Uzbekistan is the most populous of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The country has had authoritarian and monotonous rule since independence from the Soviet Union, and is struggling with widespread corruption and poverty.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Tashkent
- Ethnic groups: Uncertain 83.8%, Tajik 4.8%, Kazakhs 2.5%, Russians 2.3%, Karakalak 2.2%, Tatars 1.5%, others 4.4% (2017)
- Language: Uzbek (official) 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
- Religion: Muslims (most Sunni) 88%, Orthodox Christians 9%, others 3%
- Population: 32 364 996 (2018)
- Control Form: Republic
- Area: 447 400 km2
- Currency: Uzbek sum
- GNP per capita: 6 513 PPP $
- National Day: September 1st
In 2013, the population was estimated at 30 241 000 (World Bank). Life expectancy is 71.5 years for women and 64.8 for men. In 2008, the ethnic composition was calculated as: 80% Unbeknownst, 5.5% Russian and 5% Tajik. Other minorities of caracal packs, Kyrgyz, Ukrainians, Turkmen and others.
Large areas of the country are empty. Relatively many live in rural areas, less than 40% live in cities. The densest settlement is found in the eastern part of the country, especially in the Fergana Valley and surrounding valleys, as well as along Seravshan in the south central part. Major cities are the capital Tashkent, Namangan, Samarkand and Andijan.
Uzbek is the official language and is spoken by about 3/4 of the population. It is written with the Latin alphabet. Important minority languages are Russian, Tatar, Tajik and Kazakh.
The majority of the population (88%) are Sunni Muslims and belong to the Hanafi. The country has several active Sufi fraternities, Naqshbandiyya and Qadiriyya being the largest (see Sufism). After 1991, Soviet restrictions on religious activities were lifted (restrictions on mosque buildings, religious training, etc.). Mission promotions from Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as a general interest in parts of the people for religious activism, led to a ban on organized political-religious activities in the 1990s, and the authorities crack down on Islamic activists. The country has several life-style minorities: Russian Orthodox Christians make up 1%, the Jewish minority 0.2%, non-religious or without religious affiliation counts 10.8%.