Empires of the Past:
Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia, right on the old Silk Road. It became part of the Soviet Union in 1924 and the Soviet set up
a Socialist Republic in 1925.
Uzbekistan has had many different empires ruling, effecting its economy and especially its culture.
It was part of the Persian empire, Macedonian
(Alexander's) empire, and the Arab empire.
There were many others that conquered Uzbekistan but they were not major empires.
The Persians brought the religion of Zoroastrianism to Uzbekistan.
In this religion they worship fire. There were supposed to be two spirits, always fighting in the fire: the God of good, Ahura Mazda, and the God of evil, Ahriman. This religion is still practiced in small rural areas.
The Arabs brought the religion of Islam to Uzbekistan.
The Silk Road: It was in the middle of the second century B.C. that
the Silk Road began to function as a regular diplomatic and commercial
This started in 138 B.C., when Zhang-Jian, sent on his journey by
the Chinese Emperor Wu-di, set out to the unknown western countries, escorted
by an embassy caravan. Zhang-Jian returned 13 years later. He managed
to reach the regions of Afghanistan and found a direct way from the interior
regions of China to Central Asia. Following this way, caravans, carrying
silk, set out westwards; they returned with goods from the Mediterranean,
Middle East and Central Asia
It would take about 200 days for a caravan
to travel the Silk Road. The Silk Road was always a thriving trade for
them though. Uzbekistan's economy started to depend on the Silk Road for
income. Before this, Uzbekistan relied on agricultural products and some
textiles. With the development of the Silk Road the people of Uzbekistan
started to act as middle men. They would buy from China for a low price
and sell it to Europe for a high price.
Arab Influence: The Arabs have the most lasting effect on today's
Uzbekistan. The offical religion is Islam and the architecture and style
is Islamic too. There are no old paintings of people in Uzbekistan because
in the religion of Islam they were not allowed to draw people. During
this time it became a prosperous empire. Many mosques were built,
the most famous being Registan Square in Samarkand. The Arabs had a
war with the Chinese and captured many of their craftsmen.
They then gained
the secret to make silk. This was a very profitable trade back then and
much of it was sold to the Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine
Empire) on the Silk Road. The silk carpet was and is a high quality product
that makes great money. They had a guild system for silk carpet making.
That's when a Master of that craft would take and raise an apprentice.
The apprentice would get food and board and also learn about making silk
carpets. They then would become journeymen and start working on their
own. After a while, if they could make a masterpiece, they would become
a master and could have their own apprentices. There are still silk carpet
factories and silk farms were they grow silk worms
and harvest their cocoons.
The Soviet Influence: Later on, the Soviets moved Koreans to Uzbekistan.
As the Soviet Union started to conquer Central Asia, they took Uzbekistan
and added part of Kazakhstan to it. Then for the Soviet Empire to be self
sufficient, they grew a lot of cotton there. The land is desert soil which
isn't good for growing plants. After one plant yield, the soil is bad and
it gets worse as more harvests are made there.
The few nutrients in the
soil are lost. So the amount of cotton harvested each year becomes less
and less. The water they get for farming is from the rivers feeding the Aral Sea. It's poorly irrigated and loses about 50% of its water before
it reaches the farms. So the Aral Sea is being drained, which is one of the biggest
natural disasters next to the destruction of the rain forests. Another
thing that the Soviet Union did that changed Uzbekistan forever was march
Koreans to Uzbekistan. Many died on the trip. They weren't used to the
climate and didn't know how to survive there. The Uzbeks taught them how to
survive and the Koreans then learned many Uzbek traditions.
So there was a blend of culture and many marriges between Uzbeks and Koreans
blending the ethnic groups together. This added a more industrious view
to Uzbekistan and many Uzbek Koreans are heads of companies.
What I Think About This: I think that Uzbekistan's economy will
start to build up. It only had its independence a little over a decade
Even when America had independence it was hopelessly in debt. Finally
after a while it became an economic giant. Of course there will be problems
and there will be government mistakes. They don't have alot of good land
around them but there still is potential. Uzbekistan has still some economic
markets like silk making. The best bet for Uzbekistan would be industry.
Like Japan which has few natural resources, it traded and produced and
became extremely wealthy. With its location near Afghanistan which is rebuilding,
it can try trading with it and setting up a more powerful industry in