Uzbekistan (U.S. pronunciation: , U.K. pronunciation: ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan (O'zbekiston Respublikasi, Oʻzbekiston Jumhuriyati, Ўзбекистон Республикаси, Ўзбекистон Жумҳурияти) is a landlocked country in Central Asia. It is a unitary, constitutional, presidential republic, comprising 12 provinces, 1 autonomous republic, and 1 independent city. Uzbekistan is bordered by five countries: Kazakhstan and the Aral Sea to the north; Tajikistan to the southeast; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest. Between 1924 and 1991, it was part of the Soviet Union.
Once part of the Persian Samanid and later Timurid empires, the region which today includes the Republic of Uzbekistan was conquered in the early 16th century by nomads who spoke an Eastern Turkic language. This region was subsequently incorporated into the Russian Empire in the 19th century, and in 1924 it became a bordered constituent republic of the Soviet Union, known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbek SSR). It subsequently became the independent Republic of Uzbekistan on August 31, 1991 (officially, as of the following day). Most of Uzbekistan's population today belong to the Uzbek ethnic group and speak the Uzbek language, a language belonging to the family of Turkic languages.
Uzbekistan's economy relies mainly on commodity production, including cotton, gold, uranium, and natural gas. Despite the declared objective of transition to a market economy, its government continues to maintain economic controls which deter foreign investment and imports in favour of domestic 'import substitution'. The policy of a gradual, strictly controlled transition to the market economy has produced beneficial results in the form of economic recovery after 1995.
Uzbekistan is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. The country's official language is Uzbek, a Turkic language spoken natively by approximately 85% of the population. Uzbeks constitute 81% of the population. Minorities include Russians (5.4%) and others (13.5%). The vast majority of the population is Muslim. Uzbekistan is a member of the CIS, OSCE, UN, and the SCO.
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