Uzbekistan, republic in Central Asia, bordered on the west and north by Kazakhstan, on the east by Kyrgyzstan, on the southeast by Tajikistan, and on the south by Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. The Qoraqalpogh Autonomous Republic (also known as Qoraqalpoghiston, or Karakalpakstan) occupies 37 percent of Uzbekistan’s territory in the western portion of the country. Toshkent (Tashkent), located in the northeast, is the capital city and chief industrial and cultural center. Uzbeks make up the majority of the republic’s population. In the official state language of Uzbek, the republic is called Uzbekiston Respublikasy (Republic of Uzbekistan).
Uzbekistan was 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 designated a secular and democratic republic with the ratification of its first post-Soviet constitution. However, many of the centralized controls that were characteristic of the Soviet period remain entrenched in the economic and political structures of Uzbekistan. Although the constitution guarantees a multiparty system, the republic’s president, Islam Karimov, has established an authoritarian-style regime that has been intolerant of opposition groups. Karimov has also proceeded cautiously with market-oriented economic reforms, and the government retains control over most sectors of the economy.
Education of Uzbekistan
Education is compulsory in Uzbekistan from age 6 until age 15. Nearly the entire adult population can read and write. Illiteracy was high before the Soviet period but was virtually eliminated by 1970 as a result of the Soviet Union’s emphasis on free and universal education. Since gaining independence, Uzbekistan has embarked on a gradual and costly reform of its education system, which was based on the Soviet model, to bring it up to modern and internationally recognized standards. Among other changes, the government has introduced new curricula and textbooks, new teacher-training programs, and a multitiered degree system for higher education. The government has also opened new primary and secondary schools to serve the growing population of the country, as well as science and technology institutes to meet the needs of a developing nation. Schools play an integral role in the process of nation building. For example, textbooks now place a greater emphasis on Uzbek history and literature, and both the Arabic and Latin scripts are taught in schools.
Institutes of higher education include Toshkent State University (founded in 1920), Toshkent Islamic University (1999), Samarqand State University (1933), and Nukus State University (1979), all named after the cities of their location.
Uzbekistan - Industry
Uzbekistan's industrial sector accounted for 33 percent of its NMP in 1991. Despite some efforts to diversify its industrial base, industry remains dominated by raw materials extraction and processing, most of which is connected with cotton production and minerals. As illustrated especially by the domestic oil industry, in the Soviet era industrial production generally lagged behind consumption, making Uzbekistan a net importer of many industrial products. Under the difficult economic conditions caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union's system of allocations and interdependence of republics, this situation has worsened. In 1993 total manufacturing had decreased by 1 percent from its 1990 level, and mining output had decreased by more than 8 percent.
Little industrial development occurred in Uzbekistan under Soviet rule besides that related to the cotton industry, such as fertilizer production and ginning. Since independence, however, Uzbekistan has begun to develop its industrial base. Textile manufacturing, which was limited in the Soviet era, is expanding. Automobiles and trucks are assembled through agreements formed in the mid-1990s with German and South Korean manufacturers. Transport and passenger aircraft are produced near Toshkent. Industry, including mining, manufacturing, and construction, employs 20 percent of the workforce.
The Tashkent region, in the northeastern "peninsula" adjacent to the Fergana Valley, accounts for about one-third of the industrial output of Uzbekistan, with agricultural machinery the most important product. The city is the nucleus of an industrial region that was established near mineral and hydroelectric resources stretching across northeastern Uzbekistan from the Syrdariya in the west to the easternmost point of the nation. Electricity for the industries of the region comes from small hydroelectric stations along the Chirchiq River and from a gas-fired local power station.
Uzbekistan's most productive heavy industries have been extraction of natural gas and oil; oil refining; mining and mineral processing; machine building, especially equipment for cotton cultivation and the textile industry; coal mining; and the ferrous metallurgy, chemical, and electrical power industries. The chemical manufacturing industry focuses primarily on the production of fertilizer.
Two oil refineries in Uzbekistan, located at Farghona and Amtiari, have a combined capacity of 173,000 barrels per day. Other centers of the processing industries include Angren (for coal), Bekobod (steel), Olmaliq (copper, zinc, and molybdenum), Zarafshon (gold), and Yangiobod (uranium). The Uzbek fertilizer industry was established at Chirchiq, northeast of Tashkent, near Samarqand, and at several sites in the Fergana Basin. Uzbekistan is the largest producer of machinery for all phases of cotton cultivation and processing, as well as for irrigation, in the former Soviet Union. The machine building industry is centered at Tashkent, Chirchiq, Samarqand, and Andijon in the east, and at Nukus in Karakalpakstan.
Uzbekistan has abundant mineral wealth, and developing the country’s mining industry is an economic priority. The export of metals is now second only to cotton. Uzbekistan is among the world’s leaders in gold production, extracting 93 metric tons in 2004. Almost all of the gold is exported. Uzbekistan’s Muruntau gold mine, located in the Qyzylqum desert, is one of the world’s largest open-pit gold mines. The country also produces quantities of copper, silver, tungsten, molybdenum, and uranium.
Uzbekistan has major reserves of fossil fuels. The country produces large quantities of natural gas, some of which it exports. The country’s petroleum reserves produce enough for domestic consumption. Unlike some other countries in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has not sought to become an exporter of oil. Government subsidies keep domestic prices for oil and gas low. Uzbekistan also has significant reserves of coal, about one-third of which is highly valued anthracite.
The predominant light industries are primary processing of cotton, wool, and silk into fabric for export, and food processing. In 1989 light industry accounted for 27.1 percent of industrial production; that category was completely dominated by two sectors, textiles (18.2 percent) and agricultural food processing (8.9 percent). The nature of the Uzbek textile industry in the mid-1990s reflects the Soviet allotment to Uzbekistan of primary textile processing rather than production of finished products. Food processing has diversified to some degree; the industry specializes in production of dried apricots, raisins, and peaches. Other products are cottonseed oil for cooking, wine, and tobacco.