Brief History  State Formation  Ancient History   

 Brief History

Uzbekistan occupies the heart of the area of Central Asia historically known as Turkestan. Some of the earliest known inhabitants of this region were Indo-Iranians, who are thought to have migrated to the region around the second millennium b.c. By the 4th century b.c., after the campaigns of Alexander the Great, trade along the Silk Road increased, and the area emerged as an important trading center; cultural contact intensified, and a variety of religions flourished.

After the Arab campaigns of the 7th and 8th centuries, Islam replaced Buddhism as the dominant religion, and by the 10th century the area had become an important center in the Muslim world. The Mongols, led by Genghis Khan, invaded in the 13th century and caused great destruction. During this time, migrations of nomadic Turks fr om the northern steppe areas increased. In the late 14th century the tribal prince Timur (Tamerlane) created a vast empire with Samarkand as its capital, but the political stability he established crumbled after his death. Shaibani Khan, in the early 1500s, led a major invasion by Uzbek tribes from the north. From this time on, Uzbeks dominated the political life of central Turkestan. Three independent khanates, centered in Bukhara, Khiva, and Kokand, dominated Turkestan between the 16th and the 19th century. But by the second half of the 19th century, Russian forces had subjugated the khanates, which were annexed or made into protectorates. Toshkent became the administrative center of Turkestan, and a colonial relationship was established. Cotton began to supplant other crops.

Dissatisfaction with Russian rule manifested itself in anticzarist revolts, often led by religious figures, while a group of urban intellectual reformers, known as jadids, sought to improve the life of the local people through secular education. In the years leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution, the economic and political situation drastically deteriorated, and in the summer of 1916, major disturbances shook the region.

Upon seizing power, the new Bolshevik leaders promised an end to Russia's colonial treatment of Turkestan; however, they demonstrated no willingness to allow meaningful political participation by the native population. Consequently, in November 1917, indigenous leaders convened an extraordinary congress in the city of Kokand, at which they proclaimed the autonomy of southern Central Asia. But in February 1918, Bolshevik troops sent from Tashkent brutally crushed the fledgling Kokand government. Over the next few years a guerrilla opposition movement of basmachi fighters struggled against the Bolsheviks but was ultimately defeated. Meanwhile, the traditional rulers of Bukhara and Khiva were removed, and new states under strong Bolshevik influence were established there.

In 1924 Uzbekistan was created as part of a "national delim itation" that redivided Turkestan, Bukhara, and Khiva into new national republics. This effectively blocked the Central Asian andTatar nationalists, who sought to create a state uniting Turks and other Muslim peoples of the former Russian empire, Bukhara, and Khiva. Consequently, the common histories, languages, traditions, and populations of the area were parceled out to individual local nationalities.

Although the Bolsheviks introduced some economic and social reforms in the early 1920s, the pace of change rapidly accelerated with the launching of the First Five-Year Plan (FYP) in 1928. By 1932 about three-fourths of the republic's farm households had been gathered into collective farms. Cotton farming was greatly expanded at the expense of other crops, particularly food. During the First FYP the Bolsheviks inaugurated massive campaigns to combat Islam, "liberate" women, and raise literacy. The literacy campaign coincided with a shift of the Uzbek language from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet.

In their first decade in power the Bolsheviks were obliged to govern through an alliance with indigenous nationalist forces, many of them jadids or influenced by them. Russians and other European nationalities also occupied important posts. By the end of the 1920s, however, as part of korenizatsiia (nativization), Moscow sought to replace European cadres with Central Asians. This was especially difficult, since by the late 1920s the Bolsheviks had become less tolerant of their better-educated allies, who possessed prerevolution educations. Despite the opposition of most Europeans living in Uzbekistan, during korenizatsiia many poorly educated natives were promoted into positions of ostensible authority. The financial and social costs of this policy were extremely high, and after 1934 korenizatsiia was quietly forgotten.

The purges of the mid-1930s decimated the Communist party and state apparatus. During these purges virtually all of the republic's leaders were removed on trumped-up charges, including allegations of nationalism and efforts to secede from the USSR. Many of Uzbekistan's leaders were executed along with a large proportion of the cultural intelligentsia.

Beginning in the middle of the 1930s, cultural and language policies stressed russification. Traditional art forms, dress, and customs were discouraged, and many Uzbek words of Arabic, Persian, and Turkic origin were replaced by Russian ones. In 1940 the Uzbek writing system shifted from the Latin alphabet to the Cyrillic.

The generation of republican leaders who rose during the purges was entirely dependent on Moscow. Although their authority within the republic was very high, in fact all major policy decisions were made in Moscow.

World War II had a profound effect on the republic by bringing women and children into the work force to replace the men who had left to fight the war. The war increased industrialization within the republic, which also experienced a large influx of refugees from the European part of the Soviet Union.

The CPUz's new first secretary, Islam Karimov, introduced major policy changes designed to enhance his party's legitimacy. This seems to have been done with the blessing of Moscow, which by this time had realized the futility of any attempt to reassert centralized Russian control. Among the changes introduced by Karimov were a more conciliatory policy toward Islam and a higher status for the Uzbek language. He also demanded from Moscow ecological and economic policies more favorable to Uzbekistan. Gradually and simultaneously with leaders in other republics, Karimov began to make demands for more regional control of the republic's own affairs.

A new policy consistent with national interests began to form when Islam Karimov took the lead in the national government.

Karimov was elected President of Uzbekistan at the 1st Session of the Supreme Council of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in March 1990.

Presidential decrees, acts, resolutions of the Supreme Council and the government, and finally, the Declaration of Independence were all designed to secure political and economic independence and the national revival of Uzbekistan. In 1989 Uzbek was made the official language of the new state, and a package of measures was drafted to address the most urgent economic problems, such as the monoculture of cotton, and to assist revival of Uzbek culture.

On 31 August, the 6th Extraordinary Session of the Supreme Council declared the political independence of the country, which was officially named the Republic of Uzbekistan. 1 September was proclaimed Independence Day.

Overwhelming popular support for independence and the government line was expressed during presidential elections and a referendum on political sovereignty (29 December 1991). Islam Karimov won 86% of the vote and became the first President of the new Uzbek state; 98.2% of the population voted for independence.

From September 1991 to July 1993 the Republic of Uzbekistan was officially recognised by 160 states. On March 2, 1992 Uzbekistan joined the United Nations Organizations as equal member, and joined the Helsinki process by signing the Final Act of the Summit for Security and Cooperation.

Since independence, an era of free development began in the history of the Uzbek people.

Today, independent Uzbekistan is also member of leading economic and financial organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Economic Association of Black Sea Countries, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a number of other prestigious international organizations. The interest of partners in developing relationships with Uzbekistan is explained not only by the great potential of Uzbekistan's natural resources, but also by the effectiveness of its economic policy.

State Formation

History. On August 31, 1991 Islam Karimov, then president of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, declared the national independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan. On December 29, 1991 Islam Karimov was elected the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the nationwide general elections. The constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan was adopted on January 8, 1992 and is the main law of the country.

Government. Uzbekistan is a sovereign democratic republic. All citizens of Uzbekistan over age 18 have the right to vote. The state power system includes the legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

Legislative Powers. The Oliy Majlis—the parliament of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which performs the legislative activities—is the supreme state representative body. The Oliy Majlis consists of two chambers: the legislative chamber (lower house) and the Senate (upper house). The term of authority for elected officials to the Oliy Majlis is 5 years. The order of preparing and holding of elections for the Oliy Majlis is determined by the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan and other legislative acts of the country, adopted in connection therewith.

Executive Powers. The Cabinet of Ministers is the body of executive power of the Republic of Uzbekistan that ensures the management of effective functioning of economic, social, and spiritual spheres; the performance of laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan; the resolutions of the Oliy Majlis; and the decrees, resolutions, and orders of the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Cabinet of Ministers reports to the president and the Oliy Majlis. The Cabinet of Ministers has the right to initiate legislation.

Judicial Powers. Judicial power functions independently of legislative and executive powers, political parties, other public associations. The Republic of Uzbekistan's judicial system contains the following courts: 
– Constitutional Court; 
– Supreme Court; 
– Supreme Economic Court; 
– military courts; and 
– Office of the Prosecutor General.

Ancient history of Uzbekistan

Prehistory. Uzbekistan's rich history dates back millennia. The Central Asian region has been inhabited by humans for over 1 million years. During the last half a century, scientists have uncovered several Stone Age settlements. Particularly famous are the ancient Kulbulak and Obi Rakhmon settlements, as well as Teshiktash and Amankutan.

Productive lands, good water sources, and an abundance of heat contributed to the development of farming. Large areas of desert and steppe near farming districts served as the pastures for cattle. With their evolution the inhabitants of these regions established various relations with neighbors. Based on the trinity of geographical, economic, and social factors, ancient states like Sogdiana, Bactria, Khorezm, and others formed.

The Ancient Orient. Almost continuous wars took place between the states of the ancient Orient. Their goal was to conquer other lands for slaves and other valuable items. Rich resources of the region, and its geographical position drew the attention of numerous occupants. In the second half of the first millennium b.c., the states situated on the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan were conquered by Akhemenid kings and were included in the huge Akhemenid Empire as eastern possessions. In 329—327 b.c., Alexander of Macedonia occupied the lands. On the ruins of Macedonian power, the contours of new state unions started taking shape. Bactria and Sogdiana joined the State of Seleucids. Later they joined the Greek-Bactrian Kingdom and Kushan Empires. In the 6th century a.d. these Central Asia states included in the Turkic Kaganate that united various tribes in the region.

As a result of constant occupation, periods of economic and cultural prosperity were interchanged with eras of deep recession. However, the development process continued. And the Great Silk Road that connected Rome and China contributed to this in many ways. Historical chronicles credit the Chinese emperor with the idea of laying this unique transcontinental road, after a Chinese courier returned home in 125 b.c. to report that beyond the Great Chinese Wall, and the seemingly unlimited steppes and deserts, there were powerful states such as Khorezm, Sogdiana, and others with a highly developed and unique culture.

In the early 7th century, Arabs intruded the territory of this region. The period of Samanid rule was marked by prosperity of cities that turned into large centers of international trade and culture. Then this land was occupied and governed by the dynasties of Gaznevids, KaraKhanids, and Seldjuks.

Early Uzbekistan. According to the scientists, the process of national formation in the territory that is now Uzbekistan dates back to around 1000 b.c. This process was lengthy. However, the term “Uzbek” was introduced in the 15th and 16th centuries a.d., during the period of Shaibani Khan’s rule.

Amir Temur, an ancient ruler and national hero, became one of the main influences on statehood in this region. In the second half of the 14th century, taking advantage of the disintegration of the states of Chengiz Khan’s heirs in Central Asia, Amir Temur united them and founded a powerful state with capital in Samarkand. In 1380 Amir Temur made military marches to other countries, conquering Iran, the Caucasus, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Northern India.

Establishment of a centralized state called Movaro-un-Nahr in Central Asia, and the elimination of fractures, created favorable conditions for the development of an economy that had previously been exhausted by the rule of Mongols. Due to Amir Temur’s political energy, state, social, and military governance improved substantially.

The Temurid. Science, architecture, urban construction, literature, painting, and applied arts thrived under the rule of Temur and his heirs, and were represented in the large empire. For instance, Temur's famous grandson, Ulugbek, ruled a state very near to the contemporary Uzbekistan. Ulugbek was not only a statesman, but a student of world history, an outstanding scientist, and an organizer and patron of science and arts. He founded an astronomical observatory unparalleled for its time.

Nowadays, the names of great statesmen, scientists, philosophers, and poets whose achievements were included in the jewel box of the world civilization are well known in many countries. Among them is Abu Ali bin Sino (Avicenna) who, with Hippocrates, is considered as the founder of modern medicine; mathematician al-Khorezmi whose treatise, "Rules of Reintegration and Reduction" introduced Arabic numerals to the west; astronomer Ulugbek who make astronomy a science. This list is added by Sunni scholars Bahouddin Nakshband, Al-Bukhari, At-Termizi, scientist Abu RayKhan Beruni, poet Alished Navoi and many others.

Wonderful palaces, mausoleums, madrassas, and minarets created during the Temurid era still amaze tourists with their grandness. Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Shahrisabz, which are included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO, are deemed jewels of history.

After a recession during the occupation of this land by Shaibani Khan, development of civilizations like the Bukhara, Kokand, and Khiva Khanates emerged.

Source: Portal of the Government of Uzbekistan