Uzbekistan Population and Economy
Formerly a federated republic within the USSR, since 31 August 1991 it is an independent republic, which became part of the Commonwealth of Independent States on 21 December 1991. With an area of 447,400 km 2and a population of 22,199,000 residents (1994 estimate) the Uzbekistan it is the most populous Muslim republic in the former Soviet Union. Although an artificial creation of the Stalin era, it presents itself as a particularly solid nation-state, characterized by a strong Uzbek national identity, and with aspirations to become the great regional power of Central Asia. The dominance of the Uzbek ethnic group (71.2% of the population at the 1989 census) is reinforced by a strong presence of Uzbek minorities in the neighboring republics, with respect to which the Uzbekistan occupies a central position (Afghānistān 7%; Tajikistan 20-25%; Turkmenistan 8.5%; Kazakhstan 1.8% of the respective populations). Within the Uzbekistan, on the other hand, ethnic minorities have a relatively low weight. The Russians (8, 3%) tend to leave the republic, since Uzbek has become the only official language. The Tajiks (4.7%) of Samarkand and Buhara are subjected to strong Uzbekization. The Caracalpacchi, which have a vast autonomous region within the Uzbekistan, are few in number (less than 2% of the population) and ruined by the drying up of the Aral Sea. Ethnic homogenization is therefore nearing completion.
Economic conditions. – According to Baglib.com, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the resulting crisis – in particular the disintegration of the commercial system based on the complementary ties between the Soviet republics – had less disastrous consequences in the Uzbekistan than elsewhere, due to self-sufficiency of the country in terms of energy sources and agricultural products, as well as its role as an exporter of mineral raw materials. The most recent economic policy orientations tend to favor a gradual transition to a market economy system, to diversify productive activities (to intensify the exploitation of mineral and energy resources and to reduce the traditional intensive monoculture of cotton) and to encourage foreign investment.
In 1992 agriculture contributed 36% to the formation of the national product and employed 41% of the workforce. About 60% of the territory is covered by steppes and deserts; the rest can be cultivated thanks to irrigation made possible by the presence of three rivers (Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Zarafšan) whose sources are located outside the national borders (in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghānistān). The question of water, together with that of the lack of access to the sea (the US is the only country in the world separated from the sea by at least two sovereign states), is destined to assume a strategic role in the evolution of geopolitical relations with the adjacent villages.
The massive use of irrigation of arid lands has made it possible to obtain high production yields: the Uzbekistan it is the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world (1.4 million tonnes of fiber in 1992), which alone accounts for 40% of the total value of agricultural production. However, large-scale irrigation has caused disastrous environmental effects, first of all the drying up of the Aral Sea, which has seen the water supply of its tributaries subtracted. Other main crops: wheat (950,000 t), vegetables and fruit. At the end of 1993 the privatization process of the 715 state farms was nearing completion.
The industrial sector (42% of gross domestic product and 23% of employment in 1992) is largely based on the processing of mineral raw materials and agricultural products, as well as on metallurgy and the production of agricultural machinery and chemical products. The Uzbekistan it is almost self-sufficient in energy sources, and has important deposits of natural gas, partly exported. Remarkable are the resources of gold, silver, uranium, copper, lead, zinc and tungsten. The Uzbekistan occupies the eighth place in the world for the production of gold: 70 tons per year, largely coming from the Murantau mine, in the Kyzylkum desert, the largest open pit gold mine in the world.
UZBEKISTAN. – The territory extends into the extremely fertile valleys of the Fergana (upper basin of Syr-Dar′ja) and in the middle and lower basin of the Zeravšan, up to the steppe plains south of the Aral Sea, all regions that in the decade after the second war world have undergone significant economic progress. The Uzbeks currently (1959) constitute 3/4 of the population; the remainder is made up of Karakalpaki, Kazakhs, Tajiks and Jews from Bukhara. The urban population has been increasing, and constitutes (in 1959) 25% of the total; the average density is about 15 residents per km 2. In a few decades the country has transformed; many ancient cities have grown and modernized, others have sprung up out of nowhere. Among the latter we mention: the industrial centers of Čirčik, Jangi-Jul ′, Angren, Begovat, Gasli (the city of methane).
From the great mountainous reliefs, which dominate the country to the east, descend many rivers rich in water, which have made great hydraulic works possible. In 1959 the irrigation canals reached over 160,000 km of development, transporting 28 billion m 3 of water annually to fertilize more than two million hectares of arable land, including the vast arid-steppe region of the so-called Hunger Steppe, transformed into vast cotton plantations. Note among others the great canal of Fergana, 270 km in length, and the grandiose Farchad hydroelectric power plant, as the waters are not only used for irrigation, but also for the production of electricity, which has favored, especially in the last decade, the development of new industrial activities.
The main wealth of the Uzbekistan it is cotton, the plantations of which have grown more and more; today 3/4 of all Soviet production is produced. The mechanization of work, irrigation, largely due to the dam on the Amu-Dar′ja river, have favored the cultivation of this textile plant. In 1957 there were more than 1800 kolkhozi and 22 sovchozy ; the total production of fiber in 1956 was around 860,000 t, of which a large part is precious fiber.
In addition to cotton, the cultivation of other textile plants has intensified: hemp and kenaf. Overall, all agricultural production has marked significant increases: wheat, rice, fruit (apricots, peaches, pears, figs, almonds, cherries, etc.); legumes, vegetables and vines. Of the latter, special varieties have been cured, which offer fine grapes. Sericulture has also improved thanks to a more rational gelsiculture; in 1956 146,000 q of cocoons were produced. Even breeding has been adopting increasingly rational methods; Karakul sheeps always have particular importance, the skin of which supplies astrakhan, a very precious fur. Hundreds of farms and 15 large sovchozy they practice this breeding on vast desert and semi-desert pastures. In relation to so much agricultural and livestock activities, various industries have been developing; primarily textiles. The Uzbekistan it is also a republic that rapidly industrialized in the mining, metallurgical, mechanical and chemical fields. In 1944 the first metallurgical plant in Central Asia began to operate, as a result of the evacuation of factories from the western parts of the European USSR. Today Central Asia is self-sufficient for steel production (219,000 t in 1956). A grandiose agricultural machinery plant is built in Tashkent; near the city, in Almalsyk, there are modern chemical plants (nitrogen fertilizers) and oil refineries. Mechanical production is on the rise: machine tools, cinematographic machines. The new plants in Begovat are grandiose, supplied with energy by the Farchad power plant. Railway and aeronautical material is manufactured in Tashkent. Mining production reached (in 1957) 1,029,000 t for oil, 2,817,000 t for coal. Methane (Gasli) has also been extracted for some years. Other minerals extracted: copper, tungsten, tin, lead, and building materials (marbles).