which had been strained, improved. The Dec., 2004, parliamentary elections were contested only by candidates from parties that supported the president.

In May, 2005, protest in Andijan against the arrest and trial of local businessmen turned into an antigovernment uprising when the local prison and a regional administration building were seized. The uprising, which spread to other areas of E Uzbekistan was brutally suppressed by government forces, who claimed that less than 200 terrorists had been killed. Other sources, however, estimated that more than 700 men, women, and children had died when security forces shot indiscriminantly at protesters. Subsequently, the government engaged in a widespread, ongoing crackdown designed to suppress dissent generally and limit access to information about the uprising and its aftermath. The events strained relations with the United States and European Union nations in the following months. Meanwhile, in July, 2005, Uzbekistan terminated the agreement that allowed U.S. forces to be based in the country, and U.S. forces were withdrawn by the end of 2005.

In Dec., 2007, Karimov was again reelected; the vote was criticized as undemocratic and being of questionable constitutionality. Since 2009 Uzbekistan has restricted the flow of goods, electricity, and natural gas into or out of neighboring Tajikistan in response to Tajikistan's construction of a hydroelectric dam that could reduce the flow of water needed for irrigation in Uzbekistan. Elections for the Legislative Chamber, held in Dec., 2009, and Jan., 2010, were again open only to candidates of parties aligned with Karimov; elections for the legislature in Dec., 2014, and Jan., 2015, were again monopolized by the pro-Karimov parties. In Mar., 2015, Karimov was reelected president in an election in which no opposition candidate ran.

Bibliography

See S. Akinev, Islamic Peoples of the Soviet Union (1986); E. A. Allworth, The Modern Uzbeks (1990).

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Uzbekistan and Uzbeks

UZBEKISTAN AND UZBEKS

The Uzbeks are a people who settled in the oases regions of Central Asia more than five hundred years ago. Early references to Uzbeks suggest that they were nomadic peoples who lived in the steppes of what is today Kazakhstan and southern Siberia, although there is conflicting evidence as to their origin. Gradually moving southward, they became a political force in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and were associated with the region between the great rivers of the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya. During the early twenty-first century, ethnic Uzbeks can be found in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, as well as smaller communities in Turkey and China. The majority of Uzbeks live in the country of Uzbekistan, which is located among the states noted above in the region between the Aral Sea to the west and the Tien Shan and Pamir mountains to the east. Uzbekistan has an area of 447,400 square kilometers (172,700 square miles) and a population estimated at 25,563,441 people. Approximately 20,450,000 of these citizens are ethnic Uzbeks (80%). Significant minorities in Uzbekistan include Russians (5.5%), Tajiks (5.0%), Kazakhs (3.0%), Karakalpaks (2.5%), and Tatars (1.5%). The capital city of Uzbekistan is Tashkent, which has an estimated population of 2.6 million, although unofficial counts place the number at nearly 3.5 million people. Other significant cities include Samarkand, Bukhara, Andijon, Namangan, and Fergana.

The majority of Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi School. Given that several key cities of Uzbekistan, specifically Bukhara and Samarkand, were centers of learning in the Islamic world for centuries, the traditions of that faith are strong in the country. Even during the Soviet period, when there were stringent restrictions on Islamic practices, the religion was practiced in the country.

Other religions coexist in Uzbekistan and reflect the ethnic minorities, such as the Russians.

Linguistically, Uzbek is a Turkic language and, to varying degrees, is mutually intelligible with the other Turkic languages in the region such as Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Karakalpak, and Turkmen. Originally Uzbek was written in the Arabic script. During the Soviet period, this was switched to the Latin script in the 1920s and later to the Cyrillic script in 1940. In the post-Soviet period, the Uzbek government decided to return to a Latin script, using Turkish orthography.

There are significant discussions as to the origins of the Uzbeks and when they arrived in the region they occupy today. Indeed, it is accepted that Tamerlane (Timur the Lame) was an Uzbek and the first Uzbek unifier of Central Asia. Interestingly, the Timurid dynasty under Babur (Tamerlane's grandson) was defeated by Shaybani Khan, an Uzbek leader, at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Many international historians consider this event to be the true introduction of Uzbeks to the region and the first Uzbek state in Central Asia. For the next four centuries, three main Uzbek states developed in Central Asiathe Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanates of Khiva and Kokand. Identity at this time focused on which city one belonged to, or more importantly, to one's faithIslam. At the time, these states were not really identified with the ethnic group of Uzbeks, which was seen as a population more divided by and distinguished among tribal sub-groupings. Up through the twentieth century, these states more often used Persian as the court languages, while Uzbek was used among the common people.

During the 1850s and 1860s the Russian empire began to aggressively seek control over the various regions of Central Asia. This has often been couched in terms of the Great Game with the British Empire, which was a contest for dominance in the region. In 1865 Russian military forces systematically took over cities in the Kokand Khanate and Bukharan Emirate, beginning with the sacking of Tashkent in that year. By 1876 the Khanate of Kokand was dissolved and incorporated into the Governor-Generalship of Turkestan. The Khanate of Khiva in the west and the Bukharan Emirate were reduced to the status of protectorates. During the next forty years, this region was part of the Russian empire. In general, the Russian over-lords sought to obtain taxes and raw materials from the region and left the indigenous populations to their own social and cultural traditions.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Civil War resulted in radical changes for Central Asia. Eventually, the region was consolidated under Bolshevik rule and new political structures were created. The first entity called Uzbekistan appeared in 1924 with the National Delimitation in the Soviet Union. The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic actually included the Tajik Autonomous Republic. This easternmost portion was granted full Union Republic status in 1929. With modest border adjustments over the ensuing decades, the Uzbek S.S.R. was considered to be the homeland for the Uzbeks living in the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Uzbek S.S.R. declared its independence and has henceforth been called the Republic of Uzbekistan.

For much of the Soviet period, Uzbekistan was the primary cotton-producing region of the Soviet Union, with annual quotas exceeding four and five million metric tons by the 1980s. In addition, Uzbekistan was a major supplier of gold, strategic minerals, gas, and agricultural products. In the post-Soviet period, these commodities remain the foundation for Uzbekistan's economy. Uzbekistan is one of the few states of the former Soviet Union that did not experience a radical drop in production and income during the 1990s, largely because of its reliance on exporting these goods. However, the country's economy has not rebounded quickly because of difficulties in the currency market and the obstacles faced by foreign investors. Moreover, the steady increase in population has resulted in a growing labor force that continues to experience a high unemployment rate.

Politically, there was also continuity at the time of independence. In 1991 the president of the Uzbek S.S.R., Islam Karimov, was elected President of Uzbekistan. In 1999 and 2000 the militant Islamic Movement for Uzbekistan (IMU) unsuccessfully attempted to destabilize the country. The government since considers Islamic extremism to be a major security concern for the country, whether it is in the guise of the IMU or the broader, internationally based group Hezb-ut Tahrir.

Throughout the 1990s and the early twenty-first century, Uzbekistan has tried to assert itself as a leading state in Central Asia. Of great importance was the desire to reduce the influence of Russia and remove the notion of an elder brother in the region. Consequently, Uzbekistan has diplomatic and economic ties with a number of important powers, such as China, India, the United States, the European Union, Turkey, and Iran. Since the events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent U.S. led actions in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has been more active in NATO Partnership for Peace programs and bilateral security relations with the United States. Ultimately, Uzbekistan would prefer to see a greater emphasis on a Central Asian regional security arrangement, with itself as the key member.

See also: central asia; islam; nationalities policies, soviet; nationalities policies, tsarist

bibliography

Allworth, Edward. (1990). The Modern Uzbeks: From The Fourteenth Century To The Present: A Cultural History. Stanford, CA: Hoover University Press.

Babushkin, L. N., ed. (1973). Soviet Uzbekistan. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Bohr, Annette. (1998). Uzbekistan: Politics and Foreign Policy. London: RIIA.

Gleason, Gregory. (1997). The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Kangas, Roger. (2002). Uzbekistan in the Twentieth Century: Political Development and the Evolution of Power. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Karimov, Islam. (1997). Uzbekistan on the Threshold of the Twenty-First Century. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Levitin, Leonid, with Carlisle, Donald S. (1995). Islam Karimov: President of the New Uzbekistan. Vienna: Agrotec.

MacLeod, Calum, and Mayhew, Bradley. (1999). Uzbekistan: The Golden Road to Samarkand. London: Odyssey.

Melvin, Neil. (2000). Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Roger Kangas

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Official name: Republic of Uzbekistan

Area: 447,400 square kilometers (172,741 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Adelunga Toghi (4,301 meters/14,111 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sariqarnish Kuli (12 meters/39 feet below sea level)

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 5 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: Not available

Land boundaries: 6,221 kilometers (3,866 miles) total boundary length; Afghanistan 137 kilometers (85 miles); Kazakhstan 2,203 k'ilometers (1,369 miles); Kyrgyzstan 1,099 kilometers (683 miles); Tajikistan 1,161 kilometers (721 miles); Turkmenistan 1,621 kilometers (1,007 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, located north of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, west of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and south and east of Kazakhstan. With an area of 447,400 square kilometers (172,741 square miles), it is somewhat larger than the state of California. Nearly 40 percent of western Uzbekistan is known as the Qoraqalpogh Autonomous Republic (known also as Qoraqalpoghistan or Karakalpakstan).

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Uzbekistan has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

Uzbekistan is a hot, dry country with long summers and mild winters. It has a continental climate, with definite seasonal variations as well as significant differences in weather during the day and at night. July (summer) high temperatures are generally between 26°C and 32°C (79°F and 90°F) but can soar much higher. January highs are usually between -6°C to 2°C (21°F to 36°F). Most precipitation falls during March and April; droughts commonly occur during Uzbekistan's long, hot summers. Although snow falls regularly in the winter months, it seldom accumulates and soon melts. Overall, precipitation is light, with only the best-watered areas receiving more than 30 centimeters (12 inches) of rain or snow annually.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Uzbekistan's varied terrain includes high mountains and semiarid grasslands in the east, and lowlands and a predominantly flat plateau region in the west. In the center lies the vast Kyzyl Kum, one of the world's largest deserts.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Uzbekistan is landlocked, with no ocean coasts or islands. It does surround the southern half of the Aral Sea, with 420 kilometers (260 miles) of shoreline. Despite its name, however, the Aral Sea is technically a land-locked saltwater lake, not a sea.

6 INLAND LAKES

The southern half of the Aral Sea is located in northwestern Uzbekistan, with the rest in Kazakhstan. The lake's salty water and large size have led to its being called a sea, but because it lacks an outlet to the ocean, it is technically a lake. Lake Aydarkul in eastern Uzbekistan is the largest freshwater lake in the country. Lake Sarygamysh extends into the country from Turkmenistan in the southwest.

DID YOU KNOW?

The depletion of the Aral Sea is considered one of the worst ecological disasters in the world. As recently as the 1960s, it was the world's fourth-largest lake. Since then, massive irrigation withdrawals have reduced the lake to only half its former size.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

There are three significant rivers in Uzbeki-stan: the Amu Dar'ya, the Syr Dar'ya, and the Zeravshan. All of these rivers originate in the high mountains east of Uzbekistan. The Amu Dar'ya, the largest of the three, flows west along the southern border with Afghanistan, then curves northwest into Turkmenistan. Further north it becomes the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Near the city of Nukus it turns north and spreads out into a delta. The Syr Dar'ya enters the country from Kyrgyzstan in the northeast and flows west through the fertile Fergana Valley. It cuts across the spur of northern Tajikistan, then turns north back through Uzbekistan and into Kazakhstan. The Zeravshan enters the country from the mountains of Tajikistan to the east, then arcs across southeast Uzbekistan.

8 DESERTS

The Kyzyl Kum desert (named for the red sand that covers most of it) occupies an immense area of some 298,000 square kilometers (115,000 square miles), making it the largest desert in Central Asia. It extends southeast of the Aral Sea, between the valleys of the Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya, and the bulk of it is located in Uzbekistan. It is an extremely arid and inhospitable area. Another desert, the Mirzachol, lies southwest of the capital, Tashkent, in northeastern Uzbekistan.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

The western two-thirds of Uzbekistan consists predominantly of flat steppe and desert terrain, with mountains and the fertile Fergana Valley in the east.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

In the east and northeast, Uzbekistan is predominantly mountainous. In the northeast, the Tian Shan extends into the country from the east. Further south, on the far side of the Fergana Valley, are the Alai Mountains, which belong to the Pamirs. Both ranges are tall, reaching up to 4,301 meters (14,111 feet) at Adelunga Toghi, and rising even higher further to the east in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

With a depth of 1,415 meters (4,643 feet), the Boj-Bulok cave is one of the deepest in the world.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

West and south of the Aral Sea is the Ustyurt (Ust' Urt) Plateau, a well-defined upland broken up by occasional small mountain ridges. It extends west from the shores of the Aral Sea to the Caspian Sea coastline in Kazakhstan. Its area is roughly 200,000 square kilometers (77,220 square miles).

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

Uzbekistan has extensive canal systems, most of which were built when the country was part of the former Soviet Union. The Amu-Bukhara canal is the most notable of these.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Ferdinand, Peter, ed. The New States of Central Asia and Their Neighbors. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994.

MacLeod, Calum. Uzbekistan: The Golden Road to Samarkind. New York: Odyssey Publications, 1999.

Malcomson, Scott L. Borderlands: Nation and Empire. Boston: Faber and Faber, 1994.

Web Sites

Advantour: Uzbekistan. http://www.advantour.com/uzbekistan/ (accessed April 17, 2003).

Lonely Planet: Destination Uzbekistan. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/central_asia/uzbekistan/ (accessed April 17, 2003).

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

area:

447,400sq km (172,740sq mi)

population:

24,449,000

population:

Tashkent (2,117,500)

ethnic groups:

Uzbek 71%, sian 8%, Tajik 5%, Kazak 4%, Tatar 2%, Kara-Kalpak 2%, Crimean Tatar, Korean, Kyrgyz, Ukrainian, Turkmen

languages:

Uzbek (official)

religions:

Islam

currency:

Som

Republic in central Asia; the capital is Tashkent.

Land and climate

The republic comprises plains in the w and highlands in the e. The main rivers, Amu Darya and Syr Darya, drain into the Aral Sea. So much water was diverted from these rivers to irrigate farmland that the Aral Sea shrank from 66,900sq km (25,830sq mi) in 1960 to 33,642sq km (12,989sq mi) in 1993. The dried-up lake area has become desert, like much of the rest of the country. Uzbekistan has a continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The w is extremely arid, with an average annual rainfall of c.200mm (8in), but parts of the highlands in the e have three times as much rain. Grassy steppe occurs in wetter areas, with forests on the mountain slopes.

History and politics

Turkic people first settled in the area c.1500 years ago. Islam was introduced in the 7th century ad. Mongols invaded in the 13th century, and in the late 14th century Tamerlane ruled a great empire from Samarkand. Turkic Uzbek people conquered the region in the 16th century, and gradually the area divided into states (khanates). Russia controlled the area in the 19th century. Following the Russian Revolution (1917), the communists took over, establishing the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924. Under communism, all aspects of Uzbek life were regulated; religious worship was discouraged, but education, health, housing, and transport services improved. The communists also increased cotton production, but caused great environmental damage in the process. In the 1980s, when the Soviet Union introduced reforms, the Uzbeks demanded greater freedoms. In 1990, the Uzbek government unilaterally declared itself sovereign. In 1991, following the break-up of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became independent. Uzbekistan retained links with Russia through membership of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Islam Karimov, leader of the People's Democratic Party (formerly the Communist Party), became president at elections in December 1991. In 1992–93, many opposition leaders were arrested. In order to avoid internal disruption, Karimov asserted that economic reforms would be slow. Elections in 1994–95 saw a sweeping victory for the People's Democratic Party. A 1995 referendum extended President Karimov's term in office until 2000, when he was re-elected. Uzbekistan stands accused of widespread human rights' violations. In 2001, Uzbekistan allowed the US to use its airbases in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.

Economy

It is a lower-middle income developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$2400). The government controls most economic activity. Uzbekistan produces coal, copper, gold, oil and natural gas, while manufactures include agricultural machinery, chemicals and textiles. Agriculture is important, with cotton the main crop. Other crops include fruits, rice, and vegetables; cattle, sheep, and goats are raised. Uzbekistan's exports include cotton, gold, textiles, chemicals, and fertilizers.

Political map

Physical map

Websites

http://www.freenet.uz/; http://www.tashkent.org/uzland

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Culture Name

Uzbek

Alternative Names

Uzbeq, Ozbek

Orientation

Identification. Uzbeks likely take their name from a khan. A leader of the Golden Horde in the fourteenth century was named Uzbek, though he did not rule over the people who would share his name.

Modern Uzbeks hail not only from the Turkic-Mongol nomads who first claimed the name, but also from other Turkic and Persian peoples living inside the country's borders. The Soviets, in an effort to divide the Turkic people into more easily governable subdivisions, labeled Turks, Tajiks, Sarts, Qipchaqs, Khojas, and others as Uzbek, doubling the size of the ethnicity to four million in 1924.

Today the government is strengthening the Uzbek group identity, to prevent the splintering seen in other multiethnic states. Some people have assimilated with seemingly little concern. Many Tajiks consider themselves Uzbek, though they retain the Tajik language; this may be because they have long shared an urban lifestyle, which was more of a bond than ethnic labels. Others have been more resistant to Uzbekization. Many Qipchaqs eschew intermarriage, live a nomadic lifestyle, and identify more closely with the Kyrgyz who live across the border from them. The Khojas also avoid intermarriage, and despite speaking several languages, have retained a sense of unity.

The Karakalpaks, who live in the desert south of the Aral Sea, have a separate language and tradition more akin to Kazakh than Uzbek. Under the Soviet Union, theirs was a separate republic, and it remains autonomous.

Location and Geography. Uzbekistan's 174,330 square miles (451,515 square kilometers), an area slightly larger than California, begin in the Karakum (Black Sand) and Kyzlkum (Red Sand) deserts of Karakalpakistan. The arid land of this autonomous republic supports a nomadic lifestyle. Recently, the drying up of the Aral Sea has devastated the environment, causing more than 30 percent of the area's population to leave, from villages in the early 1980s and then from cities. This will continue; the area was hit by a devastating drought in the summer of 2000.

Population increases to the east, centered around fertile oases and the valleys of the Amu-Darya River, once known as the Oxus, and the Zeravshan River, which supports the ancient city-states of Bokhara and Samarkand. The Ferghana Valley in the east is the heart of Islam in Uzbekistan. Here, where the country is squeezed between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the mountainous terrain supports a continuing nomadic lifestyle, and in recent years has provided a venue for fundamentalist guerrillas. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan also border the country. In 1867 the Russian colonial government moved the capital from Bokhara to Tashkent. With 2.1 million people, it is the largest city in Central Asia.

Demography. The current population of Uzbekistan is 24.8 million. Seventy-five to 80 percent are Uzbek, though many of these were originally from other ethnic groups. Russians and Tajiks are each 5 percent, Karakalpaks 2 percent, and other nationalities the remainder. From 1989 to 1996, five hundred thousand more people emigrated than immigrated; most of the emigrants were educated. Of the more than one million people who have left, essentially all were non-Uzbek. Cities like Andijan and Ferghana, whose populations had been only half Uzbek, are now virtually entirely Uzbek. In 1990, 600,000 Germans lived in Uzbekistan; 95 percent have left. In 1990, 260,000 Jews lived in Uzbekistan; 80 percent have left.

Linguistic Affiliation. Uzbek is the language of about twenty million Uzbeks living in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. The language is Turkic and abounds with dialects, including Qarlug (which served as the literary language for much of Uzbek history), Kipchak, Lokhay, Oghuz, Qurama, and Sart, some of which come from other languages. Uzbek emerged as a distinct language in the fifteenth century. It is so close to modern Uyghur that speakers of each language can converse easily. Prior to Russian colonization it would often have been hard to say where one Turkic language started and another ended. But through prescribed borders, shifts in dialect coalesced into distinct languages. The Soviets replaced its Arabic script briefly with a Roman script and then with Cyrillic. Since independence there has been a shift back to Roman script, as well as a push to eliminate words borrowed from Russian.

About 14 percent of the populationmostly non-Uzbekspeak Russian as their first language; 5 percent speak Tajik. Most Russians do not speak Uzbek. Under the Soviet Union, Russian was taught as the Soviet lingua franca, but Uzbek was supported as the indigenous language of the republic, ironically resulting in the deterioration of other native languages and dialects. Today many people still speak Russian, but the government is heavily promoting Uzbek.

Symbolism. Symbols of Uzbekistan's independence and past glories are most common. The flag and national colorsgreen for nature, white for peace, red for life, and blue for wateradorn murals and walls. The twelve stars on the flag symbolize the twelve regions of the country. The crescent moon, a symbol of Islam, is common, though its appearance on the national flag is meant not as a religious symbol but as a metaphor for rebirth. The mythical bird Semurg on the state seal also symbolizes a national renaissance. Cotton, the country's main source of wealth, is displayed on items from the state seal to murals to teacups. The architectures of Samara and Bukhara also symbolize past achievements.

Amir Timur, who conquered a vast area of Asia from his seat in Samarkand in the fourteenth century, has become a major symbol of Uzbek pride and potential and of the firm but just and wise rulera useful image for the present government, which made 1996 the Year of Amir Timur. Timur lived more than a century before the Uzbeks reached Uzbekistan.

Independence Day, 1 September, is heavily promoted by the government, as is Navruz, 21 March, which highlights the country's folk culture.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The Uzbeks coalesced by the fourteenth century in southern Siberia, starting as a loose coalition of Turkic-Mongol nomad tribes who converted to Islam. In the first half of the fifteenth century Abu al-Khayr Khan, a descendant of Genghis Khan, led them south, first to the steppe and semidesert north of the Syr-Daria River. At this time a large segment of Uzbeks split off and headed east to become the Kazakhs. In 1468 Abu'l Khayr was killed by a competing faction, but by 1500 the Uzbeks had regrouped under Muhammad Shaybani Khan, and invaded the fertile land of modern Uzbekistan. They expelled Amir Timur's heirs from Samarkand and Herat and took over the city-states of Khiva, Khojand, and Bokhara, which would become the Uzbek capital. Settling down, the Uzbeks traded their nomadism for urban living and agriculture.

The first century of Uzbek rule saw a flourishing of learning and the arts, but the dynasty then slid into decline, helped by the end of the Silk Route trade. In 1749 invaders from Iran defeated Bokhara and Khiva, breaking up the Uzbek Empire and replacing any group identity with the division between Sarts, or city dwellers, and nomads. What followed was the Uzbek emirate of Bokhara and Samarkand, and the khanates of Khiva and Kokand, who ruled until the Russian takeover.

Russia became interested in Central Asia in the eighteenth century, concerned that the British might break through from colonial India to press its southern flank. Following more than a century of indecisive action, Russia in 1868 invaded Bokhara, then brutally subjugated Khiva in 1873. Both were made Russian protectorates. In 1876, Khokand was annexed. All were subsumed into the Russian province of Turkistan, which soon saw the arrival of Russian settlers.

The 1910s produced the Jadid reform movement, which, though short-lived, sought to establish a community beholden neither to Islamic dogma nor to Russian colonists, marking the first glimmer of national identity in many years. With the Russian Revolution in 1917 grew hopes of independence, but by 1921 the Bolsheviks had reasserted control. In 1924 Soviet planners drew the borders for the soviet socialist republics of Uzbekistan and Karakalpakistan, based around the dominant ethnic groups. In 1929 Tajikstan was split off from the south of Uzbekistan, causing lasting tension between the two; many Uzbeks regard Tajiks as Persianized Uzbeks, while Tajikstan resented Uzbekistan's retention of the Tajik cities of Bokhara and Samarkand. Karakalpakistan was transferred to the Uzbekistan SSR in 1936, as an autonomous region. Over the ensuing decades, Soviet leaders solidified loose alliances and other nationalities into what would become Uzbek culture.

In August 1991 Uzbek Communists supported the reactionary coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. After the coup failed, Uzbekistan declared its independence on 1 September. Though shifting away from communism, President Islom Kharimov, who had been the Communist Party's first secretary in Uzbekistan, has maintained absolute control over the independent state. He has continued to define a single Uzbek culture, while obscuring its Soviet creation.

National Identity. The Soviet government, and to a lesser extent the Russian colonial government that preceded it, folded several less prominent nationalities into the Uzbeks. The government then institutionalized a national Uzbek culture based on trappings such as language, art, dress, and food, while imbuing them with meanings more closely aligned with Communist ideology. Islam was removed from its central place, veiling of women was banned, and major and minor regional and ethnic differences were smoothed over in favor of an ideologically acceptable uniformity.

Since 1991 the government has kept the Soviet definition of their nationhood, simply because prior to this there was no sense or definition of a single Uzbek nation. But it is literally excising the Soviet formation of the culture from its history books; one university history test had just 1 question of 850 dealing with the years 1924 to 1991.

Ethnic Relations. The Soviet-defined borders left Uzbeks, Kyrgiz, Tajiks, and others on both sides of Uzbekistan. Since independence, tightening border controls and competition for jobs and resources have caused difficulties for some of these communities, despite warm relations among the states of the region.

In June 1989, rioting in the Ferghana Valley killed thousands of Meskhetian Turks, who had been deported there in 1944. Across the border in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, the Uzbek majority rioted in 1990 over denial of land.

There is official support of minority groups such as Russians, Koreans, and Tatars. These groups have cultural centers, and in 1998 a law that was to have made Uzbek the only language of official communication was relaxed. Nevertheless, non-Uzbek-speakers have complained that they face difficulties finding jobs and entering a university. As a result of this and of poor economic conditions, many Russians and others have left Uzbekistan.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

In ancient times the cities of Samarkand and Bokhara were regarded as jewels of Islamic architecture, thriving under Amir Timur and his descendants the Timurids. They remain major tourist attractions.

During the Soviet period, cities became filled with concrete-slab apartment blocks of four to nine stories, similar to those found across the USSR. In villages and suburbs, residents were able to live in more traditional one-story houses built around a courtyard. These houses, regardless of whether they belong to rich or poor, present a drab exterior, with the family's wealth and taste displayed only for guests. Khivan houses have a second-story room for entertaining guests. Since independence, separate houses have become much more popular, supporting something of a building boom in suburbs of major cities. One estimate puts two-thirds of the population now living in detached houses.

The main room of the house is centered around the dusterhon, or tablecloth, whether it is spread on the floor or on a table. Although there are not separate areas for women and children, women tend to gather in the kitchen when male guests are present.

Each town has a large square, where festivals and public events are held.

Parks are used for promenading; if a boy and a girl are dating, they are referred to as walking together. Benches are in clusters, to allow neighbors to chat.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Bread holds a special place in Uzbek culture. At mealtime, bread will be spread to cover the entire dusterhon. Traditional Uzbek bread, tandir non, is flat and round. It is always torn by hand, never placed upside down, and never thrown out.

Meals begin with small dishes of nuts and raisins, progressing through soups, salads, and meat dishes and ending with palov, a rice-and-meat dish synonymous with Uzbek cuisine throughout the former Soviet Union; it is the only dish often cooked by men. Other common dishes, though not strictly Uzbek, include monti, steamed dumplings of lamb meat and fat, onions, and pumpkin, and kabob, grilled ground meat. Uzbeks favor mutton; even the nonreligious eschew pig meat.

Because of their climate, Uzbeks enjoy many types of fruits, eaten fresh in summer and dried in winter, and vegetables. Dairy products such as katyk, a liquid yogurt, and suzma, similar to cottage cheese, are eaten plain or used as ingredients.

Tea, usually green, is drunk throughout the day, accompanied by snacks, and is always offered to guests.

Meals are usually served either on the floor, or on a low table, though high tables also are used. The table is always covered by a dusterhon. Guests sit on carpets, padded quilts, chairs, or beds, but never on pillows. Men usually sit cross-legged, women with their legs to one side. The most respected guests sit away from the entrance. Objects such as shopping bags, which are considered unclean, never should be placed on the dusterhon, nor should anyone ever step on or pass dirty items over it.

The choyhona, or teahouse, is the focal point of the neighborhood's men. It is always shaded, and if possible located near a stream.

The Soviets introduced restaurants where meals center around alcohol and can last through the night.

The Karakalpaks' national dish is besbarmak, boiled mutton, beef, or horse served over a plate of broad noodles and accompanied by the reduced broth. Russians have brought many of their foods, such as pelmeni, boiled meat dumplings, borscht, cabbage and meat soup, and a variety of fried or baked savory pastries.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Uzbeks celebrate whenever possible, and parties usually consist of a large meal ending with palov. The food is accompanied by copious amounts of vodka, cognac, wine, and beer. Elaborate toasts, given by guests in order of their status, precede each round of shots. After, glasses are diligently refilled by a man assigned the task. A special soup of milk and seven grains is eaten on Navruz. During the month of Ramadan, observant Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset.

Basic Economy. The majority of goods other than food come from China, Turkey, Pakistan, and Russia. It is very common for families in detached homes to have gardens in which they grow food or raise a few animals for themselves, and if possible, for sale. Even families living in apartments will try to grow food on nearby plots of land, or at dachas.

Land Tenure and Property. Beginning in 1992, Uzbekistanis have been able to buy their apartments or houses, which had been state property, for the equivalent of three months' salary. Thus most homes have become private property.

Agricultural land had been mainly owned by state or collective farms during the Soviet period. In many cases the same families or communities that farmed the land have assumed ownership, though they are still subject to government quotas and government guidelines, usually aimed at cotton-growing.

About two-thirds of small businesses and services are in private hands. Many that had been state-owned were auctioned off. While the former nomenklatura (government and Communist Party officials) often won the bidding, many businesses also have been bought by entrepreneurs. Large factories, however, largely remain state-owned.

Major Industries. Uzbekistan's industry is closely tied to its natural resources. Cotton, the white gold of Central Asia, forms the backbone of the economy, with 85 percent exported in exchange for convertible currency. Agricultural machinery, especially for cotton, is produced in the Tashkent region. Oil refineries produce about 173,000 barrels a day.

The Korean car maker Daewoo invested $650 million in a joint venture, UzDaewoo, at a plant in Andijan, which has a capacity of 200,000 cars. However, in 1999 the plant produced just 58,000 cars, and it produced far less in 2000, chiefly for the domestic market. With Daewoo's bankruptcy in November 2000, the future of the plant is uncertain at best.

Trade. Uzbekistan's main trading partners are Russia, South Korea, Germany, the United States, Turkey, and Kazakhstan. Before independence, imports were mainly equipment, consumer goods, and foods. Since independence, Uzbekistan has managed to stop imports of oil from Kazakhstan and has also lowered food imports by reseeding some cotton fields with grain.

Uzbekistan is the world's third-largest cotton exporter.

Uzbekistan exported about $3 billion (U.S.), primarily in cotton, gold, textiles, metals, oil, and natural gas, in 1999. Its main markets are Russia, Switzerland, Britain, Belgium, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.

Division of Labor. According to government statistics, 44 percent of workers are in agriculture and forestry; 20 percent in industry; 36 percent in the service sector. Five percent unemployed, and 10 percent are underemployed. Many rural jobless, however, may be considered agricultural workers.

A particular feature of the Uzbekistan labor system is the requirement of school and university students, soldiers, and workers to help in the cotton harvest. They go en masse to the fields for several days to hand-pick cotton.

Many Uzbeks, particularly men, work in other parts of the former Soviet Union. Bazaars from Kazakhstan to Russia are full of Uzbek vendors, who command higher prices for their produce the farther north they travel. Others work in construction or other seasonal labor to send hard currency home.

About 2 percent of the workforce is of pension age and 1 percent is under sixteen.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. During the Soviet Union, Uzbekistani society was stratified not by wealth but by access to products, housing, and services. The nomenklatura could find high-quality consumer goods, cars, and homes that simply were unattainable by others. Since independence, many of these people have kept jobs that put them in positions to earn many times the $1,020 (U.S.) average annual salary reported by the United Nations. It is impossible to quantify the number of wealthy, however, as the vast majority of their income is unreported, particularly if they are government officials.

Many members of the former Soviet intelligentsiateachers, artists, doctors, and other skilled service providershave been forced to move into relatively unskilled jobs, such as bazaar vendors and construction workers, where they could earn more money. Urban residents tend to earn twice the salaries of rural people.

Symbols of Social Stratification. As elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, the new rich tend to buy and show off expensive cars and limousines, apartments, and clothes and to go to nightclubs. Foreign foods and goods also are signs of wealth, as is a disdain for shopping in bazaars.

Political Life

Government. Uzbekistan is in name republican but in practice authoritarian, with Kharimov's Halq Tarakiati Partiiasi, or People's Democratic Party, controlling all aspects of governance. On 9 January 2000 he was reelected for a five-year term, with a 92 percent turnout and a 92 percent yes vote. Earlier, a March 1995 referendum to extend his term to 2000 resulted in a 99 percent turnout and a 99 percent yes vote. The legislature, Oliy Majlis, was inaugurated in 1994. At that time the ruling party captured 193 seats, though many of these candidates ran as independents. The opposition political movement Birlik, or Unity, and the party Erk, or Will, lack the freedom to directly challenge the government.

Makhallas, or neighborhood councils of elders, provide the most direct governance. Some opinion polls have ranked makhallas just after the president in terms of political power. Makhallahs address social needs ranging from taking care of orphans, loaning items, and maintaining orderly public spaces, to sponsoring holiday celebrations. In Soviet times these were institutionalized, with makhalla heads and committees appointed by the local Communist Party. Then and now, however, makhallas have operated less smoothly in neighborhoods of mixed ethnicities.

Leadership and Political Officials. The president appoints the head, or khokim, of each of Uzbekistan's 12 regions, called viloyatlars, and of Karakalpakistan and Tashkent, who in turn appoint the khokims of the 216 regional and city governments. This top-down approach ensures a unity of government policies and leads to a diminishing sense of empowerment the farther one is removed from Kharimov.

Khokims and other officials were chiefly drawn from the Communist Party following independencemany simply kept their jobsand many remain. Nevertheless, Kharimov has challenged local leaders to take more initiative, and in 1997 he replaced half of them, usually with public administration and financial experts, many of whom are reform-minded.

Corruption is institutionalized at all levels of government, despite occasional prosecution of officials. Students, for example, can expect to pay bribes to enter a university, receive high grades, or be exempted from the cotton harvest.

Social Problems and Control. The government has vigorously enforced laws related to drug trafficking and terrorism, and reports of police abuse and torture are widespread. The constitution calls for independent judges and open access to proceedings and justice. In practice, defendants are seldom acquitted, and when they are, the government has the right to appeal.

Petty crime such as theft is becoming more common; violent crime is much rarer. Anecdotal evidence points to an increase in heroin use; Uzbekistan is a transshipment point from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Europe, and access is relatively easy despite tough antidrug laws.

People are often reluctant to call the police, as they are not trusted. Instead, it is the responsibility of families to see that their members act appropriately. Local communities also exert pressure to conform.

Military Activity. Uzbekistan's military in 2000 was skirmishing with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a militant group opposed to the secular regime, and numbering in the hundreds or thousands. Besides clashes in the mountains near the Tajikistani border, the group has been blamed for six car bombings in Tashkent in February 2000.

Uzbekistan spends about $200 million (U.S.) a year on its military and has 150,000 soldiers, making it the strongest in the region.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Most domestic nongovernmental organizations are funded and supported by the government, and all must be registered. Kamolot, registered in 1996, is the major youth organization, and is modeled on the Soviet Komsomol. Ekosan is an environmental group. The Uzbek Muslim Board has been active in building mosques and financing religious education. The Women's Committee of Uzbekistan, a government organization, is tasked with ensuring women's access to education as well as employment and legal rights, and claims three million members.

The government also has set up quasi nongovernmental organizations, at times to deflect attention from controversial organizations. The Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, for example, was denied registration from 1992 to 1997, before the government set up its own human rights monitor.

The leaders of these groups may receive privileges once granted to the Soviet nomenklatura, such as official cars and well-equipped offices.

There are no independent trade unions, though government-sponsored unions are common. The Employment Service and Employment Fund was set up in 1992 to address issues of social welfare, employment insurance, and health benefits for workers.

Ironically, some truly independent organizations from the Soviet period, such as the Committee to Save the Aral Sea, were declared illegal in 1994. Social groups associated with Birlik also have been denied registration.

As a result of the government's lack of reforms, in particular making the national currency convertible, major international donors are becoming reluctant to assist Uzbekistan. The International Monetary Fund is pushing hard for convertibility before it gives further assistance. The U.S. Agency for International Development in 2000 said it was hesitant to assist the government in any sectors other than health, as the government was smothering economic reform.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Before the Soviet period, men worked outside the house while women did basic domestic work, or supplemented the family income by spinning, weaving, and embroidering with silk or cotton. From the 1920s on, women entered the workforce, at textile factories and in the cotton fields, but also in professional jobs opened to them by the Soviet education system. They came to make up the great majority of teachers, nurses, and doctors. Family pressure, however, sometimes kept women from attaining higher education, or working outside the home. With independence, some women have held on to positions of power, though they still may be expected to comport themselves with modesty. Men in modern Uzbekistan, though, hold the vast majority of managerial positions, as well as the most labor-intensive jobs. It is common now for men to travel north to other former Soviet republics to work in temporary jobs. Both sexes work in bazaars.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Uzbekistan is a male-dominated society, particularly in the Ferghana Valley. Nevertheless, women make up nearly half the workforce. They hold just under 10 percent of parliamentary seats, and 18 percent of administrative and management positions, according to U.N. figures.

Women run the households and traditionally control the family budgets. When guests are present they are expected to cloister themselves from view.

In public women are expected to cover their bodies completely. Full veiling is uncommon, though it is occasionally practiced in the Ferghana Valley. Women often view this as an expression of their faith and culture rather than as an oppressive measure.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Uzbek women usually marry by twenty-one; men not much later. Marriage is an imperative for all, as families are the basic structure in society. A family's honor depends on their daughters' virginity; this often leads families to encourage early marriage.

In traditional Uzbek families, marriages are often still arranged between families; in more cosmopolitan ones it is the bride and groom's choice. Either way, the match is subject to parental approval, with the mother in practice having the final word. Preference is given to members of the kin group. There is particular family say in the youngest son's choice, as he and his bride will take care of his parents. People tend to marry in their late teens or early twenties. Weddings often last for days, with the expense borne by the bride's family. The husband's family may pay a bride price. Polygamy is illegal and rare, but it is not unknown.

Following independence, divorce has become more common, though it is still rare outside of major cities. It is easier for a man to initiate divorce.

Domestic Unit. Uzbek families are patriarchal, though the mother runs the household. The average family size is five or six members, but families of ten or more are not uncommon.

Inheritance. Children are the primary claimants to the deceased's property. The youngest son receives the family house, along with the obligation to care for his parents. Sons typically receive twice as large a share as daughters, though this can vary.

Kin Groups. Close relations extends to cousins, who have the rights and responsibilities of the nuclear family and often are called on for favors. If the family lives in a detached house and there is space, the sons may build their homes adjacent to or around the courtyard of the parents' house.

Socialization

Infant Care. Uzbek babies are hidden from view for their first forty days. They are tightly swaddled when in their cribs and carried by their mothers. Men generally do not take care of or clean babies.

Child Rearing and Education. Children are cherished as the reason for life. The mother is the primary caretaker, and in case of divorce, she will virtually always take the children. The extended family and the community at large, however, also take an interest in the child's upbringing.

When children are young, they have great freedom to play and act out. But as they get older, particularly in school, discipline increases. A good child becomes one who is quiet and attentive, and all must help in the family's labor.

All children go to school for nine years, with some going on to eleventh grade; the government is increasing mandatory education to twelve years.

Higher Education. Enrollment in higher-education institutions is about 20 percent, down from more than 30 percent during the Soviet period. A major reason for the decline is that students do not feel a higher education will help them get a good job; also contributing is the emigration of Russians, and declining standards related to budget cutbacks. Nevertheless, Uzbeks, particularly in cities, still value higher education, and the government gives full scholarships to students who perform well.

Etiquette

Elders are respected in Uzbek culture. At the dusterhon, younger guests will not make themselves more comfortable than their elders. The younger person should always greet the older first.

Men typically greet each other with a handshake, the left hand held over the heart. Women place their right hand on the other's elbow. If they are close friends or relatives, they may kiss each other on the cheeks.

If two acquaintances meet on the street, they will usually ask each other how their affairs are. If the two don't know each other well, the greeting will be shorter, or could involve just a nod.

Women are expected to be modest in dress and demeanor, with clothing covering their entire body. In public they may walk with their head tilted down to avoid unwanted attention. In traditional households, women will not enter the room if male guests are present. Likewise, it is considered forward to ask how a man's wife is doing. Women generally sit with legs together, their hands in their laps. When men aren't present, however, women act much more casually.

People try to carry themselves with dignity and patience, traits associated with royalty, though young men can be boisterous in public.

People tend to dress up when going out of the house. Once home they change, thus extending the life of their street clothes.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims. The territory of Uzbekistan has been a center of Islam in the region for a thousand years, but under the Soviet Union the religion was heavily controlled: mosques were closed and Muslim education was banned. Beginning in 1988, Uzbeks have revived Islam, particularly in the Ferghana Valley, where mosques have been renovated. The call to prayer was everywhere heard five times a day before the government ordered the removal of the mosques' loudspeakers in 1998.

The state encourages a moderate form of Islam, but Kharimov fears the creation of an Islamic state. Since the beginning of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan's terror campaign in February 1999, he has cracked down even further on what he perceives as extremists, raising claims of human rights abuses. The government is particularly concerned about what it labels Wahhabism, a fundamentalist Sunni sect that took hold in the Ferghana Valley following independence.

Nine percent of the population is Russian Orthodox. Jews, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Seventh-Day Adventists, evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, Buddhists, Baha'is, and Hare Krishnas also are present.

Religious Practitioners. Most Sunni Uzbeks are led by a state-appointed mufti. Independent imams are sometimes repressed, and in May 1998, a law requiring all religious groups to register with the government was enacted. In addition to leading worship, the Muslim clergy has led mosque restoration efforts and is playing an increasing role in religious education.

Death and the Afterlife. Uzbeks bury their deceased within twenty-four hours of death, in above-ground tombs. At the funeral, women wail loudly and at specific times. The mourning period lasts forty days. The first anniversary of the death is marked with a gathering of the person's friends and relatives.

Muslims believe that on Judgment Day, each soul's deeds will be weighed. They will then walk across a hair-thin bridge spanning Hell, which leads to Paradise. The bridge will broaden under the feet of the righteous, but the damned will lose their balance and fall.

Medicine and Health Care

Current health practices derive from the Soviet system. Health care is considered a basic right of the entire population, with clinics, though ill-equipped, in most villages, and larger facilities in regional centers. Emphasis is on treatment over prevention. Yet the state health care budget80 million dollars in 1994falls far short of meeting basic needs; vaccinations, for example, fell off sharply following independence. Exacerbating the situation is a lack of potable water, industrial pollution, and a rise in infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

Perhaps the most common traditional health practices are shunning cold drinks and cold surfaces, which are believed to cause colds and damage to internal organs, and avoiding drafts, or bad winds. Folk remedies and herbal treatments also are common. An example is to press bread to the ailing part of the body. The sick person then gives a small donation to a homeless person who will agree to take on his or her illness.

Secular Celebrations

The major secular holidays are New Year's Day (1 January); Women's Day (8 March), a still popular holdover from the Soviet Union, when women receive gifts; Navrus (21 March), originally a Zoroastrian holiday, which has lost its religious significance but is still celebrated with Sumaliak soup, made from milk and seven grains; Victory Day (9 May), marking the defeat of Nazi Germany; and Independence Day (1 September), celebrating separation from the Soviet Union.

Uzbeks typically visit friends and relatives on holidays to eat large meals and drink large amounts of vodka. Holidays also may be marked by concerts or parades centered on city or town squares or factories. The government marks Independence Day and Navrus with massive outdoor jamborees in Tashkent, which are then broadcast throughout the country, and places of work or neighborhoods often host huge celebrations.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. During the Soviet period, the government gave extensive support to the arts, building cultural centers in every city and paying the salaries of professional artists. With independence, state funding has shrunk, though it still makes up the bulk of arts funding. Many dance, theater, and music groups continue to rely on the state, which gives emphasis to large productions and extravaganzas, controls major venues, and often has an agenda for the artists to follow.

Other artists have joined private companies who perform for audiences of wealthy business-people and tourists. Some money comes in from corporate sponsorship and international charitable organizationsfor example UNESCO and the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute. Yet many artists have simply been forced to find other work.

Literature. The territory of Uzbekistan has a long tradition of writers, though not all were Uzbek. The fifteenth-century poet Alisher Navoi, 14411501, is most revered; among his works is a treatise comparing the Persian and Turkish languages. Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, 9731048, born in Karakalpakistan, wrote a massive study of India. Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna, 9801037, wrote The Cannon of Medicine. Omar Khayyam, 10481131, came to Samarkand to pursue mathematics and astronomy. Babur, 14831530, born in the Ferghana Valley, was the first Moghul leader of India, and wrote a famous autobiography.

Until the twentieth century, Uzbek literary tradition was largely borne by bakshi, elder minstrels who recited myths and history through epic songs, and otin-oy, female singers who sang of birth, marriage and death.

The Jadids produced many poets, writers, and playwrights. These writers suffered greatly in the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. Later the Soviet Union asked of its writers that they be internationalists and further socialist goals. Abdullah Qahhar, 19071968, for example, satirized Muslim clerics. But with the loosening of state control in the 1980s, a new generation of writers renewed the Uzbek language and Uzbek themes. Many writers also were active in Birlik, which started as a cultural movement but is now suppressed.

Graphic Arts. Uzbekistan has begun a revival of traditional crafts, which suffered from the Soviet view that factory-produced goods were superior to handicrafts. Now master craftsmen are reappearing in cities such as Samarkand and Bukhara, supported largely by foreign tourists. Miniature painting is narrative in character, using a wide palette of symbols to tell their stories. They can be read from right to left as a book, and often accompany works of literature. Wood carving, of architectural features such as doors and pillars and of items such as the sonduq, a box given to a bride by her parents, also is regaining a place in Uzbek crafts. Ikat is a method of cloth dying, now centered in the Yordgorlik Silk Factory in Margilan. Silk threads are tie-dyed, then woven on a loom to create soft-edged designs for curtains, clothing, and other uses.

Performance Arts. Uzbek music is characterized by reedy, haunting instruments and throaty, nasal singing. It is played on long-necked lutes called dotars, flutes, tambourines, and small drums. It developed over the past several hundred years in the khanates on the territory of modern Uzbekistan, where musicians were a central feature of festivals and weddings. The most highly regarded compositions are cycles called maqoms. Sozandas, sung by women accompanied by percussion instruments, also are popular. In the 1920s, Uzbek composers were encouraged, leading to a classical music tradition that continues today. Modern Uzbek pop often combines elements of folk music with electric instruments to create dance music.

Uzbek dance is marked by fluid arm and upper-body movement. Today women's dance groups perform for festivals and for entertainment, a practice started during the Soviet period. Earlier, women danced only for other women; boys dressed as women performed for male audiences. One dance for Navruz asks for rain; others depict chores, other work, or events. Uzbek dance can be divided into three traditions: Bokhara and Samarkand; Khiva; and Khokand. The Sufi dance, zikr, danced in a circle accompanied by chanting and percussion to reach a trance state, also is still practiced.

Uzbekistan's theater in the twentieth century addressed moral and social issues. The Jadidists presented moral situations that would be resolved by a solution consistent with Islamic law. During the Soviet period dramatists were sometimes censored. The Ilkhom Theater, founded in 1976, was the first independent theater in the Soviet Union.

Admission to cultural events is kept low by government and corporate sponsorship. It also has become common for dancers to perform for groups of wealthy patrons.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Uzbekistan has several higher-education institutions, with departments aimed at conducting significant research. Funding, however, has lagged since independence. The goal of the Academy of Sciences in Tashkent is practical application of science. It has physical and mathematical, chemicalbiological, and social sciences departments, with more than fifty research institutions and organizations under them.

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"Tamerlane v. Marx;" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 50 (1), 1994.

U.N. Development Project. Human Development Report: Uzbekistan 1997, 1997.

UNESCO, Education Management Profile: Uzbekistan, 1998.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Uzbekistan, 1998.

U.S. Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA World Factbook, 2000.

U.S. Library of Congress. Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan: Country Studies, 1997.

Jeff Erlich

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

UZBEKS 147
KARAKALPAKS 153

It is estimated that about 70 percent of the population is Uzbek. Russians constitute 8 percent; Tajiks, 5 percent; Kazaks, 4 percent; Tatars, 3 percent; and Karakalpaks, 2 percent. To learn more about the Russians and the Tatars see the chapter on the Russia in Volume 7; for the Tajiks see Tajikistan in this volume; and for the Kazaks see Kazakstan in Volume 5.

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Uzbekistan

UzbekistanAbadan, Abidjan, Amman, Antoine, Arne, Aswan, Avon, Azerbaijan, Baltistan, Baluchistan, Bantustan, barn, Bhutan, Dagestan, darn, dewan, Farne, guan, Hahn, Hanuman, Hindustan, Huascarán, Iban, Iran, Isfahan, Juan, Kazakhstan, khan, Koran, Kurdistan, Kurgan, Kyrgyzstan, macédoine, Mahon, maidan, Marne, Michoacán, Oman, Pakistan, pan, Pathan, Qumran, Rajasthan, Shan, Siân, Sichuan, skarn, soutane, Sudan, Tai'an, t'ai chi ch'uan, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Taklimakan, tarn, Tatarstan, Tehran, Tenochtitlán, Turkestan, Turkmenistan, tzigane, Uzbekistan, Vientiane, yarn, Yinchuan, yuan, Yucatán •Autobahn • Lindisfarne •Bildungsroman • Nisan • Khoisan •Afghanistan • bhagwan • Karajan

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Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN

UZBEKISTAN , one of the independent cis republics from 1990, formerly a U.S.S.R. republic in Soviet Central Asia.

The Jews in Uzbekistan were affiliated with two communities: (1) the ancient one, the Jews of *Bukhara, who speak a Tajik-Jewish dialect; (2) the new one, of Eastern European origin.

According to their tradition, the Bukharan Jews emigrated from *Persia at the time of the persecutions of King Peroz (458–485), while some consider themselves descendants of the exiles of Samaria, on the assumption that "Habor" (ii Kings 17:6) is Bukhara. Anthropological examinations undertaken by L.V. Usbanin in 1926–29 proved that they originated in the Middle East, although there is no information on their exact non-Jewish origin. Precise information on the spiritual works of the Jews of Uzbekistan is, however, available only from the 14th century onward.

Jews of Uzbekistan emigrated to Khazaria and *China because of their location at the crossroads of the caravans that traveled there. The principal traffic between the Muslim world and Itil (*Atil), the capital of Khazaria, passed through northern Uzbekistan, and the information on "many Jews who came to the king of the Khazars from the towns of the Muslims" (the author al-Masʿūdī, of the tenth century) and the Jews who came "from Khurasan and strengthened the hands of the inhabitants of the country" (the anonymous "Cambridge Document") refers essentially to the Jews of Uzbekistan, which was considered an annexed territory of Iranian Eastern Khurasan.

There is a tradition concerning another wave of Jewish emigration from *Iran to Uzbekistan as a result of the Mongolian conquests of the 13th century, and the surnames of the Jews of Uzbekistan show that even during subsequent periods emigrants from Iranian-speaking communities of the west and the south were integrated among them. In modern times, however, the fanatical Muslim domination severely prejudiced the growth and economic development of the community. The Russian conquest of the 19th century came as a blessing, especially in those regions subjected to direct Russian rule, where the local Jews were granted complete judicial equality with the native Muslims and enjoyed rights which the Russian government withheld from the Jews of Eastern Europe (such as the freedom to acquire real estate). A migration from Bukhara to *Tashkent continued through several generations. The economic progress of these Jews was also reflected in their considerable contribution to the Jewish settlement of Ereẓ Israel. The Soviet regime, which liquidated private commerce, brought about the transfer of the more than 200,000 local Jews into administrative positions, industry and agriculture.

The Soviet regime did not bring about any considerable emigration of East European Jews to Uzbekistan because of linguistic difficulties and the warring gangs of Muslim insurgents (Basmachi) of the 1920s and 1930s. World War ii, however, suddenly converted Uzbekistan into an important Jewish center. The Jews of the western and central European U.S.S.R. found refuge there, and Tashkent accommodated some of the Jewish institutions of Moscow. Many Jews who had been deported by the Soviet regime between 1939 and 1941 from the annexed eastern parts of Poland and the Baltic states to labor camps or exile in Siberia because of "bourgeois" class origin or political affiliations (Zionist or socialist) also migrated to Uzbekistan upon their release from the camps or places of exile. Some succeeded in continuing on to Palestine through *Persia, either as Polish soldiers in General Anders' army or as orphaned children (the so-called "Teheran children"). With the retreat of the German army from Eastern Europe, many of the refugees and evacuees returned to their places of origin, but a considerable number of East European Ashkenazi Jews settled in Uzbekistan and became integrated into administration, industry and education there. A certain rapprochement between them and the local Jews resulted from the propagation of the Russian language within both communities and the feeling of the common Jewish fate, which was emphasized by the events of the war. The census of 1959 registered 94,344 Jews (1.2 percent of the total population) in Uzbekistan; 50,445 of them lived in the capital of the republic, Tashkent. Only 19,266 of them declared Tajik to be their native language; about 27,560 Yiddish; and the remainder Russian. The 1970 Soviet census showed 103,000 Jews in Uzbekistan.

[Abraham N. Poliak]

In Independent Uzbekistan

In 1979 Uzbekistan had 99,900 Jews and in 1989 94,900, including 51,400 in Tashkent. A large proportion of Jews in the republic were Central Asian (Bukharan) Jews who mainly lived in Samarkand, Tashkent, and Bukhara and spoke the Jewish dialect of Tajik. They preserved their identity more than the local Ashkenazi Jews.

Emigration in 1989 was recorded at 4,358 Jews (with 2,379 from Tashkent, 218 from Fergana province, and 772 from Samarkand province). Emigration to Israel in 1990 totaled 20,192, with 9,786 from Tashkent. Emigration rose from Fergana province and Andizhan in the wake of the violent ethnic conflicts there. After the pogrom against Jews and Armenians in Andizhan in May 1990, emigration from that province jumped to 2,202. In 1991, 13,515 Jews went from Uzbekistan to Israel, including 7,179 from Tashkent and 1,220 from Andizhan. In 1992, 5,533 immigrants to Israel from this country constituted 9.1 percent of the entire immigration wave from the former U.S.S.R., and in 1993, Uzbekistan, with its 8,471 emigrants to Israel, contributed 14.0% to the whole "Soviet" aliyah of that year. At the end of the process of emigration during the 1990s around 5,500 Jews remained in Uzbekistan, mostly in Tashkent. Tashkent had a Jewish culture center. The monthly newspaper Shofar in Russian and Tajik began appearing in Samarkand in 1992. Two Jews were elected to the Supreme Soviet of the republic in 1990.

An air route from Tashkent to Israel via Varna was inaugurated in June 1991. The Jewish Agency has been operating openly since January 1992. Diplomatic relations were established between Uzbekistan, independent since 1991, and Israel in 1992.

[Michael Beizer]

bibliography:

R. Loewenthal, The Jews of Bukhara (1961); Z.L. Amitin-Shapiro, Ocherk pravovogo byta sredneaziatskikh yevreyev (1931); idem, Ocherki sotsialisticheskogo stroitelstva sredi sredneaziatskikh yevreyev (1933); U. Schmelz and S. DellaPergola, in: ajyb (1995), 478; Supplement to the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, 2 (1995); Mezhdunarodnaia Evreiskaia Gazeta (meg), 1993–94.

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the December 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Uzbekistan

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 447,400 sq. km., slightly larger than California.

Cities: Capital—Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million); Samarkand (600,000); Bukhara (350,000).

Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.

Climate: Mid-latitude desert; long, hot summers, mild winters.

People

Nationality: Uzbek.

Population: 26.8 million.

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

Religions: Muslim 88% (Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.

Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.

Education: Literacy—97% (total population).

Health: (2005 est.) Life expectancy—60.82 years men; 67.73 years women.

Work force: (11.9 million) Agricultural and forestry—44%, industry—20%; services—36%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: September 1, 1991.

Constitution: December 8, 1992.

Government branches: Executive—president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Supreme Assembly or Oliy Majlis consists of an Upper House or Senate (100 seats; 84 members are elected by regional governing councils to serve five-year terms and 16 are appointed by the president) and a Lower House or Legislative Chamber (120 seats; elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms). Judiciary—Supreme Court, constitutional court, economic court.

Administrative subdivisions: (viloyatlar) 12, plus autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan and city of Tashkent.

Political parties: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party—established February 18, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 11, Turgunpulat DAMINOV, first secretary; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Partiya) or MTP—established on June 3, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 10, Ibrohim GOFUROV, chairman; Fatherland Progress Party (Vatan Tarakiyoti) or VTP—in April 2000, VTP merged with the National Democratic Party “Fidokorlar” (Fidokor-lar Milliy Democratic Partiya), in Tashkent, number of seats in the parliament 62, Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary; People's Democratic Party or PDPU (Uzbekiston Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party)—established November 1, 1991 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 50, Asliddin RUSTAMOV, first secretary; Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan—established December 3, 2003, Kobil-jon TOSHMATOV, chairman. Other political or pressure groups and leaders: Birlik (Unity) Movement—Abdu-rakhim PULATOV, chairman; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party—Mohammed SOLIH, chairman (banned Dec. 1992); party of Agrarians and Entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan—Marat ZAHIDOV, chairman; Ozod Dekkon (Free Farmers) Party—Nigara KHIDOYATOVA, general secretary; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Abdumannob PULA-TOV, chairman; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman; Ezgulik—Vasilya INOYATOVA, chairwoman.

Suffrage: Universal at age 18, unless imprisoned or certified as insane.

Defense: Military manpower—males age 18-49 fit for military service: 4,609,621 (2005 est.), females age 18-49 fit for military service: 5,383,233 (2005 est.); universal 18-month military service for men.

Economy

(Note: Government of Uzbekistan statistics are not consistently reliable. This report therefore relies heavily on unofficial estimates and states clearly when a figure is an estimate.)

GDP: 2006 real GDP growth, according to Government of Uzbekistan statistics, was 7.2%. Actual GDP growth was likely lower.

Inflation: International institutions estimate inflation reached 25-30% in 2005 and 2006.

Per capita GDP: Estimated per capita GDP in 2006, on a purchasing power parity measure, was $1,983.

Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, gold, coal, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, molybdenum. Natural gas production in 2006 was 62.5 billion cubic meters (bcm). In 2006, the U.S. Government estimates 48.4 bcm of natural gas was consumed in Uzbekistan and 12.5 bcm was exported. Oil production in 2006 was 3,450,000 tons.

Agriculture: Products—cotton, fourth-largest producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock.

Industry: Types—textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas, automobiles, chemical. The industrial production growth rate was estimated at 10.8% in 2006; electricity production was 49 billion kilowatt hours (estimate).

Budget: (2006 estimates) Revenues—$3.22 billion; expenditures—$3.4 billion.

Trade: Total exports—(2007 est. $7.61 billion f.o.b.) largest contribution from cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles. Major export markets (IMF 2005)— Russia 25.2%, EU 18.6%, China 12.6%, Turkey 6.7%, Ukraine 5.7%. Total imports—(2007 est. $5.32 billion f.o.b.) machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs. Primary import partners (IMF 2005)— Russia 26.9%, EU 21.9%, South Korea 15.4%, China 7.2%, Kazakhstan 6.5%.

External debt: (2007 est.) $3.860 billion.

PEOPLE

Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 26.8 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are nearly half the region's total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. Uzbek is the predominant ethnic group. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, and Tatar 1.5%. The nation is 88% Sunni Muslim and 9% Eastern Orthodox. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-to-day government and business use.

The educational system has achieved 97% literacy, and the mean amount of schooling for both men and women is 11 years. However, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated, inappropriate, and poorly kept. Additionally, the proportion of school-aged persons enrolled has been dropping. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency. Uzbekistan continues to enjoy a highly educated and skilled labor force.

HISTORY

Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road—Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva—are located in Uzbekistan, and many well-known conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the eighth century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Genghis Khan and his Mongols over-ran its territory in 1220. In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamer-lane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan's most noted tourist sites date from the Timurid dynasty. Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates. Russia placed the rest of Central Asia under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.

In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories including the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Ferghana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton growing and natural resource potential. The extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than a third of its original volume, making this one of the world's worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The constitution of Uzbekistan provides for separation of powers, freedom of speech, and representative government. In reality, the executive

holds almost all power. The judiciary lacks independence, and the legislature—which meets only a few days each year—has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Islam Karimov, former First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Uzbek SSR Communist Party, was elected to a five-year presidential term in December 1991 with 88% of the vote. In a December 1995 referendum, his term was extended to 2000. President Karimov was re-elected in January 2000 with 91.9% of the vote. In a January 2002 referendum, the term of the presidency was extended from five years to seven. President Kari-mov was re-elected in December 2007. None of these elections or referenda were deemed free or fair.

The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament. Parliamentary elections in December 2004 likewise were neither free nor fair, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections.

Uzbekistan has battled a low-intensity insurgency since the late 1990s. Early this decade, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) launched a number of small, cross-border raids. The IMU in summer 2001 allied itself with the Taliban government in Afghanistan, where most of its troops were then based, and subsequently engaged U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Terrorist bombings, blamed on the IMU and splinter groups, have occurred sporadically, including multiple, simultaneous attacks in Tashkent in 1998 that destroyed a portion of the Ministry of Interior headquarters and narrowly missed President Karimov. Death estimates in those attacks and in subsequent shootouts in Tashkent with alleged bombers range as high as 200. The official government death tally was sixteen. In March and April 2004, suicide bombers struck the U.S. and Israeli Embassies in Tashkent and also detonated devices in the city of Bukhara. In May 2005, armed gunman in the city of Andijon attacked a police station, seized weapons and then stormed a prison, freeing members of a local Islamic organization accused by the government of extremism. In events whose details remain unclear, the attackers then gathered in Andi-jon's main square. Thousands of local residents also gathered in the square. Shooting erupted between government forces and the insurgents, and a large but undetermined number of individuals were killed. The Government of Uzbekistan, which put the death toll at 187, refused to heed European and U.S. calls for an independent international investigation. The Uzbek authorities may have conducted internal investigations and taken disciplinary measures, but have refused to provide any information to the international community. Unofficial death toll estimates range as high as 700 to 800.

Human Rights

Uzbekistan has no meaningful political opposition. Five compliant political parties hold all seats in the parliament, and independent political parties have been effectively suppressed since the early 1990s. Multiple independent and governmental media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) exist. Self-censorship is the norm. Editors and journalists who have broached politically sensitive topics have routinely experienced repercussions, including loss of employment.

Since 1991, many prominent opponents of the government have fled, and others have been arrested. The government severely represses those it suspects of Islamic extremism, including those suspected of any affiliation to organizations such as the banned extremist Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir). Thousands of suspected extremists have been incarcerated since 1992, and arrests continue. The exact number remaining in custody is unknown but may be several thousand. A large number of prisoners have died in custody, many from disease and other poor conditions and others from mistreatment and abuse. Political prisoners and suspected extremists are allegedly treated worse than ordinary prisoners.

The police force and the intelligence service have used torture as a routine investigation technique. In May 2003, following the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Government of Uzbekistan drafted an action plan to implement the Rap-porteur's recommendations. The government began enacting a number of the plan's provisions but has since ceased cooperating with international organizations involved in prison reform. Prison conditions and the prevalence of torture today therefore are not clear but are widely believed to remain problematic.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

President: Islom KARIMOV

Chmn., Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis): Erkin HALILOV

Prime Minister: Shavkat MIRZIYAYEV

Dep. Prime Min.: Abdullah ARIPOV

Dep. Prime Min.: Rustam AZIMOV

Dep. Prime Min.: Svetlana INAMOVA

Dep. Prime Min.: Rustam KASYMOV

Dep. Prime Min.: Nodirkhon KHANOV

Dep. Prime Min.: Ergash SHAISMATOV

Min. of Agriculture & Water Resources: Sayfiddin ISMOILOV

Min. of Culture & Sports: Rustam KURBANOV

Min. of Defense: Ruslan MIRZAYEV

Min. of Economics: Vyacheslav GOLYSHEV

Min. of Emergency Situations: Bakhtiyor SUBANOV

Min. of Finance: Rustam AZIMOV

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Vladimir NOROV

Min. of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments, & Trade: Elyor GANIYEV

Min. of Higher & Secondary Specialized Education: Rustam QOSIMOV

Min. of Internal Affairs: Bahodir MATLUBOV

Min. of Justice: Buritosh MUSTAFAEV

Min. of Labor & Social Security: Akijan ABIDOV

Min. of Public Education: Turobjon JORAYEV

Min. of Public Health: Feruz NAZIROV

Sec., National Security Council: Murod ATAYEV

Chief of Staff, Presidential Administration: Zilemkhon HAIDAROV

Chmn., State Bank: Fayzulla MULLAJANOV

Chmn., National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity: Rahimov BORIEVICH

Chmn., National Security Service (NSS): Rustam INOYATOV, Col. Gen.

Ambassador to the US: Abdulaziz KAMILOV

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alisher VOHIDOV

The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains an embassy at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel.: (202) 887-5300; fax (202) 293-6804. Its consulate and mission to the UN in New York are located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 326/ 327a, New York, NY 10017. Consulate tel.: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 486-7998.

ECONOMY

The economy is based primarily on agriculture and natural resource extraction. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. It also is a major exporter of gold, uranium, strategic minerals, and gas. Since independence, the government has stated its commitment to a gradual transition to a free market economy but has been cautious in moving to a market-based economy.

It is difficult to accurately estimate economic growth in Uzbekistan due to unreliable government statistics, which often serve political rather than economic ends. Economic growth has been strong in the past few years, but wealth is strictly held by the elite. According to the World Bank, approximately 25% of Uzbeks live at or below the poverty line.

The government implements a strict import substitution policy to control foreign trade and prevent capital out-flow. Substantial structural reform is needed, particularly in the area of improving the investment climate for foreign investors and liberalizing the agricultural sector. Although the government has committed itself in theory to the provisions of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Article VIII regarding currency convertibility for current account operations, in practice firms can wait up to three months for currency conversion. Convertibility restrictions and other government measures to control economic activity, (e.g., harassment of foreign-owned companies, import and export restrictions, and intermittent border closings) have constrained economic growth and led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits.

GDP and Employment

The Uzbek Government 2006 GDP growth figure is 7.2%. The IMF projects 2007 GDP growth in excess of 7.5%. Unemployment and under-employment are very high, but reliable figures are difficult to obtain, as no recent credible surveying has been done. Unofficially, unemployment is estimated around 10% and underem-ployment around 20%. Underemployment in the agricultural sector is particularly high—which is important given the fact that 60% of the population is rural-based. Many observers believe that employment growth and real wage growth have been stagnant, given virtually no growth in output.

Labor

Literacy in Uzbekistan is almost universal, and workers are generally well-educated and well-trained. Worsening corruption in the country's education system in the past few years has begun to erode Uzbeki-stan's advantage in terms of its human capital, as grades and degrees are routinely purchased. Additionally, elementary and secondary students in the remote provinces have poor access to basic education. Most local technical and managerial training does not meet international business standards, but foreign companies engaged in production report that locally hired workers learn quickly and work effectively. Foreign firms generally find that younger workers, untainted by the Soviet system, work well at all levels. The government has significantly curbed a long-time program emphasizing foreign education, which in past years annually sent about 50 students to the United States, Europe, and Japan for university degrees, after which they have a commitment to work for the government for 5 years. Reportedly, about 60% of the students who studied abroad found employment with foreign companies upon their return, despite their 5-year commitment to work in the government. In addition, Uzbekistan subsidizes studies for students at Westminster University—the only Western-style institution in Uzbekistan. In 2003, Westminster admitted about 360 students, and the government funded about half of the students’ education. Education at Westminster costs $4,800 per academic year.

With the closure or downsizing of many foreign firms, it is relatively easy to find qualified, well-trained employees, and salaries are very low by Western standards. The government has implemented salary caps in an attempt to prevent firms from circumventing restrictions on the with-drawal of cash from banks. Some firms had tried in the past to evade these limits on withdrawals by inflating salaries of employees, allowing firms to withdraw more money. These salary caps prevent many foreign firms from paying their workers as much as they would like. Labor market regulations in Uzbekistan are similar to those once used in the Soviet Union, with all rights guaranteed but some rights unobserved. Unemployment is a growing problem, and the number of people looking for jobs in Russia, Kazakhstan, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia is increasing each year. Business analysts estimate that a high number of Uzbek citizens are working abroad. Estimates range from lows of 3 million to highs of 5 million Uzbek citizens of working age living outside Uzbekistan, most in neighboring countries or Russia. Uzbekistan recently signed a labor agreement with Russia to facilitate the temporary migration of Uzbek workers and the taxation of their income.

Prices and Monetary and Fiscal Policy

Macroeconomic performance has been strong over the last two years and resulted in a positive trade balance. Real GDP growth was high, and official reserves continued to rise. Inflation is expected to be between 30-40% in 2007. In order to combat inflation, the government has exercised strict currency controls, causing periodic shortages of cash. Reacting to the weakening of the dollar to the Euro, the government recently switched to the Euro for its accounting and financial management. The hospitality sector is following suit.

Outstanding external debt is projected to be $3.86 billion in 2007. Tax collection rates remained high, due to the use of the banking system by the government as a collection agency. The World Bank and the UN Development Program (UNDP) have provided technical assistance to reform the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance into institutions that conduct market-oriented fiscal and monetary policy. Bank reform is very slow and inhibits the ability of citizens or private companies to obtain credit and other banking services.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agriculture and the agro-industrial sector contribute more than 40% to Uzbekistan's GDP. Cotton is Uzbeki-stan's dominant crop, accounting for roughly 16% of the country's GDP in 2006. Uzbekistan also produces significant amounts of silk, wheat, fruit, and vegetables. Nearly all agriculture involves heavy irrigation. Farmers and agricultural workers earn low wages, which the state seldom pays on a regular basis. In general, the government controls the agriculture sector, dictates what farms grow, and buys directly from the farmers to sell abroad.

Minerals and mining are integral to Uzbekistan's economy. Gold is Uzbekistan's second most important foreign exchange earner, unofficially estimated at around 20%. Uzbekistan is the world's seventh-largest producer, mining about 80 tons of gold per year, and holds the fourth-largest reserves in the world. Uzbekistan receives a considerable amount of income from natural gas exports. It produces oil for domestic consumption and has significant reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium.

Trade and Investment

Uzbekistan's export/import policy is based on import substitution. The highly regulated trade regime has led to both import and export declines since 1996, although imports have declined more than exports, as the government squeezed imports to maintain hard currency reserves. Draconian tariffs and sporadic border closures and crossing “fees” decrease legal imports of both consumer products and capital equipment. Uzbekistan's traditional trade partners are from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), notably Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Non-CIS partners have been increasing in importance in recent years, with the European Union, South Korea, Germany, Japan, and Turkey being the most active.

Uzbekistan is a member of the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It has observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has publicly stated its intention to accede to the WTO. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and is a signatory to the Convention on Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, the Paris Convention on Industrial Property, the Madrid Agreement on Trademarks Protection, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In 2006, Uzbekistan was again placed on the special “301” Watch List for lack of intellectual copyright protection.

Since Uzbekistan's independence, U.S. firms have invested roughly U.S. $500 million in Uzbekistan. 2006 and 2007 were some of the worst years for foreign investment, especially U.S. investment. Due to declining investor confidence, harassment, and currency convertibility problems, numerous international investors have left the country or are considering leaving. In 2006, the Government of Uzbekistan forced out Newmont Mining (at the time the largest U.S. investor) from its gold mining joint venture. Newmont and the government resolved their dispute, although the action adversely affected Uzbekistan's image among foreign investors. The government attempted the same with British-owned Oxus Mining. Coscom, a U.S.-owned telecommunications company, involuntarily sold its stake in a joint venture to another foreign company. GM-DAT, a Korean subsidiary of GM, is the only known U.S. business to have entered Uzbekistan in over two years. It recently signed a joint-venture agreement with UzDaewoo to assemble Korean-manufactured cars for export and domestic sale.

DEFENSE

Uzbekistan possesses the largest and most competent military forces in the Central Asian region, having around 65,000 people in uniform. Its structure is inherited from the Soviet armed forces, although it is moving rapidly toward a fully restructured organization, which will eventually be built around light and Special Forces. The Uzbek Armed Forces’ equipment is not modern, and training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate yet for its new mission of territorial security. The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a non-nuclear state), and has supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to demilitarize and clean up former weapons of mass destruction-related facilities in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniye Island), as well as to guard against the proliferation of radiological materials across its borders. The Government of Uzbekistan spends about 3.7% of GDP on the military.

Beginning in the late 1990s until 2004, the government received U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF), International Military Education and Training (IMET), and other security assistance funds. Beginning in 2004, new FMF and IMET assistance to Uzbekistan was stopped, as the Secretary of State, implementing U.S. Government legislation, was unable to certify that the Government of Uzbekistan was making progress in meeting its commitments, including respect for human rights and economic reform, under the U.S.-Uzbekistan Strategic Framework Agreement. Uzbekistan approved U.S. Central Command's request for access to a vital military air base in southern Uzbekistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., but asked the U.S. to leave in July 2005. All U.S. forces had departed this facility by November 2005.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Uzbekistan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, NATO Partnership for Peace, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and the Economic Cooperation Organization—comprised of the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the GUAM alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova), which was formed in 1997 (making it GUUAM), but formally withdrew in 2005. Uzbekistan hosts the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent.

Uzbekistan is a founding member of the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (and which Tajikistan joined in March 1998). In 2002, Uzbekistan joined the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO), which also includes Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. In 2006, Uzbekistan joined the Eurasian Economic Community (EurASEC), comprising Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan and in UN-organized groups to help resolve the Tajik and Afghan conflicts, both of which it viewed as posing threats to its own stability. Uzbekistan was an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism and joined the coalition combating terrorism in Afghanistan. It continues to support coalition antiterrorist operations in Afghanistan by granting access to Germany to an air base in southern Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan has actively participated in regional efforts to combat terrorism and the narcotics trade. It has maintained close ties to Russia, while also seeking to balance this with stronger ties to China and other powers. In November 2005, Uzbekistan signed a mutual defense treaty with Russia.

U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS

The U.S. recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an Embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbek relations developed slowly and reached a peak following the U.S. decision to invade Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Relations cooled significantly following the “color revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan in 2003-2005, and the Government of Uzbekistan sought to limit the influence of U.S. and other foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on civil society, political reform, and human rights inside the country. Relations deteriorated rapidly following U.S. and European demands for an independent, international investigation into the May 2005 Andijon violence.

Relations improved slightly in the latter half of 2007, but the U.S. continues to call for Uzbekistan to meet all of its commitments under the March 2002 Declaration of Strategic Partnership between the two countries. The declaration covers not only security and economic relations but political reform, economic reform, and human rights. Uzbekistan has Central Asia's largest population and is vital to U.S., regional, and international efforts to promote stability and security.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Trade and investment. Trade relations are regulated by a bilateral trade agreement, which entered into force January 14, 1994. It provides for extension of most-favored-nation trade status between the two countries. The U.S. additionally granted Uzbekistan exemption from many U.S. import tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP status) on August 17, 1994. A Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed December 16, 1994; it has been ratified by Uzbekistan and received advice and consent of the U.S. Senate in October 2000. However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty will be unlikely to enter into force until Uzbekistan embarks on economic reform. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the bureaucratic restraints on the nascent private sector.

Assistance. The United States’ humanitarian and technical assistance to Uzbekistan has decreased markedly since 2004, both as a result of government actions against U.S. implementing partners and U.S. Government restrictions on aid. Since its independence, the U.S. has provided technical support to Uzbekistan's efforts to restructure its economy and to improve its environment, education, and health care system, provided support to nascent NGOs, and provided equipment to improve water availability and quality in the Aral Sea region. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Embassy's Public Affairs Section, the U.S. Government continues to support educational and professional exchanges and other programs that offer Uzbeks the opportunity to study in the United States and to establish professional contacts with their American counterparts. The Departments of State and Defense provide technical assistance in the form of equipment and training to enhance Uzbekistan's control over its borders and its capabilities to interdict the illicit movement of narcotics, people, and goods, including potential weapons of mass destruction-related items. In FY 2003, the United States provided roughly $87.4 million in humanitarian aid, technical assistance, military-to-military funding, and micro-credit support in Uzbekistan. U.S. assistance grew to approximately $101.8 million in FY 2004, but fell to $92.6 million in FY 2005. These programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, democratic society. Starting in 2004, the Secretary of State has been unable to certify that Uzbekistan has met its obligations under the bilateral 2002 Strategic Framework Agreement. As a result, U.S. assistance declined to approximately $20 million in FY 2006.

USAID provides both technical and humanitarian assistance. Technical assistance to Uzbekistan promotes sound fiscal and management policies, a strengthened business enabling environment, enhanced competitiveness of the agribusiness sector, increased citizens’ participation in civil society and economic decision making, improved sustainability of social benefits and services, reduced environmental risks to public health, and other multi-sector reform programs. The USAID/Central Asian Republics Uzbekistan health program focuses on four chief needs: primary health care reform, HIV/AIDS and infectious disease control, drug demand reduction, and reproductive and maternal and child health. Programs are designed to develop local capacity and promote mechanisms for citizens to engage with their local government. U.S. Government funds also support the work of non-governmental organizations to prevent trafficking in persons and care for victims.

Peace Corps staff arrived in Uzbekistan in August 1992, and a bilateral agreement to establish the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan was signed November 4, 1992. The first volunteers arrived in December 1992. Peace Corps Volunteers were active in English teaching, small business development, public health, and women's issues. However, Uzbekistan failed to renew visas for Peace Corps volunteers in 2005, ending the Peace Corps presence in the country. Department of State-managed exchange programs, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and the Department of Commerce's Special American Business Internship Training Program (SABIT) contribute to expansion of technical know-how and support bilateral relations. The U.S. also provides export finance/guarantees and political risk insurance for U.S. exporters and investors through the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Proceeds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Monetization Program are scheduled to finance more than 30 farmer assistance and rural development projects which were approved jointly by U.S. and Uzbek officials in 2005. Some of the selected projects are already underway.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

TASHKENT (E), APO/FPO 7110 Tashkent Place, Washington, D.C. 20521-7110, 998-71-120-5450, Fax 998-71-120-6335, Workweek: MF, 0900-1800, Website: http://www.usembassy.uz.

DCM OMS:Nicole Mock
AMB OMS:Patti Hagopian
CDC:Michael Favorov (Almaty)
FM:Jeffrey Walker
HRO:Suzanne Clarke
MGT:Doug Ellrich
POL ECO:Ted Burkhalter
AMB:Richard B. Norland
CON:Rafael Perez
DCM:Brad Hanson
PAO:Carol Farajdo
GSO:Josh Rubin
RSO:Edward Phillips
AFSA:Molly Stephenson
AGR:Ralph Gifford (Ankara)
AID:James Bonner
DAO:Ltc. Jeffrey Hartman
DEA:Paul Hackett -Dushanbe
FMO:Suzanne Clarke
ICASS:Chair Ltc. Jeffry Hartman
IMO:Bradley Gabler
IRS:Susan Stanley (Frankfurt)
ISO:Tom Strickland
ISSO:Bradley Gabler
LEGATT:Howard Ledbetter (Astana)
State ICASS:Carol Fajardo

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

November 2, 2007

Country Description: Uzbekistan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. While the country has undergone significant change since then, its progress towards democratic and economic reform has been halting and uneven. Corruption is endemic at all levels of society. Much of the country, particularly areas outside of Tashkent and the major tourist destinations of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, is remote and difficult to access. Tourist facilities in these areas are typically below Western standards, and many goods and services remain difficult to find on a regular basis.

Entry Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Although official invitation letters are not required for American citizens applying for tourist visas, they are required for those planning to visit an individual who resides in Uzbekistan. Tourist visas cannot be extended in Uzbekistan. Visas are issued by Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Visitors coming from countries where Uzbekistan does not have diplomatic or consular representation should obtain visas in a third country. Visas are not available upon arrival at Uzbek airports. The Embassy has received a number of reports from American citizens who have had problems obtaining Uzbek visas or who received Uzbek visas valid for a very limited period, usually for fewer than three months. Americans seeking visas are encouraged to apply for their visas well in advance of their travel.

It is important to note that Uzbek visas indicate not only the validity of the visa, but also the period of time a person is allowed to stay in Uzbekistan on a given trip. A visitor will have to leave the country after the number of days indicated as the duration of stay on the visa. Therefore, it is important to indicate your intended period of stay when applying for your Uzbek visa. American citizens who are affiliated with a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has been closed in Uzbekistan may be prevented from entering the country, even with a valid visa. All travelers, even those simply transiting Uzbekistan for fewer than 72 hours, must obtain an Uzbek visa before traveling to Uzbekistan.

The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya province bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. The border crossing point at Hayraton between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, while open, is tightly controlled. Foreign citizens intending to travel to this province must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Even with such permission, however, some American citizens transiting to Afghanistan via Termez have been briefly detained and/or fined for not registering in Uzbekistan.

Travel within Uzbekistan by rail or land sometimes requires brief exit into neighboring countries. Travelers should have multiple-entry Uzbek visas and a proper visa for the neighboring country in order to avoid delays in travel.

Registration after entry: All travelers present in Uzbekistan for more than three business days must register with the Office of Entry, Exit, and Citizenship, commonly known as “OVIR.” Hotel guests are registered automatically, but all other travelers are responsible for registering themselves. Registration fees vary depending on length of stay. See http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov/consular for more information. Visitors without proper registration are subject to fines, imprisonment, and deportation. The fines range from $500 to $4,000. Uzbek law mandates that visitors carry a medical certificate attesting that they are not infected with HIV, but this requirement is sporadically enforced.

Further visa information is available from the Consular Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 1746 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036; telephone: (202) 530-7291; fax: (202) 293-9633; web site: http://www.uzbeki-stan.org or from the Consulate General of Uzbekistan in New York City, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 327A, New York, NY 10017; telephone: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 838-9812; web site: www.uzbekconsulny.org.

Safety and Security: A Travel Warning remains in effect for Uzbekistan. The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist attacks or civil disturbance in Uzbekistan, although there have been no violent incidents there since May 2005, and continues to urge Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise caution. The U.S. Government continues to receive information that indicates terrorist groups may be planning attacks, possibly against U.S. interests, in Uzbekistan. Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the region. Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. Government interests in the past, including the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private American interests in Uzbekistan. In the past, these groups have conducted kidnappings, assassinations, and suicide bombings.

Increased security at official U.S. facilities over the past year may lead terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and resorts. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy.

Uzbekistan experienced a wave of terrorist violence in 2004. In July 2004 there were three suicide bombings in Tashkent, including one out-side the U.S. Embassy. The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) claimed responsibility for the attacks. The IJU also used suicide bombers in multiple attacks focused on police and Uzbek private and commercial facilities in Tashkent and Bukhara in late March and early April 2004. In May 2005, armed militants stormed a prison in Andijon, released its prisoners, and then took control of the regional administration and other government buildings in Andijon Province. Fighting broke out between government forces and the militants, and reports indicated that several hundred civilians died in the ensuing violence. While there were no reports of U.S. citizens affected by these events, U.S. citizens and other foreigners in Uzbekistan frequently have experienced harassment from authorities and local residents since the 2005 violence.

Depending upon security conditions, travelers can expect restricted personal movement, including the closing of roads to traffic, and frequent document, vehicle, and personal identification checks should be anticipated. The Uzbek Government has intermittently restricted travel to certain parts of the country in response to security concerns.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Travel Warning for Uzbekistan, Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, and the Travel Alert for Central Asia, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: 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. If you are traveling at night, please travel in groups, maintain a low profile, and do not display large amounts of cash. Beware of pickpockets in public places, such as tourist destinations and local markets.

Although using private cars as taxicabs is a common practice in Uzbekistan, Americans, especially women, should not consider this a safe practice. Americans are encouraged to use clearly marked taxicabs, such as those at hotels. Also, Americans should avoid riding in taxis alone.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/ or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting the crime to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/ Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care in Uzbekistan is below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident Americans travel to North America or Western Europe for their medical needs.

Travelers are advised to drink only boiled water, peel all fruits and vegetables, and avoid undercooked meat. Due to inadequate sanitation conditions, travelers should avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products and most food sold in the streets.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Uzbekistan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. Uzbekistan has a developed but deteriorating traffic infrastructure. Although main roads in central Tashkent are relatively well maintained, many secondary roads inside and out-side Tashkent, and particularly those in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are in poor condition and may be passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving at night can be quite dangerous because only the main roads in Tashkent and a few other major cities have streetlights; rural roads and highways generally are not lit. Visitors are strongly urged to avoid driving at night outside Tashkent. The gasoline supply can be sporadic; therefore, travelers should expect occasional difficulty finding gasoline, particularly outside of Tashkent.

Livestock, as well as farm equipment and carts drawn by animals that lack lights or reflectors, are found on both urban and rural roads at any hour. Local drivers are not familiar with safe driving techniques. Pedestrians in cities and rural areas cross streets unexpectedly and often without looking for oncoming traffic. Uzbekistan has a large road police force, which frequently stops drivers for minor infractions or simple document checks. There have been reports of harassment of foreign drivers by the road police, with reported minor police corruption in the form of solicitation of bribes.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Uzbekistan's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Uzbekistan's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Travelers to Uzbekistan are subject to frequent document inspections. Therefore, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry a certified copy of their U.S. passport and their Uzbek visa with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and certain bilateral agreements, local authorities must grant a United States Consular Officer access to any U.S. citizen who is arrested. U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained should ask to contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.

Uzbek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import to or export from Uzbekistan of items such as armaments and ammunition, space technology, encryption devices, X-ray and isotope equipment, nuclear materials, poisons, drugs, precious and semi-precious metals, nullified securities, pieces of art, and antiques of historical value. Contact the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Uzbekistan in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Most transactions are conducted on a cash-only, local currency (soum) basis. Credit cards are accepted only at the main hotels and a few shops and restaurants; travelers’ checks can be cashed into dollars at the National Bank of Uzbekistan. The commission fee is two percent. Importation of currency exceeding $10,000 (US) is subject to a one-percent duty. Foreigners must complete a customs declaration upon entering Uzbekistan. The amount of cash taken out of Uzbekistan should not exceed the amount indicated on the customs declaration. In order to export more cash than was imported, one must have special permission from the National Bank of Uzbekistan. Those who understate the amount of currency on their declaration form upon departure from Uzbekistan face fines and confiscation of their unreported money. Old U.S. dollar bills (prior to 1990) and/or those in poor condition (with tears, writing or stamps) are not acceptable forms of currency in Uzbekistan. Although payment in U.S. dollars is required for certain hotel charges, airline tickets, and visa fees, other dollar transactions, as well as black market currency exchanges, are prohibited.

Uzbekistan is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Uzbek laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Uzbekistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Uzbekistan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Uzbekistan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at # 3, Moyqorghon Street, 5th Block, Yunusobod District, Tashkent -700093, Uzbekistan. The main Embassy telephone number, which can also be reached after hours, is (998 71) 120-5450, fax: (998 71) 120-6335; Consular fax: (998 71) 120-54-48; e-mail: [email protected] gov; web site: http://uzbekistan.usem-bassy.gov.

International Adoption

December 2007

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Starting June 5, 2006, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan is processing immigrant visas for all Uzbek citizens, including orphans. More details about immigrant visa processing requirements can be found on the U.S. Embassy website at http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authorities: The government offices responsible for inter-country adoptions are the Uzbek Ministry of Education and the local Mayor's office (“Hokimiat”) in the region where the adoption takes place.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single. The age difference between adoptive parents and adopted child must be not less than 15 years.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for Uzbekistan.

Time Frame: Foreign adoption in Uzbekistan is time consuming. It can take from six months to two years.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Under Uzbek law, the Guardianship and Trusteeship Organ (GTO) of each local Mayor's office is responsible for settlement of orphans. Adoptive parents or their legal representatives must submit documents to a local Mayor through its GTO. U.S. and other foreign adoption agencies are legally allowed to operate in Uzbekistan but must be registered with the Uzbek government. Adopting in Uzbekistan is very difficult, and the Embassy is aware of only one adoption agency that has been able to process two adoptions since 2003. Adoption is a sensitive issue in Uzbekistan, and some Uzbek officials are not in favor of foreign adoptions. Individuals wishing to adopt in Uzbekistan, therefore, may face unexpected opposition, even when a case has been fully processed and the adoption is ready to be formalized.

Adoption Fees: The Uzbek government charges small official fees, usually about $10 per document, for the submission and processing of the adoption application and corresponding documents.

Adoption Procedures: Once the prospective adoptive parents have selected a child, they or their legal representatives should submit an application and supporting documents directly to the Guardianship and Trusteeship Organ (GTO) of the Mayor's office (“Hokimiat”) of the region. The application should include the prospective parents’ names, place of residence, marital information, and complete information (name, age, sex) of any children they already have. It should also include the name, age and sex of the Uzbek child they wish to adopt.

After reviewing the family's documentation, the GTO will pass the documents to the Mayor for approval. Based on the Mayor's approval, the local Vital Records Office issues a new birth certificate. The new birth certificate includes the names of the adoptive parents and changes the child's last name to the adoptive parents’ last name. First name and the date of birth of the child can be changed upon request.

The date of birth may be changed, but not by more than one year. If a child is under ten years old, his/her place of birth can also be changed to another location within the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

With the Mayor's (Hokim's) permission and the vital record office, the Administration for Entry, Exit, and Citizenship issues a passport and exit permission to the child. As was stated earlier in this flyer, prospective parents are not required to have maintained residency in Uzbekistan for any particular length of time.

Required Documents: The following documents must be submitted by the prospective parents for an adoption:

  • Application to the GTO of the regional Hokimiat, with the information outlined above (names, place of residence, marital information, data on current children, and information about the prospective adoptive child);
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ passport(s);
  • Marriage certificates and/or divorce decrees, if applicable;
  • Residence (home study) certifiate indicating the number of amily members (this may be ncluded in the home study);
  • Employment letter for the prospective adoptive parent(s), including salary information;
  • Letter of recommendation (description of personality) from a parent's employer, local city hall or home study agency;
  • Medical certificate from a doctor indicating that the prospective parents are healthy, do not have communicable diseases, and do not abuse drugs or alcohol.

Note: All documents must be translated into Uzbek or Russian by an official translator and authenticated by the Uzbek Embassy in the United States.

Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan
1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-887-5300
Fax: 202-293-6804
Email: [email protected]
http//:www.uzbekistan.org

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy Tashkent
Moyqorghon Street, 5th Block,
Yunusobod District
Tashkent-700093, Uzbekistan
Phone: (998)(71) 120-5450
Fax: (998)(71) 120-5448
http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov
General Consular E-mail:
[email protected]

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Uzbekistan may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction

February 2008

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Uzbekistan is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction but the Convention is not yet in force between Uzbekistan and the United States.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under Uzbek law.

Custody Disputes: Past Uzbek court practice has given priority for custodianship to the mother as long as certain restrictive conditions are met. The father can appeal for custody at any time.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in Uzbekistan if they potentially contradict or violate local laws and practices.

Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has custody of a child, the second parent may be granted visitation rights by court decision.

Travel Restrictions : Uzbekistan issues two types of exit permissions:

  • Temporary exit permission valid for two years: Consent of both parents (or guardian) is needed only for a minor under the age of 16. If only one parent is alive, a death certificate must be supplied.
  • Permission to leave the country indefinitely: ALL citizens (adults and children) must submit a notarized letter of consent from both parents or supply a death certificate of the parents.

Persons who wish to pursue a child claim in Uzbekistan court should retain an attorney in Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent maintains a list of lawyers acting in Uzbekistan.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/family. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

Travel Warning

October 25, 2007

This Travel Warning is being issued to remind U.S. citizens that the potential for a terrorist attack or civil disturbance still exists, despite the fact that there have been no violent incidents in Uzbekistan since May 2005. As the December 23 presidential election approaches, the Department of State continues to urge Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise caution. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning of April 25, 2007.

The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist attacks or civil disturbance in Uzbekistan, although there have been no violent incidents there since May 2005, and continues to urge Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise caution. The U.S. Government continues to receive information that indicates terrorist groups may be planning attacks, possibly against U.S. interests, in Uzbekistan. Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the region. Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. Government interests in the past, including the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private American interests in Uzbekistan. In the past, these groups have conducted kidnappings, assassinations, and suicide bombings.

Increased security at official U.S. facilities may lead terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, out-door recreation events, and resorts. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy.

The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya province bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. American citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Even with permission, however, some American citizens transiting to Afghanistan via Termez have been briefly detained and/or fined for not registering in Uzbekistan. Furthermore, American citizens affiliated with a nongovernmental organization that has been closed down in Uzbekistan may be denied entry, even with a valid visa.

Uzbekistan experienced a wave of terrorist violence in 2004. In July 2004 there were three suicide bombings in Tashkent, including one out-side the U.S. Embassy. The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) claimed responsibility for the attacks. The IJU also used suicide bombers in multiple attacks focused on police and Uzbek private and commercial facilities in Tashkent and Bukhara in late March and early April 2004. In May 2005, armed militants stormed a prison in Andijon, released its prisoners, and then took control of the regional administration and other government buildings in Andijon Province. Fighting broke out between government forces and the militants, and reports indicated that several hundred civilians died in the ensuing violence. While there were no reports of U.S. citizens affected by these events, U.S. citizens and other foreigners in Uzbekistan have experienced harassment from authorities since the 2005 violence.

Americans traveling to or remaining in Uzbekistan, despite this Travel Warning, are strongly urged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Uzbekistan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent. The U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan is located at # 3, Moyqorghon Street, 5th Block, Yunusobod District, Tashkent-700093, Uzbekistan. The telephone number is 998-71-120-5450 and can be reached after hours as well. The Consular fax number is 998-71-120-5448. The website is http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov.

Travelers also should consult the Department of State's latest Country Specific Information for Uzbekistan, the Travel Alert for Central Asia, and the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or Canada, and 202-501-4444 from overseas.

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Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN

Compiled from the July 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Uzbekistan


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

447,400 sq. km., slightly larger than California.

Cities:

Capital—Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million); Samarkand (600,000); Bukhara (350,000).

Terrain:

Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.

Climate:

Mid-latitude desert; long, hot summers, mild winters.

People

Nationality:

Uzbek.

Population (July 2005 est.):

26,851,195.

Ethnic groups (1996 est.):

Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5%.

Religion:

Muslim 88% (Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.

Language:

Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.

Education:

Literacy—97% (total population).

Health (2005 est.):

Life expectancy—60.82 years men; 67.73 years women.

Work force (11.9 million):

Agricultural and forestry—44%, industry—20%; services—36%.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Independence:

September 1, 1991.

Constitution:

December 8, 1992.

Branches:

Executive—president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—unicameral, 250-seat Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis). Judiciary—Supreme Court, constitutional court, economic court.

Administrative subdivisions (viloyatlar):

12, plus autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan and city of Tashkent.

Political parties and leaders:

Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party—established February 18, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 11, Turgunpulat DAMINOV, first secretary; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Partiya) or MTP—established on June 3, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 10, Ibrohim GOFUROV, chairman; Fatherland Progress Party (Vatan Tarakiyoti) or VTP—In April 2000, VTP merged with the National Democratic Party "Fidokorlar" (Fidokorlar Milliy Democratic Partiya), in Tashkent, number of seats in the parliament 62, Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary; People's Democratic Party or PDPU (Uzbekiston Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party)—established November 1, 1991 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 50, Asliddin RUSTAMOV, first secretary. Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan—established December 3, 2003, Kobiljon TOSHMATOV, chairman. Other political or pressure groups and leaders: Birlik (Unity) Movement—Abdurakhim PULATOV, chairman; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party—Mohammed SOLIH, chairman (banned Dec. 1992); party of Agrarians and Entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan—Marat ZAHIDOV, chairman; Ozod Dekkon (Free Farmers) Party—Nigara KHIDOYATOVA, general secretary; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Abdumannob PULATOV, chairman; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman; Ezgulik—Vasilya INOYATOVA, chairwoman.

Suffrage:

Universal at age 18, unless imprisoned or certified as insane.

Defense:

Military manpower—males age 15-49 fit for military service: 5,635,099 (2003 est.); universal 18-month military service for men.

Economy

(Note: Due to the unreliable nature of government statistics, it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan.)

GDP:

Real GDP growth in 2004 was estimated at 4.4%.

Inflation:

Approximately 50% in 2002, with a 150% average increase in prices of imported goods and a slight depreciation in domestically priced goods. In 2003, inflation was roughly 21.9%. The U.S. Embassy believes real wages were stagnant during 2003. In 2004, inflation of consumer prices dropped to 8%.

Per capita GDP:

U.S. Government analysts believe that per capita GDP was about $350 per capita in 2001, $310 in 2002, and $350 in 2003. In 2004, GDP rose to $1,800 (purchasing power parity).

Natural resources:

Natural gas, petroleum, gold, coal, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, molybdenum. Natural gas production for 2003 was 58.1 billion cubic meters (bcm); 53 bcm was consumed in Uzbekistan and 5.9 bcm was exported. Oil production in 2003 was 145,320 barrels/day and consumption was 151,720 barrels/day.

Agriculture:

Products—Cotton, fourth-largest producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock.

Industry:

Types—textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas. The industrial production growth rate was estimated at 6.2% in 2003; electricity production was 48.6 billion kilowatt hours.

Budget:

(2004 est.) Revenues—$2.46 billion; expenditures—$2.48 billion.

Trade:

Total exports—(2004 est. $3.7 billion): largest contribution from cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles. Major export markets—Russia 22%, China 9.2%, Ukraine 7.4%, Tajikistan 6.1%, Bangladesh 4.7%, Turkey 4.6%, Japan 4.3%, Kazakhstan 4.1%. Total imports—(2004 est. $2.58 billion): machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs. Primary import partners—Russia 22.3%, United States 11.4%, South Korea 10.9%, Germany 9.5%, China 6.5%, Turkey 6.1%.

External debt (2004 est.):

$4.35 billion.


PEOPLE

Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 25 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are nearly half the region's total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. Uzbek is the predominant ethnic group. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, and Tatar 1.5%. The nation is 88% Sunni Muslim and 9% Eastern Orthodox. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-today government and business use.

The educational system has achieved 97% literacy, and the mean amount of schooling for both men and women is 11 years. However, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated, inappropriate, and poorly kept. Additionally, the proportion of school-aged persons enrolled has been dropping. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency.


HISTORY

Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road—Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva—are located in Uzbekistan, and many well-known conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the eight century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Genghis Khan and his Mongols overran its territory in 1220. In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand.

Uzbekistan's most noted tourist sites date from the Timurid dynasty. Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates. Russia placed the rest of Central Asia under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.

In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories including the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton growing and natural resource potential.

The extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than a third of its original volume, making this one of the world's worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991. Islam Karimov, former First Secretary of the Communist Party, was elected President in December 1991 with 88% of the vote; however, the election was not viewed as free or fair by foreign observers.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for separation of powers, freedom of speech, and representative government. In reality, the executive holds almost all power. The judiciary lacks independence and the legislature, which meets only a few days each year, has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, Karimov's first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to yet again extend Karimov's term. The referendum passed and Karimov's term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on December 26, 2004, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval but have yet to show interest in advocating alternatives to government policy. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members, and hold conventions and press conferences, but have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. Terrorist bombings were carried out March 28-April 1, 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara. It is not clear yet who committed the attacks, but Karimov assigned blame to Islamic extremists. In May 2005, violence erupted in the eastern city of Andijan. Mass demonstrations against the jailing of local men on charges of "Islamic extremism" escalated and Uzbek troops responded to the protestors with gunfire. The civilian death toll is believed to be in the hundreds, though authorities dubiously confirmed only 169 casualties, President Karimov identified the protestors as Islamic militants and fundamentalists who provoked the government's violent response. Karimov's opponents believed the conflict was a product of the President's ongoing policy to suppress all forms of dissent in Uzbekistan.

Human Rights

Uzbekistan is not a democracy and does not have a free press. Several prominent opponents of the government have fled, and others have been arrested. The government severely represses those it suspects of Islamic extremism, particularly those it suspects of membership in the banned Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir). Some 5,300 to 5,800 suspected extremists are incarcerated. This represents a decline from previous years, as hundreds are amnestied and fewer arrested. Prison conditions remain very poor, particularly for those convicted of extremist activities, and a number of such prisoners are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. No independent political parties have been registered, although they were for the first time able to conduct grass-roots activities and to convene organizing congresses. Following the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Government of Uzbekistan drafted an Action Plan to implement the Special Rapporteur' s recommendations. The government has begun to enact a number of its provisions, but its violent actions in May 2005 in Andijan have been widely condemned by other nations and human rights groups, along with its refusal to conduct a formal investigation or to allow an international inquiry of the turbulent events.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/2/2005

President: Islom KARIMOV
Chmn., Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis): Erkin HALILOV
Prime Minister: Shavkat MIRZIYAYEV
Dep. Prime Min.: Abdullah ARIPOV
Dep. Prime Min.: Ravshanbek FAYZULLAYEV
Dep. Prime Min.: Elyor GANIYEV
Dep. Prime Min.: Vyacheslav GOLYSHEV
Dep. Prime Min.: Svetlana INAMOVA
Dep. Prime Min.: Rustam QOSIMOV
Dep. Prime Min.: Otkir SULTONOV
Dep. Prime Min.: Abdukahhor TUKHTAYEV
Min. of Agriculture & Water Resources: Sayfiddin ISMOILOV
Min. of Culture & Sports: Alisher AZIZKHOJAYEV
Min. of Defense: Ruslan MIRZAYEV
Min. of Economics: Vyacheslav GOLYSHEV
Min. of Emergency Situations: Bakhtiyor SUBANOV
Min. of Finance: Rustam AZIMOV
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Elyor GANIYEV
Min. of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments, & Trade: Alisher SHAIKHOV
Min. of Higher & Secondary Specialized Education: Rustam QOSIMOV
Min. of Internal Affairs: Zokirjon ALMATOV
Min. of Justice: Boritosh MUSTAFOYEV
Min. of Labor & Social Security: Okiljon OBIDOV
Min. of Public Education: Turobjon JORAYEV
Min. of Public Health: Feruz NAZIROV
Sec., National Security Council:
Chief of Staff, Presidential Administration: Zilemkhon HAIDAROV
Chmn., State Bank: Fayzulla MULLAJANOV
Chmn., National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity: Zayniddin MIRKHOJAYEV
Chmn., National Security Service (NSS): Rustam INOYATOV, Col. Gen.
Ambassador to the US: Abdulaziz KAMILOV
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alisher VOHIDOV

The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains an embassy at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel.: (202) 887-5300; fax (202) 293-6804. Its consulate and mission to the UN in New York are located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 326/327a, New York, NY 10017. Consulate tel.: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 486-7998.


ECONOMY

The economy is based primarily on agriculture and agricultural processing; Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. It also is a major producer of gold with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world and has substantial deposits of copper, strategic minerals, gas, and oil. Since independence, the government has stated that it is committed to a gradual transition to a free market economy but has been extremely cautious in moving to a market-based economy.

Although it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan—because of the unreliable nature of government statistics, which often serve political rather than economic ends—economic growth is far below potential due to:

  • the country's poor investment climate;
  • failure to attract foreign investment;
  • an extremely restrictive trade regime, implemented in order to meet a strategy of limiting imports of consumer goods;
  • failure to reform the agricultural sector of the economy, potentially the engine of economic growth for this largely rural economy; and
  • the price system in Uzbekistan, which is not functioning properly due to government intervention in markets.

The government accepted obligations under Article VIII of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Articles of Agreement on October 15, 2003, establishing full current account convertibility. The government's restrictive trade regime has crippled the economy and the government urgently needs to rescind its draconian trade measures. Substantial structural reform is needed, particularly in the area of improving the investment climate for foreign investors and in freeing the agricultural sector from smothering state control. Continuing restrictions on currency convertibility and other government measures to control economic activity, including the implementation of severe import restrictions and partial closure of Uzbekistan's borders with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, have constrained economic growth and led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits. The closure of the borders with neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 2002 almost paralyzed Uzbekistan's consumer market, although some goods are still being smuggled into the country.

The government has made progress in reducing inflation and the budget deficit, but government statistics understate both, while overstating economic growth. There are no reliable statistics on unemployment, which is believed to be high and growing.

GDP and Employment

The government claims that the GDP rose 4.1% in 2003; however, the U.S Government does not think it was greater than 0.3%. Unemployment and underemployment are very high, but reliable figures are difficult to obtain, as no recent credible surveying has been done. Underemployment in the agricultural sector is particularly high—which is important given the fact that 60% of the population is rural-based. Many observers believe that employment growth and real wage growth have been stagnant, given virtually no growth in output.

Labor

Literacy in Uzbekistan is almost universal, and workers are generally well-educated and well-trained. However, worsening corruption in the country's education system in the past few years has begun to erode Uzbekistan's advantage in terms of its human capital, as grades and degrees are routinely purchased. Most local technical and managerial training does not meet international business standards, but foreign companies engaged in production report that locally hired workers learn quickly and work effectively. Foreign firms generally find that younger workers, untainted by the Soviet system, work well at all levels. The government emphasizes foreign education and each year sends about 50 students to the United States, Europe, and Japan for university degrees, after which they have a commitment to work for the government for 5 years. Reportedly, about 60% of the students who study abroad find employment with foreign companies on their return, despite their 5-year commitment to work in the government. Some American companies offer special training programs in the United States to their local employees. In addition, Uzbekistan subsidizes studies for students at Westminster University—the only Western-style institution in Uzbekistan. In 2003, Westminster admitted about 360 students and the government funded about half of the students' education. Education at Westminster costs $4,800 per academic year.

With the closure or downsizing of many foreign firms, it is relatively easy to find qualified, well-trained employees, and salaries are very low by Western standards. The government has implemented salary caps in an attempt to prevent firms from circumventing restrictions on the withdrawal of cash from banks. Some firms had tried in the past to evade these limits on withdrawals by inflating salaries of employees, allowing firms to withdraw more money. These salary caps prevent many foreign firms from paying their workers as much as they would like. Labor market regulations in Uzbekistan are similar to those of the Soviet Union, with all rights guaranteed but some rights unobserved. Unemployment is a growing problem and the number of people looking for jobs in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Southeast Asia is increasing each year. According to official Ministry of Labor estimates, around 100,000 citizens of Uzbekistan work abroad. However, business analysts estimate that the number of Uzbek citizens working abroad is far higher. Estimates range from lows of 3 million to highs of 5 million Uzbek citizens of working age living outside Uzbekistan.

Prices and Monetary and Fiscal Policy

Inflation was approximately 21.9% in 2003. In order to combat inflation, the government has exercised strict currency controls and severe shortages of cash exist in the country. From 1996 until the spring of 2003, the official and so-called "commercial" exchange rates were highly overvalued. Many businesses and individuals were unable to buy dollars legally at these rates, so a widespread black market developed to meet hard currency demand. However, by mid-2003, the gap between the black market, official, and commercial rates had been reduced to approximately 8%. In 2004, the gap between the two rates was negligible. Although the unification of the exchange rates was a positive development, government restrictions in 2004 on the amount of local currency and hard currency that could be carried across the Uzbek border in either direction lessened the effect of currency convertibility on the Uzbek economy. Liberalization of the trade regime, however, is a prerequisite for Uzbekistan to proceed to an IMF-financed program.

Outstanding external debt reached $4.6 billion as of the end of 2003. Tax collection rates remained high, due to the use of the banking system by the government as a collection agency. Technical assistance from the World Bank, Office of Technical Assistance at the Treasury Department, and from the UN Development Program (UNDP) is being provided in reforming the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance into institutions that conduct market-oriented fiscal and monetary policy.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agriculture and the agro-industrial sector contribute more than 40% to Uzbekistan's GDP. Cotton is Uzbekistan's dominant crop, accounting for roughly 45% of the country's exports. Gold is second at 22%. Uzbekistan also produces significant amounts of silk, fruit, and vegetables. Virtually all agriculture involves heavy irrigation. Farmers and agricultural workers have very low incomes because the government uses the difference between the world prices of cotton and wheat and what it pays the farmers to subsidize highly inefficient capital-intensive industrial concerns, such as factories producing automobiles, airplanes, and tractors.

Consequently, agricultural productivity is low, with many farmers focusing on producing fruits and vegetables—for which supply and demand determine the price—on small plots of land, as well as smuggling cotton and wheat across the border with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in order to obtain higher prices.

Minerals and mining also are important to Uzbekistan's economy. Gold is Uzbekistan's second most important foreign exchange earner at 22%. Uzbekistan is the world's seventh-largest producer, mining about 80 tons per annum, and holds the fourth-largest reserves in the world. Uzbekistan has an abundance of natural gas, used both for domestic consumption and export; oil almost sufficient for domestic needs; and significant reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. Inefficiency in energy use is extremely high, given the failure to use realistic price signals to cause consumers to conserve energy.

Trade and Investment

Uzbekistan has adopted a policy of import substitution. The multiple exchange rate system and the highly over-regulated trade regime have led to both import and export declines since 1996, although imports have declined more than exports, as the government squeezed imports to maintain hard currency reserves. Draconian tariffs and border closures imposed in the summer and fall of 2002 led to massive decreases in imports of both consumer products and capital equipment. Uzbekistan's traditional "trade" partners are New Independent States (NIS) countries, notably Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the other Central Asian countries. Non-NIS partners have been increasing in importance in recent years, with the U.S., Korea, Germany, Japan, and Turkey being the most active.

Uzbekistan is a member of the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It has observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has publicly stated its intention to accede to the WTO. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and is a signatory to the Convention on Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States, the Paris Convention on Industrial Property, the Madrid Agreement on Trademarks Protection, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In 2003, Uzbekistan was again placed on the special "301" Watch List for lack of intellectual copyright protection.

Uzbekistan's previous lack of currency convertibility was one of the reasons that foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows dwindled to a trickle. In fact, Uzbekistan has the lowest level of FDI per capita in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Since Uzbekistan's independence, U.S. firms have invested roughly $500 million in Uzbekistan. Large U.S. investors include Newmont, reprocessing tailings from the Muruntau gold mine; Case Corporation, manufacturing and servicing cotton harvesters and tractors; Coca Cola, with bottling plants in Tashkent, Namangan and Samarkand; Texaco, producing lubricants for sale in the Uzbek market; and Baker Hughes, in oil and gas development. No large new investments have taken place from the U.S. in the last 5 years.


DEFENSE

Uzbekistan possesses the largest and most competent military forces in the Central Asian region, having around 65,000 people in uniform. Its structure is inherited from the Soviet armed forces, although it is moving rapidly toward a fully restructured organization, which will eventually be built around light and Special Forces. The Uzbek Armed Forces' equipment is not modern, and training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate yet for its new mission of territorial security. The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a non-nuclear state), and has supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniye Island). The Government of Uzbekistan spends about 3.7% of GDP on the military but has received a growing infusion of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and other security assistance funds since 1998. Uzbekistan approved U.S. Central Command's request for access to a vital military air base in southern Uzbekistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. However, it is opposed to reintegration and withdrew from the CIS collective security arrangement in 1999. Since that time, Uzbekistan has participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan and in UN-organized groups to help resolve the Tajik and Afghan conflicts, both of which it sees as posing threats to its own stability. Uzbekistan is an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism and joined the coalitions that have dealt with both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a member of the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Partnership for Peace, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It belongs to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization—comprised of the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the GUAM alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova), which was formed in 1997 (making it GUUAM). Uzbekistan is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and hosts the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent. Uzbekistan also joined the new Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) in 2002. The CACO consists of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is a founding member of and remains involved in the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, joined in March 1998 by Tajikistan.


U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS

The U.S. recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an Embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbek relations have flourished in recent years but have become strained over the Uzbek's actions in Andijan in 2005. Relations were boosted by the March 2002 meeting between President Bush and President Karimov in Washington, DC, where the two countries signed the Declaration of Strategic Partnership. High-level visits to Uzbekistan have increased since September 11, 2001, including that of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and numerous congressional delegations. The U.S. believes that the development of an independent, stable, prosperous, and democratic Central Asia is vital for the inhabitants of Central Asia and the entire world. As the most populous country in Central Asia and the geographic and strategic center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan plays a pivotal role in the region. The United States accordingly has developed a broad relationship covering political, human rights, military, nonproliferation, economic, trade, assistance, and related issues.

The U.S. has consulted closely with Uzbekistan on regional security problems, and Uzbekistan has been a close ally of the United States at the United Nations. Uzbekistan has been a strong partner of the United States on foreign policy and security issues ranging from Iraq to Cuba, and nuclear proliferation to narcotics trafficking. It has sought active participation in Western security initiatives under the Partnership for Peace, OSCE, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Uzbekistan views its American ties as balancing regional influences, helping Uzbekistan assert its own regional role, and encouraging foreign investment. Uzbekistan is a strong supporter of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and of the global war against terror.

The tumultuous events in Andijan in 2005 and the subsequent U.S. condemnation of President Karimov's actions render the future relationship between the nations uncertain. In June 2005, Karimov refused U.S. demands for a formal investigation of the Andijan massacre, exacerbating the divide between the two nations. To maintain strong relations, the United States urges greater reform in Uzbekistan to promote long-term stability and prosperity. Registration of independent political parties and human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would be an important step. The government registered the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan in March 2002. One year later, in March 2003, the government registered a second human rights organization, Ezgulik. Enforcement of constitutional safeguards ensuring personal, religious, and press freedom and civil liberties also is needed.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Trade and investment. Trade relations are regulated by a bilateral trade agreement, which entered into force January 14, 1994. It provides for extension of most-favored-nation trade status between the two countries. The U.S. additionally granted Uzbekistan exemption from many U.S. import tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP status) on August 17, 1994. A Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed December 16, 1994; it has been ratified by Uzbekistan and received advice and consent of the U.S. Senate in October 2000. However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty will be unlikely to enter into force until Uzbekistan embarks on economic reform. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the red tape that constrains the nascent private sector.

Assistance. The United States has provided significant humanitarian and technical assistance to Uzbekistan. The U.S. has provided technical support to Uzbekistan's efforts to restructure its economy and to improve its environment and health care system, provided support to nascent NGOs, and provided equipment to improve water availability and quality in the Aral Sea region. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Embassy's Public Affairs Section, the U.S. Government supports educational and professional exchanges and other programs that offer Uzbeks the opportunity to study in the United States and to establish professional contacts with their American counterparts. In FY 2002 and 2003, the United States provided roughly $219.8 and $87.4 million, respectively, in humanitarian aid, technical assistance, military-to-military funding, and microcredit support in Uzbekistan. These programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, democratic society.

USAID provides both technical and humanitarian assistance. Technical assistance to Uzbekistan promotes sound fiscal and management policies, improved private business operations, a competitive private sector, citizens' participation in political and economic decision making, improved sustainability of social benefits and services, private investment in the energy sector, reduced environmental risks to public health, and other multi-sector reform programs. Programs include business training, subsidies for business development, environmental education, and environmental preservation programs. The latter includes the Aral Sea/Regional Water Cooperation program involving the Interstate Council for the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, waste minimization demonstration programs, and the National Environmental Action Plan. The USAID/CAR/Uzbekistan water program is aimed at improving water management on both national and local levels, concentrating efforts on sustainable development of the water users' associations (WUAs). The USAID/CAR/Uzbekistan health program focuses on 4 chief needs: primary health care reform, infectious disease control, drug demand reduction, and maternal and child health/reproductive health (MCH/RH). The USAID Participation and Education Knowledge Strengthening Program (PEAKS) began in January 2003, focusing on 5 major aspects of the education system: in-service teacher training, school-based curriculum development, parent and community involvement in the decision making, management, and technical capacity at all levels of the education system; and rehabilitation of school infrastructure. In addition to PEAKS pilot schools, more than 100 schools across Uzbekistan received over 1,000 computers from USAID, with more than half of these schools obtaining Internet connections.

Peace Corps staff arrived in Uzbekistan in August 1992, and a bilateral agreement to establish Peace Corps in Uzbekistan was signed November 4, 1992. The first volunteers arrived in December 1992. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps fund feasibility studies by U.S. firms and provides other planning services related to major projects in developing countries including Uzbekistan. Department of State-managed exchange programs, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and the Department of Commerce's Special American Business Internship Training Program (SABIT) contribute to expansion of technical know-how and support bilateral relations. The U.S. also provides export finance/guarantees and political risk insurance for U.S. exporters and investors through the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

TASHKENT (E) Address: 82 Chilanzarskaya St., Tashkent, 700115 Uzbekistan; APO/FPO: 7110 Tashkent Place, Washington, D.C. 20521-7110; Phone: 998-71-120-5450; Fax: 998-71-120-6335; Workweek: MF, 0900-1800; Website: www.USEmbassy.Uz.

AMB:John Purnell
AMB OMS:Penny O' Brien
DCM:David Appleton
DCM OMS:Karen Landherr
POL:Sylvia Curran
POL/ECO:Erika Olson
COM:Gary Harral
CON:John Ballard
MGT:Brent Bohne
AFSA:Linda Recht
AID:James Bonner
CLO:Donna Lupton/Michael Goddard
DAO:Todd Brown
DEA:Steve Monaco
ECO:Sylvia Curran
EEO:Tracy Newell
EST:Evelyn Putnam
FMO:Cathie Roberts
GSO:Juliana Ballard/Cathie Roberts
ICASS Chair:James Bonner
IMO:Gary Harral
IPO:Scott Branks
PAO:D. Michael Reinert
RSO:Ivan Wray
State ICASS:D. Michael Reinert
Last Updated: 1/25/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

September 16, 2005

Country Description:

Uzbekistan is a relatively newly independent country in the midst of profound political and economic change. Tourist facilities are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport and visa are required; official invitations from a sponsoring organization or individual are no longer required for American citizens applying for short-term visas. Visas are issued by Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Visitors coming from countries where Uzbekistan does not have diplomatic or consular representation should obtain visas in a third country. Visas are not available upon arrival at any Uzbek airport.

Importantly, Uzbek visas indicate not only the validity of the visa, but also the period of time a person is allowed to stay in Uzbekistan on a given trip. Although Uzbek visas given to private American citizens are generally valid for four years with multiple entries, a visitor will have to leave the country after the number of days indicated as the duration of stay on the visa. Therefore, it is important to indicate your intended period of stay when applying for your Uzbek visa.

Further visa information is available at the Consular Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone: (202) 530-7291; fax: (202) 293-9633; website: http://www.uzbekistan.org; or at the Consulate General of Uzbekistan in NYC, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 327A, New York, NY 10017; telephone: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 838-9812; Website: http://www.uzbekconsulny.org.

All travelers, even those simply transiting Uzbekistan for less than 72 hours, must obtain an Uzbek visa before traveling to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has suspended the 72-hour transit rule that allowed travelers with visas from other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States to transit Uzbekistan without an Uzbek visa.

Travel within Uzbekistan by rail or land sometimes requires brief exit into neighboring countries. Travelers should have multiple entry Uzbek visas and a proper visa for the neighboring country in order to avoid delays in travel. Please keep in mind that the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan remains closed to all but official traffic.

The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya Oblast region bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. Foreign citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad.

Registration after Entry: All travelers present in Uzbekistan for more than three days must register with the Office of Entry, Exit, and Citizenship. Hotel guests are registered automatically, but all other travelers are responsible for registering themselves. Registration fees vary depending on length of stay. See http://www.usembassy.uz/consular for more information. Visitors without proper registration are subject to fines and possible harassment by local authorities. Uzbek law mandates that visitors carry a medical certificate attesting that they are not infected with HIV.

Visit the Embassy of Uzbekistan web site at http://www.uzbekistan.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security:

Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the region. Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. Government interests in the past, including the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private interests in Uzbekistan. The Department of State urges Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise extreme caution, including avoiding large crowds, celebrations, and places where Westerners generally congregate. In the past, these groups have been known to conduct kidnappings, assassinations and suicide bombings.

In May 2005, the U.S. Embassy went on authorized departure status for non-emergency personnel and family members because of the possibility of imminent terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in Uzbekistan. This departure status was lifted in July. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy.

Uzbekistan experienced a wave of terrorist violence in 2004. Three suicide bombings occurred in July 2004 in Tashkent, including one outside the U.S. Embassy. Other targets included the Israeli Embassy and the Uzbekistan Prosecutor General's Office. The Islamic Jihad Union released a statement claiming responsibility for these attacks.

Multiple attacks also occurred in Tashkent and Bukhara in late March and early April 2004. These attacks used suicide bombers, mainly focused at police and Uzbek private and commercial facilities. In late July, approximately 15 people pled guilty in an Uzbekistan court to charges related to the attacks. The Islamic Jihad Union also claimed responsibility for these operations.

In 2003, the U.S. Embassy received information indicating that terrorist groups had planned attacks against hotels in Uzbekistan frequented by Westerners, as well as against other institutions affiliated with or representing foreign interests.

Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists and their sympathizers seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and resorts.

In addition, on May 13, armed militants apparently stormed a local prison, released its prisoners, and then took control of the regional administration and other government buildings in the Andijon province. By the end of the day fighting broke out between government forces and the militants. There were reports indicating that several hundred civilians died in the ensuing violence. There were no reports of U.S. citizens who were affected by these events.

Depending upon security conditions, travelers can expect restricted personal movement, including the closing of roads to traffic, and frequent document, vehicle, and personal identification checks should be anticipated. The Uzbek Government has intermittently restricted travel to certain parts of the country in response to security concerns.

Uzbekistan is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Crime:

Uzbekistan's rate of violent crime, including against foreigners, has increased recently. In urban areas, travelers are urged to take the same precautions against crime that they would take in a large American city. If you are traveling at night, please travel in groups, maintain a low profile and do not display large amounts of cash.

Although using private cars as taxicabs is a common practice in Uzbekistan, Americans, especially women, should not consider this a safe practice. Americans are encouraged to use clearly marked taxicabs, such as those at hotels. Also, Americans should avoid riding in taxis alone.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting the crime to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, or contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical care in Uzbekistan is below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident Americans travel to North America or Western Europe for their medical needs.

Travelers are advised to drink only boiled water, peel all fruits and vegetables, and avoid undercooked meat. Due to inadequate sanitation conditions, travelers should avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products and most food sold in the streets.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Uzbekistan is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Uzbekistan has a developed but deteriorating traffic infrastructure. Although main roads in central Tashkent are relatively well maintained, many secondary roads inside and outside Tashkent, and particularly those in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are in poor condition and may be passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving at night can be quite dangerous because only the main roads in Tashkent have streetlights; rural roads and highways generally are not lit. Visitors are strongly urged to avoid driving at night outside Tashkent.

Livestock, as well as farm equipment and carts drawn by animals that lack lights or reflectors, are found on both urban and rural roads at any hour. Local drivers are not familiar with safe driving techniques. Pedestrians in cities and rural areas cross streets unexpectedly and often without looking for oncoming traffic. Uzbekistan has a large road police force, which frequently stops drivers for minor infractions or simple document checks. There have been reports of harassment of foreign drivers by the road police, with reported minor police corruption in the form of solicitation of bribes.

For additional general information about road safety, please see the Uzbekistan national tourist organization office on the Internet at http://www.uzbekistan.uz/eng/tourisms.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Name of Country as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Name of Country's air carrier operations.

Special Circumstances:

Travelers to Uzbekistan are subject to frequent document inspections. Therefore, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport and their Uzbek visa with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and certain bilateral agreements, local authorities must grant a United States consular officer access to any U.S. citizen who is arrested. U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained should ask to contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.

Uzbek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export from Uzbekistan of items such as armaments and ammunition, space technology, encryption devices, X-ray and isotope equipment, nuclear materials, poisons, drugs, precious and semi-precious metals, nullified securities, pieces of art, and antiques of historical value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Uzbekistan in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Most transactions are conducted on a cash-only, local currency (soum) basis. Credit cards are accepted only at the main hotels and a few shops and restaurants; traveler's checks can be cashed into dollars at the National Bank of Uzbekistan. The commission fee is two percent. Importation of currency exceeding $10,000 (US) is subject to a one percent duty. Foreigners must complete a customs declaration upon entering Uzbekistan and may face fines upon departure if unable to produce certificates verifying legal conversion of foreign currency. Old U.S. dollar bills (prior to 1990) and/or those in poor condition (with tears, writing or stamps) are not acceptable forms of currency in Uzbekistan. Although payment in U.S. dollars is required for certain hotel charges, plane tickets, and visa fees, other dollar transactions, as well as black market currency exchanges, are prohibited.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Uzbek laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Uzbekistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Uzbekistan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Uzbekistan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at # 82, Ulitsa Chilanzarskaya, Tashkent. The main Embassy telephone number is (998 71) 120-5450, fax: (998 71) 120-6335; the Consular Section's direct line is (998 71) 120-4718, or (998 71) 120-4719, fax: (998 71) 120-54-48; e-mail address: [email protected]; web site: http://www.usembassy.uz.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note:

As of August 1, 2003, residents apply for immigrant visas at the U.S. Embassy Almaty, Kazakhstan. More information about immigrant visa processing requirements, including the processing of the I-600 in Almaty on the U.S. Embassy website at http://www.usembassy-Kazakhstan.freenet.kz.

Availability of Children for Adoption:

Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

FY-1998: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Uzbekistan orphans adopted abroad - 0; IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Uzbekistan orphans adopted in the U.S. - 1
FY-1999: IR-3 Visas - 0; IR-4 Visas - 0
FY-2000: IR-3 Visas - 1; IR-4 Visas - 1

Uzbekistan Adoption Authority:

The government office responsible for adoptions in Uzbekistan is the Ministry of Education and the local Mayor's office.

Uzbekistan Adoption Procedures:

Prospective parents submit all documentation to the Guardianship and Trusteeship Organ of the Khokimiate of the region. The Organ passes the documents to the Khokim for approval. Based on the Khokim's approval, the local vital records office issues a certificate of adoption, as well as a new birth certificate with the adopted parents' names.

With the Khokim's permission and the vital record office, the administration for entry, exit, and citizenship issues a passport and exit permission to the child. This process takes at least a month.

Age and Civil Status Requirements:

With the new family code, parents of a country with a diplomatic representation in Uzbekistan are allowed to adopt. The age difference between the adoptive child and the prospective adoptive parents must not be less than 15 years apart. There is, however, an exemption for adoption cases by step-parents. Single parents may adopt as well.

Residency Requirements:

The only resident requirement is that the address of the adoptive parents should be on all papers, including the home study and a letter from the U.S. Embassy. Other than that, there is no residency requirement.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

Adoption agencies are not active in Uzbekistan because any official adoption organization or individual other than the Guardianship and Trusteeship Organ is not allowed.

Doctors:

The U.S. Embassy (Consulate) maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan documentary requirements:

The following documents must be submitted by the prospective parents for an adoption:

  • Prospective parents must submit an application with their full name, place of residence, date of marriage, whether they live together or are separated, if they have children, the age of each child, full name, age and gender of the child they want to adopt;
  • Identification;
  • Copy of the marriage certificate (and /or a divorce decree);
  • Residence certificate indicating the number of family members;
  • Letter from the employer of a prospective parent, including information regarding salary;
  • Letter of recommendation (description of personality) issued by a parent's employer or at the place of residence;
  • Medical certificate from a doctor indicating that the prospective parents are healthy, do not have communicable diseases, and they don't abuse drugs or alcohol.

Note:

All documents must be translated into Uzbek or Russian by an official translator and authenticated by the respective foreign mission.

Authentication Process:

Either the Uzbekistan Mission in the U.S., or the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent should certify all documents issued in the U.S. The consular section in Uzbekistan can authenticate the documents if the State Department's Certification Division has certified them.

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

A Uzbekistani child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Uzbekistan Embassy in the United States:

Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan
1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-887-5300
Fax: 202-293-6804

American Embassy Tashkent:

U.S. Embassy of Tashkent
82 Chilanzarskaya St.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan 70000
Phone: (998)(71) 120-5450
Fax: (998)(71) 120-6335

Fees:

Small official fees are charged for the submission and processing of the adoption application and corresponding documents.

Additional Information:

Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult BCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

Questions:

Specific questions regarding adoption in Uzbekistan may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Tashkent. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, Tel: (202) 736-7000 with specific questions.

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2006

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel. General Information: Uzbekistan is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction but the Convention is not yet in force between Uzbekistan and the United States.

Dual Nationality:

Dual nationality is not recognized under Uzbek law. Custody Disputes: Past Uzbek court practice has given priority for custodianship to the mother as long as certain restrictive conditions are met. The father can appeal for custody at any time.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments:

Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in Uzbekistan if they potentially contradict or violate local laws and practices. Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has custody of a child, the second parent may be granted visitation rights by court decision.

Travel Restrictions:

Uzbekistan issues two types of exit permissions: A) Temporary exit permission valid for two years: Consent of both parents (or guardian) is needed only for a minor under the age of 16. If only one parent is alive, a death certificate must be supplied. B) Permission to leave the country indefinitely: ALL citizens (adults and children) must submit a notarized letter of consent from both parents or supply a death certificate of the parents.

Persons who wish to pursue a child claim in Uzbekistan court should retain an attorney in Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent maintains a list of lawyers acting in Uzbekistan. A copy of the list may be obtained by request from the Embassy at: U.S. Embassy Tashkent Consular Section #82 Chilanzarskaya St. Tashkent, 700115 Uzbekistan Telephone: 998-71-120-5450 Fax: 998-71-120-6335 http://www.usembassy.uz.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-736-7000, visit the State Department website on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov, or send a nine-by-twelve-inch, self-addressed envelope to: Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520-2818; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

Travel Warning

July 1, 2005

This Travel Warning is being issued to remind U.S. citizens that, despite the Department of State's decision to end authorized departure for nonemergency personnel and eligible family members, the potential for terrorist actions in Uzbekistan still exists. This Travel Warning updates the Travel Warning of June 2, 2005.

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent is no longer on authorized departure status for non-emergency personnel and all eligible family members; however, the United States Government continues to receive information that indicates that terrorist groups may be planning future attacks, possibly against U.S. interests, in Uzbekistan.

Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the region. Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. Government interests in the past, including the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private interests in Uzbekistan. The Department of State urges Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise extreme caution, including avoiding large crowds, celebrations, and places where Westerners generally congregate. In the past, these groups have been known to conduct kidnappings, assassinations and suicide bombings.

Uzbekistan experienced a wave of terrorist violence in 2004. Three suicide bombings occurred in July 2004 in Tashkent, including one outside the U.S. Embassy. Other targets included the Israeli Embassy and the Uzbekistan Prosecutor General's Office. The Islamic Jihad Union released a statement claiming responsibility for these attacks.

Multiple attacks also occurred in Tashkent and Bukhara in late March and early April 2004. These attacks used suicide bombers, mainly focused at police and Uzbek private and commercial facilities. In late July, approximately 15 people pled guilty in an Uzbekistan court to charges related to the attacks. The Islamic Jihad Union also claimed responsibility for these operations.

In 2003, the U.S. Embassy received information indicating that terrorist groups had planned attacks against hotels in Uzbekistan frequented by Westerners, as well as against other institutions affiliated with or representing foreign interests.

Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists and their sympathizers seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and resorts.

In addition, on May 13, armed militants apparently stormed a local prison, released its prisoners, and then took control of the regional administration and other government buildings in the Andijon province. By the end of the day fighting broke out between government forces and the militants. There were reports indicating that several hundred civilians died in the ensuing violence. There were no reports of U.S. citizens who were affected by these events.

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy.

The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya province bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. Foreign citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad.

Americans traveling to or remaining in Uzbekistan despite this Travel Warning are strongly urged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Uzbekistan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent may close temporarily for general business from time to time to review its security posture. The U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan is located at 82 Chilanzarskaya St., Tashkent, Uzbekistan 700115. The telephone number is 998-71-120-5450. The fax number is 998-71-120-6335. The website is http://www.usembassy.uz.

Travelers should also consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for Uzbekistan, the Central Asia Regional Public Announcement, and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or Canada, and 202-501-4444 from overseas.

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Uzbekistanis

35 Bibliography

Republic of Uzbekistan

Uzbekiston Respublikasi

CAPITAL: Tashkent (Toshkent)

FLAG: Horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and green separated by narrow red bands; white crescent moon and twelve stars on the blue band.

ANTHEM: n/a

MONETARY UNIT: The som (som) is the official currency, introduced when Uzbekistan left the ruble zone in November 1993. som1 = $0.00090 (or $1 = som1,114.17) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: Independence Day, 1 September.

TIME: 5 pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Uzbekistan is located in central Asia bordering the Aral Sea, between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Comparatively, it is slightly larger than the state of California, with a total area of 447,400 square kilometers (172,741 square miles). The country shares borders with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan, with a total land boundary length of 6,221 kilometers (3,866 miles). The country also has a shoreline of 420 kilometers (261 miles) along the Aral Sea. The capital city, Tashkent, is located in the eastern part of the country.

2 Topography

Most of Uzbekistan consists of flat to rolling, sandy desert with dunes. The Fergana Valley lies in the east, surrounded by the Tian Shan mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Alai Mountains lie to the extreme southeast. The highest point in the country is Adelunga Toghi, at an elevation of 4,301 meters (14,112 feet). The lowest point is Sariqarnish Kuli, which dips to 12 meters (39 feet) below sea level.

The Kyzyl Kum desert covers most of the interior of the country. With an area of about 297,850 square kilometers (115,000 square miles), it is the largest desert region in Central Asia and the ninth largest in the world. In the northwest, the Aral Sea is shared with Kazakhstan. Covering an area of about 64,500 square kilometers (24,900 square miles), it is the largest lake in the country and the fourth-largest

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 447,400 sq km (172,741 sq mi)

Size ranking: 55 of 194

Highest elevation: 4,301 meters (14,112 feet) at Adelunga Toghi

Lowest elevation: -12 meters (-39 feet) at Sariqarnish Kuli

Land Use*

Arable land: 11%

Permanent crops: 1%

Other: 88%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 30 centimeters (12 inches)

Average temperature in January: (Tashkent): 1°c (35°f)

Average temperature in July: (Tashkent): 28°c (83°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

lake in the world. The longest river in the country is the Amu Dar’ya, which has a total length of 2,540 kilometers (1,580 miles), only a portion of which runs through Uzbekistan.

3 Climate

The climate is mid-latitude climatic desert. Temperatures range from 26–32°c (79–90°f) in the summer, with much higher figures in the desert. Average winter temperatures are between -6 and 2°c (21 and 36°f). There is very little rainfall in the country. Even the best-watered areas receive only about 30 centimeters (12 inches) annually.

4 Plants and Animals

Ecological damage has left much of the country devoid of animal life. The country, a member of the former Soviet Union, was part of Nikita Khrushchev’s 1954 “Virgin-Lands” plan. Khrushchev wanted Soviet farmers to grow cotton and grain on the steppes of Uzbekistan. At one point, the region grew 70% of the Soviet Union’s cotton. Unfortunately, the farmers had to irrigate the crops to obtain meaningful yields. Now the Amu Dar’ya and Syr Dar’ya Rivers run dry in certain places. Half of the Aral Sea is now a dry lake bed, and the land has been poisoned from the overuse of fertilizer.

Bird species include a variety of warblers, eagles, owls, buzzards, heron, ducks, and larks. Leopards and wildcats can be found in some forested areas.

5 Environment

Uzbekistan’s main environmental problems are soil salinity, land pollution, and water pollution. In 1992, Uzbekistan had the world’s 27th-highest level of carbon dioxide emissions. Chemicals used in farming, such as DDT, contribute to the pollution of the soil. Desertification is a continuing

concern. The nation’s forestlands are also threatened and continue to dwindle. Between 1990 and 1995, deforestation occurred at an annual average rate of 2.7%.

The country’s water supply is contaminated by toxic chemical wastes from industrial activity, as well as by fertilizers and pesticides. The Aral Sea has been drying up; as a result, pesticides and naturally occurring salts in its water have become increasingly concentrated.

As of 2003, only 2% of Uzbekistan’s total land area is protected. In 2006, 7 mammal species and 16 bird species were threatened with extinction. Threatened or rare species include the markhor, Central Asia cobra, Aral salmon, slender-billed curlew, and Asiatic wild dog. The Jeseter hladky has become extinct.

6 Population

The population of Uzbekistan was estimated at 26.4 million in 2005 and projected at 33.9 million for the year 2025. The population density in 2005 was 62 people per square kilometer (153 per square mile). Tashkent, the capital, had an estimated population of 2.2 million in 2005.

7 Migration

In 1991, following the breakup of the former Soviet Union republics, about 400,000 ethnic Russians left Uzbekistan. In 1999, Uzbekistan had an estimated 30,000 Tajik refugees and 8,000 Afghan refugees. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate was -1.2 migrants per 1,000 population. In 2000, there were 1,367,000 migrants living in Uzbekistan, including refugees.

8 Ethnic Groups

Approximately 80% of the population are Uzbek. Russians constitute 5.5%; Tajiks, 5%; Kazakhs, 3%; and others (Tatars, Karakalpaks, and various European groups), 6.5%.

9 Languages

Uzbek, the state language, was the most widely spoken non-Slavic tongue in the USSR. It is a Turkic language with six vowels. In 1993, it was decided that the language would be written in the Roman alphabet rather than in the Cyrillic alphabet. Uzbek is spoken by 74.3% of the population in Uzbekistan; Russian was spoken by 14.2%; Tajik by 4.4%; and other various languages by 7.1%.

10 Religions

Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the constitution of 1992, and there is a specific provision prohibiting the establishment of any state religion. Ethnic Uzbeks are primarily adherents of the Hanafi sect of Sunni Islam, but the Wahhabi sect has flourished as well in recent years. Muslims account for about 88% of the population, Eastern Orthodox Christians for 9%, and others for 3%. In 2002, Uzbekistan had a significant Jewish population of some 20,000 Ashkenazi and Bukharan Jews, primarily in the cities of Tashkent, Bukhoro, and Samarqand. Almost 80,000 Jews have emigrated to Israel or the United States since independence. Other minority religions include small communities of Korean Christians, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Seventh-Day Adventists, Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, Buddhists, Baha’is, and Hare Krishnas.

11 Transportation

According to estimates, Uzbekistan has about 3,950 kilometers (2,453 miles) of railroad and 81,600 kilometers (50,706 miles) of highways. The Zeravshan River is the largest inland waterway. Uzbekistan had 226 airports in 2004, 33 of which had paved runways. In 2003, a total of 1.5 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

12 History

Independent states existed in present-day Uzbekistan in the first millennium bc. The territory was conquered by Alexander the Great in 329–327 bc. After a series of other conquests, Arabs won control of the region in the eighth century ad and introduced Islam.

Genghis Khan’s Mongols invaded in 1219, and a series of Mongol kingdoms ruled Uzbekistan. In the 16th century, the region was divided into separate principalities. Bukhoro was conquered by Persia in 1740 and shortly thereafter by the Mangyt dynasty, which ruled until 1920. In the early 19th century, the Kokand Khanate (kingdom ruled by a khan, or local chieftain) grew powerful in the eastern part of present-day Uzbekistan.

Concern about British expansion in India and Afghanistan led eventually to the Russian conquest, which began in the 1860s and ended in the 1880s, when Uzbekistan became part of Turkestan, with Bukhoro administered as a separate emirate under Russian protection.

During the Russian (Bolshevik) Revolution (1917–20), the Muslim Congress attempted to form an Autonomous Government of Turkestan. Red Army forces intervened savagely, but armed resistance continued as late as 1924. The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created in 1925.

Under the leadership of longtime leader S. Rashidov, Uzbekistan was politically conservative during the 1970s and early 1980s. In the mid-1980s, considerable fraud was discovered in the cotton industry. In March 1990, Islom Karimov was elected to the newly created post of president by the Uzbek Supreme Soviet. Uzbekistan declared independence on 1 September 1991. Karimov was reelected in December 1991, but he has opposed moving Uzbekistan toward democracy. Opposition parties were banned in 1992 and political reformers were either imprisoned or fled the country. Karimov was once again reelected in 1999.

Karimov opposed the fundamentalist Islamic military and political movements in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan supplied arms to the secular forces in those countries’ civil wars.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a radical Islamic organization seeking to establish an Islamic state in Central Asia, has long been active in Uzbekistan. In addition to the IMU, the Hizb-ut-Tahrir (“Freedom Party”), another radical Islamic organization, operates in the country. Unlike the IMU, however, it does not use violent tactics to pursue its goals.

Uzbekistan offered the use of its airbases to the U.S.-led coalition during its military campaign in October 2001 to remove the Taliban regime and al-Qaeda forces from Afghanistan. In response, the United States provided aid to Uzbekistan.

On 27 January 2002, Karimov held another referendum to prolong his presidential term from five to seven years, effectively keeping himself in power until 2007.

In April 2003, parliament adopted legislation providing former presidents immunity from prosecution and lifelong state-funded security for them and their immediate family. On 13 May 2005, unrest in Uzbekistan resulted in Uzbek troops firing on a crowd of protestors in the city of Anjian, killing between 500 and 1,000 people. The government stated it had acted in defense of its citizens as the protestors had stormed a military garrison and prison in the city, seizing weapons and releasing around 4,000 prisoners on 12 May.

13 Government

The executive branch consists of the president and his prime minister and Cabinet of Ministers, all of whom are appointed. The president is currently elected for a seven-year term, but as of 2003, President Islom Karimov was essentially ruling by decree. The legislative branch consists of an Upper House with 100 seats and a Lower

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Islom Karimov

Position: President of a republic

Took Office: 24 March 1990

Birthplace: Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Birthdate: 30 January 1938

Education: Central Asian Polytechnic Institute, degree in mechanical engineering

Spouse: Tatyana Akbarovna Karimova,

Children: Two daughters and three grandchildren

Of interest: In the mid-1960s, Karimov worked at an aviation production association.

House with 120 seats. Members of the judicial branch are appointed by the president.

The republic is divided into 12 oblasts, or provinces, plus the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, which has the right of legal secession. An April 1999 decree by Karimov granted mahallas, the smallest communal or neighborhood units in Uzbekistan, a greater level of autonomy.

14 Political Parties

The ruling People’s Democratic Party is the renamed Communist Party. In 1992, opposition parties were banned. Although there were five registered parties as of 2003, their platforms are essentially identical, and all parties with seats in parliament support the president. In addition to the People’s Democratic Party, the other registered parties are: the Fatherland Progress Party; the Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party; the Democratic National Rebirth Party; and the Self-Sacrificers Party (which recently merged with the Fatherland Progress Party).

15 Judicial System

There are three levels of courts: district courts (people’s courts) at the lowest level, regional courts, and the Supreme Court.

The judicial system also consists of a constitutional court, higher economic court, and economic court of the republic. The constitutional court judges the constitutionality of laws and interprets the constitution.

The government officially abolished censorship in 2002, although the government controls major media outlets and newspaper printing facilities. Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Uzbekistan. Crimes perpetrated against women are rarely prosecuted as women are discouraged from pressing charges.

16 Armed Forces

Total armed forces numbered 55,000 in 2005. The army numbered 40,000 and the air force numbered between 10,000 and 15,000. In addition, there were about 20,000 internal security forces and a national guard of 1,000 personnel. The defense budget for 2005 was $60 million.

17 Economy

Uzbekistan has one of the lowest per-person incomes in Central Asia. The world’s fifth-largest cotton exporter, it is evolving from a mainly agricultural economy to include more industry. Agriculture accounted for 34% of the economy in 2003. Government measures toward establishing a market economy have been more cautious than those of many other post-Soviet countries. The domestic economy shrank by 17% between 1991 and 1994. When the government realized that the slow pace of reforms was not working, it stepped up the efforts to move from a command-driven to a market-driven economy. As a result, the economic decline slowed to just 1% in 1996, and the inflation rate fell to 35% (compared to 1,300% in 1994).

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

In 1999, the state continued to dominate the economy. The economy grew by 2.5% in 1997 and 4.4% in 1998, despite the Russian and Asian financial crises of those years. Continued inflation and a growing debt burden combined with the global economic slowdown in 2001 to reduce real growth to 3%. By 2005, the growth rate had reached an estimated 7% and the inflation rate had been tamed to an estimated 7.1%.

18 Income

In 2005, Uzbekistan’s GDP was $52.2 billion, or about $1,900 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 7%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 7.1%.

19 Industry

Manufacturing is concentrated in Tashkent and in the Fergana Valley. The main manufactured

items are cotton, wool, silk fiber, and processed foods (including cottonseed oil, meat, dried fruit, wines, and tobacco).

Uzbeklegprom, the state association for light industry, produces 90% of Uzbekistan’s textiles. Most textile mills use outdated machinery from the 1970s.

Food processing is Uzbekistan’s second-largest industry, based on the country’s abundant production of fruits and vegetables. This industry must modernize its processing and packaging equipment to compete effectively, however.

Uzbekistan is the primary producer of machines and heavy equipment in Central Asia. The country’s automotive industry has joint ventures with Daimler-Benz of Germany and Daewoo of South Korea. The Chkalov Tashkent Aircraft Production Company is the largest aircraft assembly plant in Central Asia.

The aerospace industry centers around the Chkalov Tashkent Aircraft Production Co., a government-controlled enterprise that is one of the largest and most significant aircraft assembly plants in Central Asia.

20 Labor

The labor force is estimated at 14.3 million workers. Agriculture and forestry engage approximately 34.4% of the labor force and industry 20.3%. In 2005, unemployment stood at 0.7%, another 20% of the workforce was estimated to be underemployed. The labor code recognizes the right for all workers to create and join unions, but as of 2002, there were no independent unions.

As of 2002, the minimum wage was about $3.00 per month. The minimum working age is 16, although 15-year-olds may work a shortened workday.

21 Agriculture

About 12% of the total area is cropland. In 2004, about 34% of GDP and 17% of exports came from agriculture.

Uzbekistan was the world’s fifth-largest producer of cotton lint in 2004–05 (after China, the United States, India, and Pakistan), accounting for 4% of world supply. Annual cotton lint production is about 1.1 million tons. Rice, wheat, barley, and corn are important grain crops. More than 5 million tons of cereals are produced annually. Sesame, tobacco, onions, flax, and various fruits are also grown.

22 Domesticated Animals

Sheep are the main livestock product, with Karakyl sheep (noted for their black wool) raised in the Bukhara region. The livestock population in 2005 included 9.5 million sheep, 5.4 million head of cattle, 1 million goats, 90,000 pigs, 150,000 donkeys, 145,000 horses, 25,000 camels, and about 14.5 million chickens. Meat production that year totaled 551,000 tons, of which 82% was beef, 13% was mutton, 2% was pork, and 3% was poultry. Wool (greasy) production was estimated at 16,000 tons. Mulberry trees

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

have been grown for silkworm breeding since the fourth century. About 1,200 tons of silk were produced in 2005.

23 Fishing

Fishing occurs mainly in the Fergana Valley. The Aral Sea in the north (the world’s fourth-largest lake) is too saline (salty) for fishing. The total catch in 2003 was 7,112 tons, primarily carp.

24 Forestry

Forests make up 4.8% of the total land area, mostly in the Fergana Valley and Zeravshan regions. Commercial forestry is not a significant part of the economy. In 2004, Uzbekistan imported $37.2 million in forestry products.

25 Mining

Natural gas, uranium, and gold are significant minerals mined in the country. In 2002, Uzbekistan produced 80,000 kilograms of gold. The nation also mined copper (65,000 tons

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

in 2002), molybdenum, silver, and tungsten. Other natural resources include cement, kaolin clays, feldspar, graphite, iodine, mineral fertilizer, nitrogen, phosphate rock, and sulfur.

26 Foreign Trade

Trade involves mainly the export of light industry products and machinery along with the import of food items, grain, light industry products, and chemicals. Exports also include cotton, gold, natural gas, fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, and automobiles.

Principal trading partners include Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Italy, South Korea, Germany, France, Kazakhstan, the United States, and Ukraine.

27 Energy and Power

Uzbekistan is one of the ten largest producers of natural gas in the world. In 2003, production totaled 2 trillion cubic feet. Crude oil production was about 150,000 barrels per day in 2004. In 2000, electricity production came to 46.9 billion kilowatt-hours, of which 86.5% was from conventional thermal sources and 13.5% from hydropower.

28 Social Development

The social security system includes pensions for old age, disability, and survivorship. There also are sickness, maternity, work injury, and unemployment benefits. Traditional customs decree that women generally marry young and confine their activities to the home. The number of women enrolling in higher education is on the decline.

Human rights violations are prevalent, and freedom of speech and of the press are tightly restricted.

29 Health

The system of health care in Uzbekistan is comprehensive and services are provided mainly free of charge. Yet the overall efficiency of the Uzbek system was still relatively low as of 2000. The public often used hospitals for primary care. Primary health care in rural areas is still provided by health posts staffed by physicians’ assistants and midwives. There are an estimated 270 physicians and 997 nurses per 100,000 people.

The infant mortality rate was 71.1 per 1,000 live births in 2005. The average life expectancy was 67 years in 2005.

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorUzbekistan Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$1,860 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate1.7% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land62 803032
Life expectancy in years: male64 587675
female70 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people2.7 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)n.a. 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)99% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people280 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people33 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)2,023 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)4.89 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

The heart disease rates are well above those reported by the countries classified as “medium human development” by the World Health Organization. The likelihood of dying after age 65 of heart disease was 508 for males and 538 for females per 1,000 adults.

Uzbekistan has an average of 12.1 square meters (130 square feet) of housing space per person. In 1996, it was estimated that about 90% of all people owned their own dwellings.

31 Education

In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on Uzbek literature, culture, and history. More than 75% of the students are taught in the Uzbek language. Nine years of schooling is compulsory. Primary school lasts for four years, followed by general secondary school of five years.

There are three universities in Uzbekistan: Tashkent State University, Nukus State University, and Samarkland Alisher Naroi State University. Several other institutions offer specialized training. All higher-level institutions enroll approximately 630,000 students.

As of 2004, the adult literacy rate has been estimated at 99.3%.

32 Media

In 2003, there were 67 main telephone lines and 13 mobile phones for every 1,000 people. Radio Tashkent, established in 1947, broadcasts in Uzbek, English, Urdu, Hindi, Farsi, Arabic, and Uighur. There is also a television station in Tashkent. In 2004, the government owned four television channels and two radio stations. There were about 40 privately owned local television stations and 7 privately owned radio stations. In 2003, there were about 456 radios and 280 television sets in use for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 7,500 Internet subscribers served by 42 service providers.

Though there are privately owned newspapers, the government owns all of the publishing houses and must grant approval for all publications printed. The most widely read dailies include Khalk Suzi (2002 circulation 52,000), Pravda Vostoka (35,000), and Sovet Uzbekistoni. The weekly Narodnoye Slovo has a circulation of 21,000.

Though the constitution provides for freedom of expression, the government is said to restrict those rights severely, controlling all information flow. A 1991 law prohibits offending the president.

33 Tourism and Recreation

Uzbekistan tourist attractions include the ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Kokand, with their palaces, mosques, religious schools, and pre-Islamic remains. Foreign visitors totaled 231,000 in 2003.

34 Famous Uzbekistanis

Islom Karimov (1938–) has been president of Uzbekistan since 1990. Mir Alishar Navai (1441–1501) is considered the father of the Uzbek language and the national poet. Abdullah Quaisi (1894–1939) wrote the historical novels Days Gone By and The Scorpion from the Pulpit, published in the 1920s. Ilyas Malayev (1936–) is a popular poet and musician.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Gippenreiter, Vadim Evgenevich. Fabled Cities of Central Asia: Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva. New York: Abbeville Press, 1989.

Knowlton, MaryLee. Uzbekistan. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2006.

Lerner Geography Department Staff. Uzbekistan. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1993.

MacLeod, Calum. Uzbekistan: The Golden Road to Samarkand. New York: Odyssey Publications, 1999.

McCray, Thomas R. Uzbekistan. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.

Nazarov, Bakhtiyar A., and Denis Sinor, eds. Essays on Uzbek History, Culture, and Language. Bloomington: Indiana University, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 1993.

Thomas, Paul. The Central Asian States: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1992.

Waters, Bella. Uzbekistan in Pictures. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2007.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/uzbekistan/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/sca/ci/uz/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.gov.uz/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

World Heritage List. whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/uz. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Compiled from the July 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Uzbekistan

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

DEFENSE

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 447,400 sq. km., slightly larger than California.

Cities: Capital—Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million); Samarkand (600,000); Bukhara (350,000).

Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.

Climate: Mid-latitude desert; long, hot summers, mild winters.

People

Nationality: Uzbek.

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

Religions: Muslim 88% (Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.

Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.

Education: Literacy—97% (total population).

Health: (2005 est.) Life expectancy—60.82 years men; 67.73 years women.

Work force: (11.9 million) Agricultural and forestry—44%, industry—20%; services—36%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: September 1, 1991.

Constitution: December 8, 1992.

Government branches: Executive—president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—unicameral, 250-seat Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis). Judiciary—Supreme Court, constitutional court, economic court. Administrative subdivisions (viloyatlar) 12, plus autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan and city of Tash-kent.

Political parties: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party—established February 18, 1995 in Tash-kent, number of seats in parliament 11, Turgunpulat DAMINOV, first secretary; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Partiya) or MTP—established on June 3, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 10, Ibrohim GOFUROV, chairman; Fatherland Progress Party (Vatan Tarakiyoti) or VTP—In April 2000, VTP merged with the National Democratic Party “Fidokorlar” (Fidokorlar Milliy Democratic Partiya), in Tashkent, number of seats in the parliament 62, Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary; People’s Democratic Party or PDPU (Uzbekiston Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party)—established November 1, 1991 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 50, Asliddin RUSTAMOV, first secretary. Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan—established December 3, 2003, Kobiljon TOSHMATOV, chairman. Other political or pressure groups and leaders: Birlik (Unity) Movement—Abdurakhim PULATOV, chairman; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party—Mohammed SOLIH, chairman (banned Dec. 1992); party of Agrarians and Entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan—Marat ZAHIDOV, chairman; Ozod Dekkon (Free Farmers) Party—Nigara KHIDOYATOVA, general secretary; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Abdumannob PULATOV, chairman; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman; Ezgulik—Vasilya INOYATOVA, chairwoman.

Suffrage: Universal at age 18, unless imprisoned or certified as insane.

Defense: Military manpower—males age 15-49 fit for military service: 5,635,099 (2003 est.); universal 18-month military service for men.

Economy

(Note: Due to the unreliable nature of government statistics, it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan.)

GDP: Real GDP growth in 2004 was estimated at 4.4%.

Inflation: Approximately 50% in 2002, with a 150% average increase in prices of imported goods and a slight depreciation in domestically priced goods. In 2003, inflation was roughly 21.9%. The U.S. Embassy believes real wages were stagnant during 2003. In 2004, inflation of consumer prices dropped to 8%.

Per capita GDP: U.S. Government analysts believe that per capita GDP was about $350 per capita in 2001, $310 in 2002, and $350 in 2003. In 2004, GDP rose to $1,800 (purchasing power parity).

Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, gold, coal, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, molybdenum. Natural gas production for 2003 was 58.1 billion cubic meters (bcm); 53 bcm was consumed in Uzbekistan and 5.9 bcm was exported. Oil production in 2003 was 145,320 barrels/day and consumption was 151,720 barrels/day.

Agriculture: Products—Cotton, fourth-largest producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock.

Industry: Types—textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas. The industrial production growth rate was estimated at 6.2% in 2003; electricity production was 48.6 billion kilowatt hours.

Budget: (2004 est.) Revenues—$2.46 billion; expenditures—$2.48 billion.

Trade: Total exports—(2004 est. $3.7 billion) largest contribution from cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles. Major export markets—Russia 22%, China 9.2%, Ukraine 7.4%, Tajiki-stan 6.1%, Bangladesh 4.7%, Turkey 4.6%, Japan 4.3%, Kazakhstan 4.1%. Total imports—(2004 est. $2.58 billion) machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs. Primary import partners—Russia 22.3%, United States 11.4%, South Korea 10.9%, Germany 9.5%, China 6.5%, Turkey 6.1%.

External debt: (2004 est.) $4.35 billion.

PEOPLE

Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s most populous country. Its 25 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are nearly half the region’s total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. Uzbek is the predominant ethnic group. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, and Tatar 1.5%. The nation is 88% Sunni Muslim and 9% Eastern Orthodox. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-today government and business use.

The educational system has achieved 97% literacy, and the mean amount of schooling for both men and women is 11 years. However, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated, inappropriate, and poorly kept. Additionally, the proportion of school-aged persons enrolled has been dropping. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency.

HISTORY

Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road—Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva—are located in Uzbekistan, and many well-known conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the eight century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Genghis Khan and his Mongols over-ran its territory in 1220. In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamer-lane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan’s most noted tourist sites date from the Timurid dynasty.

Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates. Russia placed the rest of Central Asia under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia’s infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.

In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories including the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton growing and natural resource potential.

The extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than a third of its original volume, making this one of the world’s worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991. Islam Karimov, former First Secretary of the Communist Party, was elected President in December 1991 with 88% of the vote; however, the election was not viewed as free or fair by foreign observers.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for separation of powers, freedom of speech, and representative government. In reality, the executive holds almost all power. The judiciary lacks independence and the legislature, which meets only a few days each year, has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, Karimov’s first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to yet again extend Karimov’s term. The referendum passed and Karimov’s term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on December 26, 2004, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval but have yet to show interest in advocating alternatives to government policy. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members, and hold conventions and press conferences, but have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. Terrorist bombings were carried out March 28-April 1, 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara. It is not clear yet who committed the attacks, but Karimov assigned blame to Islamic extremists. In May 2005, violence erupted in the eastern city of Andijan. Mass demonstrations against the jailing of local men on charges of “Islamic extremism” escalated and Uzbek troops responded to the protestors with gunfire. The civilian death toll is believed to be in the hundreds, though authorities dubiously confirmed only 169 casualties, President Karimov identified the protestors as Islamic militants and fundamentalists who provoked the government’s violent response. Karimov’s opponents believed the conflict was a product of the President’s ongoing policy to suppress all forms of dissent in Uzbekistan.

Human Rights

Uzbekistan is not a democracy and does not have a free press. Several prominent opponents of the government have fled, and others have been arrested. The government severely represses those it suspects of Islamic extremism, particularly those it suspects of membership in the banned Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb utTahrir). Some 5,300 to 5,800 suspected extremists are incarcerated. This represents a decline from previous years, as hundreds are amnestied and fewer arrested. Prison conditions remain very poor, particularly for those convicted of extremist activities, and a number of such prisoners are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. No independent political parties have been registered, although they were for the first time able to conduct grass-roots activities and to convene organizing congresses. Following the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Government of Uzbekistan drafted an Action Plan to implement the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations. The government has begun to enact a number of its provisions, but its violent actions in May 2005 in Andijan have been widely condemned by other nations and human rights groups, along with its refusal to conduct a formal investigation or to allow an international inquiry of the turbulent events.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 11/14/2006

President: Islom KARIMOV

Chmn., Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis): Erkin HALILOV

Prime Minister: Shavkat MIRZIYAYEV

Dep. Prime Min.: Abdullah ARIPOV

Dep. Prime Min.: Rustam AZIMOV

Dep. Prime Min.: Svetlana INAMOVA

Dep. Prime Min.: Rustam KASYMOV

Dep. Prime Min.: Nodirkhon KHANOV

Dep. Prime Min.: Ergash SHAISMATOV

Min. of Agriculture & Water Resources: Sayfiddin ISMOILOV

Min. of Culture & Sports: Rustam KURBANOV

Min. of Defense: Ruslan MIRZAYEV

Min. of Economics: Vyacheslav GOLYSHEV

Min. of Emergency Situations: Bakhtiyor SUBANOV

Min. of Finance: Rustam AZIMOV

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Vladimir NOROV

Min. of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments, & Trade: Elyor GANIYEV

Min. of Higher & Secondary Specialized Education: Rustam QOSIMOV

Min. of Internal Affairs: Bahodir MATLUBOV

Min. of Justice: Buritosh MUSTAFAEV

Min. of Labor & Social Security: Akijan ABIDOV

Min. of Public Education: Turobjon JORAYEV

Min. of Public Health: Feruz NAZIROV

Sec., National Security Council: Murod ATAYEV

Chief of Staff, Presidential Administration: Zilemkhon HAIDAROV

Chmn., State Bank: Fayzulla MULLAJANOV

Chmn., National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity: Rahimov BORIEVICH

Chmn., National Security Service (NSS): Rustam INOYATOV, Col. Gen.

Ambassador to the US: Abdulaziz KAMILOV

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alisher VOHIDOV

The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains an embassy at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel.: (202) 887-5300; fax (202) 293-6804. Its consulate and mission to the UN in New York are located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 326/327a, New York, NY 10017. Consulate tel.: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 486-7998.

ECONOMY

The economy is based primarily on agriculture and agricultural processing; Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. It also is a major producer of gold with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world and has substantial deposits of copper, strategic minerals, gas, and oil. Since independence, the government has stated that it is committed to a gradual transition to a free market economy but has been extremely cautious in moving to a market-based economy.

Although it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan—because of the unreliable nature of government statistics, which often serve political rather than economic ends—economic growth is far below potential due to:

  • the country’s poor investment climate;
  • failure to attract foreign investment;
  • an extremely restrictive trade regime, implemented in order to meet a strategy of limiting imports of consumer goods;
  • failure to reform the agricultural sector of the economy, potentially the engine of economic growth for this largely rural economy; and
  • the price system in Uzbekistan, which is not functioning properly due to government intervention in markets.

The government accepted obligations under Article VIII of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Articles of Agreement on October 15, 2003, establishing full current account convertibility. The government’s restrictive trade regime has crippled the economy and the government urgently needs to rescind its draconian trade measures. Substantial structural reform is needed, particularly in the area of improving the investment climate for foreign investors and in freeing the agricultural sector from smothering state control. Continuing restrictions on currency convertibility and other government measures to control economic activity, including the implementation of severe import restrictions and partial closure of Uzbekistan’s borders with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, have constrained economic growth and led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits. The closure of the borders with neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 2002 almost paralyzed Uzbekistan’s consumer market, although some goods are still being smuggled into the country. The government has made progress in reducing inflation and the budget deficit, but government statistics understate both, while overstating economic growth. There are no reliable statistics on unemployment, which is believed to be high and growing.

GDP and Employment

The government claims that the GDP rose 4.1% in 2003; however, the U.S Government does not think it was greater than 0.3%. Unemployment and underemployment are very high, but reliable figures are difficult to obtain, as no recent credible surveying has been done. Underemployment in the agricultural sector is particularly high—which is important given the fact that 60% of the population is rural-based. Many observers believe that employment growth and real wage growth have been stagnant, given virtually no growth in output.

Labor

Literacy in Uzbekistan is almost universal, and workers are generally well-educated and well-trained. However, worsening corruption in the country’s education system in the past few years has begun to erode Uzbekistan’s advantage in terms of its human capital, as grades and degrees are routinely purchased. Most local technical and managerial training does not meet international business standards, but foreign companies engaged in production report that locally hired workers learn quickly and work effectively. Foreign firms generally find that younger workers, untainted by the Soviet system, work well at all levels. The government emphasizes foreign education and each year sends about 50 students to the United States, Europe, and Japan for university degrees, after which they have a commitment to work for the government for 5 years. Reportedly, about 60% of the students who study abroad find employment with foreign companies on their return, despite their 5-year commitment to work in the government. Some American companies offer special training programs in the United States to their local employees. In addition, Uzbekistan subsidizes studies for students at Westminster University—the only Western-style institution in Uzbeki-stan. In 2003, Westminster admitted about 360 students and the government funded about half of the students’ education. Education at Westminster costs $4,800 per academic year.

With the closure or downsizing of many foreign firms, it is relatively easy to find qualified, well-trained employees, and salaries are very low by Western standards. The government has implemented salary caps in an attempt to prevent firms from circumventing restrictions on the withdrawal of cash from banks. Some firms had tried in the past to evade these limits on withdrawals by inflating salaries of employees, allowing firms to withdraw more money. These salary caps prevent many foreign firms from paying their workers as much as they would like. Labor market regulations in Uzbekistan are similar to those of the Soviet Union, with all rights guaranteed but some rights unobserved. Unemployment is a growing problem and the number of people looking for jobs in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Southeast Asia is increasing each year. According to official Ministry of Labor estimates, around 100,000 citizens of Uzbekistan work abroad. However, business analysts estimate that the number of Uzbek citizens working abroad is far higher. Estimates range from lows of 3 million to highs of 5 million Uzbek citizens of working age living outside Uzbekistan.

Prices and Monetary and Fiscal Policy

Inflation was approximately 21.9% in 2003. In order to combat inflation, the government has exercised strict currency controls and severe shortages of cash exist in the country. From 1996 until the spring of 2003, the official and so-called “commercial” exchange rates were highly over-valued. Many businesses and individuals were unable to buy dollars legally at these rates, so a widespread black market developed to meet hard currency demand. However, by mid-2003, the gap between the black market, official, and commercial rates had been reduced to approximately 8%. In 2004, the gap between the two rates was negligible. Although the unification of the exchange rates was a positive development, government restrictions in 2004 on the amount of local currency and hard currency that could be carried across the Uzbek border in either direction lessened the effect of currency convertibility on the Uzbek economy. Liberalization of the trade regime, however, is a prerequisite for Uzbekistan to proceed to an IMF-financed program.

Outstanding external debt reached $4.6 billion as of the end of 2003. Tax collection rates remained high, due to the use of the banking system by the government as a collection agency. Technical assistance from the World Bank, Office of Technical Assistance at the Treasury Department, and from the UN Development Program (UNDP) is being provided in reforming the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance into institutions that conduct market-oriented fiscal and monetary policy.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agriculture and the agro-industrial sector contribute more than 40% to Uzbekistan’s GDP. Cotton is Uzbekistan’s dominant crop, accounting for roughly 45% of the country’s exports. Gold is second at 22%. Uzbekistan also produces significant amounts of silk, fruit, and vegetables. Virtually all agriculture involves heavy irrigation. Farmers and agricultural workers have very low incomes because the government uses the difference between the world prices of cotton and wheat and what it pays the farmers to subsidize highly inefficient capital-intensive industrial concerns, such as factories producing automobiles, airplanes, and tractors.

Consequently, agricultural productivity is low, with many farmers focusing on producing fruits and vegetables—for which supply and demand determine the price—on small plots of land, as well as smuggling cotton and wheat across the border with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in order to obtain higher prices.

Minerals and mining also are important to Uzbekistan’s economy. Gold is Uzbekistan’s second most important foreign exchange earner at 22%. Uzbekistan is the world’s seventh-largest producer, mining about 80 tons per annum, and holds the fourth-largest reserves in the world. Uzbekistan has an abundance of natural gas, used both for domestic consumption and export; oil almost sufficient for domestic needs; and significant reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. Inefficiency in energy use is extremely high, given the failure to use realistic price signals to cause consumers to conserve energy.

Trade and Investment

Uzbekistan has adopted a policy of import substitution. The multiple exchange rate system and the highly over-regulated trade regime have led to both import and export declines since 1996, although imports have declined more than exports, as the government squeezed imports to maintain hard currency reserves. Draconian tariffs and border closures imposed in the summer and fall of 2002 led to massive decreases in imports of both consumer products and capital equipment. Uzbekistan’s traditional “trade” partners are New Independent States (NIS) countries, notably Russia, Ukraine, Kazakh-stan, and the other Central Asian countries. Non-NIS partners have been increasing in importance in recent years, with the U.S., Korea, Germany, Japan, and Turkey being the most active.

Uzbekistan is a member of the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It has observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has publicly stated its intention to accede to the WTO. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and is a signatory to the Convention on Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States, the Paris Convention on Industrial Property, the Madrid Agreement on Trademarks Protection, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In 2003, Uzbekistan was again placed on the special “301” Watch List for lack of intellectual copyright protection.

Uzbekistan’s previous lack of currency convertibility was one of the reasons that foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows dwindled to a trickle. In fact, Uzbekistan has the lowest level of FDI per capita in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Since Uzbekistan’s independence, U.S. firms have invested roughly $500 million in Uzbekistan. Large U.S. investors include Newmont, reprocessing tailings from the Muruntau gold mine; Case Corporation, manufacturing and servicing cotton harvesters and tractors; Coca Cola, with bottling plants in Tashkent, Namangan and Samarkand; Texaco, producing lubricants for sale in the Uzbek market; and Baker Hughes, in oil and gas development. No large new investments have taken place from the U.S. in the last 5 years.

DEFENSE

Uzbekistan possesses the largest and most competent military forces in the Central Asian region, having around 65,000 people in uniform. Its structure is inherited from the Soviet armed forces, although it is moving rapidly toward a fully restructured organization, which will eventually be built around light and Special Forces. The Uzbek Armed Forces’ equipment is not modern, and training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate yet for its new mission of territorial security. The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a non-nuclear state), and has supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniye Island). The Government of Uzbekistan spends about 3.7% of GDP on the military but has received a growing infusion of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and other security assistance funds since 1998. Uzbekistan approved U.S. Central Command’s request for access to a vital military air base in southern Uzbekistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. However, it is opposed to reintegration and withdrew from the CIS collective security arrangement in 1999. Since that time, Uzbekistan has participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajiki-stan and in UN-organized groups to help resolve the Tajik and Afghan conflicts, both of which it sees as posing threats to its own stability. Uzbekistan is an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism and joined the coalitions that have dealt with both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a member of the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Partnership for Peace, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It belongs to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization—comprised of the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the GUAM alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova), which was formed in 1997 (making it GUUAM).

Uzbekistan is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and hosts the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent. Uzbekistan also joined the new Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) in 2002. The CACO consists of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is a founding member of and remains involved in the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, joined in March 1998 by Tajikistan.

U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS

The U.S. recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an Embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbek relations have flourished in recent years but have become strained over the Uzbek’s actions in Andijan in 2005. Relations were boosted by the March 2002 meeting between President Bush and President Karimov in Washington, DC, where the two countries signed the Declaration of Strategic Partnership. High-level visits to Uzbekistan have increased since September 11, 2001, including that of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and numerous congressional delegations. The U.S. believes that the development of an independent, stable, prosperous, and democratic Central Asia is vital for the inhabitants of Central Asia and the entire world. As the most populous country in Central Asia and the geographic and strategic center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan plays a pivotal role in the region. The United States accordingly has developed a broad relationship covering political, human rights, military, nonproliferation, economic, trade, assistance, and related issues.

The U.S. has consulted closely with Uzbekistan on regional security problems, and Uzbekistan has been a close ally of the United States at the United Nations. Uzbekistan has been a strong partner of the United States on foreign policy and security issues ranging from Iraq to Cuba, and nuclear proliferation to narcotics trafficking. It has sought active participation in Western security initiatives under the Partnership for Peace, OSCE, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Uzbekistan views its American ties as balancing regional influences, helping Uzbekistan assert its own regional role, and encouraging foreign investment. Uzbekistan is a strong supporter of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and of the global war against terror.

The tumultuous events in Andijan in 2005 and the subsequent U.S. condemnation of President Karimov’s actions render the future relationship between the nations uncertain. In June 2005, Karimov refused U.S. demands for a formal investigation of the Andijan massacre, exacerbating the divide between the two nations. To maintain strong relations, the United States urges greater reform in Uzbekistan to promote long-term stability and prosperity. Registration of independent political parties and human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would be an important step. The government registered the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan in March 2002. One year later, in March 2003, the government registered a second human rights organization, Ezgulik. Enforcement of constitutional safeguards ensuring personal, religious, and press freedom and civil liberties also is needed.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Trade and investment. Trade relations are regulated by a bilateral trade agreement, which entered into force January 14, 1994. It provides for extension of most-favored-nation trade status between the two countries. The U.S. additionally granted Uzbekistan exemption from many U.S. import tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP status) on August 17, 1994. A Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed December 16, 1994; it has been ratified by Uzbekistan and received advice and consent of the U.S. Senate in October 2000. However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty will be unlikely to enter into force until Uzbekistan embarks on economic reform. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the red tape that constrains the nascent private sector.

Assistance. The United States has provided significant humanitarian and technical assistance to Uzbeki-stan. The U.S. has provided technical support to Uzbekistan’s efforts to restructure its economy and to improve its environment and health care system, provided support to nascent NGOs, and provided equipment to improve water availability and quality in the Aral Sea region. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Embassy’s Public Affairs Section, the U.S. Government supports educational and professional exchanges and other programs that offer Uzbeks the opportunity to study in the United States and to establish professional contacts with their American counterparts. In FY 2002 and 2003, the United States provided roughly $219.8 and $87.4 million, respectively, in humanitarian aid, technical assistance, military-to-military funding, and microcredit support in Uzbekistan. These programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, democratic society.

USAID provides both technical and humanitarian assistance. Technical assistance to Uzbekistan promotes sound fiscal and management policies, improved private business operations, a competitive private sector, citizens’ participation in political and economic decision making, improved sustainability of social benefits and services, private investment in the energy sector, reduced environmental risks to public health, and other multi-sector reform programs. Programs include business training, subsidies for business development, environmental education, and environmental preservation programs. The latter includes the Aral Sea/Regional Water Cooperation program involving the Interstate Council for the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, waste minimization demonstration programs, and the National Environmental Action Plan. The USAID/CAR/Uzbekistan water program is aimed at improving water management on both national and local levels, concentrating efforts on sustainable development of the water users’ associations (WUAs). The USAID/CAR/Uzbekistan health program focuses on 4 chief needs: primary health care reform, infectious disease control, drug demand reduction, and maternal and child health/reproductive health (MCH/RH). The USAID Participation and Education Knowledge Strengthening Program (PEAKS) began in January 2003, focusing on 5 major aspects of the education system: in-service teacher training, school-based curriculum development, parent and community involvement in the decision making, management, and technical capacity at all levels of the education system; and rehabilitation of school infrastructure. In addition to PEAKS pilot schools, more than 100 schools across Uzbekistan received over 1,000 computers from USAID, with more than half of these schools obtaining Internet connections.

Peace Corps staff arrived in Uzbekistan in August 1992, and a bilateral agreement to establish Peace Corps in Uzbekistan was signed November 4, 1992. The first volunteers arrived in December 1992. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps fund feasibility studies by U.S. firms and provides other planning services related to major projects in developing countries including Uzbekistan. Department of State-managed exchange programs, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and the Department of Commerce’s Special American Business Internship Training Program (SABIT) contribute to expansion of technical know-how and support bilateral relations. The U.S. also provides export finance/guarantees and political risk insurance for U.S. exporters and investors through the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

TASHKENT (E) Address: APO/FPO: 7110 Tashkent Place, Washington, D.C. 20521-7110; Phone: 998-71-120-5450; Fax: 998-71-120-6335; Work-week: M-F, 0900-1800; Website: www.USEmbassy.Uz.

AMB:John Purnell
AMB OMS:Penny O’ Brien
DCM:Brad Hanson
DCM OMS:Nicole Mock
POL:Baron Lobstein
POL/ECO:David Allen
CON:John Ballard
MGT:Doug Ellrich
AGR:Ralph Gifford (Ankara)
AID:James Bonner
CLO:Debbie Cortinovis
DAO:Greg Wright
DEA:Doug Cortinovis
ECO:Baron Lobstein
EST:Evelyn Putnam
FMO:Steven Morse
GSO:Juliana Ballard
ICASS Chair:Paul Schmitt
IMO:Bradley Gabler
IRS:Susan Stanley (Frankfurt)
ISO:VACANT
ISSO:Bradley Gabler
PAO:Deby Jones
RSO:Adam Schrandt

Last Updated: 11/29/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : October 13, 2006

Country Description: Uzbekistan, independent from the former Soviet Union since 1991, is a country undergoing political and economic change. Tourist facilities are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Although invitations from a sponsoring organization or individual are not officially required for American citizens applying for short-term visas, the de facto practice of the Government of Uzbekistan is now to require invitation letters. Visas are issued by Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Visitors coming from countries where Uzbekistan does not have diplomatic or consular representation should obtain visas in a third country. Visas are not available upon arrival at Uzbek airports. The Embassy has received a number of reports from American citizens who have had problems obtaining Uzbek visas or who received Uzbek visas valid for a very limited period. Americans seeking visas are encouraged to apply for their visas well in advance of their travel.

It is important to note that Uzbek visas indicate not only the validity of the visa, but also the period of time a person is allowed to stay in Uzbekistan on a given trip. Although Uzbek tourist and business visas have been issued for four years with multiple entries to private American citizens in the past, since the end of 2005 most Uzbek visas have been limited to less than three months in duration and sometimes for a single entry. A visitor will have to leave the country after the number of days indicated as the duration of stay on the visa. Therefore, it is important to indicate your intended period of stay when applying for your Uzbek visa.

All travelers, even those simply transiting Uzbekistan for less than 72 hours, must obtain an Uzbek visa before traveling to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has suspended the 72-hour transit rule that allowed travelers with visas from other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States to transit Uzbekistan without an Uzbek visa.

Further visa information is available from the Consular Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbeki-stan, 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone: (202) 530-7291; fax: (202) 293-9633; website: http://www.uzbekistan.org; or from the Consulate General of Uzbekistan in New York City, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 327A, New York, NY 10017; telephone: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 838-9812; website: http://www.uzbekconsulny.org.

The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya province bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. Foreign citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad.

Travel within Uzbekistan by rail or land sometimes requires brief exit into neighboring countries. Travelers should have multiple entry Uzbek visas and a proper visa for the neighboring country in order to avoid delays in travel. Please keep in mind that the border crossing point at Hayraton between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, while open, is tightly controlled. Foreign citizens need special permission to travel to the Surkhandarya province in order to get to the border checkpoint.

Registration after Entry: All travelers present in Uzbekistan for more than three days must register with the Office of Entry, Exit, and Citizenship. Hotel guests are registered automatically, but all other travelers are responsible for registering themselves. Registration fees vary depending on length of stay. See http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov/for more information. Visitors without proper registration are subject to fines and possible harassment by local authorities. Uzbek law mandates that visitors carry a medical certificate attesting that they are not infected with HIV. For more information, see the Department of State’s Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Testing Requirements for Entry into Foreign Countries, brochure.

Visit the Embassy of Uzbekistan website at http://www.uzbekistan.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: The United States Government continues to receive information that indicates that terrorist groups may be planning attacks, possibly against U.S. interests, in Uzbekistan. Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the region. Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. Government interests in the past, including the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private American interests in Uzbekistan. The Department of State urges Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise extreme caution. In the past, these groups have been known to conduct kidnappings, assassinations and suicide bombings.

Anyone considering travel to Andijon should bear in mind that on May 13, 2005, armed militants stormed a local prison, released its prisoners, and then took control of the regional administration and other government buildings in the Andijon province. Fighting broke out between government forces and the militants, and reports indicated that several hundred civilians died in the ensuing violence. While there were no reports of U.S. citizens who were affected by these events, U.S. citizens and other foreigners there have frequently experienced harassment from authorities and local residents since the 2005 violence. Uzbekistan experienced a wave of terrorist violence in 2004. Three suicide bombings occurred in July 2004 in Tashkent, including one outside the U.S. Embassy. Other targets included the Israeli Embassy and the Uzbekistan Prosecutor General’s Office. The Islamic Jihad Union released a statement claiming responsibility for these attacks. Multiple attacks also occurred in Tashkent and Bukhara in late March and early April 2004. These attacks used suicide bombers, and mainly focused on police and Uzbek private and commercial facilities. In late July 2004, approximately 15 people pled guilty in an Uzbekistan court to charges related to the attacks. The Islamic Jihad Union also claimed responsibility for these operations.

Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists and their sympathizers seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and resorts. In 2003, the U.S. Embassy received information indicating that terrorist groups had planned attacks against hotels in Uzbekistan frequented by Westerners, as well as against other institutions affiliated with or representing foreign interests.

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy.

Depending upon security conditions, travelers can expect restricted personal movement, including the closing of roads to traffic, and frequent document, vehicle, and personal identification checks should be anticipated. The Uzbek Government has intermittently restricted travel to certain parts of the country in response to security concerns.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Travel Warning for Uzbekistan, Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, and the Public Announcement for Central Asia can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Uzbekistan’s rate of violent crime, including against foreigners, has increased recently. In urban areas, travelers are urged to take the same precautions against crime that they would take in a large American city. If you are traveling at night, please travel in groups, maintain a low profile, and do not display large amounts of cash.

Although using private cars as taxicabs is a common practice in Uzbeki-stan, Americans, especially women, should not consider this a safe practice. Americans are encouraged to use clearly marked taxicabs, such as those at hotels. Also, Americans should avoid riding in taxis alone.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting the crime to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care in Uzbekistan is below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident Americans travel to North America or Western Europe for their medical needs.

Travelers are advised to drink only boiled water, peel all fruits and vegetables, and avoid undercooked meat. Due to inadequate sanitation conditions, travelers should avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products and most food sold in the streets.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Uzbekistan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Uzbekistan has a developed but deteriorating traffic infrastructure. Although main roads in central Tash-kent are relatively well maintained, many secondary roads inside and outside Tashkent, and particularly those in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are in poor condition and may be passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving at night can be quite dangerous because only the main roads in Tashkent have streetlights; rural roads and highways generally are not lit. Visitors are strongly urged to avoid driving at night outside Tashkent. The gasoline supply can be sporadic; therefore, travelers should expect occasional difficulty finding gasoline, particularly outside of Tashkent.

Livestock, as well as farm equipment and carts drawn by animals that lack lights or reflectors, are found on both urban and rural roads at any hour. Local drivers are not familiar with safe driving techniques. Pedestrians in cities and rural areas cross streets unexpectedly and often without looking for oncoming traffic. Uzbekistan has a large road police force, which frequently stops drivers for minor infractions or simple document checks. There have been reports of harassment of foreign drivers by the road police, with reported minor police corruption in the form of solicitation of bribes.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Uzbekistan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Uzbekistan’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/.

Special Circumstances: Travelers to Uzbekistan are subject to frequent document inspections. Therefore, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry a certified copy of their U.S. passport and their Uzbek visa with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and certain bilateral agreements, local authorities must grant a United States consular officer access to any U.S. citizen who is arrested. U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained should ask to contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.

Uzbek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import to or export from Uzbekistan of items such as armaments and ammunition, space technology, encryption devices, X-ray and isotope equipment, nuclear materials, poisons, drugs, precious and semi-precious metals, nullified securities, pieces of art, and antiques of historical value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Uzbekistan in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Most transactions are conducted on a cash-only, local currency (soum) basis. Credit cards are accepted only at the main hotels and a few shops and restaurants; travelers’ checks can be cashed into dollars at the National Bank of Uzbekistan. The commission fee is two percent. Importation of currency exceeding $10,000 (U.S.) is subject to a one percent duty. Foreigners must complete a customs declaration upon entering Uzbekistan and may face fines upon departure if unable to produce certificates verifying legal conversion of foreign currency.

Old U.S. dollar bills (prior to 1990) and/or those in poor condition (with tears, writing or stamps) are not acceptable forms of currency in Uzbekistan. Although payment in U.S. dollars is required for certain hotel charges, airline tickets, and visa fees, other dollar transactions, as well as black market currency exchanges, are prohibited.

Uzbekistan is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Uzbek laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Uzbekistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Uzbekistan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Uzbeki-stan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent.

By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at #3, Moyqorghon Street, 5th Block, Yunusobod District, Tashkent -700093, Uzbekistan. The main Embassy telephone number, which can also be reached after hours, is (998 71) 120-5450, fax: (998 71) 120-6335; Consular fax: (998 71) 120-54-48; e-mail address: [email protected] state.gov; web site: http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

May 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Starting June 5, 2006, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan is processing immigrant visas for all Uzbek citizens, including orphans. More details about immigrant visa processing requirements can be found on the U.S. Embassy website at http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Uzbek Adoption Authorities: The government offices responsible for intercountry adoptions are the Uzbek Ministry of Education and the local Mayor’s office (“Hokimiat”) in the region where the adoption takes place.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single. The age difference between adoptive parents and adopted child must be not less than 15 years.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for Uzbekistan.

Time Frame: Foreign adoption in Uzbekistan is time consuming. It can take from six months to two years.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Under Uzbek law, the Guardianship and Trusteeship Organ (GTO) of each local Mayor’s office is responsible for settlement of orphans. Adoptive parents or their legal representatives must submit documents to a local Mayor through its GTO. U.S. and other foreign adoption agencies are legally allowed to operate in Uzbekistan but must be registered with the Uzbek government.

Adoption Fees: The Uzbek government charges small official fees, usually about $10 per document, for the submission and processing of the adoption application and corresponding documents.

Adoption Procedures: Once the prospective adoptive parents have selected a child, they or their legal representatives should submit an application and supporting documents directly to the Guardianship and Trusteeship Organ (GTO) of the Mayor’s office (“Hokimiat”) of the region. The application should include the prospective parents’ names, place of residence, marital information, and complete information (name, age, sex) of any children they already have. It should also include the name, age and sex of the Uzbek child they wish to adopt.

After reviewing the family’s documentation, the GTO will pass the documents to the Mayor for approval. Based on the Mayor’s approval, the local Vital Records Office issues a new birth certificate. The new birth certificate includes the names of the adoptive parents and changes the child’s last name to the adoptive parents’ last name. First name and the date of birth of the child can be changed upon request.

The date of birth may be changed, but not by more than one year. If a child is under ten years old, his/her place of birth can also be changed to another location within the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan. With the Mayor’s (Hokim’s) permission and the vital record office, the Administration for Entry, Exit, and Citizenship issues a passport and exit permission to the child. As was stated earlier in this flyer, prospective parents are not required to have maintained residency in Uzbekistan for any particular length of time.

Documentary Requirements: The following documents must be submitted by the prospective parents for an adoption:

  • Application to the GTO of the regional Hokimiat, with the information outlined above (names, place of residence, marital information, data on current children, and information about the prospective adoptive child);
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ passport(s);
  • Marriage certificates and/or divorce decrees, if applicable;
  • Residence (home study) certificate indicating the number of family members (this may be included in the home study);
  • Employment letter for the prospective adoptive parent(s), including salary information;
  • Letter of recommendation (description of personality) from a parent’s employer, local city hall or home study agency;
  • Medical certificate from a doctor indicating that the prospective parents are healthy, do not have communicable diseases, and do not abuse drugs or alcohol;
  • Letter from U.S. Embassy, based on the approved I-600A notification (Visas 37) which states that the U.S. Government is aware of the family, and that relevant authorities have conducted a home study and approved the family for an adoption of an orphan.

Note: All documents must be translated into Uzbek or Russian by an official translator and authenticated by the Uzbek Embassy in the United States.

Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan:
1746 Massachusetts Ave.,
NW Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202—887-5300
Fax: 202—293-6804
Email: [email protected]
http://www.uzbekistan.org/

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy Tashkent:
Moyqorghon Street, 5th Block
Yunusobod District
Tashkent-700093, Uzbekistan
Phone: (998)(71) 120-5450
Fax: (998)(71) 120-5448
http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov
General Consular E-mail: [email protected]

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Uzbekistan may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction : February 2007

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Uzbekistan is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction but the Convention is not yet in force between Uzbekistan and the United States.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under Uzbek law.

Custody Disputes: Past Uzbek court practice has given priority for custodianship to the mother as long as certain restrictive conditions are met. The father can appeal for custody at any time.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in Uzbekistan if they potentially contradict or violate local laws and practices.

Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has custody of a child, the second parent may be granted visitation rights by court decision.

Travel Restrictions: Uzbekistan issues two types of exit permissions: A) Temporary exit permission valid for two years: Consent of both parents (or guardian) is needed only for a minor under the age of 16. If only one parent is alive, a death certificate must be supplied.

B) Permission to leave the country indefinitely: ALL citizens (adults and children) must submit a notarized letter of consent from both parents or supply a death certificate of the parents. Persons who wish to pursue a child claim in Uzbekistan court should retain an attorney in Uzbeki-stan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent maintains a list of lawyers acting in Uzbekistan. A copy of the list may be obtained by request from the Embassy at:

U.S. Embassy Tashkent
Consular Section
#82 Chilanzarskaya St.
Tashkent, 700115
Uzbekistan
Telephone: 998-71-120-5450
Fax: 998-71-120-6335
Web site: http://www.usembassy.uz
Consular Section e-mail: [email protected]

Questions involving Uzbek laws should be addressed to an Uzbek attorney or to the Embassy of Uzbekistan in the United States at:

Embassy of Uzbekistan
1746 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Telephone: (202) 887-5300
Fax: (202) 293-6804

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its website on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children’s Issues; U.S. Department of State; Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

Travel Warning : October 4, 2006

This Travel Warning is being issued to remind U.S. citizens that the potential for a terrorist attack or civil disturbance still exists, despite the fact that there have been no violent incidents in Uzbekistan since May 2005. Visas are difficult for American citizens to obtain and are often valid for a single entry of very limited duration. The Department of State continues to urge Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise extreme caution. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning of April 7, 2006.

The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist attacks or civil disturbance in Uzbekistan, although there have been no violent incidents there since May 2005, and continues to urge Americans in Uzbekistan to exercise extreme caution. In addition, relations between the United States and Uzbekistan have deteriorated over the past year. Uzbekistan no longer allows the Peace Corps to operate and has ended the U.S. military presence in the country. Visas are difficult for American citizens to obtain and often are valid for a single entry of very limited duration. The U.S. Government continues to receive information that indicates that terrorist groups may be planning attacks, possibly against U.S. interests, in Uzbekistan. Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turki-stan Islamic Movement are active in the region. Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. Government interests in the past, including the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private American interests in Uzbekistan. In the past, these groups have been known to conduct kidnappings, assassinations, and suicide bombings.

Uzbekistan experienced a wave of terrorist violence in 2004. Three suicide bombings occurred in July 2004 in Tashkent, including one outside the U.S. Embassy. Other targets included the Israeli Embassy and the Uzbekistan Prosecutor General’s Office. The Islamic Jihad Union released a statement claiming responsibility for these attacks. Multiple attacks also occurred in Tash-kent and Bukhara in late March and early April 2004. These attacks used suicide bombers, and mainly focused on police and Uzbek private and commercial facilities. In late July 2004, approximately 15 people pled guilty in an Uzbekistan court to charges related to the attacks. The Islamic Jihad Union also claimed responsibility for these operations. In May 2005, armed militants stormed a prison in Andijon, released its prisoners, and then took control of the regional administration and other government buildings in Andijon Province. Fighting broke out between government forces and the militants, and reports indicated that several hundred civilians died in the ensuing violence. While there were no reports of U.S. citizens affected by these events, U.S. citizens and other foreigners in Uzbekistan frequently have experienced harassment from authorities and local residents since the 2005 violence.

Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists and their sympathizers seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and resorts. In 2003, the U.S. Embassy received information indicating that terrorist groups had planned attacks against hotels in Uzbekistan frequented by Westerners, as well as against other institutions affiliated with or representing foreign interests.

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy. The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya province bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. American citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad.

Americans traveling to or remaining in Uzbekistan are strongly urged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Uzbekistan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent.

The U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan is located at #3, Moyqorghon Street, 5th Block, Yunusobod District, Tash-kent-700093, Uzbekistan. The telephone number is 998-71-120-5450 and can be reached after hours as well. The fax number is 998-71-120-6335. The website is http://uzbekistan.usembassy.gov. Travelers also should consult the Department of State’s latest Consular Information Sheet for Uzbekistan, the Public Announcement for Central Asia, and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or Canada, and 202-501-4444 from overseas.

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Type of Government

Uzbekistan achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but since then its government has been dominated by virtually the same key figures that held power during the Communist era. Central Asia’s most populous nation, Uzbekistan has a constitution that gives its president broad powers and authority. In this aspect its leadership seems merely a modern-day variation on the clan system by which Uzbeks and other Central Asian ethnic groups lived for centuries, in which a strong executive is considered the protector of his people.

Background

Uzbekistan is situated between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan, and has a dry, arid climate thanks to the massive Kyzyl Kum (“red sand”) Desert. In 327 BC, the armies of Alexander the Great (356 BC–323 BC) subdued the area for a time, but the Persians returned and were followed by Turks, Arabs, and Mongols. The great Mongol leader Tamerlane (1336–1405) is revered by Uzbeks as the first genuine ruler of an Uzbek nation. He established his Timurid dynasty at Samarqand, and spent lavishly to make the city one of the most impressive centers of learning in western Asia at the time. Waves of Turkic-speaking peoples came later in the fifteenth century, and with this a fixed Uzbek ethnic identity and nation began to take shape.

Over the next four centuries, Uzbekistan existed not as a nation but as part of an area known as Transoxiana. Various khanates held authority from cities like Bukhara and Qŭqon, but were ousted by imperial Russia in the mid-nineteenth century. Resistance to foreign domination was strong throughout Central Asia, however, and erupted into violence in 1916 when draft notices were issued in the region in order to bolster troop numbers for Russian participation in World War I. In 1929 Uzbekistan formally became part of the Soviet Union as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, and one-party Communist rule lasted until 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Government Structure

Uzbekistan declared its independence in September 1991, and a new constitution was adopted in December 1992. Although the document enshrines the concept of separation of powers between the branches of government, this principle is only nominally observed in practice. Instead, the greatest concentration of power rests in the executive branch, which consists of the office of the president, who serves as head of state. The president can form a government by appointing a prime minister and a cabinet, and may also dismiss his ministers as well as parliament; even cabinet ministries can be established or abolished merely by executive order. Under the constitution, the president is elected by direct vote and is limited to two five-year terms.

The legislative branch of Uzbekistan’s government is the Oliy Majlis, or Supreme Assembly. A constitutional referendum in 2002 changed the structure of the Oliy Majlis from a unicameral to a bicameral one, with an upper house called the Senate consisting of 100 seats, and the lower Legislative Chamber seating 120 legislators. All members are elected to five-year terms, but Uzbekistan’s president has consistently silenced genuine political opposition, and only political parties loyal to the status quo are permitted to exist and thus field candidates in legislative elections. The terms of the constitution give the Oliy Majlis some genuine clout, but this has been overwhelmingly ignored in favor of a strong authority figure embodied in the president. Instead, the chambers serve as an advisory body for the president and his appointed government, with a primary function to legitimize the executive branch’s decisions by voting their approval in what amounts to a rubber-stamp process in the exercise of presidential will.

Uzbekistan’s judiciary is similarly constrained by executive power and is supervised by the Ministry of Justice. A Constitutional Court sits at the apex of the judicial system along with a Supreme Court. The president appoints judges to those benches for five or ten-year terms as well as the procurator-general, or state prosecutor. The Constitutional Court serves as a consultative body in the event the president moves to dismiss parliament, and its appointed judges rarely voice opposition to the executive’s wishes. There is also an Arbitrage Court that handles commercial disputes, and a system of local courts with the Supreme Court serving as the final court of appeal. Since 1999 Uzbekistan’s largely rural-based population has had their disputes resolved by local councils called mahallas , a practice that reflects a long history of clan-based authority.

Uzbekistan is divided into twelve administrative regions called veliatlar , or provinces. Each is run by a hakim , or governor, appointed by the president. In addition, Uzbekistan includes the Karakalpak Autonomous Republic, consisting of a Turkic-speaking population living near the delta of the Amu Dar’ya river. Overall, some 80 percent of Uzbekistan’s population of twenty-six million identify themselves as ethnic Uzbeks. There are also small numbers of Russian, Tajik, and Kazakh groups within its borders as well as a community of Uzbek-speaking Koreans whose ancestors were forcibly removed from Korea in the late 1930s under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (1878–1953).

Uzbekistan’s human rights record is troublesome. Members of opposition groups are targeted by National Security Services, the country’s internal police, with arbitrary arrests and indefinite detention used to silence political dissent. The country’s prison system is believed to house at least five thousand political detainees. Uzbekistani women, in a country with a nearly 90 percent Muslim majority, are restricted from political and economic life by long-held customs, and reports of violence against women and self-immolation—suicide by setting oneself on fire—still surface. Homosexual acts are subject to criminal prosecution. Religious groups and their activities are closely monitored by the government, which also oversees media outlets that nearly always voice favorable opinions of the president and the ruling government. Uzbekistan’s citizens are not free to move from one province to another without government permission, and relocating to a large cities like Samarqand or Tashkent, the capital, is nearly impossible.

Political Parties and Factions

Since independence, political life in Uzbekistan has been dominated by the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan (PDP), made up of former members of the Communist Party. The government tightly controls the ability of opposition parties via stringent licensing requirements, and the five parties that are active in the country are loyal to Uzbekistan’s longtime president, Islam Karimov (1938–). In the 2004–05 parliamentary elections, these parties—including the Uzbekistan Liberal Democratic Party, Self-Sacrifice National Democratic Party, and Uzbekistan National Revival Democratic Party—won the remainder of seats in the Oliy Majlis after the twenty-eight taken by PDP candidates.

According to Karimov, the most serious threat to the stability of Uzbekistan is the Islamic Party of Turkistan, formerly known as the Islamic Movement for Uzbekistan (IMU). This militant group was formed in 1998 with the intention to overthrow Karimov’s nominally democratic government and replace it with an Islamic state. Its founders received support from the Taliban government of hard-line Islamic militants then in control of neighboring Afghanistan. Another outlaw group, Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), also works to foment an Islamic revolution in Uzbekistan and across the predominantly Muslim nations of Central Asia.

Genuine secular-based opposition to former communists and hard-line Islamic militants coalesced in the Birlik (Unity) Party, formed in 1988 during the final years of the Soviet era as an opposition group. In 1989 a faction of its leadership founded the Erk (Freedom) Party, and one of those party chiefs ran against Karimov in 1991 in the country’s first presidential election. Muhammad Solih (1949–) received about 12 percent of vote in a contest widely believed to have been conducted unfairly, and he was later forced to give up his seat in the Oliy Majlis and flee the country.

Major Events

Uzbekistan’s political sphere has been dominated by one man during its first two decades of independence. Islam Karimov became first secretary of the Uzbekistan Communist Party Central Committee in 1989, and in early 1990 was elected president of the Soviet republic by vote of the Supreme Soviet. Independence was declared on September 1, 1991, and the local Communist Party elected to sever ties with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union after that group was banned following a failed coup attempt in Moscow. Uzbek Communists formed the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan in October of that year, and Karimov remained its chief. He was the party’s candidate in the country’s first popular vote for the presidency in December 1991. He won with 86 percent of the vote, a resounding endorsement that some observers considered suspicious. A year later, citing internal threats that were leading the country to the brink of civil war, Karimov announced a ban on all opposition parties.

International observers have consistently cited Uzbekistan’s elections as vulnerable to fraud by Karimov’s associates and the incumbent leadership. A referendum held in 1995 on the question of whether or not to extend Karimov’s term an extra three years to January 2000 received a resounding 99 percent yes vote. A similar outcome occurred with a 2002 referendum asking voters if they wished to extend Karimov’s term by another five years. Presidential elections are tentatively scheduled for January 2008, but Karimov has continued to sound warnings that Islamic extremist groups pose a tremendous threat to Uzbekistan’s future and it may be necessary for him to remain in charge until this danger abates.

Twenty-First Century

Karimov and his regime enjoy cordial relations with both Moscow and the West. In October 2001, when the United States launched an effort to oust Afghanistan’s Taliban government, Karimov permitted U.S. military aircraft to use Uzbekistan’s large, Soviet-built air base at Karshi-Khanabad. In return, Uzbekistan received generous foreign-aid dollars and was praised by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (1932–) as a crucial participant in the U.S.-led war on terror. Karimov and his government, however, later balked when the United States attempted to pressure it to enact more democratic reforms and improve its human-rights record. These tensions were exacerbated by a government crackdown on suspected opposition organizers in Uzbekistan following the May 2005 Anjian Massacre, when government troops fired on protesters in that city, and the United States was asked to leave the base.

Uzbekistan has also been singled out for criticism by Britain’s former ambassador to the country, Craig Murray (1958–), who served from 2002 until his removal under a storm of controversy two years later. Murray has said that human rights abuses in Uzbekistan are rampant and essentially funded outright by foreign aid from the West, which goes directly to the security services.

Alaolmolki, Nozar. Life after the Soviet Union: The Newly Independent Republics of Transcaucasus and Central Asia . Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2005.

Melvin, Neil J. Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road . London: Routledge, 2000.

Yalcin, Resul. The Rebirth of Uzbekistan: Politics, Economy and Society in the Post-Soviet Era . Reading, UK: Garnet & Ithaca Press, 2002.

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

  • Area: 172,741 sq mi (447,400 sq km) / World Rank: 57
  • Location: Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, in Central Asia, north of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, west of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and south and east of Kazakhstan.
  • Coordinates: 41°00′N, 64°00′E
  • Borders: 3,866 mi (6,221 km) / Afghanistan, 85 mi (137 km); Kazakhstan, 1,369 mi (2,203 km); Kyrgyzstan, 683 mi (1,099 km); Tajikistan, 721 mi (1,161 km); Turkmenistan, 1,007 mi (1,621 km)
  • Coastline: None
  • Territorial Seas: None
  • Highest Point: Adelunga Toghi, 14,111 ft (4,301 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sariqarnish Kuli, 39 ft (12 m) below sea level
  • Longest River: Amu Dar'ya, 1,580 mi (2,540 km)
  • Largest Lake: Aral Sea, 12,000 sq mi (31,080 sq km, estimate)
  • Natural Hazards: Earthquakes; drought
  • Population: 25,155,064 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 41
  • Capital City: Tashkent, in the northeast
  • Largest City: Tashkent, 2,495,000 (2000 est.)

OVERVIEW

Uzbekistan's varied terrain includes high mountains and semiarid grasslands in the east, and lowlands and a predominantly flat plateau region in the west. In the center lies the vast Kyzyl Kum, one of the world's largest desert. It is a hot, dry country with long summers and mild winters.

Despite its desert character, Uzbekistan is crossed by many large rivers, including the Syr Dar'ya, the Amu Dar'ya, and the Zeravshan. Their highly irrigated river valleys support Uzbekistan's agricultural economy and most of its human inhabitants. A portion of the fertile Fergana Valley crosses eastern Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is located on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate. The entire country is tectonically active. Earthquakes are frequent and can be severe, particularly in the east. A 1966 earthquake destroyed much of the capital city of Tashkent.

Nearly 40 percent of western Uzbekistan is occupied by the Qoraqalpogh Autonomous Republic (known also as Qoraqalpoghistan or Karakalpakstan). Uzbekistan's constitution accords Qoraqalpoghistan a self-governing status with its own legislature, supreme court, and local governments. Nevertheless, the Uzbekistan central government still exercises considerable control in the republic's affairs.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Mountains

In the east and northeast, Uzbekistan is predominantly mountainous. In the northeast, the Tian Shan extends into the country from the east. Further south, on the far side of the Fergana Valley, are the Alai Mountains, a part of the Pamirs. Both ranges are tall, reaching up to 14,111 ft (4,301 m) at Adelunga Toghi, and rise even higher further to the east in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Plateaus

West and south of the Aral Sea is the Ustyurt (Ust' Urt) Plateau. This is a well defined upland, broken by occasional small mountain ridges. It extends west from the shores of the Aral Sea to the Caspian Sea shoreline in Kazakhstan. Its area is roughly 77,220 sq mi (200,000 sq km).

INLAND WATERWAYS

Lakes

The southern half of the Aral Sea is located in northwestern Uzbekistan, with the rest in Kazakhstan. The water is salty, and the lake's size led to its being called a sea, but with no outlet to the ocean it is technically a lake. As recently as the 1960s the Aral Sea was the world's fourth largest lake. Since then its area has been shrinking at an alarming rate. The use of water from the primary rivers that feed the lake for irrigation have left the lake only half its former size. Large islands have surfaced in the middle of the Aral Sea where none were formerly found, and the northernmost part of the lake (in Kazakhstan) has been separated from the south by dry land.

Lake Aydarkul in eastern Uzbekistan is the largest fresh water lake in the country. Lake Sarygamysh extends into the country from Turkmenistan in the southwest.

Rivers

There are three significant rivers in Uzbekistan, the Amu Dar'ya, Syr Dar'ya, and Zeravshan. All of these rivers originate in the high mountains east of Uzbekistan. The Amu Dar'ya is the largest of the three. It flows west along the southern border with Afghanistan, then curves northwest into Turkmenistan. Further north it becomes the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, then flows just within Uzbekistan's borders for a time. Near the city of Nukus it turns north and spreads out into a delta. The delta feeds into the southern Aral Sea, although diversion of water from the Amu Dar'ya has been so extensive that the river often dries out before reaching the Aral.

The Syr Dar'ya enters the country from Kyrgyzstan in the northeast and flows west through the fertile Fergana Valley. It cuts across the spur of northern Tajikistan, then turns north back through Uzbekistan and into Kazakhstan. It eventually empties into the northern Aral Sea.

The Zeravshan enters the country from the mountains of Tajikistan to the east, then arcs across the south-east portion of the country. The Zeravshan was once the Amu Dar'ya's largest tributary, joining it in Turkmenistan. Now it does not even reach the Amu Dar'ya; instead, it expires in the desert near the city of Bukhara, drained to nothing for purposes of irrigation.

Besides rivers, Uzbekistan has extensive canal systems, built mostly during the Soviet period. The Amu-Bukhara canal is the most notable, but there are many others.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Oceans and Seas

Uzbekistan is landlocked with no ocean coasts or islands. It does encompass the southern half of the Aral Sea, with 260 mi (420 km) of shoreline. However, the Aral Sea is technically a landlocked, saltwater, lake, not an ocean or sea.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

Uzbekistan has a continental climate, meaning that it has definite seasonal variations as well as significant day and nighttime differences. July (summer) high temperatures are generally between from 79° to 90°F (26° to 32°C) but can get much higher. January highs are usually between 21° to 36°F (-6° to 2°C).

Rainfall

Most precipitation falls in the months of March and April; droughts are common in Uzbekistan's long, hot summers. Although snow falls regularly in the winter months, it seldom amounts to any significant measure and soon melts. Overall, precipitation is light, with only the best watered areas receiving more than 12 in (30 cm) annually.

Grasslands

The Fergana Valley in the northeast is a fertile area, largely devoted to agriculture. Outside of this area, most of the country is desert. Semi-arid grasslands, or steppe, can be found in the west as part of the Turan or on the Ustyurt Plateau.

Deserts

The Kyzyl Kum desert occupies an immense area some 115,000 square mi (298,000 sq km) in extent, making it the largest desert in Central Asia. It extends southeast of the Aral Sea, between the valleys of the Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya, meaning that the bulk of it is located in Uzbekistan. It is mostly covered with red sand,

Population Centers – Uzbekistan
(1990 CENSUS OF POPULATION)
Name Population Name Population
Tashkent (capital) 2,094,000 Andizhan 297,000
Samarqand (Samarkand) 370,000 Bukhara 228,000
Namangan 312,000 Fergana 198,000
SOURCE : "Population of Capital Cities and Cities of 100,000 and More Inhabitants." United Nations Statistics Division.

which is the meaning of its name. It is an extremely arid and inhospitable area. Another desert, the Mirzachol, lies southwest of the capital, Tashkent

HUMAN POPULATION

Of the former Soviet republics, only Russia and Ukraine are more populous than Uzbekistan. With a population of 25,155,000 (July 2001 estimate), its average population density is 136 persons per sq mi (52 persons per sq km). The population is densest in the fertile Fergana Valley. Most other large cities are found near the Zeravshan or Amu Dar'ya. The Kyzyl Kum Desert and Ustyurt Plateau have few inhabitants. Overall, about 42 percent Uzbekistan's inhabitants live in cities. The capital city of Tashkent, with a metropolitan population estimated at 2,495,000 in 2000, is the largest city in Central Asia.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Minerals are found in abundance in Uzbekistan, including rich deposits of gold, silver, uranium, copper, zinc, lead, tungsten, lithium, and molybdenum. Anthracite coal mining is also a thriving industry. Large reserves of oil and natural gas have been discovered in the Fergana Valley, and production and export are increasing every year.

Although only 10 percent of the land in Uzbekistan is arable, the country's economy depends heavily upon agriculture. Much rich farmland is found at the bases of the mountains and along the river valleys. Uzbekistan is one of the world's largest exporters of cotton and cotton seed, although in the interests of land management greater focus is being placed on grain production.

FURTHER READINGS

Ferdinand, Peter, ed. The New States of Central Asia and Their Neighbors. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994.

Feshbach, Murray, and Alfred Friendly, Jr. Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature under Seige. New York: Basic Books, 1992.

Horton, Scott, and Tatiana Geller. "Investing in Uzbekistan's Natural Resources Sector." Central Asia Monitor 1 (1996): 25-35.

Lubin, Nancy. "Uzbekistan." In Philip R. Pryde, ed., Environmental Resources and Constraints in the Former Soviet Republics, 289-306. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995.

Micklin, Philip. "The Aral Sea Crisis: Introduction to the Special Issue." Post-Soviet Geography, 33, 5 (May 1992): 269-82.

Nichol, James. "Uzbekistan: Basic Facts." CRS Report for Congress, May 28, 1996.

GEO-FACT

Recognized as one of the worst ecological disasters in the world, the evaporation of the Aral Sea has come about as a result of massive irrigation withdrawals from the Amu Dar'ya and the Syr Dar'ya that feed the sea. Starting in the early 1960s, the goal was to increase cotton yields dramatically in Central Asia, an effort requiring enormous amounts of irrigation. By 2002 the Aral Sea had shrunk dramatically; more than half of its basin is dry and salt-encrusted. The impact on the region's ecosystem has been devastating. In addition to the lake itself, the Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya deltas have also dried up, destroying much of the plant and wildlife habitat, even driving some species into extinction. Salt from the exposed lake bed is picked up by winds and carried as far as 250 mi (400 km) away, accelerating the process of transforming arable land into desert (desertification). Furthermore, chemical pesticides, carried along with the salt, are believed to have contributed to human respiratory illnesses and even some cancers.

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

At a Glance

Official Name: Republic of Uzbekistan

Continent: Asia

Area: 164,245 square miles (425,400 sq. km)

Population: 25,155,064

Capital City: Tashkent

Largest City: Tashkent (2,100,000)

Unit of Money: som

Major Languages: Uzbek, Russian, Tajik

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

The Place

Uzbekistan is a republic in Central Asia. The county's capital city and biggest industrial and cultural center is Tashkent, which is located in the northeast.

Uzbekistan was called the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1924 until 1991, when it gained its independence. In 1992, Uzbekistan was officially named a democratic republic.

The majority of Uzbekistan's land is plains and deserts. The plains are used for growing cotton, and farmers raise livestock in both the plains and irrigated desert areas.

The Fergana Valley, located in the east, is the country's most densely populated area.

Uzbekistan's summers are long, dry, and hot, with southern temperatures sometimes reaching as high as 113 °F (45 °C). Winters, however, are cold, and temperatures can dip as low as -35 °F (-37 °C).

Uzbekistan is landlocked and covers approximately 164,245 square miles (424,400 square kilometers). It is bordered by Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan is mountainous in the east and northeast. Portions of the western Tien Shan and Pamirs-Alai Mountains stretch into Uzbekistan from neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. West of the mountains, Uzbekistan has lower elevations. Qyzylqum, one of the largest deserts in the world, is located in north central Uzbekistan. The country also has a 261 mile (420 km) shoreline formed by the southern portion of the Aral Sea.

The People

Uzbekistan has the largest population of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. About 42% of Uzbekistan's people life in urban areas.

Many different ethnic groups live in Uzbekistan, including Uzbeks, descendents of Turkic-speaking nomads who settled in the region beginning in the 15th century. Russians, a large minority group, make up 6% of the population. Other minorities include Tajiks, Kazakhs, and Tatars, as well as Qoraqalpoghs, Kyrgyz, Koreans, Ukrainians, and Turkmens.

The official language is Uzbek, which is part of the Eastern Turkic language group. Most ethnic minorities there speak their native languages. Russian was the preferred language during the Soviet period and is still widely used in Uzbekistan's cities.

The predominant religion in Uzbekistan is Islam. Uzbeks are primarily Sunni Muslims, while Russian and Ukrainian minorities are usually Orthodox Christians. Life expectancy is 69 years.

Education

Education in Uzbekistan is required up to the 9th grade. Almost all adults can read and write. Illiteracy was high at one time, but was almost entirely eliminated by the Soviet Union's emphasis on free and universal education. Today, Uzbekistan's education system is still similar to the Soviet system, although it puts greater emphasis on Uzbek history and literature. Teachers are generally paid low wages, and new textbooks are often unavailable.

Uzbekistan's universities include Toshkent State University, Samarqand State University, and Nukus State University.

Government

Type: Republic

Structure: Executive

Leader: President/Prime Minister

Defense

20,000 army personnel

179 tanks

0 major ships

126 combat aircraft

Popular Culture/Daily Life

The people of Uzbekistan often wear traditional garments, although Western-style clothing is popular in the cities. The food of Uzbekistan is distinctive, including kabob—especially mutton, laghmon (long, thick noodles often used in soups), and different types of bread, called non.

Soccer and wrestling are popular, and traditional horseback games are played on special occasions.

Uzbekistan has long been regarded as an important region of Muslim culture. Many medieval scholars came from the area, including Musa Khwarezmi, a 9th-century mathematician; Abu Reikhan al-Biruni, a 10th-century philosopher; and Ulugh Beg, a 15th-century astronomer who built an observatory at Samarkand.

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Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN

Compiled from the May 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.




Official Name:
Republic of Uzbekistan

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
DEFENSE
U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS
TRAVEL





PROFILE

Geography

Area: 477,000 sq. km. (117,868 sq. mi.)—slightly larger than California.

Major cities: Capital—Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million); Samarkand (600,000); Bukhara (350,000).

Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands in east.

Climate: Mid-latitude desert—long, hot summers, mild winters.


People

Nationality: Uzbek.

Population: (est. by 01/01/02) 24,908,000.

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

Religion: Moslem 88% (Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.

Language: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.

Education: Literacy—99% (total population).

Health: (1996) Life expectancy—60.09 years men; 67.52 years women.

Work force: (11.9 million) Agricultural and forestry—44%, industry—20%; services—36%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: September 1, 1991.

Constitution: December 8, 1992.

Branches: Executive—president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative—Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis)—unicameral (250 seats). Judiciary—Supreme Court, constitutional court, economic court. Administrative subdivisions (viloyatlar) 12, plus autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan and city of Tashkent.

Political parties and leaders: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party—established February 18, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 11, Turgunpulat DAMINOV, first secretary; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Partiya) or MTP—established on June 3, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 10, Ibrohim GOFUROV, chairman; Fatherl and Progress Party (Vatan Tarakiyoti) or VTP—In April 2000, VTP merged with the National Democratic Party "Fidokorlar" (Fidokorlar Milliy Democratic Partiya), in Tashkent, number of seats in the parliament 62, Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary. People's Democratic Party or PDPU (Uzbekiston Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party)—established November 1, 1991 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 50, Abdulkhafiz JALOLOV, first secretary. Other political or pressure groups and leaders—Birlik (Unity) Movement—Abdurakhim PULATOV, chairman; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party—Mohammed SOLIH, chairman (banned Dec. 1992); Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Abdumannob PULATOV, chairman; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman; Ezgulik—Vasilya Inoyatova, chairwoman.

Suffrage: Universal at age 18 (unless imprisoned or certified as insane). Defense (2000 est.) Military manpower—fit for military service males age 15-49: 5,161,926; universal 18-month military service for men.

Flag: Blue, white, and green horizontal bands separated by thin red lines; white crescent and 12 white stars representing 12 regions in upper left (on blue band).


Economy

Economic growth in Uzbekistan is far below potential due to the country's poor investment climate and failure to attract foreign investment, an extremely restrictive trade regime, failure to reform the agricultural sector of the economy—potentially the engine of economic growth for this largely rural economy—and severe misallocation of resources due to nonfunctioning of the price mechanism as a result of government intervention in markets. The government has implemented a restrictive trade regime in order to meet its strategy of limiting imports of consumer goods. Due to the unreliability of government statistics, which often serve political rather than economic ends, it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan.

GDP: Real GDP growth in 2002 was likely no more than 2%. Inflation was approximately 50% in 2002, with a 150% average increase in prices of imported goods and a slight depreciation in domestically priced goods. The embassy believes real wages were stagnant during 2002.

Per capita GDP: (U.S. Gov. est.) $350, 2001; $310, 2002. For 2003, unless the restrictive trade regime is changed, per capita GDP is likely to continue to fall. The EIU estimates that per capita GDP may fall as low as to $250.

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

Agriculture: Products—cotton, fourth-larg est producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock.

Industry: Types—textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas.

Trade: Total exports (2002 est. 2.8 billion)—largest contribution from cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles. Major export markets—Russia 16.7%, Switzerland 8.3%, United Kingdom 7.2%, Kazakhstan 3.1%. Total imports—(2002 est. 2.5 billion) machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals; foodstuffs. Primary import partners—Russia 15.8%, South Korea 9.8%, United States 8.7%, Germany 8.7%.

External debt: (2002 est.) $4.7 billion.




PEOPLE

Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 24 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are close to half the region's total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. The predominant ethnicity is Uzbek. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, and Tatar 1.5%. The nation is 88% Sunni Moslem and 9% Eastern Orthodox. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-today government and business use.

The educational system has achieved 99% literacy, and the mean amount of schooling for both men and women is 11 years. However, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated, inappropriate, and poorly kept. Additionally, the proportion of school-aged persons enrolled has been dropping. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency.




HISTORY

Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road—Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva—are located in Uzbekistan, and many famous conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the eight century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Its territory was overrun by Genghis Khan and his Mongols in 1220. In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan's most noted tourist sights date from the Timurid dynasty. Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates. Russia placed the rest of Central Asia under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing, and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.

In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories, including the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton-growing and natural resource potential. The extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than one-third of its original volume, making this one of the world's worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991. Islam Karimov, former First Secretary of the Communist Party, was elected president in December 1991 with 88% of the vote; however, the election was not viewed as free or fair by foreign observers.




GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for separation of powers, freedom of speech, and representative government. In reality, the executive holds almost all power. The judiciary lacks independence and the legislature, which meets only a few days each year, has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, Karimov's first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to yet again extend Karimov's term. The referendum passed and Karimov's term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. Also passed in the 2002 referendum was a plan to create a bicameral Parliament. Several political parties have been formed with government approval but have yet to show interest in advocating alternatives to government policy. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control, or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures.


Human Rights

Uzbekistan is not a democracy and does not have a free press. Many opponents of the government have fled, and others have been arrested. The government severely represses those it suspects of Islamic extremism. Some 6,000 suspected extremists are incarcerated, and some are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. With few options for religious instruction, some young Muslims have turn to underground extremist Islamic movements. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. The government has begun to bring to trial some officers accused of torture. Four police officers and three intelligence service officers have been convicted. The government has granted amnesty to approximately 2000 political and nonpolitical prisoners over the past 2 years. In 2002 and the beginning of 2003 the government has arrested fewer suspected Islamic extremists than in the past. Finally, in a move welcomed by the international community, the Government of Uzbekistan ended prior censorship, though the media remain tightly controlled.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 12/16/03


President: Karimov, Islom

Chmn., Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis): Halilov, Erkin

Prime Minister: Mirziyayev, Shavkat

First Dep. Prime Min.: Tolaganov, Kozim

Dep. Prime Min.: Azimov, Rustam

Dep. Prime Min.: Isayev, Anatoliy

Dep. Prime Min.: Ismailov, Uktam

Dep. Prime Min.: Karamatov, Hamidulla

Dep. Prime Min.: Otayev, Valery

Dep. Prime Min.: Usmonov, Mirabror

Dep. Prime Min.: Yunosov, Rustam

Dep. Prime Min.: Ganiyev, Elyor

Min. of Agriculture & Water Resources: Jorayev, Abduvohid

Min. of Communications: Abdullayev, Fahtullah

Min. of Culture: Jurayev, Hairulla

Min. of Defense: Ghulomov, Kodir

Min. of Economics: Azimov, Rustam

Min. of Education: Jorayev, Risboy

Min. of Emergency Situations: Subanov, Bakhtiyor

Min. of Energy & Fuel: Otayev, Valery

Min. of Finance: Normuradov, Mamarizo

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Safayev, Sodiq

Min. of Foreign Economic Relations: Ganiyev, Elyor

Min. of Health: Nazirov, Feruz

Min. of Higher & Secondary Specialized Education: Ghulomov, Saidakhror

Min. of Internal Affairs: Almatov, Zokirjon

Min. of Justice: Polvon-Zoda, Abdusamad

Min. of Labor & Social Security: Obidov, Okiljon

Sec., National Security Council: Oblayarov, Gairat

Chmn., State Bank: Mullajanov, Fayzulla

Chmn., State Committee for Customs: Haidarov, Ravshan

Chmn., State Taxation Committee: Sayfiddinov, Jamshid

Chmn., National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity: Mirkhojayev, Zanutdin

Chmn., National Security Service (SNB): Inoyatov, Rustam, Col. Gen. Ambassador to the US: Kamilov, Abdulaziz

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Vohidov, Alisher

The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains an embassy at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel.: (202) 887-5300; fax: (202) 293-6804. Its consulate and mission to the United Nations in New York are located at 866 UN Plaza, Suite 326/327a, New York, NY 10017. Consulate tel.: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 486-7998.




ECONOMY

The government has been extremely cautious in moving to a market-based economy. Since independence, the government has stated that it is committed to a gradual transition to a free market economy. Although the government has significantly narrowed the gap between the black market and official exchange rate, its restrictive trade regime has crippled the economy. In addition to the urgent need to rescind its draconian trade measures, the government needs to achieve full current account convertibility. Substantial structural reform also is needed, particularly in the area of improving the investment climate for foreign investors and in freeing the agricultural sector from smothering state control. Until now, continuing restrictions on currency convertibility and other government measures to control economic activity, including the implementation of severe import restrictions and closure of Uzbekistan's borders with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, have constrained economic growth and led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits. The recent closure of the borders with neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan has almost paralyzed Uzbekistan's consumer market.


The government has made some progress in reducing inflation and the budget deficit, but government statistics understate both, while overstating economic growth. There are no reliable statistics on unemployment, which is believed to be high and growing. The economy is based primarily on agriculture and agricultural processing; Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. It also is


a major producer of gold with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world and has substantial deposits of copper, strategic minerals, gas, and oil.


GDP and Employment

The government claims that the GDP rose 4.2% in 2002; however, it is believed that it was no greater than 2%. Unemployment and underemployment are very high, but reliable figures are difficult to obtain, as no recent credible surveying has been done. Underemployment in the agricultural sector is particularly high, which is important given the fact that 60% of the population is rural-based. Many observers believe that employment growth and real wage growth has been stagnant, given virtually no growth in output.

Labor

Literacy in Uzbekistan is almost universal, and workers are generally well-educated and trained. Most local technical and managerial training does not meet international business standards, but foreign companies engaged in production report that locally hired workers learn quickly and work effectively. Foreign firms generally find that younger workers, untainted by the Soviet system, work well at all levels. The government emphasizes foreign education and each year sends about 50 students to the United States, Europe, and Japan for university degrees, after which they have a commitment to work for the government for 5 years. Reportedly, about 60% of the students who study abroad find employment with foreign companies on their return, despite their 5-year commitment to work in the government. Some American companies offer special training programs in the United States to their local employees.

In addition, Uzbekistan subsidizes studies for students at Westminster University—the only Western-style institution in Uzbekistan. In 2002, the government "Hope" Program is paying for 98 out of 155 students studying at Westminister. For the next academic year, Westminster is expecting to admit 360 students, from which Umid is expecting to pay for 160 students. The education at Westminster costs $4,800 per academic year.


With the closure or downsizing of many foreign firms, it is relatively easy to find qualified, well-trained employees, and salaries are very low by Western standards. Salary caps, which the government implements in an apparent attempt to prevent firms from circumventing restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks, prevent many foreign firms from paying their workers as much as they would like. Labor market regulations in Uzbekistan are similar to those of the Soviet Union, with all rights guaranteed but some rights unobserved. Unemployment is a growing problem, and the number of people looking for jobs in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Southeast Asia is increasing each year. According to official Ministry of Labor estimates, around 100,000 citizens of Uzbekistan work abroad.


Prices; Monetary/Fiscal Policy

Inflation was approximately 50% in 2002. From 1996 until the spring of 2003, the official and so-called "commercial" exchange rate were highly overvalued. Many businesses and individuals were unable to buy dollars legally at these rates, so a widespread black market developed to meet hard currency demand. However, by mid-2003, the gap between the black market, official, and commercial rates had been reduced to approximately 8%. The government claims that it will reach currency convertibility in the near future. Liberalization of the trade regime, however, is a prerequisite for Uzbekistan to proceed to an IMF-financed program.


Outstanding external debt reached $4.7 billion at the end of 2002. Tax collection rates remained high, due to the use of the banking system by the government as a collection agency. Technical assistance from the World Bank, Office of Technical Assistance at the Treasury Department, and from the UNDP is being provided in reforming the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance into institutions, which conduct market-oriented fiscal and monetary policy.


Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agriculture and the agroindustrial sector contribute more than 40% to Uzbekistan's GDP. Cotton is Uzbekistan's dominant crop, accounting for roughly 45% of the country's exports. Gold is second at 22%. Uzbekistan also produces significant amounts of silk, fruit, and vegetables. Virtually all agriculture involves heavy irrigation. Farmers and agricultural workers have very low incomes because the government uses the difference between the world prices of cotton and wheat and what it pays the farmers to subsidize highly inefficient capital intensive industrial concerns, such as factories producing automobiles, airplanes, and tractors.

Consequently, agricultural productivity is low, with many farmers focusing on producing fruits and vegetables—for which supply and demand determine the price—on small plots of land, as well as smuggling cotton and wheat across the border with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in order to obtain higher prices.


Minerals and mining also are important to Uzbekistan's economy. Gold is Uzbekistan's second most important foreign exchange earner at 22%. Uzbekistan is the world's seventh-largest producer, at about 80 tons p.a., and holds the fourth-largest reserves. Uzbekistan has an abundance of natural gas, used both for domestic consumption and export; oil almost sufficient for domestic needs; and significant reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. Inefficiency in energy use is extremely high, given the failure to use realistic price signals to cause users to conserve energy.


Trade and Investment

Uzbekistan has adopted a policy of import substitution. The multiple exchange rate system and the highly over-regulated trade regime has led to both import and export declines since 1996, although imports have declined more than exports, as the government squeezed imports to maintain hard currency reserves. Draconian tariffs and border closures imposed in the summer and fall of 2002 led to massive decreases in imports of both consumer products and capital equipment. Uzbekistan's traditional "trade" partners are NIS states, notably Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the other Central Asian countries. Non-NIS partners have been increasing in importance in recent years, with the U.S., Korea, Germany, Japan, and Turkey being the most active.

Uzbekistan is a member of the IMF, World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It has observer status at the World Trade Organization, is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization, and has publicly stated its intention to accede to the World Trade Organization. It is a signatory to the Convention on Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States, the Paris Convention on Industrial Property, the Madrid Agreement on Trademarks Protection, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In 2002, Uzbekistan was again placed on the special "301" Watch List for lack of intellectual copyright protection.


Uzbekistan's lack of currency convertibility has caused foreign investment inflows to dwindle to a trickle. In fact, Uzbekistan has the lowest level of FDI per capita in the CIS. Since Uzbekistan's independence, U.S. firms have invested roughly $500 million in Uzbekistan. Large U.S. investors include Newmont, reprocessing tailings from the Muruntau gold mine; Case Corporation, manufacturing and servicing cotton harvesters and tractors; Coca Cola, with bottling plants in Tashkent, Namangan, and Samarkand; Texaco, producing lubricants for sale in the Uzbek market; and Baker Hughes, in oil and gas development. No large new investments have taken place from the United States in the last 5 years.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. However, it is opposed to reintegration and withdrew from the CIS collective security arrangement in 1999. Since that time, Uzbekistan has participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan and in UN-organized groups to help resolve the Tajik and Afghan conflicts, both of which it sees as posing threats to its own stability. Uzbekistan is an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism and joined the coalitions which have dealt with both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a member of the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Partnership for Peace, and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It belongs to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization—comprised of the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is a founding member of and remains involved in the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, joined in March 1998 by Tajikistan.




DEFENSE

Uzbekistan possesses the largest and most competent military forces in the Central Asian region, having around 65,000 people in uniform. Its structure is inherited from the Soviet Armed Forces, although it is moving rapidly toward a fully restructured organization, which will eventually be built around light and Special Forces. The Uzbek Armed Forces' equipment is not modern, and training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate yet for its new mission of territorial security. The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a nonnuclear state), and has supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniye Island).


The Government of Uzbekistan spends about 3.7% of GDP on the military but has received a growing infusion of FMF and other security assistance funds since 1998. Uzbekistan approved U.S. Central Command's request for access to a vital military air base in southern Uzbekistan following September 11, 2001.




U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS

The United States recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbek relations have flourished in recent years and were given an additional boost by the March 2002 meeting between President Bush and President Karimov in Washington, DC, where the two countries signed the Declaration of Strategic Partnership. High-level visits to Uzbekistan have increased since September 11, 2001, including that of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and numerous congressional delegations. The United States believes that its own interests will best be served by the development of an independent, stable, prosperous, and democratic Central Asia. As the most populous country in Central Asia and the geographic and strategic center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan plays a pivotal role in the region. The United States accordingly has developed a broad relationship covering political, human rights, military, nonproliferation, economic, trade, assistance, and related issues.


The United States has consulted closely with Uzbekistan on regional security problems, and Uzbekistan has been a closeally of the United States at the United Nations. Uzbekistan has been a strong partner of the United States on foreign policy and security issues ranging from Iraq to Cuba, nuclear proliferation to narcotics trafficking. It has sought active participation in Western security initiatives under the Partnership for Peace, OSCE, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Uzbekistan views its American ties as balancing regional influences, helping Uzbekistan assert its own regional role, and encouraging foreign investment. Uzbekistan is an ardent supporter of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and of the war against terror overall.

The United States, in turn, values Uzbekistan as a stable, moderate force in a turbulent region; a producer of important resources—gold, uranium, natural gas; and a potential regional hub for pipelines, transportation, communications, and other infrastructure. The United States urges greater reform to promote long-term stability and prosperity. Registration of independent political parties and human rights NGOs would be an important step. The government registered the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan in March 2002. One year later, in March 2003, the government registered a second human rights organization, Ezgulik. Enforcement of constitutional safeguards ensuring personal, religious, and press freedom, and civil liberties also is needed.


Bilateral Economic Relations

Trade and investment. Trade relations are regulated by a bilateral trade agreement, which entered into force January 14, 1994. It provides for extension of most-favored-nation trade status between the two countries. The United States additionally granted Uzbekistan exemption from many U.S. import tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP status) on August 17, 1994. A Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed December 16, 1994; it has been ratified by Uzbekistan and received advice and consent of the U.S. Senate in October 2000. However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty will be unlikely to enter into force until Uzbekistan embarks on economic reform. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the red tape that constrains the nascent private sector.


Assistance. The United States has provided significant humanitarian and technical assistance to Uzbekistan. The United States has provided technical support to Uzbekistan's efforts to restructure its economy and to improve its environment and health care system, provided support to nascent NGOs, and provided equipment to improve water availability and quality in the Aral Sea region. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the embassy's Public Affairs section, the U.S. Government supports educational and professional exchanges and other programs that offer Uzbeks the opportunity to study in the United States and to establish professional contacts with their American counterparts. In FY 2002 alone, the United States provided roughly $160 million in humanitarian aid, technical assistance, military-to-military funding, and investment support in Uzbekistan. These programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, democratic society.


USAID provides both technical and humanitarian assistance. Technical assistance to Uzbekistan promotes sound fiscal and management policies, improved private business operations, a competitive private sector, citizens' participation in political and economic decision making, improved sustainability of social benefits and services, private investment in the energy sector, reduced environmental risks to public health, and other multi-sector reform programs. Programs include business training, subsidies for business development, environmental and science education, and environmental preservation programs. The latter includes the Aral Sea/Regional Water Cooperation program involving the ICKKU, the establishment of water users' associations, waste minimization demonstration programs, and the National Environmental Action Plan. Humanitarian assistance is primarily in the health sector to alleviate effects of the Aral Sea ecological disaster.


Peace Corps staff arrived in Uzbekistan in August 1992, and a bilateral agreement to establish Peace Corps in Uzbekistan was signed November 4, 1992. The first volunteers arrived in December 1992. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps fund feasibility studies by U.S. firms and provides other planning services related to major projects in developing countries including Uzbekistan. Department of State-managed exchange programs, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and the Department of Commerce's SABIT Business Internship Program contribute to expansion of technical know-how and support bilateral relations. The United States also provides export finance/guarantees and political risk insurance for U.S. exporters and investors through the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC).


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Tashkent (E), 82 Chilanzarskaya, Tel [998] (71) 120-5450, Fax 120-6335, tie-line Tel 793-0000, tie-line Fax 793-2281; PAO Fax 120-6224; AID Fax 133-7656; COM Fax 120-5483; duty officer cellular Tel 108-6911.

AMB: John E. Herbst
AMB OMS: Mary Cross
DCM: David E. Appleton
POL/ECO: Larry Memmott
MGT: Kathleen Hanson
EST: Robert Watts
PER: G. Kathleen Hill
DAO: Robert Duggleby
FCS: [Vacant]
PAO: David Michael Reinert
AID: Jim Goggin
PC: Fred Gregory
RSO: Andriy Koropeckyj
IRM: Garry Harral
AGR: James R. Dever (res. Islamabad)
GSO: William McClure
CON: Phillip Slattery
FAA: James Nasiatka (res. Moscow)
DEA: Steven Monaco
CUS: Don Fanning (res. Berlin)
LEGATT: Cynthia Stone



Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet
December 24, 2003


Country Description: Uzbekistan is a relatively newly independent country in the midst of profound political and economic change. Tourist facilities are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available. Internal travel and travel to other states of the former Soviet Union, including both air and land routes, can be erratic and disrupted by fuel shortages, overcrowding and other problems.


Entry Requirements: A passport and visa are required; official invitations from a sponsoring organization or individual are no longer required for American citizens. Visas are issued by Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad. Visitors coming from countries where Uzbekistan does not have diplomatic or consular representation should obtain visas in a third country. Visas are not available upon arrival at any Uzbek airport.


Importantly, Uzbek visas indicate not only the validity of the visa, but also the period of time a person is allowed to stay in Uzbekistan on a given trip. Although Uzbek visas given to private American citizens are generally valid for four years with multiple entries, a visitor will have to leave the country after the number of days indicated as the duration of stay on the visa. Therefore, it is important to indicate your intended period of stay when applying for your Uzbek visa. Further visa information is available at the Consular Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone: (202) 530-7291; fax: (202) 293-9633; website: www.uzbekistan.org; or at the Consulate General of Uzbekistan in NYC, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 327A, New York, NY 10017; telephone: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 838-9812; website: www.uzbekconsulny.org.


All travelers, even those simply transiting Uzbekistan for less than 72 hours, must obtain an Uzbek visa before traveling to Uzbekistan. If you plan an overnight or have a long layover, you will need a visa to exit the transit lounge of the airport. Uzbekistan has suspended the 72-hour transit rule that allowed travelers with visas from other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States to transit Uzbekistan without an Uzbek visa.


The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya Oblast region bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. Foreign citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad.


Registration after Entry: All travelers present in Uzbekistan for more than three days must register with the Office of Entry, Exit, and Citizenship. Hotel guests are registered automatically, but all other travelers are responsible for registering themselves. A list of fees associated with the length of stay is available at the Embassy when you register or at www.usembassy.uz/consular. Visitors without proper registration are subject to fines and possible harassment by local authorities. Uzbek law mandates that visitors carry a medical certificate attesting that they are not infected with HIV. However, this requirement is only sporadically enforced.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated much more restrictive procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Safety and Security: Supporters of extremist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Al-Qaeda, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement remain active throughout Central Asia. These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. Government or private interests in Uzbekistan. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Because of increased security at official U.S. facilities, terrorists are seeking softer civilian targets such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, hotels, schools, outdoor recreation events, resorts, beaches, maritime facilities, and planes. U.S. citizens should remain vigilant about their own personal safety and avoid, if possible, locations where Americans and Westerners generally congregate in large numbers.


The Uzbek Government has intermittently restricted travel to certain parts of the country in response to security concerns. On December 1, 2001, the Uzbek Government imposed travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya Oblast region bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. Please keep in mind that the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan remains closed to all but official traffic.


In August 2000, portions of the Uzbek borders with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were closed to civilians and tourists in response to insurgency activity by the IMU. If IMU activity recurs, travelers could expect restricted personal movement, including the closing of roads to traffic, and frequent document, vehicle, and personal identification checks should be anticipated.


For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Americans traveling to or residing in Uzbekistan are urged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent and to stay apprised of security developments via the Consular Information Sheet for Uzbekistan and through the US Embassy warden system.

Additionally, U.S. citizens should check the Consular Information Sheets and current Travel Warnings or Public Announcements for nearby countries, including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan on a regular basis. The U.S. Embassy in each of those countries can provide up-to-date information about local crime and safety issues. Information about how to contact each Embassy directly is available on the Internet at the Consular Affairs home page, http://travel.state.gov, or by calling the U.S. Embassy, Tashkent.


The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use tollfree numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Crime: Uzbekistan has a relatively low rate of violent crime, but recent attacks against foreigners, including American citizens, indicate that it is increasing. Also, common street crime has increased, especially at night. In urban areas, travelers are urged to take the same precautions against crime that they would take in a large American city.


Although using private cars as taxicabs is a common practice in Uzbekistan, Americans, especially women and those traveling alone, should not consider this a safe practice. Americans are encouraged to use clearly marked taxicabs, such as those at hotels.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting the crime to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, or contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical care in Uzbekistan is below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. A source of western-style medical care in Tashkent is the Tashkent International Medical Clinic (TIMC) at 6 Minglar Street, Tashkent, telephone: 120-6092. TIMC provides basic family practice outpatient services and emergency services on a fee-for-service basis. Payment is accepted in U.S. dollars, cash or check. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident Americans travel to North America or Western Europe for their medical needs.


Medical Insurance: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Health care facilities in Uzbekistan will not accept American insurance, and doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.


Other Health Information: Travelers are advised to drink only boiled water, peel all fruits and vegetables, and avoid undercooked meat. Due to inadequate sanitation conditions, travelers should avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products and most food sold in the streets. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Uzbekistan is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of Public Transportation: Poor

Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor

Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor

Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor


Uzbekistan has a developed but deteriorating traffic infrastructure. Although main roads in central Tashkent are relatively well maintained, many secondary roads inside and outside Tashkent, and particularly those in the Tien Shan and Fan Mountains, are in poor condition and may be passable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving at night can be quite dangerous because only the main roads in Tashkent have streetlights; rural roads and highways generally are not lit. Visitors are strongly urged to avoid driving at night outside Tashkent.


Livestock, farm equipment and carts drawn by animals are found without lights or reflectors on both urban and rural roads at any hour. Local drivers are not familiar with safe driving techniques. Pedestrians in cities and rural areas cross streets unexpectedly and often without looking for oncoming traffic. Uzbekistan has a large road police force, which frequently stops drivers for minor in fractions or simple document checks. There have been reports of harassment of foreign drivers by the road police, with reported minor police corruption in the form of solicitation of bribes.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Uzbekistan driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, contact the Uzbekistan national tourist organization office on the Internet at http://www.uzbektourism.uz/?lang=en. Travelers may also address their questions via fax to the Uzbek Embassy in Washington, D.C. at (202) 293-9633 or the Consulate General in New York at (212) 838-9812.


Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Uzbekistan's Civil Aviation Authority as Category One — in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Uzbekistan's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone: (800) 322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone: (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Uzbek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export from Uzbekistan of items such as armaments and ammunition, space technology, encryption devices, X-ray and isotope equipment, nuclear materials, poisons, drugs, precious and semi-precious metals, nullified securities, pieces of art, and antiques of historical value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Uzbekistan in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Uzbek laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Uzbekistan are strict, and offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.


Consular Access: Travelers to Uzbekistan are subject to frequent document inspections. Therefore, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport and their Uzbek visa with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and certain bilateral agreements, local authorities must grant a United States consular officer access to any U.S. citizen who is arrested. U.S. citizens who are arrested or detained should ask to contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.


Special Circumstances: Most transactions are conducted on a cash-only, local currency (som) basis. Credit cards are accepted only at the main hotels and a few shops and restaurants; traveler's checks can be cashed into dollars at the National Bank of Uzbekistan. The commission fee is two percent. Importation of currency exceeding $10,000 (US) is subject to a one percent duty. Foreigners must complete a customs declaration upon entering Uzbekistan and may face fines upon departure if unable to produce certificates verifying legal conversion of foreign currency. Old U.S. dollar bills (prior to 1990) and/or those in poor condition (with tears, writing or stamps) are not acceptable forms of currency in Uzbekistan. Although payment in U.S. dollars is required for certain hotel charges, plane tickets, and visa fees, other dollar transactions, as well as black market currency exchanges, are prohibited.

Disaster Assistance: Uzbekistan is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and abductions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.


Registration/Embassy Location: Americans are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security in Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent is located at Ulitsa Chilanzarskaya, 82. The main Embassy telephone number is (998 71) 120-5450, fax: (998 71) 120-6335; the Consular Section's direct line is (998 71) 120-5444, or (998 71) 120-5449, e-mail address: [email protected] Current information may also be obtained from the Embassy website at www.usembassy.uz.


International Parental Child Abduction

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, American Citizen Services. For more information, please read the Guarding Against International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov


General Information: Uzbekistan is a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction but the Convention is not yet in force between Uzbekistan and the United States.


Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under Uzbek law.


Custody Disputes: Past Uzbek court practice has given priority for custodianship to the mother as long as certain restrictive conditions are met. The father can appeal for custody at any time.


Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in Uzbekistan if they potentially contradict or violate local laws and practices.


Visitation Rights: In cases where one parent has custody of a child, the second parent may be granted visitation rights by court decision.


Travel Restrictions: Uzbekistan issues two types of exit permissions: A) Temporary exit permission valid for two years: Consent of both parents (or guardian) is needed only for a minor under the age of 16. If only one parent is alive, a death certificate must be supplied.


B) Permission to leave the country indefinitely: ALL citizens (adults and children) must submit a notarized letter of consent from both parents or supply a death certificate of the parents.


Persons who wish to pursue a child claim in Uzbekistan court should retain an attorney in Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent maintains a list of lawyers acting in Uzbekistan. A copy of the list may be obtained by request from the Embassy at:


U.S. Embassy Tashkent

Consular Section
#82 Chilanzarskaya St.
Tashkent, 700115
Uzbekistan
Telephone: 998-71-120-5450
Fax: 998-71-120-6335
Website: http://www.usembassy.uz
Consular Section e-mail: [email protected]


The workweek for the U.S. Embassy is Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Questions involving Uzbek laws should be addressed to an Uzbek attorney or to the Embassy of Uzbekistan in the United States at:


Embassy of Uzbekistan

1746 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Telephone: (202) 887-5300
Fax: (202) 293-6804


Public Announcement
December 17, 2003


This Public Announcement is being issued to remind U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist actions against Americans in Uzbekistan. U.S. citizens should evaluate carefully the implications for their security and safety before deciding to travel to Uzbekistan. This supersedes the Public Announcement of September 29, 2003, and expires on June 17, 2004.

The U.S. Government has received information that terrorists may be planning attacks against hotels in Uzbekistan frequented by Westerners, and against foreign embassies and other organizations, facilities, and institutions associated with or representing foreign interests. Supporters of extremist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaida, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement continue to remain active in the region. These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may also at tempt to target U.S. Government or private interests in Uzbekistan. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists and their sympathizers seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, resorts, beaches, maritime facilities, and planes.


U.S. citizens should increase their security awareness and avoid, if possible, locations where Americans and Westerners generally congregate in large numbers. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent continues to employ heightened security precautions. U.S. citizens should report any unusual activity to local authorities and then inform the Embassy.


The Uzbek Government maintains travel restrictions on large parts of the Surkhandarya oblast (administrative region) bordering Afghanistan, including the border city of Termez. Foreign citizens intending to travel to this region must obtain a special permission card from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or Uzbek embassies and consulates abroad.


U.S. citizens are urged to register and update their contact information at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent. The Embassy is located at 82 Chilanzarskaya St., Tashkent, Uzbekistan 700115. The telephone number is 998-71-120-5450. The fax number is 998-71-120-6335. Updated information on travel and security in Uzbekistan may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States, and, from overseas, 1-317-472-2328. U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Uzbekistan, the World wide Caution Public Announcement, and the Travel Publication "A Safe Trip Abroad," which are available on the Department's Internet site at http://travel.state.gov.

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

POPULATION 25,155,000
MUSLIM 88 percent
EASTERN ORTHODOX 9 percent
OTHER 3 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

Bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, Afghanistan to the south, and Turkmenistan to the west, the Republic of Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. At the juncture of important ancient trade routes, Central Asia was exposed to ideologies and spiritual movements from Indian and Persian cultures. Major cities along the Silk Road included Samarqand, Bukhara, and Khiva, all of which are located in modern Uzbekistan.

Alexander the Great conquered the region in the fourth century b.c.e. Later in the sixth century c.e. Turkic nomads arrived. After a series of battles in Kharasan, Bactria, and Khoresm, Arabs began their rule in the mid-seventh century and introduced Islam to the region. By the end of the eighth century Islam was the dominant religion in Central Asia. The region was conquered by the Mongols in the thirteenth century. A Mongol khan named Öz Beg reigned from 1313 to 1341, and some believe that the Uzbeks claim their descent from this dynasty. The Uzbeks originated as a tribal confederation in the eastern regions of the Golden Horde, a Mongol state founded in the mid-thirteenth century and that encompassed most of Russia. In the fourteenth century Timur Lenk (1336–1405) forged a great empire.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Russian empire had expanded to contiguous lands, and by the middle of the nineteenth century, the Russians began their conquest of Central Asia. In 1924, following the establishment of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded. Since 1936 Uzbekistan has included the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan within its borders.

During the reform period from 1987 to 1991, Communist leaders of the Central Asian republics feared the demise of their own regimes, and leaders of the Central Asian republics supported the continuation of the Soviet Union until its final moment. When the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991, it was replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States, bringing independence to Uzbekistan. Despite religious restrictions, Islam continues to be a cultural and political force.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

Traditionally amicable relations have existed among the various religious communities of Uzbekistan. Beginning in the early twenty-first century, however, radical Islamic groups operating outside government structures distributed anti-Semitic literature, prompting some Jews of Uzbekistan to emigrate to Israel. Since the 1980s young Uzbeks have been drawn to what is called "political Islam," including such sects as Wahhabite and Hizb-u-Tahrir, as well as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Taliban style extremist groups.

Islam Karimov, who had been Uzbekistan's Communist party chief in 1989, was elected president in September 1991. He began a crackdown against political opponents and established controls on Muslims. The Karimov government continues to perceive unauthorized Islamic groups as extremist security threats and forbids them. The level of corruption in the Karimov administration and the extreme poverty experienced since independence from the Soviet Union can perhaps explain the attraction of the young people to such groups.

In May 1998 Parliament passed a law called Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, which begins with the proclamation that "the aim of the present law is to ensure the right of every person to freedom of worship and religion, and the citizens equality irrespective of their religious convictions." The law, however, drastically limits religious activity. It restricts religious rights that conflict with national security, forbids proselytizing, banishes religious subjects in schools, for-bids the private instruction of religious principles, for-bids the wearing of religious clothing in public by any-one but clerics, and requires religious groups to acquire a license to publish or disseminate materials.

Major Religion

ISLAM

DATE OF ORIGIN Seventh century c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 22 million

HISTORY

At the time of the Arab conquests that began in the seventh century and that introduced Islam to Central Asia, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeanism, Judaism, and Christianity were all represented in Central Asia and the area that would later become Uzbekistan. The region included the cities Bukhara and Samarqand, which became centers of Persian and Islamic culture. By the eleventh century Islam had spread along the trade routes of Central Asia through the efforts of Sufi brotherhoods.

Genghis Khan and the Mongols conquered Uzbekistan in 1220. In the fourteenth century Emir Timur, who claimed descent from Genghis Khan, built the Timurid dynasty that reached from India to Asia Minor with its capital in Samarqand. Sufi brotherhoods reached a peak in the fourteenth century. The most influential Sufi order was the Naqshbandi order, which was founded by Muhammad Baha ad Din Naqshband (1317–89) and patronized by Timur. Until 1501 Central Asia was dominated by the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam. In 1501 Iran was conquered by the Safavids, who ruled until 1727 and made Shiism the dominant religion. The dominance of Shiites in Iran created a religious frontier between Iran and Central Asia.

Beginning with the occupation of Kazan in 1520, the Russians steadily advanced into adjacent lands and Muslim territories. In 1865 Russians occupied Tashkent, and by the nineteenth century Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1924 the Soviet government carved Uzbekistan out of Central Asia. The Soviets attempted to promote Communist mullahs from 1921 to 1927; however, Joseph Stalin tried to abolish Islam from 1927 to 1939. In 1927 the Central Asian Communist organizations, under the supervision of two Communist party members from Moscow, launched the khujum (attack) movement, which aimed at counteracting traditions linked to Islam. Following the khujum, traditions sanctioned by Islam, such as polygyny, were classified as crimes based on custom. Mosques were closed, and waqf s, religious endowments governed by Islamic law, were liquidated. Ultimately the Soviets decided to institute a Muslim board in charge of conservative court mullahs. In 1941 Stalin established four spiritual leaderships for the Soviet Muslims. The Muslim Board of Tashkent was responsible for Central Asia and Kazakhstan, and the head of this board was the only mufti allowed to represent Soviet Islam to the Muslim world beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. During the Soviet era religious texts were preserved in private libraries, and the officially sanctioned Muslim Spiritual Directorate for Central Asia and Kazakhstan (SADUM) was established in 1943. With the onset of World War II, the Soviet government softened its anti-Islamic stance. A strong antireligious campaign, however, resumed after the war and continued to the end of Nikita Khrushchev's regime in 1964. His successor, Leonid Brezhnev, allowed more religious and cultural freedoms among Uzbeks.

Despite 70 years of official atheism during the Soviet period, Islam remains an important social and cultural factor among Uzbeks. In some instances Islam has taken on a political character. Although supportive of Islam as part of the Uzbek heritage, the Karimov administration, which has been in power since independence from the Soviets in 1991, has cracked down on several Islamic movements on the grounds that they destabilize society.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

For centuries rulers have fought over the territory of Uzbekistan. Key figures in Uzbekistan's history include Genghis Khan, from whom all the dynasties that followed the Mongols in Central Asia claim descent, and Timur, whose dynasty stretched from Ankara, Turkey, to Delhi, India. During Emir Timur's reign the cities of Samarqand and Bukhara became centers of the arts and sciences.

Of all of the popular uprisings against the Russians in Central Asia, the most significant one was that of 1898, which was led by Muhammad Ali Khalfa, a leader of the Sufi Naqshbandi brotherhood. He called for a holy war against the Russians; however, his revolt was crushed. During the 1920s and 1930s the Basmachi (bandit) movement (which included Muslim clerics who opposed atheism, Muslim nationalists fighting Russian domination, and units of Muslims who had defected from the Red Army) and jadidis (young Muslim intellectuals who hoped to achieve independence through social reform) threatened Soviet dominance in Central Asia but were defeated.

In 1988 the Soviet regime suddenly and with no explicable reason curtailed its surveillance on religious activity, which led to a religious revival in Uzbekistan. Under Soviet rule, religious leaders had often been manipulated. Shamsuddin Boboxonov, the director of the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan since 1982, was expelled by popular demand in 1989 and replaced by Muhammad Yusuf. Independence from the Soviet Union led to new Muslim boards that are closely monitored by a Directorate of Spiritual Affairs. In 1993 Muhammed Yusuf, who had been considered too independent by the Karimov administration, was replaced by Hajji Mukhtar Abdullah, a Naqshbandi Sufi.

Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan's Communist Party chief since 1989, was first elected president in December 1991 shortly after Uzbekistan gained its independence. In 1995, in a referendum in which voter's preferences could be observed by election officials, Karimov won with an overwhelming majority. In 2000 he was once again reelected by a substantial majority, and in 2002 his term was extended to December 2007 in a referendum that was much criticized by international organizations.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

Uzbekistan was home to many Muslim mathematicians, astronomers, and scientists as well as Islamic intellectuals. Muhammad Ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, born in Bukhara in the ninth century, traveled throughout the Muslim world collecting the hadith, the traditional sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. His work Al-Jami al-Sahih is considered by many Sunni Muslims to be the most authoritative collection of hadith. Muhammad Baha ad Din Naqshband, a spiritual leader of the fourteenth century, founded the important Sufi order in what is modern Uzbekistan. Babarahim Mashrab, born in Andijan in 1657, became a controversial and popular poet and Sufi dervish. In The Holy Fool, his popular folk work that continues to be influential, Mashrab wrote about his life and experiences.

The Sufi Allah Yar (died in 1721 or 1724) was considered a religious authority for his Persian language work The Path of the Believer, which was a required text in the religious primary schools, and for The Weakness of the Pious, a text aimed at introducing young people to the tenets of Islam. Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writers include Ahmad Danish (1827–97), Mahmud Khoja Behbudiy (1875–1919), Abdulhamid Cholpan (1897–1938), Abdalrauf Fitrat (1886–1938), Sadriddin Ayni (1878–1954), and Abdullah Qadiri (1894–1938). Many of these modern writers lost their lives during Stalinist purges.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

Samarqand is home to the Shah-i Zinda compound, Bibi Khanum mosque complex, Gur Emir ensemble, and the Registan Mosque and madrasahs (Islamic religious schools). Shah-i Zinda, which means living king, is a necropolis that was built in the eighth century. According to legend, Qusam b. Abbas, Prophet Muhammad's first cousin and a holy man who introduced Islam to the region, entered a well there and is said to still live in an underground palace. Bibi Khanum mosque complex, which was commissioned by Timur for his wife, took five years to construct between 1399 and 1404. The main mosque is flanked by two smaller mosques on the north and south sides to form a rectangle. The magnificent colorful geometric decorations, religious aphorisms, and its main portal with two minarets continue to make it an outstanding example of Islamic architecture. Gur Emir, or grave of Emir, was commissioned by Timur in 1404 for his grandson and heir apparent Muhammad Sultan, and it has become known as the Timurid vault.

Bukhara is known as an important Muslim intellectual center and is also the most complete example of a medieval Central Asian city. Some of its many houses of worship and holy places are Ismail Samani's Tomb, the Magoki-Attori Mosque, the Mausoleum of Chasma Aiub, the Kalyan Minaret, and Sheikh Muhammad Baha ad Din Naqshband's tomb.

The tomb of Sheikh Muhammad Baha ad Din Naqshband, which dates back to 1389, was built adjacent to his school on the site of an ancient pagan temple. Several rulers of Bukhara expanded the school and graves surrounding Naqshband's tomb. This large center of Islamic learning was closed during the Soviet period, and pilgrims were forbidden to visit. In 1988 the Soviets suddenly ceased their strict surveillance of Islam, and the complex was reopened in 1989. At the start of the twenty-first century there were more than 350 mosques and 100 higher schools of religion in Bukhara.

Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, became a Muslim city in the eighth century c.e. and was an important commercial center during the Middle Ages. Wars and earthquakes have destroyed most of its ancient monuments and historical places of worship.

WHAT IS SACRED?

Holy places, mosques, shrines, and relics are sacred, and visitors are expected to dress modestly and behave with a certain decorum. While perhaps not sacred in a religious sense, there are certain traditions in Uzbekistan's Muslim community that are treated as if sacred, including loyalty to one's group, respect for elders, and obedience toward parents.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Uzbeks share all the major Islamic holidays, such as Ramadan, Id al-Fitr, and Id al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice. Id al-Adha is celebrated throughout the Muslim world as a commemoration of Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice everything for God, including the life of his son Ishmael. Because God spared Ishmael, substituting a sheep in his stead, Muslims honor this occasion by slaughtering an animal and distributing its meat among family, friends, and the needy as a special act of charity. In the mahalla, or the traditional urban neighborhood, the entire neighbor-hood will celebrate holidays together, and in villages everyone may celebrate these important feasts together.

MODE OF DRESS

Culture and religion have become intertwined to create a unique Uzbek-Islamic way of dress. Traditional Uzbek attire for men and women adheres to Islamic code while maintaining its regional characteristics. In general, Muslim women cover their hair, and in some cultures they cover their entire body. Muslim men cover their arms up to the elbows and their legs up to the knees. In Uzbekistan traditional women will often wear colorful silk dresses that reach halfway between the knee and ankle with pants or leggings made of the same material under the dress. Both men and women may wear a doppe, a boxlike hat. Men may wear a long quilted garment with a sash around the waist called a chapan. In the villages a married woman will cover her forehead as well as her head with a scarf.

Since independence from the Soviet Union, scarves and the way they are worn have been the subject of political debate. In a style that has become associated with Uzbeks, women wear a scarf tied in the back of the head that leaves the neck and shoulders uncovered. Wearing a scarf that covers the neck and shoulders as well as the head is considered foreign, and possibly fundamentalist, which is perceived as controversial in Uzbekistan.

DIETARY PRACTICES

Practicing Muslims generally do not eat pork or consume alcohol. In Uzbekistan, while a small number of Muslims may eat pork, consumption of alcohol seems to vary according to socioeconomic status and age. Also, it is more acceptable for men than women to drink alcohol.

RITUALS

The Five Pillars of Islam—shahadah (profession of faith), salat (prayer five times a day), zakat (alms to the poor), ruza (fasting during the month of Ramadan), and hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca)—are followed by practicing Muslims in Uzbekistan.

Weddings, births, circumcisions, and deaths are celebrated by a toi, or ceremony and feast. Rural weddings often involve the entire village. In modern times a couple may have both a religious ceremony and a state registration, as well as a celebration that includes Western and local practices. Marriage and parenthood have religious connotations. Navruz, the Persian new year celebration, is also associated with fertility rites. The neigh-borhood women gather and cook sumoloq, which takes 24 hours to prepare and requires constant stirring. During this time the women pray for their daughters to marry and for the childless to bear children. Birth is celebrated with a number of rituals that are not necessarily Islamic in origin. The rituals surrounding death, however, are easily recognizable as Islamic. After death the body is washed and wrapped in a shroud and is often buried the same day or the following day. Culture rather than religion dictates that the family of the deceased host a gathering of family members and neighbors for several days.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Birth, circumcision for boys, and marriage all mark rites of passage in Uzbek culture, and they are celebrated with feasts and visitations from extended families and neighbors.

MEMBERSHIP

Becoming a Muslim is achieved through birth or conversion. After independence missionary activity was high. Beginning in 1998 with the law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, how-ever, missionary efforts were forbidden by the Karimov administration. Although the majority of the population in Uzbekistan claims an Islamic identity, many, in particular the youth, are not well-versed in the tenets of Islamic faith and practices.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

On 7 February 2003 the cabinet of Uzbek ministers declared 2003 "the year of the mahalla." The mahalla has its roots in the thirteenth century when neighborhoods of densely packed, single dwelling homes were organized around the trades and crafts of the residents. Traditionally the mahalla is a place where Sunni and Shiite Muslims interact. The mahalla was also a source of social services for community residents. During Soviet rule the government was to supply these services. In the late twentieth century Karimov claimed that reviving the mahalla could foster civil society in Uzbekistan. Others viewed it as a way of controlling the Muslims. When the state was unable to provide employment, the mahalla stepped in to provide the basic necessities. This practice was also perceived as a duty toward one another as good Muslims.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Uzbekistan is a secular state, but people may choose to follow Islamic laws to guide their lives. Since independence from the Soviets there has been a return to a more traditional view of gender roles, with women caring for the home and children and men acting as the providers. Otins, female Muslim clerics, have been called upon to teach Koranic exegesis to female students in the women's madrasahs in Kokand and Bukhara; however, the actual teaching of the Koran remains in men's hands. At feasts men and women will often eat separately, but this has more to do with tradition than Islam. Marriage must be sanctioned by both families.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Although the government of Uzbekistan is secular, Karimov swore in as president with a Koran in his hand, and pilgrimages to Mecca are subsidized by the government. The head mufti is present at all major public events. At the same time, there is a deep-seated fear of political Islam. Religious revival in Uzbekistan, which came to the surface in 1998, was tied to rediscovering Islam and Muslim culture and reestablishing links with Muslims beyond the boundaries of the Soviet Union. Breaches between the official and unofficial religious leaders (ulama), who had previously coexisted during the Soviet period, became clear. In 1989 the unofficial ulama publically accused those employed by the Soviet state of corruption and servility.

Since independence the Karimov regime has honored the Islamic heritage of the region with celebrations of ancient mosques and important Islamic figures. The hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is officially sponsored by the government, and Karimov has even performed it himself. At the same time, the Karimov regime has been wary of any possible challenges to its authority and has attempted to control Islamic expression. The Muslim Directorate of Uzbekistan, which replaced the Soviet era SADUM, has a monopoly on religious instruction. Mosques that are not controlled by the directorate are illegal. The Karimov government has declared that it will not tolerate the "wrong kind of Islam," which, according to official texts, is fundamentalist and extremist but in practice includes any religious figure or organization that attempts to participate in public life. Beginning in 1999, after an attempt was made on Karimov's life, people have been arbitrarily arrested on suspicion of belonging to an Islamic movement.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

The 1998 law called Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, which limits religious activity, has been controversial. The law has been heavily criticized by groups including human rights organizations and religious organizations. It has led to the arrest of thousands of Muslims and some Christians as well.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Since the eleventh century Bukhara and Samarqand have been spiritual and intellectual capitals of Islam. For many centuries mystical poetry, music, and ornamental calligraphy from the region has exerted its influence on the rest of the Islamic world. The blue tiles used in the mosques of Samarqand from the Timurid period continue to baffle experts for their enduring vibrancy after six centuries. Repressive measures as well as censorship in Uzbekistan have prompted many contemporary intellectuals and artists to live in exile.

Other Religions

Archaeolgical excavations reveal that many religions existed in Central Asia before the arrival of Islam. Founded 2,500 years ago in the foothills of Nepal, Buddhism spread to northern Pakistan and Afghanistan from roughly the first century b.c.e. to the fourth century c.e. From there it extended along the trade routes, reaching Central Asia, where it left its traces in all five republics. Several Buddhist monuments have been excavated in the Termez region. By the twenty-first century the number of Buddhist followers in contemporary Uzbekistan had dwindled considerably. There is evidence that Zoroastrians, followers of the Persian prophet Zoroaster (c.628–c.551 b.c.e.), lived in the region as well. The Magoki-Attori Mosque in Bukhara was built upon a Zoroastrian temple, which itself was built upon the ruins of a Buddhist temple.

Jewish and Eastern Orthodox groups have existed in Uzbekistan for centuries. Archeaological evidence confirms the presence of Jewish communities in what is today Uzbekistan as far back as the second century c.e. At the start of the twenty-first century, the Jewish community was estimated to be anywhere from 10,000 to 45,000 and included a mix of Orthodox Bukharan Jews, assimilated Jews of Ashkenazi descent, and those returning to religion after a period of Soviet atheism. The number of Russian Orthodox Christians in Uzbekistan also has decreased as they began a wave of emigration to Russia after independence from the Soviet Union. In 1996 the patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church in Tashkent celebrated its 125th anniversary.

Mainstream religions—which include state sanctioned Muslim groups, Jewish groups, Russian Orthodoxs, and various other denominations such as Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Baptists—have official status. A number of minority religious groups, such as the Bahai, Hare Khrishna, and Jehovah's Witnesses, have had a difficult time fulfilling the strict registration requirements set by the law known as Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, which stipulates that a denomination must have branches in at least 8 of Uzbekistan's 13 oblasts (and a minimum of 100 members each) in order to be officially registered.

Roberta Micallef

See Also Vol. 1: Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy, Islam

Bibliography

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——, ed. Central Asia, 130 Years of Russian Dominance: A Historical Overview. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1994.

Capisani, Giampaolo R. The Handbook of Central Asia. London: I.B.Tauris, 2000.

Eickelman, Dale. Russia's Muslim Frontiers. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

Haghayeghi, Mehrdad. Islam and Politics in Central Asia. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.

Hunter, Shireen. Central Asia since Independence. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1996.

McChesney, R.D. Central Asia—Foundations of Change. Princeton, N.J.: Darwin Press, 1996.

Olcott, Martha Brill. Central Asia's New States: Independence, Foreign Policy, and Regional Security. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1996.

Paksoy, H.B., ed. Central Asia Reader: The Rediscovery of History. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1994.

Ro'i Yaacov, ed. Muslim Eurasia: Conflicting Legacies. London: Frank Cass, 1995.

Roy, Oliver. The New Central Asia: The Creation of Nations. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

Smith, Graham, et al. Nation-Building in the Post-Soviet Borderlands: The Politics of National Identities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Undeland, Charles, and Nicholas Platt. The Central Asian Republics: Fragments of Empire, Magnets of Wealth. New York: The Asia Society, 1994.

Westerlund, David, and Ingvar Svanberg, eds. Islam outside the Arab World. Richmond, Surrey, England: Curzon Press, 1999.

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Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN

Compiled from the February 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Uzbekistan


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 447,400 sq. km., slightly larger than California.

Cities: Capital—Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million); Samarkand (600,000); Bukhara (350,000).

Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.

Climate: Mid-latitude desert; long, hot summers, mild winters.

People

Nationality: Uzbek.

Population: (July 2003 est.) 25,981,647.

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

Religions: Muslim 88% (Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.

Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.

Education: Literacy—97% (total population).

Health: (2003 est.) Life expectancy—60.53 years men; 67.64 years women.

Work force: (11.9 million) Agricultural and forestry—44%, industry—20%; services—36%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: September 1, 1991.

Constitution: December 8, 1992.

Branches: Executive—president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislativeunicameral, 250-seat Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis). Judiciary—Supreme Court, constitutional court, economic court.

Administrative subdivisions: (viloyatlar) 12, plus autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan and city of Tashkent.

Political parties: (leaders) Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party—established February 18, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 11, Turgunpulat DAMINOV, first secretary; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Partiya) or MTP—established on June 3, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 10, Ibrohim GOFUROV, chairman; Fatherland Progress Party (Vatan Tarakiyoti) or VTP—In April 2000, VTP merged with the National Democratic Party "Fidokorlar" (Fidokorlar Milliy Democratic Partiya), in Tashkent, number of seats in the parliament 62, Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary; People's Democratic Party or PDPU (Uzbekiston Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party)—established November 1, 1991 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 50, Asliddin RUSTAMOV, first secretary. Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan—established December 3, 2003, Kobiljon TOSHMATOV, chairman. Other political or pressure groups and leaders: Birlik (Unity) Movement—Abdurakhim PULATOV, chairman; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party—Mohammed SOLIH, chairman (banned Dec. 1992); party of Agrarians and Entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan—Marat ZAHIDOV, chairman; Ozod Dekkon (Free Farmers) Party—Nigara KHIDOYATOVA, general secretary; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Abdumannob PULATOV, chairman; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan—Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman; Ezgulik—Vasilya INOYATOVA, chair-woman.

Suffrage: Universal at age 18, unless imprisoned or certified as insane.

Defense: Military manpower—males age 15-49 fit for military service: 5,635,099 (2003 est.); universal 18-month military service for men.

Economy

(Note: Due to the unreliable nature of government statistics, it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan.)

GDP: Real GDP growth in 2003 was estimated at 0.3%.

Inflation: Approximately 50% in 2002, with a 150% average increase in prices of imported goods and a slight depreciation in domestically priced goods. In 2003, inflation was roughly 21.9%. The U.S. Embassy believes real wages were stagnant during 2003.

Per capita GDP: U.S. Government analysts believe that per capita GDP was about $350 per capita in 2001, $310 in 2002, and $350 in 2003. For 2004, unless the restrictive trade regime is changed, per capita GDP is likely to fall, possibly as low as $250.

Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, gold, coal, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, molybdenum. Natural gas production for 2003 was 58.1 billion cubic meters (bcm); 53 bcm was consumed in Uzbekistan and 5.9 bcm was exported. Oil production in 2003 was 145,320 barrels/day and consumption was 151,720 barrels/day.

Agriculture: Products—Cotton, fourth-largest producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock.

Industry: Types—textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas. The industrial production growth rate was estimated at 6.2% in 2003; electricity production was 48.6 billion kilowatt hours.

Budget: (2003 est.) Revenues—$2.42 billion; expenditures—$2.45 billion.

Trade: Total exports (2002 est. $2.8 billion)-largest contribution from cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles. Major export markets—Russia 16.7%, Switzerland 8.3%, United Kingdom 7.2%, Kazakhstan 3.1%. Total imports—(2002 est. $2.5 billion) machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs. Primary import partners—Russia 15.8%, South Korea 9.8%, United States 8.7%, Germany 8.7%.

External debt: (2002 est.) $4.6 billion.


PEOPLE

Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 25 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are nearly half the region's total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. Uzbek is the predominant ethnic group. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, and Tatar 1.5%. The nation is 88% Sunni Muslim and 9% Eastern Orthodox. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-today government and business use.

The educational system has achieved 97% literacy, and the mean amount of schooling for both men and women is 11 years. However, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated, inappropriate, and poorly kept. Additionally, the proportion of school-aged persons enrolled has been dropping. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency.


HISTORY

Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road—Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khivaare located in Uzbekistan, and many well-known conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the eight century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Genghis Khan and his Mongols over-ran its territory in 1220. In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan's most noted tourist sites date from the Timurid dynasty. Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates. Russia placed the rest of Central Asia under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.

In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories including the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton growing and natural resource potential. The extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than a third of its original volume, making this one of the world's worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991. Islam Karimov, former First Secretary of the Communist Party, was elected President in December 1991 with 88% of the vote; however, the election was not viewed as free or fair by foreign observers.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for separation of powers, freedom of speech, and representative government. In reality, the executive holds almost all power. The

judiciary lacks independence and the legislature, which meets only a few days each year, has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, Karimov's first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to yet again extend Karimov's term. The referendum passed and Karimov's term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament. The building to house the new parliament is currently under construction. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on December 26, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval but have yet to show interest in advocating alternatives to government policy. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members, and hold conventions and press conferences, but have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. Terrorist bombings were carried out March 28-April 1, 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara. It is not clear yet who committed the attacks. The government reaction to the attacks, thus far, has been restrained.

Human Rights

Uzbekistan is not a democracy and does not have a free press. Several prominent opponents of the government have fled, and others have been arrested. The government severely represses those it suspects of Islamic extremism, particularly those it suspects of membership in the banned Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir). Some 5,300 to 5,800 suspected extremists are incarcerated. This represents a decline from previous years, as hundreds are amnestied and fewer arrested. Prison conditions remain very poor, particularly for those convicted of extremist activities, and a number of such prisoners are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. No independent political parties have been registered, although they were for the first time able to conduct grass-roots activities and to convene organizing congresses. Following the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Government of Uzbekistan drafted an Action Plan to implement the Special Rapporteur's recommendations. The government has begun to enact a number of its provisions.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/7/05

President: Islom KARIMOV
Chmn., Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis): Erkin HALILOV
Prime Minister: Shavkat MIRZIYAYEV
First Dep. Prime Min.: Rustam AZIMOV
Dep. Prime Min.: Abdullah ARIPOV
Dep. Prime Min.: Ravshanbek FAYZULLAYEV
Dep. Prime Min.: Elyor GANIYEV
Dep. Prime Min.: Svetlana INAMOVA
Dep. Prime Min.: Rustam QOSIMOV
Dep. Prime Min.: Otkir SULTONOV
Dep. Prime Min.: Abdukahhor TUKHTAYEV
Min. of Agriculture & Water Resources: Sayfiddin ISMOILOV
Min. of Culture & Sports: Alisher AZIZKHOJAYEV
Min. of Defense: Kodir GHULOMOV
Min. of Economics: Rustam AZIMOV
Min. of Emergency Situations: Bakhtiyor SUBANOV
Min. of Finance: Saidahmad RAHIMOV
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Elyor GANIYEV
Min. of Higher & Secondary Specialized Education: Rustam QOSIMOV
Min. of Internal Affairs: Zokirjon ALMATOV
Min. of Justice: Boritosh MUSTAFOYEV
Min. of Labor & Social Security: Okiljon OBIDOV
Min. of Public Education: Turobjon JORAYEV
Min. of Public Health: Feruz NAZIROV
Sec., National Security Council: Ruslan MIRZAYEV
Chief of Staff, Presidential Administration: Zilemkhon HAIDAROV
Chmn., State Bank: Fayzulla MULLAJANOV
Chmn., National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity: Zayniddin MIRKHOJAYEV
Chmn., National Security Service (SNB): Rustam INOYATOV , Col. Gen.
Chmn., State Committee for Architecture & Construction: Azamat TOKHTAYEV
Chmn., State Committee for Customs: Bahodir MATLUBOV
Chmn., State Committee for Demonopolization & Competition Development: Jamshid SAYFITDINOV
Chmn., State Committee for Environmental Protection:
Chmn., State Committee for Geology & Minieral Resources: Nurmukhammad AKHMEDOV
Chmn., State Committee for Land Resources: Abduvali ABDUAZIZOV
Chmn., State Committee for State Property Management & Entrepreneurship Support: Makhmudjon ASKAROV
Chmn., State Committee for Statistics: Gafurjon KUDRATOV
Chmn., State Committee for Taxation: Botir PARPIYEV
Chmn., State Committee for Women: Svetlana INAMOVA
Ambassador to the US: Abdulaziz KAMILOV
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alisher VOHIDOV

The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains an embassy at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel.: (202) 887-5300; fax (202) 293-6804. Its consulate and mission to the UN in New York are located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 326/327a, New York, NY 10017. Consulate tel.: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 486-7998.


ECONOMY

The economy is based primarily on agriculture and agricultural processing; Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. It also is a major producer of gold with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world and has substantial deposits of copper, strategic minerals, gas, and oil. Since independence, the government has stated that it is committed to a gradual transition to a free market economy but has been extremely cautious in moving to a market-based economy.

Although it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uz