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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Summary

Uzbekistan was formerly a part of the Soviet Union, and even since gaining independence in 1991 it retained many Soviet era government and economic practices. The government is corrupt and is known for forcing its citizens to perform slave-like labor in cotton fields.1 Throughout most of their history, Uzbeks were known for their skilled writers and creative minds, but creative and intellectual lifestyles are only now recovering after years of suppression in the 20th century.2 Even with their harsh authoritarian rule and many human rights abuses, the nation has been making major progress towards eradicating extreme poverty within its borders.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/uz.html
2 https://www.britannica.com/place/Uzbekistan#toc73643

Demographics

Nationality
Uzbekistani
Population
28,661,637 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

The country is very vulnerable to earthquakes and is in need of preventive measures to decrease the effect of these on the population.1

Family

Family is extremely important to Uzbeks, and nearly all citizens are strongly opposed to divorce as they believe this undermines children’s futures.1 Two-fifths of the population lives in rural areas. There are a large number of Russians, Tatars, Tajiks, and Ukranians living in the country mostly as a remnant of the massive exiles that took place during the Soviet area.2

Human Rights

Uzbekistan's human rights record is poor and there have been no meaningful improvements since 2012. Harassment, unlawful arrests, and prison torture are all common consequences for those opposing the government, activists, and religious leaders.1 The government also forces over 1 million adults, and countless more children, into laboring in cotton fields without adequate pay or good working conditions.1 There are limits to democracy with many oppositional political candidates being intimidated into backing out of elections. Freedom of press, speech, assembly, and the right to a fair trial are not upheld.2 Domestic abuse and rape are common as the law does not explicitly discuss the legality of gender-based violence; women are also banned from working in some industries.2

Education

Education is free and compulsory for children aged 5-15. Compared with neighboring countries, Uzbekistan has a well-run education system with 97% of children enrolled in primary school. However, only 20% of children ages 3-5 attend preschool.1 There is a lack of services for children with disabilities, and 130,000 of these children face extreme challenges accessing education to fit their needs.2

Poverty

16% of the population lives in poverty, and over 70% of these people live in rural areas.1 Because of harsh labor conditions and an inadequate amount of jobs, many leave Uzbekistan for Kazakhstan and Russia to find work to provide for their families.1 However, poverty rates and overall living conditions have greatly improved in the since the 2010, and Uzbekistan may be on its way to eliminating extreme poverty within its borders and becoming a modern, industrialized country.2

Religion

88% of the population of Uzbekistan are Sunni Muslims. In addition, there is a large Eastern Orthodox minority population, and a small groups of Shia Muslims.1 Although religious freedom is technically granted in the constitution, this is rarely respected or enforced by the government.2 Muslims suspected of differing from mainline beliefs or Christians thought to be in the country performing missionary activities or possessing religious literature, are subject to prison sentences, detainments, and fines.2 Laws have been passed to make this type of interference in religious freedom permissible, and the government overlooks the freedom originally granted in the constitution.2

Clean Water

Despite putting more investment in water infrastructure and health over the last decade than any other central Asian country, half of the population still does not have access to piped water. It is estimated that only about one-quarter of the nation has a centralized sewage system.1 Because of poor sanitation and water shortages particularly in rural areas, many preventable water-borne diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, and worm infection are prevalent.2

Economy

Uzbekistan’s government is still reminiscent of Soviet area economies that rely on government subsidies and tight control on production and trade. This has caused their economy to grow slowly, and there is a lack of foreign investments in the country.1 Uzbekistan is one of the world's leading cotton exporters with much of its GDP coming from industries related to cotton; however, the government has forced millions, both adults and children, into working in slave-like conditions in the cotton industry.2 In recent years the natural gas and gold industries have been growing the economy at a slow pace.2

Government

Technically a presidential republic, Uzbekistan is run by an authoritarian and oppressive government.1 Corruption is pervasive at all levels of government; graft and bribery are so common that officials in some cases do not hide their illegal deals.2 There is low government accountability, and in 2016, after longtime leader Islam Karimov passed away while in office, none of the constitutional measures for choosing a new leader were followed. Elections lack genuine competition and debate, as opponents are intimidated by those in power, and almost all elections are rigged.2

Health

Aside from health issues such as typhoid and diarrhea that stem from unsafe drinking water, drug use, specifically heroin, is prevalent in Uzbekistan.1 Drug trafficking is rampant with drugs flowing to and from Afghanistan and Tajikistan. In recent years, the Uzbek government has made improvements to the country's healthcare system, and, as of 2017, 66% percent of the population report improvements to the quality of their healthcare.2

Children

5% of children in Uzbekistan under the age of 14 are forced into child labor instead of attending school, and common work for children is harvesting silk cocoons or cotton.1 As the world’s largest exporter of cotton, the government sees children as the best way to make the maximum profit in this field, and they have been known to threaten parents into bringing their young children to work in the cotton industry.2

Animals

Uzbekistan, because of its position as a landlocked country in Central Asia, does not possess a vast array of water borne wildlife. However, ibex, snow leopards, reptiles, and small mammals are commonly found living in the mountainous region.1 Overgrazing and deforestation over the past few centuries has caused erosion and a loss of habitat for these unique animals.1

Uzbekistan

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