Uzbekistan, officially the Republic of Uzbekistan (Uzbek: O'zbekiston Respublikasi) is a country in Central Asia. It is a sovereign secular, unitary constitutional republic that consists of 12 provinces. Uzbekistan borders five countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south and Turkmenistan to the southwest. Uzbekistan has access to the Aral Sea, however, it is one of the two doubly separated countries in the world (along with Liechtenstein), where access to the World Ocean requires crossing the territory of two countries: all neighboring countries also do not have access to the World Ocean[ 1].
What is now Uzbekistan was anciently part of the Iranian-speaking region of Transoxiana and Turan. The first recorded settlers were the eastern Iranian nomads, known as Scythians, who founded kingdoms in Khorezm (8th - 6th centuries BC), Bactria (8th - 6th centuries BC), Sogdia (8th - 6th centuries BC) BC), Fergana (III – VI century BC) and Margiana (III – VI century BC). The area was included in the Achaemenid Iranian Empire and after a period of Macedonian rule was ruled by the Iranian Empire and later by the Sassanid Empire until the Arab conquest of Iran in the 7th century. The Muslim conquest in the 7th century became the reason why the majority of the population, including the local rulers, were adherents of Islam. During this same period, cities such as Samarkand, Khiva, and Bukhara began to grow rich thanks to the Silk Road passing through them.
The local dynasty and Central Asia as a whole were destroyed by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. After the Mongol conquests, the area became increasingly dominated by Turkic peoples. The city of Shahrisabz is the birthplace of Timur, who in the 14th century founded the Timurid Empire and was declared Supreme Emir of Turan with his capital in Samarkand. The region was conquered by the Uzbek Puckanids in the 16th century, when power shifted from Samarkand to Bukhara. The area is divided into three separate states: Khiva Khanate; Kokand Khanate and Bukhara Emirate. The region was gradually annexed to the Russian Empire in the 19th century, with Tashkent becoming the political center of Russian Turkestan. In 1924, after the national borders were defined, the USSR was created, to which Uzbekistan was also added. After the collapse of the USSR, it declared independence as the Republic of Uzbekistan on August 31, 1991.
Uzbekistan has a diverse cultural heritage due to its history and strategic location. Its first major official language is Uzbek, a Turkic language written in the Latin script and spoken by about 85% of the population. The Russian language is widespread as a de facto language. It is the most widely taught second language. Uzbeks make up 81% of the population, followed by Russians (5.4%), Tajiks (4.0%), Kazakhs (3.0%) and others (6.5%).
Muslims make up 79% of the population, while 5% of the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, and 16% of the population believe in other religions or are not religious. Uzbekistan is a member of the CIS, OSCE, UN and SCO. Officially a democratic republic until 2008, however, human rights NGOs describe Uzbekistan as an "authoritarian state with limited civil rights".
After the death of Islam Karimov in 2016, the second president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, began a new political course that has been described as "Quiet Revolution and Revolution from Above". He states that he intends to abolish cotton slavery, the systematic use of child labor, exit visas, introduce tax reform, create four new free economic zones, and amnesty some political prisoners. Relations with neighboring countries Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan have improved dramatically since he came to power.
The Uzbek economy is in the process of gradual transition to a market economy, with foreign trade policy based on import substitution. In September 2017, the country's currency became fully convertible at market prices. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. The country also operates the largest gold mine in the world. With giant Soviet-era power generation facilities and vast supplies of natural gas, Uzbekistan has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia. Renewable energy accounts for over 23% of the country's energy sector, with hydropower and solar energy accounting for 21.4% and 2% respectively.