Uzbekistan history

The area of what is now Uzbekistan was incorporated into the eastern satrapies (Persian provinces ruled by a satrap) of Cyrus the Great's Persian Empire in the 500s bc . These satrapies were known as Sogdiana , Bactria , and Khorezm. Macedonian leader Alexander the Great conquered the region in the early 300s bc , but Macedonian control lasted only until Alexander's death in 323. In the 100s bc , part of present-day Uzbekistan was included in the vast empire of the Kushanas, descendants of a tribe from western China . At this time the region became an important part of the overland trade routes, known collectively as the Silk Road, that linked China with the Middle East and imperial Rome .

In the 3rd century ad the Sassanid dynasty of Persia gained control over the region of Central Asia . Nomadic tribes from the north invaded between the 4th and 6th centuries, and the Western Turks gained the most extensive control over the region. In the 7th and 8th centuries Arab invaders conquered present-day Uzbekistan and introduced Islam. Then in the 9th century a Persian dynasty, the Samanids, emerged as local rulers and developed Bukhara as an important center of Muslim culture. The Samanid dynasty declined in the 10th century, however, and a number of Turkic hordes vied for control until the great conquest of Mongol emperor Genghis

Khan in the 13th century. In the 14th century the area was incorporated into the empire of the Turkic conqueror Tamerlane (Timur Lang), who established the Timurid dynasty. Tamerlane made Samarqand the capital of his vast empire in 1369, fashioning it into a magnificent imperial capital. Tamerlane's grandson Ulug Beg emerged as the ruler of Samarqand in the early 1400s.

During the 14th century, the nomadic Turkic-speaking tribal groups of Orda, Shiban, and Manghit, who inhabited the steppes of what is now Kazakhstan , formed what is often referred to as the “Uzbek” (also “Uzbeg” or “Ozbek”) confederation. From 1465 to 1466 a group under the Uzbek chieftains Janibek and Keray launched a rebellion against the khan of the confederation, Abul Khayr (1428-1468). The rebellion lasted until 1468, when the khan was killed. This group began to call themselves Qazaqs (or Kazakhs). In part because of the defeat of Abul Khayr, nomadic clans from the Uzbek confederation began to move south into what is now Uzbekistan (known then as Mawarannahr) in the late 15th century. These groups not only engaged in raids on sedentary areas but also conducted a substantial amount of trade and furnished military forces that local rulers could draw upon. The Kazakhs remained in the north.

In the first decade of the 16th century, Timurid authority collapsed when Mohammed Shaybani, grandson of Abul Khayr, seized Khorezm, Samarqand, Bukhara , and Toshkent . The conquered lands became two separate khanates, one centered in Bukhara , seat of the Shaybanid dynasty, and one in Khorezm, seat of the rival Yadigarid dynasty. The Shaybanid dynasty reached its zenith of power in the late 16th century under Abdullah Khan. After Abdullah Khan's death, power in Bukhara passed to the Janid dynasty.

During the 17th century Uzbeks continued to settle in present-day Uzbekistan , primarily in the oasis areas of the east that were already inhabited by Turkic and Persian-speaking people. In the west, a Turkic-speaking people called Qoraqalpoghs inhabited the Amu Darya delta by the 18th century; a new dynasty in Khiva (as Khorezm had come to be known) forcefully incorporated the Qoraqalpoghs' homeland into its khanate in 1811.

Meanwhile, the Quqon ( Kokand ) khanate was formed in the Fergana Valley in the early 1700s. In 1740 Persian forces under Nadir Shah invaded Bukhara and then Khiva, conquering both territories. Persian control was short-lived, effectively ending with Nadir Shah's death in 1747, and the Janid dynasty never recovered. Uzbek clans succeeded in ousting the Janids by the late 18th century, creating three states ruled by rival Uzbek dynasties. The Kungrats were enthroned at Khiva, the Manghits at Bukhara , and the Mins at Quqon. The Manghits ruled as emirs, making Bukhara an emirate, while the other two dynasties established khanates. Although distinct borders were never drawn, these three states dominated the area roughly corresponding to present-day Uzbekistan , or the area between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. Bukhara was centrally located, and included the cities of Bukhara and Samarqand; Khiva was farther to the west in the area of the Amu Darya delta; and Quqon was centered in the Fergana Valley in the east. In the early and mid-19th century, the khanate of Quqon expanded into the Tien Shan mountains in the east and the Syr Darya basin in the north.

Russian Conquest

During Quqon's expansion northward, imperial Russian forces were conquering Kazakh territory north of the Syr Darya and pushing farther south. Although the Uzbek khanates waged an armed resistance against the Russian incursion, Russian control was extended over present-day Uzbekistan in the latter half of the 19th century. Russian forces began advancing on Quqon's frontier fortresses in the north in the 1850s, capturing Ak-Mechet (present-day Qyzylorda , Kazakhstan ) in 1853. After the conquest of Toshkent in 1865, the khanate's influence was limited to the Fergana Valley . Bukhara was conquered in 1866 and forced to become a vassal state in 1868, and then Khiva fell in 1873. The Russian conquest was complete in 1876, when Quqon was formally annexed. Under Russian rule, Khiva and Bukhara maintained some measure of autonomy as semi-independent states, although they were ultimately subordinate to the Russian Empire.

Russian rule introduced new tensions into Central Asian society. The development of a commodity economy brought profits to some farmers, while it deprived others of their land. Many Central Asians resented the new, corrupt local administration as well as the increasing incursion of Russian colonists into areas such as the Golodnaya Steppe. Moreover, they perceived the new rulers as non-Muslim infidels. In 1916, already overburdened with requisitions of livestock and produce to support Russia 's involvement in World War I (1914-1918), the local populace revolted against a decree making them subject to a draft for construction battalions behind the front lines. The imperial government brutally suppressed the revolt.

Soviet Period

The Russian Empire collapsed in the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Bolsheviks (militant socialists) seized power in Russia . During the Russian Civil War (1918-1921), the Bolsheviks sought to reclaim the territories of the former Russian Empire. They established, by force, a new set of political entities in Central Asia that were ruled by local Bolshevik soviets, or councils. In 1918 the Bolsheviks made much of the southern part of Central Asia, including part of present-day Uzbekistan , into the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Other areas of present-day Uzbekistan were still under the administration of Khiva and Bukhara , whose traditional leaders were overthrown in 1920. These latter territories became the Khorezmian People's Soviet Republic and the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic , which still maintained nominal independence. In 1924 the borders of political units in Central Asia were changed, and the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) was formed from territories of the Turkistan ASSR, the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic , and the Khorezmian People's Soviet Republic . The same year the Uzbek SSR became one of the republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which had been created in 1922. Bolshevik rule was opposed by a Central Asian guerrilla movement known as the basmachi starting in 1918. Although the basmachi were largely put down by 1923, they reappeared in some areas of Uzbekistan during the collectivization of agriculture at the end of the 1920s.

The Uzbek SSR included the Tajik ASSR until 1929, when the Tajik ASSR was upgraded to the status of an SSR. At this point, the Tajik SSR received some additional territory that had belonged to the Uzbek SSR since 1924. In 1930 the Uzbek capital was changed from Samarqand to Toshkent . In 1936 the Uzbek SSR was enlarged with the addition of the Karakalpak ASSR (present-day Qoraqalpogh Autonomous Republic ), taken from the Kazakh SSR. Territory was transferred several times between the Kazakh SSR and the Uzbek SSR after World War II (1939-1945). The present-day borders of the Central Asian states are a result of the territorial units that the Soviets circumscribed during this period.

The Soviets imposed many changes in the Uzbek SSR. In 1928 land was forcibly collectivized into state farms. Another land-related development, one with a catastrophic impact, was the drive initiated in the early 1960s to substantially increase cotton yields in the republic. The drive led to overzealous irrigation withdrawals from the Amu Darya and the subsequent ecological disaster in the Aral Sea basin.

During World War II many industries were relocated to the Uzbek SSR from more vulnerable locations in western regions of the USSR . They were accompanied by large numbers of Russians and members of other nationalities who were evacuated from areas near the front. Because so many Uzbek men were fighting in World War II, women and even children began to take a more prominent role in the economy. Some local women even began to work in urban industries, although the Uzbek population remained overwhelmingly rural. Also during the war the Soviet authorities relocated entire ethnic groups from other parts of the USSR to the Uzbek SSR and elsewhere in Central Asia . Stalin suspected these groups of being in collaboration with the Axis powers against the USSR .

Uzbek society was altered in major ways during the Soviet period. Islam, the traditional religion of the region, became a focal point in the 1920s for the antireligious drives of Communist zealots. Most mosques were closed, and religious schools became antireligious museums. Uzbeks who were deemed nationalist, often practicing Muslims, were targeted for imprisonment and in many cases execution during Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of the 1930s, which extended throughout all levels of Soviet society. Another development was the virtual elimination of illiteracy, even in rural areas. Only a small percentage of the population was literate before 1917; this percentage increased to nearly 100 percent under the Soviets.

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was the only legal party in Uzbekistan until 1990. The first secretary, or head, of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan (the republic's branch of the CPSU) was consistently an Uzbek. However, over much of Soviet history, Uzbeks were underrepresented in the higher levels of the republic Communist Party organs. Uzbeks were even more underrepresented in the central organs of the levels of the party in Moscow .

Political corruption was rampant in the USSR , including in the Uzbek SSR. This was especially true during the time when Sharaf Rashidov was head of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, from 1959 to 1983. Following Rashidov's death in 1983, the CPSU's national campaign to clean up corruption widely publicized the misdeeds of the Uzbek SSR's political officials in the preceding period. These officials were accused of a scam that involved inflating cotton production figures for the republic and diverting payments from the Soviet Union 's central government for recorded, but nonexistent, cotton. Islam Karimov, the former leader of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan and head of that party's reincarnation, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), became president of the Uzbek SSR in 1990.

Independent Republic

The disintegration of the Soviet Union became inevitable in August 1991, after a failed coup attempt by Communist hardliners in Moscow . That month Uzbekistan declared its independence. After the official collapse of the USSR in December, Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an alliance of most of the former Soviet republics. It became a member of the United Nations in March 1992.

Uzbekistan held presidential elections in December 1991, at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union . Karimov, the incumbent president, was reelected by an overwhelming majority of the vote. (...)

Uzbekistan cautiously approached reforms to transform its Soviet-developed, centrally planned economy to one based on the principles of a free market. Karimov was an outspoken critic of more radical reforms implemented in some other former Soviet republics. However, in the early 2000s Karimov held out the promise of further economic reforms as a way to secure renewed aid from Western financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In January 2000 Karimov was reelected president in an election that Western observers criticized as neither free nor fair. In a referendum held in January 2002, voters approved a constitutional amendment to extend the presidential term of office from five years to seven; however, it was not specified when the change would go into effect. (...)

The September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States were linked to al-Qaeda, an international terrorist network that seeks to rid Muslim countries of Western influence and establish fundamentalist Islamic rule. Uzbekistan allowed U.S.-led forces to use its southern Khanabad air base for staging operations in Afghanistan , where al-Qaeda was based. By publicly supporting the United States in its war on terrorism, Uzbekistan established itself as a strategic U.S. ally.


chronology of significant events




5th century BC

The Bactrian, Sogdian, and Parthian states dominated the area of present-day Uzbekistan, and benefited from trade on the Silk Route. The province of Movaraunnahr entered upon a long period of prosperity in the eastern territory.

1st century BC

Bactria, Khorezm and Sogdiana were conquered and became parts of the Persian Achaemenid Empire

329 BC

Alexander the Great captured Maracanda (Samarkand) from the Persian Achaemenid Empire during his incursion into southern Central Asia

End of 1st-beginning of 2nd centuries AD

The South of present-day Uzbekistan was the part of the Kushan Empire

6th century AD

The Turkic tribes extended their rule over the territory of Central Asia, the formation of the Turkic Kaganate


The Arabs completed the conquest of Central Asia. Islam became a new religion dominating culture and life

8-9th centuries

Under the Arab Abbasid Caliphate, it was the golden age of Central Asia; Bukhara rose as a cultural centre of Muslim world

874 AD

The conquest by Samanid dynasty from Balkh

9th century

Islam became a dominant religion of all Central Asia

Late 10th century

The Seljuk Empire was founded, originating from Oghuz tribes, including Turkmen

999 AD

The Turkic Karakhanids overthrew the Samanids, erasing the last major Persian state in Central Asia

11th century

The Seljuks and Karakhanids upset the reign of the Ghaznavid Empire in the south of Central Asia, dominating west and east, respectively


Persian replaced Arabic as a standard written language, and remained in official use through the 15th century


Turkic Karakitais conquered Karakhanids and dominated the region for 100 years


Khorezm split from the Seljuk Empire; the consolidated empire including Movaraunnahr and the most of Central Asia arose


The Mongols conquered Central Asia

14th - 15th centuries

The State of Timurlane and Timurids was set up

The end of 15th century

The invasion of Shaybani Khan (the Shaybanid dynasty)

16th century

The Uzbek empire was fragmented by fighting among the khanates; the decline of Silk Route


Uzbek nomadic tribes conquered Central Asia, established the Khanate of Bukhara

17-18th centuries

Kazakh nomads and Mongols raided and weakened Uzbek khanates; conflict with Iran isolated Uzbeks in the Muslim world


The Khanate of Bukhara lost Ferghana region; Kokand Khanate was founded, locating in Ferghana Valley

Mid-18th century

Turkmen Yomud tribes invaded Khorezm

18th-early 19th centuries

Three Uzbek khanates were revived by strong dynasties, centralised states (Bukhara Emirate, Khiva and Kokand Khanates) sprung; British and Russians claimed rivalry for Central Asia


The Russians conquered Tashkent, Bukhara, and Samarkand; the Khanate of Bukhara became Russian protectorate


Governorate General of Turkestan was established by central Russian administration, eventually including (1899) present-day Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan , and south-eastern Kazakhstan; the remainder of Kazakhstan became Steppe District


The Russians captured Khiva


Incorporation of Kokand Khanate; the whole Uzbekistan and northern Kyrgyzstan were joined to the Russian Empire


The Uzbeks revolted against the Russian rule, but they were quelled

May 1917

Russian provisional government abolished Guberniya of Turkestan; the power was divided among various groups, including Tashkent Soviet


The Bolsheviks declared Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, including the most of present-day Central Asia into Russia; the Bolsheviks crushed the autonomous government in Kokand; the Jadidists and others launched decade-long Basmachi revolt. The Republic of Turkestan was proclaimed


The Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded


Tashkent became the capital of the Republic


Following the invasion of German Nazis, many European Soviet plants were transferred to Central Asia to avoid their capture by intervening army


The tenure of Sharaf Rashidov as the leader of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan


Islam Karimov was promoted first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan

August 1991

Uzbekistan declared its independence from the Soviet Union

December 1991

Uzbekistan elected a new parliament and Islam Karimov as its first president

March 1992

At the Session of General Assembly, Uzbekistan became a UNO member

December 1992

Uzbekistan adopted a new constitution

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