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Uzbekistan, officially known as the Republic of Uzbekistan, was previously part of the Soviet Union (USSR). Uzbekistan sits south of Russia, sharing borders with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan has been inhabited since about 2000 BC, first by Iranians. It was invaded by Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, by the Mongols in the 13th century, and by Uzbek tribes in the 16th century. Uzbeks are Turkic peoples.
Despite belonging to the Soviet Union for most part of the 19th and 20th century, Uzbekistan never had a major Russian population within its borders. Currently, only 5.5 percent of the population of Uzbekistan is pure Russian. Most Russians who once lived in Uzbekistan left after the fall of the USSR.
The official language of Uzbekistan is Uzbek, although about half of the population can speak Russian fluently. Russian is, in fact, still used for much of the official businesses, economic, and scientific communication and research done by the country. Eighty eight percent of the population is Muslim, with very small percentages of other religions and demographic groups spread throughout the country. Uzbekistan has remained stable in population while other former Soviet countries, including Russia, have had problems of lower birth rates.
Despite Uzbekistan being one of the world's largest producers of cotton and gold, the country is still enduring unemployment, poverty, and economic hardships. Private enterprises are severely limited, which puts a stop in the progress and development of the middle class as an independent force. Despite a drastic reduction of inflation over the past few years, Uzbekistan still has a long way to go before it can come closer to the economic development of its foreign neighbors.
Uzbekistan has been criticized for violation of human rights, but little to nothing has been proved by organizations investigating. Uzbekistan maintains friendly relationships with the United States, despite restrictions applied to American military in the use of certain bases on the Afghanistan border. Uzbekistan has tense relationships with some countries in the West due to its resistance to allow the European Union to enter its territory and investigate reports of abuse and terrorism.
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