In the 1st millennium BC. the area of what is now Uzbekistan was populated by Iranian tribes, during this time the empire of Choresmien was formed south of the Aral Sea on the course of the Amudarja River, which was then called Oxus. Accordingly, this area was called Transoxania. Around the middle of the 1st millennium BC. Transoxania belongs to the Persian Achaemenid Empire. In the 4th century BC this empire was destroyed by the troops of Alexander the Great, in Transoxania the city of Samarkand fell in 329 BC. in the hands of the Macedonian general. After his death in 323 BC. the area became part of the Seleucid Empire.
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Chinese area of influence
In the 2nd century BC Transoxania was under the influence of the Chinese Empire, which dominated the famous Silk Road trade route (which connected Far Eastern China to the east coast of the Roman-dominated Mediterranean). This trade route got its name from one of the most important trade goods, the Chinese silk. The cities in Uzbek territory, which lay along the Silk Road (such as Samarkand), achieved great prosperity due to their location.
In the 3rd century AD The Persian Sassanid Empire developed in Central Asia, which also ruled parts of today’s Uzbekistan. The empire of Choresmia in the west was able to maintain its independence from the Sassanids, but was conquered in the course of the 4th century by the nomadic hephthalites who subjugated all of Transoxania.
From the middle of the 7th century, Muslim Arabs conquered large parts of Central Asia and spread Islam as a religion. In 751 there was a decisive battle of Arab troops against Chinese forces in Transoxania, who tried to renew their influence here. After China’s defeat, the area was incorporated into the Caliphate.
In the area of what is now Uzbekistan, several empires, which were officially part of the Caliphate empire, developed over the next centuries, but were very independent. The ruling dynasties included, for example, the Persian Samanids, the center of which was the city of Bukhara. In the 10th century, the Samanid Empire was conquered by the Turkic Seljuk people, who also conquered the Choresmia empire in the west.
From the beginning of the 13th century, the entire area of what is now Uzbekistan was conquered by the Mongol horsemen and in 1320 it became part of the “Golden Horde” empire. After the Khan Özbeg (Uzbek), which united the local Turkic tribes, the Uzbek people got its name. The Mongolian empire did not last long. Under Timur-Leng there was another Mongolian empire in the second half of the 14th century, which extended from India via Persia to Asia Minor and also included the area of what is now Uzbekistan. Samarkand became the center of the empire and, like the cities of Bukhara and Tashkent, was provided with magnificent Islamic buildings that are still attractions in Uzbekistan today.
After Timur-Leng’s death in 1405, his empire fell into smaller khanates again. From the beginning of the 16th century, the Uzbek rulers of the Shaibanids were able to establish themselves as the dominant power in Transoxania, who established a khanate with Bukhara as the center. After its decay, Bukhara dominated the eastern part of Transoxania, while the khanate of Khiva dominated in the western part. In addition, the khanate Kokand in the far east of today’s Uzbekistan was added in the course of the 18th century. These areas managed to maintain their independence from the Ottoman Empire in the west and the New Persian Empire in the south during the 19th century.
From 1860 Russian troops advanced from the area of today’s Kazakhstan to the south and took over the cities of Tashkent and Samarkand. The khanates of Kokand, Bukhara and Khiva were conquered, and Russian protectorates and the General Governorate of Turkestan, which was established in 1868, were attached. Under Russian guidance, the agricultural land was transferred to Russian settlers and societies and huge cotton plantations were created. As a result, the livelihood of the Uzbeks, who mainly lived as nomads, was withdrawn. The resistance of the Uzbeks to the new foreign rulers and their “Russification policy”, which suppressed the local culture and traditions, was expressed in the form of a multitude of uprisings that were suppressed by Russian troops.
According to AbbreviationFinder, the Bolshevik Red Army conquered what is now Uzbekistan after 1920 and founded the People’s Republics of Bukhara and Choresmia. The Uzbek resistance under the leadership of Enver Pascha, who called for an Islamic caliphate in Samarkand, was able to assert itself until 1922, but was finally suppressed.
After the founding of the USSR in 1922, the areas of what is now Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were combined as the “Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic” (ASSR). In 1924 the “Uzbek Socialist Soviet Republic” with the capital Samarkand (from 1930 Tashkent) became its own Union Republic (including Tajikistan, which was only spun off as a separate republic in 1929). The government installed by Moscow began with extensive “Sovietization” measures, including the abolition of private property, the compulsory collectivization of agriculture, the introduction of the Soviet education system and the re-education of the population in the sense of communism. The Islamic mosques and Koran schools were closed, the importance of Islam pushed back.In the course of the Stalinist “purge”, countless members of the Uzbek upper class died or disappeared in Siberian labor camps in the 1930s. The industrialization of the country was pushed forward with great effort. In the late 1940s, the expansion of large-scale irrigation projects began, through which desert and steppe areas were to be gained as agricultural land.In particular, the Syrdarja and Amudarja rivers were diverted large amounts of water for irrigation of the planted cotton plantations, which in the long term led to the Aral Sea in northern Uzbekistan, which was mainly fed by these two rivers, shrinking to less than half its original size.
As part of the Soviet reform policy under Mikhail Gorbachev from the late 1980s, demands for independence were also made in Uzbekistan. In 1991 the Republic of Uzbekistan declared its full independence with the capital Tashkent. The former president of the Communist Party, Islam A. Karimov, became the new president. His party, which won the majority in the elections, was renamed “Democratic People’s Union” (Chalk Demokratik Partijasi, CDP) in the same year. Islamic fundamentalist parties were banned. The declared goal of political governance was the slow change towards a market economy order. Modern restructuring measures should be combined with national traditions and the content of Islam.
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In the same year Uzbekistan was one of the founding members of the CIS (“Commonwealth of Independent States”), a year later (1992) the country joined the UN. With the political leaderships of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, Karimov concluded the first of a series of closer economic cooperation agreements in November 1992. Due to the collapse of the markets of the former Eastern Bloc, the Uzbek economy suffered severe losses and was dependent on foreign financial aid. In 1994 the ruble was replaced by the Uzbekistan sum.
In the parliamentary elections in December 1994 only one opposition party (“Watan Tarakkioti”, progress party) was admitted, the Democratic People’s Union was able to win 95% of the vote. A year later, a referendum and a subsequent parliamentary decision decided to extend President Karimov’s term of office until 2000. The presidential elections in January 2000 again confirmed Karimov in office with around 92% of the vote. International observers spoke of manipulation of the election.
In 1999 there were a series of bombings by the radical “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” in the capital Tashkent. The Fergana Valley in the border triangle with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is the starting point for this movement. In May 2005 there were bloody riots in the city of Andijan, again caused by Islamist groups. However, observers accused the Uzbek government security organs of using undue force. The EU imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan in November 2005 due to the government’s silence regarding the incidents (repealed in 2009).
Under the pretext of fighting Islamic fundamentalism, President Karimov continues to suppress any unpleasant political opposition in the country. These include the national-Uzbek party “Birlik” and the opposition party “Erk”. The constitutional amendment in 2002 further strengthened Karimov’s position. In May 2005 there were demonstrations against the regime in the city of Andijon. The military fired on insurgents and uninvolved citizens; up to 500 people were killed. Although, according to the constitution, the term of office of the president can only be extended once, Karimov ran again in the presidential elections in December 2007. Karimov won this election with 88.1%.