UzbekistanUzbekistan is a country in central Asia.

Uzbekistan, a country in Central Asia that was once a part of the Soviet Union. It is bordered by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan extends southeastward from the Aral Sea to the foothills of the Tien Shan. The Kyzyl Kum desert occupies much of the land. The Amu Darya, Syr Darya, and Zeravshan rivers, flowing from high mountains beyond the republic's border, are the chief rivers. The area is 173,592 square miles (449,600 km2). The region is arid to semiarid. Summers are long and hot, with an average July temperature of 90° F. (32° C.). Winters are short and cold, with frequent frosts and temperatures as low as -36° F. (-38° C.).

Agriculture and mining are the mainstays of Uzbekistan's economy. Under the Soviets, cotton cultivation was extensively developed, and cotton remains the country's chief agricultural product. Also grown are a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables. The Fergana, Zeravshan, and Amu Darya valleys are the chief farming regions. Agriculture is aided by extensive irrigation systems. Sheep and cattle are the most numerous livestock.

Uzbekistan is well endowed with mineral resources. The country is a major world producer of natural gas and gold. Other minerals produced include coal, copper, petroleum, silver, tungsten, and uranium.

The largest manufacturing industries are textile milling and food processing. Also significant is the manufacture of machinery, chemicals, fertilizer, and steel.

Uzbekistan's basic currency unit is the som.

Facts in brief about Uzbekistan
Capital: Tashkent.
Official language: Uzbek.
Official name: Uzbekiston Respublikasi (Republic of Uzbekistan).
Area: 172,742 mi2 (447,400 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 575 mi (925 km); east-west, 900 mi (1,450 km).
Elevation: Highest—peak in the Gissar mountain range, 15,233 ft (4,643 m). Lowest—Sarykamysh Lake (seasonal salt lake bed), 65 ft (20 m) below sea level.
Population: Current estimate—27,890,000; density, 161 per mi2 (62 per km2); distribution, 64 percent rural, 36 percent urban.
Chief products: Agriculture—cotton, eggs, grapes, livestock, milk, potatoes, rice. Manufacturing—agricultural machinery, chemicals, food products, paper, textiles. Mining—coal, copper, gold, natural gas, petroleum.
Flag: Uzbekistan's flag has three broad horizontal stripes—light blue, white, and light green (top to bottom)—separated by thin red lines. The blue band shows a white crescent and stars.
Money: Basic unit—Uzbek som. One hundred tijins equal one som.
People and Government

The population of Uzbekistan in 1989 was 19,905,000. More than two-thirds of the people are ethnically Uzbek, a largely Sunni Muslim, Turkic-speaking people. Among the other inhabitants are Karakalpaks, who have their own autonomous republic; and Great Russians, Kazakhs, Tajiks, and Tatars. Uzbek is the official language but Russian is widely used.

The largest cities are Tashkent, the capital, with a population of 2,079,000; and Samarkand, with 366,000. The Tashkent State University is the largest institution of higher learning.

Uzbekistan has a parliamentary form of government with a popularly elected president. The president, who is the head of state, appoints a prime minister, who is the head of government. The parliament consists of a single house made up of 250 members.