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BBC Country Profile, 4 June 2001

[map of Uzbekistan] In 1991 Uzbekistan emerged as a sovereign country after more than a century of Russian rule - first as part of the Russian empire and then as a component the Soviet Union. Positioned on the ancient Great Silk Road between Europe and Asia, cities such as Bukhara and Samarkand once flourished as trade and cultural centres. In recent years the country has been trying to re-establish its national identity and build independent statehood.


The most populated Central Asian country and with the largest armed forces in the region, Uzbekistan is believed to be seeking regional leadership. It is seen as the most authoritarian country in the region, with no real opposition inside the country, a restrained media and a tightly controlled economy.

Since the emergence of radical Islamist groups reportedly based in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has been facing security problems. The groups are said to be aiming to overthrow the secular government and set up an Islamic state. This has made the Uzbek leadership the most zealous advocate of tougher security measures in the region.

President Islam Karimov's uncompromising policies have created friction between Uzbekistan and the other Central Asian countries. Uzbekistan opposes any moves towards closer political integration on post-Soviet territory and has pulled out of the Commonwealth of Independent States' collective security treaty.


Population: 25 million
Capital: Tashkent
Major language: Uzbek, Russian, Tajik
Major religion: Islam
Form of government: Multi-party republic
Monetary unit: 1 Uzbek som = 100 tiyins
Main exports: Cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, motor vehicles
Internet domain:.uz
Time zone: GMT+5 (winter) - GMT+4 (summer)
International dialling code: +988


President: Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov

Islam Karimov: keeps a tight grip on the country
Born in 1938 in the central Uzbek town of Samarkand, Islam Karimov worked in a variety of senior political and government positions in Soviet Uzbekistan, including as finance minister and first secretary of the Uzbek Communist Party Central Committee, before becoming president of the republic in 1990. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, he was re-elected president.

Since independence, Karimov has been trying to expand the country's international trade while retaining tight domestic political control and repressing an active political and religious opposition.

  • Prime Minister: Otkir Sultonov
  • Foreign Minister: Abdulaziz Komilov
  • Interior Minister: Zohirjon Almatov
  • Defence Minister: Qodir Ghulomov
  • Finance Minister : Mamarizo Normurodov


Nearly all media outlets are pro-government and generally do not report opposing points of view. President Karimov occasionally reiterates that he wants a critical and independent media. He has threatened senior officials with the sack for "avoiding the press" and has said that the media "should not come under administrative pressure".

Most newspapers carry almost the same official reports and are therefore often criticized for lacking in diverse content.

The press

  • Khalq Sozi - government-owned daily
  • Narodnoye Slovo - government-owned, Russian-language daily
  • Pravda Vostoka - government-owned, Russian-language daily
  • Hurriyat - published two to three time a week
  • Toshkent Haqiqati - Tashkent regional newspaper, published twice a week,
  • Ishonch - trade union newspaper, published twice every two days


  • Uzbek State Television and Radio Company - state-owned
  • Yoshlar Youth Radio and TV channel - state-owned
  • MTRK - independent, covers Andijan
  • Bagdad-TV - independent TV covering Fergana Region
  • Muloqot - independent, covers Fergana Region,
  • Bekabad TV - independent, covering Tashkent Region
  • Aloqa-AK - independent, covers Syrdarya Region
  • Samarkand - independent


  • Uzbek State Television and Radio Company - state-owned
  • Yoshlar Youth Radio and TV channel - state-owned, broadcasts to the whole country
  • Ekho Doliny FM - private, broadcasts to the Fergana Valley, Tashkent, and Tashkent and Syrdarya regions
  • Radio Sezam FM - private, broadcasts to Tashkent and Tashkent and Syrdarya Regions
  • Uzbegim Taronasi - private, broadcasts to broadcasts to Tashkent and Tashkent region
  • Radio Grand FM - private, broadcasts to Tashkent and Tashkent region

News agencies

  • UzA - government news agency
  • Jahon news agency - run by the Foreign Ministry
  • Turkiston-press news agency - describes itself as independent