History of Uzbekistan

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Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya (Oxus) and Syr Darya (Jaxartes) Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the Silk Road - Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva - are located in Uzbekistan. As Russia extended its empire into Central Asia in the second half of the nineteenth century, Uzbekistan became part of Tsarist Russia and later of the Soviet Union. It declared its independence from Soviet rule in 1991.

Contents

Early history

In the first millennium B.C., Iranian nomads established irrigation systems along the rivers of Central Asia and built towns at Bukhoro, Durham and Samarqand. These places became extremely wealthy points of transit on what became known as the Silk Road between China and Europe. In the seventh century A.D., the Soghdian Iranians, who profited most visibly from this trade, saw their province of Mawarannahr overwhelmed by Arabs, who spread Islam throughout the region. Under the Arab Abbasid Caliphate, the 8th and 9th centuries were a golden age of learning and culture in Mawarannahr. As Turks began entering the region from the north, they established new states. After a succession of states dominated the region, in the twelfth century Mawarannahr was united in a single state with Iran and the region of Khorazm, south of the Aral Sea. In the early thirteenth century, that state then was invaded by Mongols led by Genghis Khan, under whose successors Turkish replaced Iranian as the dominant culture of the region. Under Timur (Tamerlane), the last great Mongolian nomadic leader (ruled 1370–1405), Mawarannahr began its last cultural flowering, centered in Samarqand. After Timur the state began to split, and by 1510 Uzbek tribes had conquered all of Central Asia.[1]

In the 16th century, the Uzbeks established two strong rival khanates, Bukhoro and Khorazm. In this period, the Silk Road cities began to decline as ocean trade flourished. The khanates were isolated by wars with Iran and weakened by attacks from northern nomads. In the early nineteenth century, three Uzbek khanates—Bukhoro, Khiva, and Quqon (Kokand)—had a brief period of recovery. However, in the mid-nineteenth century Russia, attracted to the region’s commercial potential and especially to its cotton, began the full military conquest of Central Asia.[1]

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