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Central Asia is a region in
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
which stretches from the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea (also known as Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcanian Ocean, or Khazar Sea), tk, Hazar deňzi, az, Xəzər Dənizi, russian: Каспийское море, script=Latn, fa, دریای مازندران، دریای خزر, script=Latn, tly, ...

Caspian Sea
in the west to
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
and
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
in the east, and from
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
and
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
in the south to
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
in the north, including the former
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovere ...
republics A republic ( la, res publica ''Res publica'' (also spelt as ''rēs pūblica'' to indicate vowel length In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived length of a vowel sound: the corresponding physical measurement is length (phonetics), du ...
of
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
,
Kyrgyzstan russian: Киргизская Республика, Kirgizskaya Respublika , image_flag = Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg , image_coat = Emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg , symbol_type = Emblem , motto = " ...

Kyrgyzstan
,
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
,
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
, and
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
. It is also colloquially referred to as "the stans" as the countries all have names ending with the
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
suffix "
-stan The suffix -stan ( fa, ـستان, translit=stân after a vowel; estân or istân after a consonant) has the meaning of ''"a place abounding in"'' or ''"a place where anything abounds"'' in Persian language. It appears in the names of many regio ...
", meaning "land of". Central Asia was historically closely tied to the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
trade routes, acting as a crossroads for the movement of people, goods, and ideas between
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
and the
Far East The Far East is a term to refer to the geographical regions that includes East and Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nati ...

Far East
. In the pre-Islamic and early Islamic eras (circa 1000 and earlier) Central Asia was inhabited predominantly by
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subreg ...
s, populated by
Eastern Iranian The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Ira ...
-speaking
Bactrians Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the e ...

Bactrians
,
Sogdians :''This Wikipedia:Category, category lists articles related to historical Iranian peoples'' Iranian peoples, Historical History of Iranian peoples, Peoples Historical ethnic groups of Europe, Iranian Historical ethnic groups of Asia, Iranian Histor ...
, Chorasmians and the semi-nomadic
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
and
Dahae The Dahae, also known as the Daae, Dahas or Dahaeans ( la, Dahae; fa, داه‍ان ''Dāhān''; grc, Δάοι, Δάαι, Δαι, Δάσαι ''Dáoi'', ''Dáai'', ''Dai'', ''Dasai''; Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', n ...
. After expansion by
Turkic peoples The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups of Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, North Asia, North and West Asia as well as parts of Europe and North Africa, who speak Turkic languages.. "Turkic peoples, any of various peoples w ...
, Central Asia also became the homeland for the
Kazakhs The Kazakhs (also spelled Qazaqs; Kazakh language, Kazakh: , , , , , ; the English language, English name is transliteration, transliterated from Russian language, Russian; russian: Казахи) are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group who ...

Kazakhs
,
Uzbeks The Uzbeks ( uz, , , , ) are a Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish langua ...
,
Tatars The Tatars (; tt, , , , crh, tatarlar; otk, 𐱃𐱃𐰺, Tatar) is an umbrella term for different Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic groups bearing the name "Tatar". Initially, the ethnonym ''Tatar'' possibly referred to the Tatar confederation ...
, Turkmen,
KyrgyzKyrgyz, Kirghiz or Kyrgyzstani may refer to: *Things related to Kyrgyzstan *Kyrgyz people *Kyrgyz language *Kyrgyz culture *Kyrgyz cuisine *Yenisei Kirghiz *The Fuyu Kyrgyz language, Fuyü Gïrgïs language in Northeastern China {{Disambig Languag ...

Kyrgyz
, and
Uyghurs The Uyghurs ( or ; ; ; zh, s=, t=, p=Wéiwú'ěr, IPA: ), alternatively spelled Uighurs, Uyghers, Uygurs or Uigurs, are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central Asi ...
;
Turkic languages The Turkic languages are a language family of at least 35 documented languages, spoken by the Turkic peoples of Eurasia from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe to Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia (Siberia), and Western Asia. The Turkic langu ...

Turkic languages
largely replaced the Iranian languages spoken in the area. From the mid-19th century until almost the end of the 20th century, Central Asia was colonised by the
Russians , native_name_lang = ru , image = , caption = Wedding ceremony in the national Russian tradition. , population = 134 million , popplace = 117,319,000 , region1 = , pop1 = 7,170,00 ...

Russians
, and incorporated into the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. ...
, and later the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
, which led to Russians and other
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic language, Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European languages. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central Europe, ...

Slavs
emigrating into the area. Modern-day Central Asia is home to a large population of European settlers, who mostly live in Kazakhstan; 7 million Russians, 500,000
Ukrainians , native_name_lang = uk , image = , caption = , population = 37-40 million , popplace = 37,541,693 , region1 = , pop1 = 3,269,992 , ref1 = , region2 = ...
, and about 170,000
Germans Germans (, ) are the natives or inhabitants of Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas ...
.
Stalinist Stalinism is the means of governing and policies which were implemented in the Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a Federalism, federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia tha ...
-era forced deportation policies also mean that over 300,000
Koreans Koreans ( South Korean: , , North Korean: , , ; see names of Korea There are various names of Korea in use today, all derived from ancient kingdoms and dynasties. The modern English name "Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") ...
live there. Central Asia (2019) has a population of about 72 million, in five countries: Kazakhstan (pop. million), Kyrgyzstan ( million), Tajikistan ( million), Turkmenistan ( million), and Uzbekistan (35 million).


Definitions

One of the geographers that mentioned Central Asia as a distinct region of the world for the modern world was in 1843 by the geographer
Alexander von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 17696 May 1859) was a , , , , and proponent of philosophy and . He was the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and (1767–1835). Humboldt's quantitative work ...

Alexander von Humboldt
. The borders of Central Asia are subject to multiple definitions. Historically built political geography and culture are two significant parameters widely used in the scholarly literature about the definitions of Central Asia. Humboldt's definition composed of every country between 5° North and 5° South of the latitude 44.5°N. Only Humboldt does mentions some geographic features of this region which include the Caspian Sea in the west the Altai mountains in the north and the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountains in the South. The Prussian geographer did not give an eastern border for the region. Von Humboldt's legacy on Central Asia is still seen in the present: he has a
university A university () is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in several Discipline (academia), academic disciplines. Universities typ ...
named after him which offers "Central Asian Studies" (based on the wider Central Asia definition). The Russian Geographer Nicolay Khanykoff questioned the latitudinal definition of Central Asia. Khanykoff himself preferred a physical definition of the region which is all countries located in this region being landlocked from water. These definitions mostly included the countries:
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
,
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
,
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
,
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
,
Kyrgyzstan russian: Киргизская Республика, Kirgizskaya Respublika , image_flag = Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg , image_coat = Emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg , symbol_type = Emblem , motto = " ...

Kyrgyzstan
,
Khorasan Khorasan may refer to: * Greater Khorasan, a historical region which lies mostly in modern-day northern/northwestern Afghanistan, northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan * Khorasan Province, a pre-2004 province of Iran, ...
and Uyghuristan (
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
). However, the
Russian culture The culture of the Russians , native_name_lang = ru , image = , caption = Wedding ceremony in the national Russian tradition. , population = 134 million , popplace = 117,319,000 , region1 ...
has two distinct terms: ''Средняя Азия'' (''Srednyaya Aziya'' or "Middle Asia", the narrower definition, which includes only those traditionally non-Slavic, Central Asian lands that were incorporated within those borders of historical Russia) and ''Центральная Азия'' (''Tsentralnaya Aziya'' or "Central Asia", the wider definition, which includes Central Asian lands that have never been part of historical Russia). The latter definition includes
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
and
East Turkestan East Turkestan, also East Turkistan ( ug, شەرقىي تۈركىستان, Sherqiy Türkistan, Шәрқий Түркистан, bold=no; zh, s=东突厥斯坦), varies in meaning by context and usage. The term was coined in the 19th century b ...
. The most limited definition was the official one of the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
, which defined Middle Asia as consisting solely of
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
,
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
,
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
and
Kyrgyzstan russian: Киргизская Республика, Kirgizskaya Respublika , image_flag = Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg , image_coat = Emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg , symbol_type = Emblem , motto = " ...

Kyrgyzstan
, hence omitting
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
. This definition was also often used outside the Soviet Union during this period. Soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the leaders of the four former
Soviet Central Asia Soviet Central Asia (russian: Советская Средняя Азия}, ''Sovetskaya Srednyaya Aziya'') refers to the section of Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mon ...

Soviet Central Asia
n Republics met in
Tashkent russian: Ташкент , other_name = , settlement_type = Capital city, Capital , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top: Skyline of Tashkent, Hilton ...
and declared that the definition of Central Asia should include Kazakhstan as well as the original four included by the Soviets. Since then, this has become the most common definition of Central Asia. The
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
''History of the Civilizations of Central Asia'', published in 1992, defines the region as "Afghanistan, northeastern Iran, northern and central Pakistan, northern India, western China, Mongolia and the former Soviet Central Asian republics." An alternative method is to define the region based on ethnicity, and in particular, areas populated by Eastern
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...
, Eastern
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subreg ...
, or
Mongolian Mongolian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Mongolia, a country in Asia * Mongolian people, or Mongols * Mongolia (1911–24), the government of Mongolia, 1911–1919 and 1921–1924 * Mongolian language * Mongolian alphabet * Mongo ...

Mongolian
peoples. These areas include
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC romanization, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and Postal romanization, formerly roman ...
, the Turkic regions of southern
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of R ...

Siberia
, the five republics, and Afghan Turkestan. Afghanistan as a whole, the northern and western areas of Pakistan and the
Kashmir Valley #REDIRECT Kashmir Valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale of Kashmir'', is an intermontane valley in Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until t ...

Kashmir Valley
of India may also be included. The Tibetans and
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
i are also included. Most of the mentioned peoples are considered the "indigenous" peoples of the vast region. Central Asia is sometimes referred to as
Turkestan Turkestan, also spelled Turkistan ( fa, ترکستان, Torkestân, lit=Land of the Turks), is a historical region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...

Turkestan
. There are several places that claim to be the geographic center of Asia, for example
Kyzyl Kyzyl ( Tuvan and russian: Кызыл, translit=Kızıl) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a country, Constituent state, state, province, Department (country subdivision), department, o ...
, the capital of
Tuva Tuva (; russian: Тува́) or Tyva ( tyv, Тыва), officially the Tyva Republic (russian: Респу́блика Тыва́, r=Respublika Tyva, p=rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə tɨˈva; tyv, Тыва Республика, translit=Tyva Respublika ...

Tuva
in the
Russian Federation Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the world, covering over , and encom ...

Russian Federation
, and a village north of
Ürümqi Ürümqi or Urumchi (, ; ug, ئۈرۈمچى, CTA: ''Ürümçi'', ; zh, s=乌鲁木齐, zh, p=Wūlǔmùqí), abbreviated Wushi ( zh, s=乌市, links=no, zh, p=Wūshì, links=no, labels=no), formerly known as Dihua or Tihwa ( zh, s=迪化, l ...
, the capital of the
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
region of China.


Geography

Central Asia is a region of varied geography, including high passes and
mountains A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust 350px, Plates in the crust of Earth Earth's crust is a thin shell on the outside of Earth, accounting for less than 1% of Earth's volume. It is the top component of the lithosphere, a ...

mountains
(
Tian Shan The Tian Shan,; dng, Тянсан, ; otk, 𐰴𐰣 𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃, ; tr, Tanrı Dağı; mn, Тэнгэр уул, ; ug, تەڭرىتاغ, , ; kk, Тәңіртауы / Алатау, , ; ky, Теңир-Тоо / Ала-Тоо, , ; uz, Tyan- ...

Tian Shan
), vast
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
s (
Kyzyl Kum The Kyzylkum Desert ( uz, Qizilqum, Қизилқум, قىزىلقۇم; kk, Қызылқұм, Qyzylqum, قىزىلقۇم; russian: Кызылкум) is the 15th largest desert upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Kha ...

Kyzyl Kum
,
Taklamakan The Taklamakan Desert (; zh, s=, p=Tǎkèlāmǎgān Shāmò, Xiao'erjing: , dng, Такәламаган Шамә; ug, تەكلىماكان قۇملۇقى; also spelled Taklimakan and Teklimakan) is a desert in Southwest Xinjiang in Northwest ...

Taklamakan
), and especially treeless, grassy
steppe In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include: * the montane grasslands and shrublands biome * the temperate grassland ...

steppe
s. The vast steppe areas of Central Asia are considered together with the steppes of
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical reg ...

Eastern Europe
as a homogeneous geographical zone known as the
Eurasian Steppe The Eurasian Steppe, also simply called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It stretches through Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Europ ...
. Much of the land of Central Asia is too dry or too rugged for farming. The
Gobi desert The Gobi Desert () is a large desert upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates">Rub'_al_Khali.html" ;"title="Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali">Sand dunes in the Rub' al ...

Gobi desert
extends from the foot of the
Pamirs The Pamir Mountains are a between , and . It is located at a junction with other notable mountains, namely the , , , and the mountain ranges. They are among the world's highest s. Much of the Pamir Mountains lie in the of . To the south, th ...

Pamirs
, 77° E, to the Great Khingan (Da Hinggan) Mountains, 116°–118° E. Central Asia has the following geographic extremes: * The world's northernmost
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
(
sand dunes A dune is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the sc ...

sand dunes
), at Buurug Deliin Els,
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
, 50°18' N. * The
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remain ...

Northern Hemisphere
's southernmost
permafrost Permafrost is ground that continuously remains below 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years, located on land or under the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surfa ...

permafrost
, at Erdenetsogt sum,
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
, 46°17' N. * The world's shortest distance between non-frozen
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
and
permafrost Permafrost is ground that continuously remains below 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years, located on land or under the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surfa ...

permafrost
: . * The Eurasian
pole of inaccessibility A pole of inaccessibility with respect to a geography, geographical criterion of inaccessibility marks a location that is the most challenging to reach according to that criterion. Often it refers to the most distant point from the coastline, i ...
. A majority of the people earn a living by herding livestock. Industrial activity centers in the region's cities. Major rivers of the region include the
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River, or Jay-hoon, and historically known by its Latin language, Latin name or Greek ) i ...
, the
Syr Darya uz, Sirdaryo, Сирдарё tg, Сирдарё , name_native_lang = , name_other = Jaxartes, Seyhun , name_etymology = unknown , image = Syr Darya.jpg , image_size = 290px , image_caption = Syr Dary ...

Syr Darya
,
Irtysh The Irtysh ( otk, 𐰼𐱅𐰾:𐰇𐰏𐰕𐰏, Ertis ügüzüg, mn, Эрчис мөрөн, ''Erchis mörön'', "erchleh", "twirl"; russian: Иртыш; kk, Ертіс, Ertis, ; : 额尔齐斯河, : ''É'ěrqísī hé'', : عَعَرٿِسِ ...
, the Hari River and the
Murghab River The Murghab River (Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ...
. Major bodies of water include the
Aral Sea The Aral Sea (Aral ; kk, Aral teńizi, Арал теңізі, uz, Orol dengizi, Орол денгизи, kaa, Aral ten'izi, Арал теңизи, russian: Аральское море) was an endorheic lake lying between Kazakhstan Kaza ...

Aral Sea
and
Lake Balkhash Lake Balkhash ( kk, Балқаш көлі, ''Balqaş kóli'', ; russian: озеро Балхаш, ozero Balkhash) is one of the largest lakes in Asia and 15th largest in the world. It is in the east of Central Asia Central Asia is a region in ...

Lake Balkhash
, both of which are part of the huge west-central Asian
endorheic An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences Atmospheri ...
basin that also includes the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea (also known as Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcanian Ocean, or Khazar Sea), tk, Hazar deňzi, az, Xəzər Dənizi, russian: Каспийское море, script=Latn, fa, دریای مازندران، دریای خزر, script=Latn, tly, ...

Caspian Sea
. Both of these bodies of water have shrunk significantly in recent decades due to diversion of water from rivers that feed them for irrigation and industrial purposes. Water is an extremely valuable resource in arid Central Asia and can lead to rather significant international disputes.


Historical regions

Central Asia is bounded on the north by the forests of Siberia. The northern half of Central Asia (Kazakhstan) is the middle part of the
Eurasian steppe The Eurasian Steppe, also simply called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It stretches through Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Europ ...
. Westward the Kazakh steppe merges into the Russian-Ukrainian steppe and eastward into the steppes and deserts of Dzungaria and Mongolia. Southward the land becomes increasingly dry and the nomadic population increasingly thin. The south supports areas of dense population and cities wherever irrigation is possible. The main irrigated areas are along the eastern mountains, along the
Oxus The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River, or Jay-hoon, and historically known by its Latin language, Latin name or Greek ) i ...
and
Jaxartes uz, Sirdaryo, Сирдарё tg, Сирдарё , name_native_lang = , name_other = Jaxartes, Seyhun , name_etymology = unknown , image = Syr Darya.jpg , image_size = 290px , image_caption = Syr Darya ...

Jaxartes
Rivers and along the north flank of the
Kopet Dagh The Köpet Dag, Kopet Dagh, or Koppeh Dagh ( tk, Köpetdag; fa, کپه‌داغ), also known as the Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain Range, is a mountain range on the border between Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ;), also kn ...
near the Persian border. East of the Kopet Dagh is the important oasis of
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ''Мерв'', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( el, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...

Merv
and then a few places in Afghanistan like
Herat Herāt (; Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) i ...

Herat
and
Balkh ), named for its green-tiled ''Gonbad'' ( fa, گُنبَد, dome), in July 2001 , image_flag = , flag_size = , image_seal = , seal_size = , image_shield ...

Balkh
. Two projections of the
Tian Shan The Tian Shan,; dng, Тянсан, ; otk, 𐰴𐰣 𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃, ; tr, Tanrı Dağı; mn, Тэнгэр уул, ; ug, تەڭرىتاغ, , ; kk, Тәңіртауы / Алатау, , ; ky, Теңир-Тоо / Ала-Тоо, , ; uz, Tyan- ...

Tian Shan
create three "bays" along the eastern mountains. The largest, in the north, is eastern Kazakhstan, traditionally called
Jetysu Zhetysu, or Jeti-Suu ( kk, , Жетісу, pronounced ; ky, ''Jeti-Suu'', (), meaning "seven rivers"; also transcribed ''Zhetisu'', ''Jetisuw'', ''Jetysu'', ''Jeti-su'', ''Jity-su'', ''Жетысу'',, United States National Geospatial-Int ...
or Semirechye which contains
Lake Balkhash Lake Balkhash ( kk, Балқаш көлі, ''Balqaş kóli'', ; russian: озеро Балхаш, ozero Balkhash) is one of the largest lakes in Asia and 15th largest in the world. It is in the east of Central Asia Central Asia is a region in ...

Lake Balkhash
. In the center is the small but densely-populated
Ferghana valley The Fergana Valley is a valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by erosion of the land su ...

Ferghana valley
. In the south is
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
, later called Tocharistan, which is bounded on the south by the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
mountains of Afghanistan. The
Syr Darya uz, Sirdaryo, Сирдарё tg, Сирдарё , name_native_lang = , name_other = Jaxartes, Seyhun , name_etymology = unknown , image = Syr Darya.jpg , image_size = 290px , image_caption = Syr Dary ...

Syr Darya
(Jaxartes) rises in the Ferghana valley and the
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River, or Jay-hoon, and historically known by its Latin language, Latin name or Greek ) i ...
(Oxus) rises in Bactria. Both flow northwest into the
Aral Sea The Aral Sea (Aral ; kk, Aral teńizi, Арал теңізі, uz, Orol dengizi, Орол денгизи, kaa, Aral ten'izi, Арал теңизи, russian: Аральское море) was an endorheic lake lying between Kazakhstan Kaza ...

Aral Sea
. Where the Oxus meets the Aral Sea it forms a large delta called
Khwarazm Khwarazm , or Chorasmia (Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages ...

Khwarazm
and later the
Khanate of Khiva The Khanate of Khiva ( chg, ''Khivâ Khânligi'', fa, ''Khânât-e Khiveh'', uz, Xiva xonligi, tk, Hywa hanlygy) was a Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia ...
. North of the Oxus is the less-famous but equally important
Zarafshan River The Zeravshan; uz, Zeravshon, Зеравшон, زېرەۋشان; from Persian fa, , Zarâfšân – meaning "the spreader of gold" is a river in Tajikistan ) File:Tajikistan anthem.ogg, center , image_map = Tajikistan (o ...
which waters the great trading cities of
Bokhara Bukhara (; Uzbek: /; Tajik: Бухоро, ) is the fifth-largest city in Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a dist ...
and
Samarkand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top: The Reg ...

Samarkand
. The other great commercial city was
Tashkent russian: Ташкент , other_name = , settlement_type = Capital city, Capital , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top: Skyline of Tashkent, Hilton ...
northwest of the mouth of the Ferghana valley. The land immediately north of the Oxus was called
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania is an ancient name referring to a region and civilization located in lower roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern , , southern and southern . Geographically, it is the region between the rivers to its south and ...
and also
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
, especially when referring to the Sogdian merchants who dominated the silk road trade. To the east, Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin were united into the Manchu-Chinese province of
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
(Sinkiang; Hsin-kiang) about 1759. Caravans from China usually went along the north or south side of the Tarim basin and joined at
Kashgar Kashgar ( ug, قەشقەر – ''Qeshqer'') or Kashi ( zh, c=喀什) is an oasis In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, feat ...

Kashgar
before crossing the mountains northwest to Ferghana or southwest to Bactria. A minor branch of the silk road went north of the Tian Shan through Dzungaria and Zhetysu before turning southwest near Tashkent. Nomadic migrations usually moved from Mongolia through Dzungaria before turning southwest to conquer the settled lands or continuing west toward Europe. The
Kyzyl Kum The Kyzylkum Desert ( uz, Qizilqum, Қизилқум, قىزىلقۇم; kk, Қызылқұм, Qyzylqum, قىزىلقۇم; russian: Кызылкум) is the 15th largest desert upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Kha ...

Kyzyl Kum
Desert or semi-desert is between the Oxus and Jaxartes, and the
Karakum Desert The Karakum Desert, also spelled Kara-Kum and Gara-Gum ( tk, Garagum, ; rus, Караку́мы, Karakumy, kərɐˈkumɨ), is a desert in Central Asia. Its name in Turkic languages means "black sand": "kum" means sand; "kara" is a contraction of ...

Karakum Desert
is between the Oxus and
Kopet Dagh The Köpet Dag, Kopet Dagh, or Koppeh Dagh ( tk, Köpetdag; fa, کپه‌داغ), also known as the Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain Range, is a mountain range on the border between Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ;), also kn ...
in Turkmenistan.
Khorasan Khorasan may refer to: * Greater Khorasan, a historical region which lies mostly in modern-day northern/northwestern Afghanistan, northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan * Khorasan Province, a pre-2004 province of Iran, ...
meant approximately northeast Persia and northern Afghanistan.
Margiana Margiana ( el, ''Margianḗ'', Old Persian: ''Marguš'', Middle Persian: ''Marv'') is a historical region centred on the oasis of Merv and was a minor satrapy within the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid satrapy of Bactria (satrapy), Bactria, and a ...
was the region around Merv. The
Ustyurt Plateau The Ustyurt or Ust-Yurt (russian: Устюрт; kk, Үстірт; uz, Ustyurt; tk, Üstyurt) is a transboundary clay desert upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates">R ...

Ustyurt Plateau
is between the Aral and Caspian Seas. To the southwest, across the Kopet Dagh, lies Persia. From here Persian and Islamic civilisation penetrated Central Asia and dominated its high culture until the Russian conquest. In the southeast is the route to India. In early times Buddhism spread north and throughout much of history warrior kings and tribes would move southeast to establish their rule in northern India. Most nomadic conquerors entered from the northeast. After 1800 western civilisation in its Russian and Soviet form penetrated from the northwest.


Names of historical regions

*
Ariana Ariana, the Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s and 1930s to repla ...

Ariana
*
Bactria Bactria (BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
* Dahistan *
Khorasan Khorasan may refer to: * Greater Khorasan, a historical region which lies mostly in modern-day northern/northwestern Afghanistan, northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan * Khorasan Province, a pre-2004 province of Iran, ...
*
Khwarazm Khwarazm , or Chorasmia (Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages ...

Khwarazm
*
Margiana Margiana ( el, ''Margianḗ'', Old Persian: ''Marguš'', Middle Persian: ''Marv'') is a historical region centred on the oasis of Merv and was a minor satrapy within the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenid satrapy of Bactria (satrapy), Bactria, and a ...
*
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
*
Sogdia Sogdia () ( sog, soɣd) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also a province of the Ac ...
*
Tokharistan Tokharistan (formed from "Tokhara" and the suffix ''-stan'' meaning "place of" in Persian) is an ancient Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by his ...
*
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania is an ancient name referring to a region and civilization located in lower roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern , , southern and southern . Geographically, it is the region between the rivers to its south and ...
*
Turan Turan ( ae, Tūiriiānəm, pal, Tūrān; fa, توران, Turân, , "The Land of Tur (Shahnameh), Tur") is a historical region in Central Asia. The term is of Iranian languages, Iranian origin and may refer to a particular prehistoric human set ...

Turan
*
Turkestan Turkestan, also spelled Turkistan ( fa, ترکستان, Torkestân, lit=Land of the Turks), is a historical region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...

Turkestan


Climate

Because Central Asia is not buffered by a large body of water, temperature fluctuations are often severe, excluding the hot, sunny summer months. In most areas the climate is dry and continental, with hot summers and cool to cold winters, with occasional snowfall. Outside high-elevation areas, the climate is mostly semi-arid to arid. In lower elevations, summers are hot with blazing sunshine. Winters feature occasional rain and/or snow from low-pressure systems that cross the area from the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
. Average monthly precipitation is extremely low from July to September, rises in autumn (October and November) and is highest in March or April, followed by swift drying in May and June. Winds can be strong, producing dust storms sometimes, especially toward the end of the dry season in September and October. Specific cities that exemplify Central Asian climate patterns include
Tashkent russian: Ташкент , other_name = , settlement_type = Capital city, Capital , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top: Skyline of Tashkent, Hilton ...
and
Samarkand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top: The Reg ...

Samarkand
, Uzbekistan,
Ashgabat Ashgabat ( tk, Aşgabat; Ашгабат, , fa, عشق آباد; russian: Ашхабад), formerly named Poltoratsk ( rus, Полтора́цк, p=pəltɐˈratsk) between 1919 and 1927, is the capital city, capital and the largest city of Tur ...

Ashgabat
, Turkmenistan, and
Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Tajikistan. , Dushanbe had a population of 863,400 and that population was largely Tajiks, Tajik. Until 1929, the city was known in Ru ...
, Tajikistan, the last of these representing one of the wettest climates in Central Asia, with an average annual precipitation of over 22 inches. Biogeographically, Central Asia is part of the
Palearctic realm The Palearctic or Palaearctic is the largest of the eight biogeographic realm A biogeographic realm or ecozone is the broadest biogeography, biogeographic division of Earth's land surface, based on distributional patterns of terrestrial ani ...
. The largest
biome A biome is a collection of plants Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respi ...
in Central Asia is the
temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands is a terrestrial biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 that works in the field ...
biome. Central Asia also contains the
montane grasslands and shrublands Montane grasslands and shrublands is a biome A biome is a collection of plants Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy i ...
,
deserts and xeric shrublands Deserts and xeric shrublands are a biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. Deserts and xeric (ancient Greek xērós, “dry") shrublands form the largest terrestrial biome, covering 19% of Earth's land surface area. Ecoregions in this ha ...
and
temperate coniferous forests Temperate coniferous forest is a terrestrial biome A biome is a collection of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological ...
biomes.


History

Although, during the golden age of Orientalism the place of Central Asia in the world history was marginalised, contemporary historiography has rediscovered the "centrality" of the Central Asia. The history of Central Asia is defined by the area's climate and geography. The aridness of the region made
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...
difficult, and its distance from the sea cut it off from much trade. Thus, few major cities developed in the region; instead, the area was for millennia dominated by the nomadic horse peoples of the
steppe In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include: * the montane grasslands and shrublands biome * the temperate grassland ...

steppe
. Relations between the
steppe nomads The Eurasian nomads were a large group of nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer ...
and the settled people in and around Central Asia were long marked by conflict. The nomadic lifestyle was well suited to
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...

war
fare, and the steppe horse riders became some of the most militarily potent people in the world, limited only by their lack of internal unity. Any internal unity that was achieved was most probably due to the influence of the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
, which traveled along Central Asia. Periodically, great leaders or changing conditions would organise several tribes into one force and create an almost unstoppable power. These included the
Hun The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Hun
invasion of Europe, the Wu Hu attacks on China and most notably the Mongol conquest of much of
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
. During pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, southern Central Asia was inhabited predominantly by speakers of
Iranian languages The Iranian languages or Iranic languages are a branch of the in the that are spoken natively by the . The Iranian languages are grouped in three stages: Old Iranian (until 400 BCE), Middle Iranian (400 BCE–900 CE) and New Iranian (since 9 ...
. Among the ancient sedentary
Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the norther ...
, the
Sogdians :''This Wikipedia:Category, category lists articles related to historical Iranian peoples'' Iranian peoples, Historical History of Iranian peoples, Peoples Historical ethnic groups of Europe, Iranian Historical ethnic groups of Asia, Iranian Histor ...
and Chorasmians played an important role, while Iranian peoples such as
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
and the later on
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...

Alans
lived a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle. The well-preserved
Tarim mummies File:KunlunMountains.jpg, Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin. The Tarim mummies are a series of mummy, mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, which date from Tarim Basin#Early periods, 1800 BC to the first centuries ...
with
Caucasoid The Caucasian race (also Caucasoid or Europid, Europoid) is an Historical race concepts, obsolete racial classification of human beings based on a now-disproven theory of biological race. The ''Caucasian race'' was historically regarded as a b ...
features have been found in the
Tarim Basin The Tarim Basin is an endorheic basin An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans ...
. The main migration of
Turkic peoples The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups of Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, North Asia, North and West Asia as well as parts of Europe and North Africa, who speak Turkic languages.. "Turkic peoples, any of various peoples w ...
occurred between the 5th and 10th centuries, when they spread across most of Central Asia. The Tang Chinese were defeated by the
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
at the
battle of Talas The Battle of Talas or Battle of Artlakh (; ar, معركة نهر طلاس, translit=maerakat nahr talas, Nastaliq: ) was a military engagement between the Abbasid, Abbasid Caliphate along with its ally, the Tibetan Empire, against the Chinese ...

battle of Talas
in 751, marking the end of the Tang Dynasty's western expansion. The
Tibetan Empire The Tibetan Empire (, ; ) was an empire centered on the Tibetan Plateau, formed as a result of imperial expansion under the Yarlung dynasty heralded by its 33rd king, Songsten Gampo in the 7th century. The empire further expanded under the 38th ...

Tibetan Empire
would take the chance to rule portion of Central Asia along with South Asia. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to the Inner Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia an ...

Mongols
conquered and ruled the largest contiguous empire in recorded history. Most of Central Asia fell under the control of the
Chagatai Khanate The Chagatai Khanate, or Chagatai Ulus ( mn, Цагаадайн улс; uz, Chigʻatoy ulusi; ; fa, خانات جغتای), was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that comprised the lands ruled by Chagatai Khan, second son of Genghis Khan ...
. The dominance of the nomads ended in the 16th century, as
firearm A firearm is any type of gun A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube ( gun barrel) to launch typically solid projectiles, but can also project pressurized liquid (e.g. water guns/ cannons, spray guns for painting ...
s allowed settled peoples to gain control of the region.
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, and other powers expanded into the region and had captured the bulk of Central Asia by the end of the 19th century. After the
Russian Revolution The Russian Revolution was a period of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relatio ...
, the western Central Asian regions were incorporated into the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
. The eastern part of Central Asia, known as East Turkestan or
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
, was
incorporated Incorporated may refer to: * Incorporated community * Incorporated (Grip Inc. album), ''Incorporated'' (Grip Inc. album), 2004, by Grip Inc. * Incorporated (Legion of Doom album), ''Incorporated'' (Legion of Doom album), 2006 * Incorporated (TV seri ...
into the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
, having been previously subjugated by the Manchu Empire. Mongolia regained their independence and have remained independent but became a Soviet satellite state until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Afghanistan remained relatively independent of major influence by the Soviet Union until the Saur Revolution of 1978. The Soviet areas of Central Asia saw much Soviet infrastructure in Central Asia, industrialisation and construction of infrastructure, but also the suppression of local cultures, hundreds of thousands of deaths from failed collectivisation programmes, and a lasting legacy of ethnic tensions and environmental problems. Soviet authorities Population transfer in the Soviet Union, deported millions of people, including entire nationalities, from western areas of the Soviet Union to Central Asia and
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of R ...

Siberia
. According to Touraj Atabaki and Sanjyot Mehendale, "From 1959 to 1970, about two million people from various parts of the Soviet Union migrated to Central Asia, of which about one million moved to Kazakhstan." With the collapse of the Soviet Union, five countries gained independence. In nearly all the new states, former Communist Party officials retained power as local strongmen. None of the new republics could be considered functional democracies in the early days of independence, although in recent years
Kyrgyzstan russian: Киргизская Республика, Kirgizskaya Respublika , image_flag = Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg , image_coat = Emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg , symbol_type = Emblem , motto = " ...

Kyrgyzstan
,
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
and
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
have made further progress towards more open societies, unlike
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
,
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
, and
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
, which have maintained many Soviet-style repressive tactics.


Culture


Arts

At the crossroads of Asia, Shamanism, shamanistic practices live alongside Buddhism. Thus, Yama (East Asia), Yama, Lord of Death, was revered in Tibet as a spiritual guardian and judge. Buddhism in Mongolia, Mongolian Buddhism, in particular, was influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. The Qianlong Emperor of Qing China in the 18th century was Tibetan Buddhist and would sometimes travel from Beijing to other cities for personal religious worship. Central Asia also has an indigenous form of improvisational oral poetry that is over 1000 years old. It is principally practiced in
Kyrgyzstan russian: Киргизская Республика, Kirgizskaya Respublika , image_flag = Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg , image_coat = Emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg , symbol_type = Emblem , motto = " ...

Kyrgyzstan
and
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
by ''akyns'', lyrical improvisationalists. They engage in Freestyle battle, lyrical battles, the ''aitysh'' or the ''alym sabak''. The tradition arose out of early bardic Oral history, oral historians. They are usually accompanied by a String instrument, stringed instrument—in Kyrgyzstan, a three-stringed komuz, and in Kazakhstan, a similar two-stringed instrument, the dombra. Photography in Central Asia began to develop after 1882, when a Russian Mennonite photographer named Wilhelm Penner moved to the
Khanate of Khiva The Khanate of Khiva ( chg, ''Khivâ Khânligi'', fa, ''Khânât-e Khiveh'', uz, Xiva xonligi, tk, Hywa hanlygy) was a Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia ...
during the Mennonite migration to Central Asia led by Claas Epp, Jr. Upon his arrival to
Khanate of Khiva The Khanate of Khiva ( chg, ''Khivâ Khânligi'', fa, ''Khânât-e Khiveh'', uz, Xiva xonligi, tk, Hywa hanlygy) was a Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia ...
, Penner shared his photography skills with a local student Khudaybergen Divanov, who later became the founder of Uzbek photography. Some also learn to sing the ''Manas (epic), Manas'', Kyrgyzstan's epic poem (those who learn the ''Manas'' exclusively but do not improvise are called ''manaschis''). During Soviet rule, ''akyn'' performance was co-opted by the authorities and subsequently declined in popularity. With the fall of the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
, it has enjoyed a resurgence, although ''akyns'' still do use their art to campaign for political candidates. A 2005 ''The Washington Post'' article proposed a similarity between the improvisational art of ''akyns'' and modern freestyle rap performed in the West. As a consequence of Russian colonisation, European fine arts – painting, sculpture and graphics – have developed in Central Asia. The first years of the Soviet regime saw the appearance of modernism, which took inspiration from the Russian avant-garde movement. Until the 1980s, Central Asian arts had developed along with general tendencies of Soviet arts. In the 90s, arts of the region underwent some significant changes. Institutionally speaking, some fields of arts were regulated by the birth of the art market, some stayed as representatives of official views, while many were sponsored by international organisations. The years of 1990–2000 were times for the establishment of contemporary arts. In the region, many important international exhibitions are taking place, Central Asian art is represented in European and American museums, and the Central Asian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has been organised since 2005.


Sports

Equestrianism, Equestrian sports are traditional in Central Asia, with disciplines like endurance riding, buzkashi, dzhigit and kyz kuu. The traditional game of Buzkashi is played throughout the Central Asian region, the countries sometimes organise Buzkashi competition amongst each other. The First regional competition among the Central Asian countries,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
, Chinese
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
and Turkey was held in 2013. The first world title competition was played in 2017 and won by
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
. Association football is popular across Central Asia. Most countries are members of the Central Asian Football Association, a region of the Asian Football Confederation. However,
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
is a member of the UEFA. Wrestling is popular across Central Asia, with Kazakhstan having claimed 14 Olympic medals, Uzbekistan seven, and Kyrgyzstan three. As former Soviet states, Central Asian countries have been successful in gymnastics. Mixed Martial Arts is one of more common sports in Central Asia,
KyrgyzKyrgyz, Kirghiz or Kyrgyzstani may refer to: *Things related to Kyrgyzstan *Kyrgyz people *Kyrgyz language *Kyrgyz culture *Kyrgyz cuisine *Yenisei Kirghiz *The Fuyu Kyrgyz language, Fuyü Gïrgïs language in Northeastern China {{Disambig Languag ...

Kyrgyz
athlete Valentina Shevchenko (fighter), Valentina Shevchenko holding the UFC Flyweight Champion title. Cricket is the most popular sport in
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
. The Afghanistan national cricket team, first formed in 2001, has claimed wins over Bangladesh, West Indies and Zimbabwe. Notable Kazakh competitors include cyclists Alexander Vinokourov (sportsman), Alexander Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin, boxer Vassiliy Jirov and Gennady Golovkin, runner Olga Shishigina, decathlete Dmitriy Karpov, gymnast Aliya Yussupova, judoka Askhat Zhitkeyev and Maxim Rakov, skier Vladimir Smirnov (skier), Vladimir Smirnov, weightlifter Ilya Ilyin, and figure skaters Denis Ten and Elizabet Tursynbaeva. Notable Uzbekistani competitors include cyclist Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, boxer Ruslan Chagaev, canoer Michael Kolganov, gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, tennis player Denis Istomin, chess player Rustam Kasimdzhanov, and figure skater Misha Ge.


Economy

Since gaining independence in the early 1990s, the Central Asian republics have gradually been moving from a state-controlled economy to a market economy. The ultimate aim is to emulate the Asian Tigers by becoming the local equivalent, Central Asian snow leopards. However, reform has been deliberately gradual and selective, as governments strive to limit the social cost and ameliorate living standards. All five countries are implementing structural reforms to improve competitiveness. Kazakhstan is the only CIS country to be included in the 2020 and 2019 IWB World Competitiveness rankings. In particular, they have been modernizing the industrial sector and fostering the development of service industries through business-friendly fiscal policies and other measures, to reduce the share of agriculture in GDP. Between 2005 and 2013, the share of agriculture dropped in all but Tajikistan, where it increased while industry decreased. The fastest growth in industry was observed in Turkmenistan, whereas the services sector progressed most in the other four countries. Public policies pursued by Central Asian governments focus on buffering the political and economic spheres from external shocks. This includes maintaining a trade balance, minimizing public debt and accumulating national reserves. They cannot totally insulate themselves from negative exterior forces, however, such as the persistently weak recovery of global industrial production and international trade since 2008. Notwithstanding this, they have emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis of 2008–2009. Growth faltered only briefly in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and not at all in Uzbekistan, where the economy grew by more than 7% per year on average between 2008 and 2013. Turkmenistan achieved unusually high 14.7% growth in 2011. Kyrgyzstan's performance has been more erratic but this phenomenon was visible well before 2008. The republics which have fared best benefitted from the commodities boom during the first decade of the 2000s. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have abundant oil and natural gas reserves and Uzbekistan's own reserves make it more or less self-sufficient. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan all have gold reserves and Kazakhstan has the world's largest uranium reserves. Fluctuating global demand for cotton, aluminium and other metals (except gold) in recent years has hit Tajikistan hardest, since aluminium and raw cotton are its chief exports − the Tajik Aluminium Company is the country's primary industrial asset. In January 2014, the Minister of Agriculture announced the government's intention to reduce the acreage of land cultivated by cotton to make way for other crops. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are major cotton exporters themselves, ranking fifth and ninth respectively worldwide for volume in 2014. Although both exports and imports have grown significantly over the past decade, Central Asian republics countries remain vulnerable to economic shocks, owing to their reliance on exports of raw materials, a restricted circle of trading partners and a negligible manufacturing capacity. Kyrgyzstan has the added disadvantage of being considered resource poor, although it does have ample water. Most of its electricity is generated by hydropower. The Kyrgyz economy was shaken by a series of shocks between 2010 and 2012. In April 2010, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed by a popular uprising, with former minister of foreign affairs Roza Otunbayeva assuring the interim presidency until the election of Almazbek Atambayev in November 2011. Food prices rose two years in a row and, in 2012, production at the major Kumtor gold mine fell by 60% after the site was perturbed by geological movements. According to the World Bank, 33.7% of the population was living in absolute poverty in 2010 and 36.8% a year later. Despite high rates of economic growth in recent years, GDP per capita in Central Asia was higher than the average for developing countries only in Kazakhstan in 2013 (PPP$23,206) and Turkmenistan (PPP$14 201). It dropped to PPP$5,167 for Uzbekistan, home to 45% of the region's population, and was even lower for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Kazakhstan leads the Central Asian region in terms of foreign direct investments. The Kazakh economy accounts for more than 70% of all the investment attracted in Central Asia. In terms of the economic influence of big powers, China is viewed as one of the key economic players in Central Asia, especially after Beijing launched its grand development strategy known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. The Central Asian countries attracted $378.2 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) between 2007 and 2019. Kazakhstan accounted for 77.7% of the total FDI directed to the region. Kazakhstan is also the largest country in Central Asia accounting for more than 60 percent of the region's gross domestic product (GDP).


Education, science and technology


Modernisation of research infrastructure

Bolstered by strong economic growth in all but Science and technology in Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan, national development strategies are fostering new high-tech industries, pooling resources and orienting the economy towards export markets. Many national research institutions established during the Soviet era have since become obsolete with the development of new technologies and changing national priorities. This has led countries to reduce the number of national research institutions since 2009 by grouping existing institutions to create research hubs. Several of the Turkmen Academy of Sciences, Turkmen Academy of Science's institutes were merged in 2014: the Institute of Botany was merged with the Institute of Medicinal Plants to become the Institute of Biology and Medicinal Plants; the Sun Institute was merged with the Institute of Physics and Mathematics to become the Institute of Solar Energy; and the Institute of Seismology merged with the State Service for Seismology to become the Institute of Seismology and Atmospheric Physics. In Science and technology in Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan, more than 10 institutions of the Academy of Sciences have been reorganised, following the issuance of a decree by the Cabinet of Ministers in February 2012. The aim is to orient academic research towards problem-solving and ensure continuity between basic and applied research. For example, the Mathematics and Information Technology Research Institute has been subsumed under the National University of Uzbekistan and the Institute for Comprehensive Research on Regional Problems of Samarkand has been transformed into a problem-solving laboratory on environmental issues within Samarkand State University. Other research institutions have remained attached to the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, Uzbek Academy of Sciences, such as the Centre of Genomics and Bioinformatics. Science and technology in Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan and Science and technology in Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan are also building technology parks as part of their drive to modernise infrastructure. In 2011, construction began of a technopark in the village of Bikrova near Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital. It will combine research, education, industrial facilities, business incubators and exhibition centres. The technopark will house research on alternative energy sources (sun, wind) and the assimilation of nanotechnologies. Between 2010 and 2012, technological parks were set up in the east, south and north Kazakhstan oblasts (administrative units) and in the capital, Nur-Sultan. A Centre for Metallurgy was also established in the east Kazakhstan oblast, as well as a Centre for Oil and Gas Technologies which will be part of the planned Caspian Energy Hub. In addition, the Centre for Technology Commercialisation has been set up in Kazakhstan as part of the Parasat National Scientific and Technological Holding, a joint stock company established in 2008 that is 100% state-owned. The centre supports research projects in technology marketing, intellectual property protection, technology licensing contracts and start-ups. The centre plans to conduct a technology audit in Kazakhstan and to review the legal framework regulating the commercialisation of research results and technology. Countries are seeking to augment the efficiency of traditional extractive sectors but also to make greater use of information and communication technologies and other modern technologies, such as solar energy, to develop the business sector, education and research. In March 2013, two research institutes were created by presidential decree to foster the development of alternative energy sources in Uzbekistan, with funding from the Asian Development Bank and other institutions: the SPU Physical−Technical Institute (Physics Sun Institute) and the International Solar Energy Institute. Three universities have been set up since 2011 to foster competence in strategic economic areas: Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan (first intake in 2011), an international research university, Inha University in Tashkent, Inha University in Uzbekistan (first intake in 2014), specializing in information and communication technologies, and the International Oil and Gas University in Turkmenistan (founded in 2013). Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are both generalizing the teaching of foreign languages at school, in order to facilitate international ties. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have both adopted the three-tier bachelor's, master's and PhD degree system, in 2007 and 2012 respectively, which is gradually replacing the Soviet system of Candidates and Doctors of Science. In 2010, Kazakhstan became the only Central Asian member of the Bologna Process, which seeks to harmonise higher education systems in order to create a European Higher Education Area.


Financial investment in research

The Central Asian republics' ambition of developing the business sector, education and research is being hampered by chronic low investment in research and development. Over the decade to 2013, the region's investment in research and development hovered around 0.2–0.3% of GDP. Uzbekistan broke with this trend in 2013 by raising its own research intensity to 0.41% of GDP. Kazakhstan is the only country where the business enterprise and private non-profit sectors make any significant contribution to research and development – but research intensity overall is low in Kazakhstan: just 0.18% of GDP in 2013. Moreover, few industrial enterprises conduct research in Kazakhstan. Only one in eight (12.5%) of the country's manufacturing firms were active in innovation in 2012, according to a survey by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Enterprises prefer to purchase technological solutions that are already embodied in imported machinery and equipment. Just 4% of firms purchase the license and patents that come with this technology. Nevertheless, there appears to be a growing demand for the products of research, since enterprises spent 4.5 times more on scientific and technological services in 2008 than in 1997.


Trends in researchers

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan count the highest researcher density in Central Asia. The number of researchers per million population is close to the world average (1,083 in 2013) in Kazakhstan (1,046) and higher than the world average in Uzbekistan (1,097). Kazakhstan is the only Central Asian country where the business enterprise and private non-profit sectors make any significant contribution to research and development. Uzbekistan is in a particularly vulnerable position, with its heavy reliance on higher education: three-quarters of researchers were employed by the university sector in 2013 and just 6% in the business enterprise sector. With most Uzbek university researchers nearing retirement, this imbalance imperils Uzbekistan's research future. Almost all holders of a Candidate of Science, Doctor of Science or PhD are more than 40 years old and half are aged over 60; more than one in three researchers (38.4%) holds a PhD degree, or its equivalent, the remainder holding a bachelor's or master's degree. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have all maintained a share of women researchers above 40% since the fall of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan has even achieved gender parity, with Kazakh women dominating medical and health research and representing some 45–55% of engineering and technology researchers in 2013. In Tajikistan, however, only one in three scientists (34%) was a woman in 2013, down from 40% in 2002. Although policies are in place to give Tajik women equal rights and opportunities, these are underfunded and poorly understood. Turkmenistan has offered a state guarantee of equality for women since a law adopted in 2007 but the lack of available data makes it impossible to draw any conclusions as to the law's impact on research. As for Turkmenistan, it does not make data available on higher education, research expenditure or researchers. Table: PhDs obtained in science and engineering in Central Asia, 2013 or closest year Source: ''UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030'' (2015), Table 14.1 ''Note: PhD graduates in science cover life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and statistics, and computing; PhDs in engineering also cover manufacturing and construction. For Central Asia, the generic term of PhD also encompasses Candidate of Science and Doctor of Science degrees. Data are unavailable for Turkmenistan.'' Table: Central Asian researchers by field of science and gender, 2013 or closest year Source: ''UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030'' (2015), Table 14.1


Research output

The number of scientific papers published in Central Asia grew by almost 50% between 2005 and 2014, driven by Kazakhstan, which overtook Uzbekistan over this period to become the region's most prolific scientific publisher, according to Thomson Reuters' Web of Science (Science Citation Index Expanded). Between 2005 and 2014, Kazakhstan's share of scientific papers from the region grew from 35% to 56%. Although two-thirds of papers from the region have a foreign co-author, the main partners tend to come from beyond Central Asia, namely the Russian Federation, USA, German, United Kingdom and Japan. Five Kazakh patents were registered at the US Patent and Trademark Office between 2008 and 2013, compared to three for Uzbek inventors and none at all for the other three Central Asian republics, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Kazakhstan is Central Asia's main trader in high-tech products. Kazakh imports nearly doubled between 2008 and 2013, from US$2.7 billion to US$5.1 billion. There has been a surge in imports of computers, electronics and telecommunications; these products represented an investment of US$744 million in 2008 and US$2.6 billion five years later. The growth in exports was more gradual – from US$2.3 billion to US$3.1 billion – and dominated by chemical products (other than pharmaceuticals), which represented two-thirds of exports in 2008 (US$1.5 billion) and 83% (US$2.6 billion) in 2013.


International cooperation

The five Central Asian republics belong to several international bodies, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Economic Cooperation Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. They are also members of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program, Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Programme, which also includes Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Mongolia and Pakistan. In November 2011, the 10 member countries adopted the ''CAREC 2020 Strategy'', a blueprint for furthering regional co-operation. Over the decade to 2020, US$50 billion is being invested in priority projects in transport, trade and energy to improve members' competitiveness. The landlocked Central Asian republics are conscious of the need to co-operate in order to maintain and develop their transport networks and energy, communication and irrigation systems. Only Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan border the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea (also known as Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcanian Ocean, or Khazar Sea), tk, Hazar deňzi, az, Xəzər Dənizi, russian: Каспийское море, script=Latn, fa, دریای مازندران، دریای خزر, script=Latn, tly, ...

Caspian Sea
and none of the republics has direct access to an ocean, complicating the transportation of hydrocarbons, in particular, to world markets. Kazakhstan is also one of the three founding members of the Eurasian Economic Union in 2014, along with Belarus and the Russian Federation. Armenia and Kyrgyzstan have since joined this body. As co-operation among the member states in science and technology is already considerable and well-codified in legal texts, the Eurasian Economic Union is expected to have a limited additional impact on co-operation among public laboratories or academia but it should encourage business ties and scientific mobility, since it includes provision for the free circulation of labour and unified patent regulations. Kazakhstan and Tajikistan participated in the Innovative Biotechnologies Programme (2011–2015) launched by the Eurasian Economic Community, the predecessor of the Eurasian Economic Union, The programme also involved Belarus and the Russian Federation. Within this programme, prizes were awarded at an annual bio-industry exhibition and conference. In 2012, 86 Russian organisations participated, plus three from Belarus, one from Kazakhstan and three from Tajikistan, as well as two scientific research groups from Germany. At the time, Vladimir Debabov, scientific director of the Genetika State Research Institute for Genetics and the Selection of Industrial Micro-organisms in the Russian Federation, stressed the paramount importance of developing bio-industry. "In the world today, there is a strong tendency to switch from petrochemicals to renewable biological sources", he said. "Biotechnology is developing two to three times faster than chemicals." Kazakhstan also participated in a second project of the Eurasian Economic Community, the establishment of the Centre for Innovative Technologies on 4 April 2013, with the signing of an agreement between the Russian Venture Company (a government fund of funds), the Kazakh JSC National Agency and the Belarusian Innovative Foundation. Each of the selected projects is entitled to funding of US$3–90 million and is implemented within a public–private partnership. The first few approved projects focused on supercomputers, space technologies, medicine, petroleum recycling, nanotechnologies and the ecological use of natural resources. Once these initial projects have spawned viable commercial products, the venture company plans to reinvest the profits in new projects. This venture company is not a purely economic structure; it has also been designed to promote a common economic space among the three participating countries. Kazakhstan recognises the role civil society initiatives have to address the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. Four of the five Central Asian republics have also been involved in a project launched by the European Union in September 2013, IncoNet CA. The aim of this project is to encourage European Union's scientific cooperation beyond the bloc, Central Asian countries to participate in research projects within Horizon 2020, the European Union's eighth research and innovation funding programme. The focus of this research projects is on three societal challenges considered as being of mutual interest to both the European Union and Central Asia, namely: climate change, energy and health. IncoNet CA builds on the experience of earlier projects which involved other regions, such as Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and the Western Balkans. IncoNet CA focuses on twinning research facilities in Central Asia and Europe. It involves a consortium of partner institutions from Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Portugal, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan. In May 2014, the European Union launched a 24-month call for project applications from twinned institutions – universities, companies and research institutes – for funding of up to €10, 000 to enable them to visit one another's facilities to discuss project ideas or prepare joint events like workshops. The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) was established in 1992 by the European Union, Japan, the Russian Federation and the US to engage weapons scientists in civilian research projects and to foster technology transfer. ISTC branches have been set up in the following countries party to the agreement: Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The headquarters of ISTC were moved to Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan in June 2014, three years after the Russian Federation announced its withdrawal from the centre. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan have been members of the World Trade Organization since 1998, 2013 and 2015 respectively.


Territorial and regional data


Demographics

By a broad definition including Mongolia and Afghanistan, more than 90 million people live in Central Asia, about 2% of Asia's total population. Of the regions of Asia, only North Asia has fewer people. It has a population density of 9 people per km2, vastly less than the 80.5 people per km2 of the continent as a whole.


Languages

Russian language, Russian, as well as being spoken by around six million ethnic
Russians , native_name_lang = ru , image = , caption = Wedding ceremony in the national Russian tradition. , population = 134 million , popplace = 117,319,000 , region1 = , pop1 = 7,170,00 ...

Russians
and
Ukrainians , native_name_lang = uk , image = , caption = , population = 37-40 million , popplace = 37,541,693 , region1 = , pop1 = 3,269,992 , ref1 = , region2 = ...
of Central Asia, is the de facto lingua franca throughout the former Soviet Central Asian Republics. Mandarin Chinese has an equally dominant presence in Inner Mongolia, Qinghai and
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
. The languages of the majority of the inhabitants of the former Soviet Central Asian Republics belong to the Turkic languages, Turkic language group. Turkmen language, Turkmen is mainly spoken in
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
, and as a minority language in
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
and Turkey. Kazakh language, Kazakh and Kyrgyz language, Kyrgyz are related languages of the Kipchaks, Kypchak group of Turkic languages and are spoken throughout
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
,
Kyrgyzstan russian: Киргизская Республика, Kirgizskaya Respublika , image_flag = Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg , image_coat = Emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg , symbol_type = Emblem , motto = " ...

Kyrgyzstan
, and as a minority language in
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
,
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
and
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
. Uzbek language, Uzbek and Uyghur language, Uyghur are spoken in
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
,
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
, Kyrgyzstan,
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
and
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
. The Turkic languages may belong to a larger, but controversial, Altaic language family, which includes Mongolian language, Mongolian. Mongolian is spoken throughout
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
and into Buryatia, Kalmykia, Kalmyk, Inner Mongolia, and
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
. Middle Iranian languages were once spoken throughout Central Asia, such as the once prominent Sogdian language, Sogdian, Khwarezmian language, Khwarezmian, Bactrian language, Bactrian and Scythian language, Scythian, which are now extinct and belonged to the
Eastern Iranian The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Ira ...
family. The Eastern Iranian Pashto language is still spoken in
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
and northwestern Pakistan. Other minor Eastern Iranian languages such as Shughni language, Shughni, Munji language, Munji, Ishkashimi language, Ishkashimi, Sarikoli language, Sarikoli, Wakhi language, Wakhi, Yaghnobi language, Yaghnobi and Ossetic language, Ossetic are also spoken at various places in Central Asia. Varieties of
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
are also spoken as a major language in the region, locally known as Dari (Eastern Persian), Dari (in
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
), Tajik language, Tajik (in
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
and
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
), and Bukhori dialect, Bukhori (by the Bukharan Jews of Central Asia). Tocharian languages, Tocharian, another Indo-European languages, Indo-European language group, which was once predominant in oases on the northern edge of the
Tarim Basin The Tarim Basin is an endorheic basin An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans ...
of
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
, is now extinct. Other language groups include the Tibetic languages, spoken by around six million people across the Tibetan Plateau and into Qinghai, Sichuan,
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
and Baltistan, and the Nuristani languages of northeastern Afghanistan. Dardic languages, such as Shina language, Shina, Kashmiri language, Kashmiri, Pashayi language, Pashayi and Khowar language, Khowar, are also spoken in eastern Afghanistan, the Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan and the disputed territory of Kashmir. Korean language, Korean is spoken by the Koryo-saram minority, mainly in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.


Religions

Islam in Central Asia, Islam is the religion most common in the Central Asian Republics,
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
, Xinjiang and the peripheral western regions, such as Bashkortostan. Most Central Asian Muslims are Sunni, although there are sizable Shia Islam, Shia minorities in
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
and
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
. Buddhism and Zoroastrianism were the major faiths in Central Asia prior to the arrival of Islam. Zoroastrian influence is still felt today in such celebrations as Nowruz, held in all five of the Central Asian states. The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism, transmission of Buddhism along the Silk Road eventually brought the religion to China. Amongst the
Turkic peoples The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups of Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, North Asia, North and West Asia as well as parts of Europe and North Africa, who speak Turkic languages.. "Turkic peoples, any of various peoples w ...
, Tengrism was the leading religion before Islam. Tibetan Buddhism is most common in Tibet, Mongolia,
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
, and the southern Russian regions of Siberia. The form of Christianity most practiced in the region in previous centuries was Nestorianism, but now the largest denomination is the Russian Orthodox Church, with many members in Kazakhstan, where about 25% of the population of 19 million identify as Christian, 17% in Uzbekistan and 5% in Kyrgyzstan. The Bukharan Jews were once a sizable community in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but nearly all have emigrated since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In Siberia, Shamanism, shaministic practices persist, including forms of divination such as Kumalak. Contact and migration with Han Chinese, Han people from China has brought Confucianism, Daoism, Mahayana Buddhism, and other Chinese Folk Religion, Chinese folk beliefs into the region.


Geostrategy

Central Asia has long been a strategic location merely because of its proximity to several great powers on the Eurasian landmass. The region itself never held a dominant stationary population nor was able to make use of natural resources. Thus, it has rarely throughout history become the seat of power for an empire or influential state. Central Asia has been divided, redivided, conquered out of existence, and fragmented time and time again. Central Asia has served more as the battleground for outside powers than as a power in its own right. Central Asia had both the advantage and disadvantage of a central location between four historical seats of power. From its central location, it has access to trade routes to and from all the regional powers. On the other hand, it has been continuously vulnerable to attack from all sides throughout its history, resulting in political fragmentation or outright power vacuum, as it is successively dominated. * To the North, the steppe allowed for rapid mobility, first for nomadic horseback warriors like the Huns and Mongols, and later for Russian traders, eventually supported by railroads. As the Russian Empire expanded to the East, it would also push down into Central Asia towards the sea, in a search for warm water ports. The Soviet bloc would reinforce dominance from the North and attempt to project power as far south as Afghanistan. * To the East, the demographic and cultural weight of Chinese empires continually pushed outward into Central Asia since the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
period of Han Dynasty. However, with the Sino-Soviet split and collapse of Soviet Union, China would project its soft power into Central Asia, most notably in the case of Afghanistan, to counter Russian dominance of the region. * To the Southeast, the demographic and cultural influence of India was felt in Central Asia, notably in Tibet, the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
, and slightly beyond. From its base in India, the British Empire competed with the Russian Empire for influence in the region in the 19th and 20th centuries. * To the Southwest, Western Asian powers have expanded into the southern areas of Central Asia (usually Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan). Several Persian empires would conquer and reconquer parts of Central Asia; Alexander the Great's Hellenic empire would extend into Central Asia; two Islamic empires would exert substantial influence throughout the region; and the modern state of Iran has projected influence throughout the region as well. Turkey, through a common
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...
nation identity, has gradually increased its ties and influence as well in the region. Furthermore, since Uzbekistan announced their intention to join in April 2018, Turkey and all of the Central Asian Turkic-speaking states except Turkmenistan are together part of the Turkic Council. In the post–Cold War era, Central Asia is an ethnic cauldron, prone to instability and conflicts, without a sense of national identity, but rather a mess of historical cultural influences, tribal and clan loyalties, and religious fervor. Projecting influence into the area is no longer just Russia, but also Turkey, Iran, China, Pakistan, India and the United States: * Russia continues to dominate political decision-making throughout the former SSRs; although, as other countries move into the area, Russia's influence has begun to wane though Russia still maintains military bases in
Kyrgyzstan russian: Киргизская Республика, Kirgizskaya Respublika , image_flag = Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg , image_coat = Emblem of Kyrgyzstan.svg , symbol_type = Emblem , motto = " ...

Kyrgyzstan
and
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
. * The United States, with its military involvement in the region and oil diplomacy, is also significantly involved in the region's politics. The United States and other NATO members are the main contributors to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and also exert considerable influence in other Central Asian nations. * China has security ties with Central Asian states through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and conducts energy trade bilaterally. * India has geographic proximity to the Central Asian region and, in addition, enjoys considerable influence on Afghanistan. India maintains a military base at Farkhor Air Base, Farkhor, Tajikistan, and also has extensive military relations with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. * Turkey also exerts considerable influence in the region on account of its ethnic and linguistic ties with the Turkic peoples of Central Asia and its involvement in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. Political and economic relations are growing rapidly (e.g., Turkey recently eliminated visa requirements for citizens of the Central Asian Turkic republics). * Iran, the seat of historical empires that controlled parts of Central Asia, has historical and cultural links to the region and is vying to construct an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf. * Pakistan, a nuclear-armed Islamic state, has a history of political relations with neighbouring Afghanistan and is termed capable of exercising influence. For some Central Asian nations, the shortest route to the ocean lies through Pakistan. Pakistan seeks natural gas from Central Asia and supports the development of pipelines from its countries. According to an independent study,
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
is supposed to be the fifth largest natural gas field in the world. The mountain ranges and areas in northern Pakistan lie on the fringes of greater Central Asia; the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan lies adjacent to Tajikistan, separated only by the narrow Afghan Wakhan Corridor. Being located on the northwest of South Asia, the area forming modern-day Pakistan maintained extensive historical and cultural links with the central Asian region. * Japan has an important and growing influence in Central Asia, with the master plan of the capital city of Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan being designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, and the Central Asia plus Japan initiative designed to strengthen ties between them and promote development and stability of the region. Russian historian Lev Gumilev wrote that Xiongnu,
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to the Inner Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia an ...

Mongols
(Mongol Empire, Zunghar Khanate) and
Turkic peoples The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups of Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, North Asia, North and West Asia as well as parts of Europe and North Africa, who speak Turkic languages.. "Turkic peoples, any of various peoples w ...
(First Turkic Khaganate, Uyghur Khaganate) played a role to stop Chinese List of endangered languages in China, aggression Ethnic groups in Chinese history, to the north. The Turkic Khaganate had special policy against Chinese assimilation policy. Another interesting theoretical analysis on the historical-geopolitics of the Central Asia was made through the reinterpretation of Orkhun Inscripts. The region, along with Russia, is also part of "the great pivot" as per the Heartland Theory of Halford Mackinder, which says that the power which controls Central Asia—richly endowed with natural resources—shall ultimately be the "empire of the world".


War on Terror

In the context of the United States' War on Terror, Central Asia has once again become the center of geostrategic calculations. Pakistan's status has been upgraded by the U.S. government to Major non-NATO ally because of its central role in serving as a staging point for the invasion of Afghanistan, providing intelligence on Al-Qaeda operations in the region, and leading the hunt on Osama bin Laden. Afghanistan, which had served as a haven and source of support for Al-Qaeda under the protection of Mullah Omar and the Taliban, was the target of a War in Afghanistan (2001–2021), U.S. invasion in 2001 and ongoing reconstruction and drug-eradication efforts. U.S. military bases have also been established in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, causing both Russia and the People's Republic of China to voice their concern over a permanent U.S. military presence in the region. Western governments have accused Russia, China and the former Soviet republics of justifying the suppression of separatist movements, and the associated ethnics and religion with the War on Terror.


Major cultural, scientific and economic centres


Cities in Central Asia

}; tg, Хӯқанд; fa, خوقند; Chagatai language, Chagatai: خوقند; russian: Коканд) is a city in Fergana Region in eastern
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
, at the southwestern edge of the Fergana Valley. It has a population of 192,500 (1999 census estimate). Kokand is 228 km southeast of
Tashkent russian: Ташкент , other_name = , settlement_type = Capital city, Capital , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top: Skyline of Tashkent, Hilton ...
, 115 km west of Andijan, and 88 km west of Fergana. It is nicknamed "City of Winds", or sometimes "Town of the Boar". , - ,
Samarkand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top: The Reg ...

Samarkand
, Uzbekistan ,
(2008) , , The second largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarqand Region. The city is most noted for its central position on the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
between
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
and the West, and for being an Islamic center for scholarly study. It was here that the ruler Ulugh Beg (1394–1449) built a gigantic astronomical observatory. , - ,
Tashkent russian: Ташкент , other_name = , settlement_type = Capital city, Capital , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top: Skyline of Tashkent, Hilton ...
, Uzbekistan ,
(2020) , , The capital and largest city of Uzbekistan. In pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, the town and the region were known as Chach. Tashkent started as an oasis on the Chirchik River, near the foothills of the Golestan Province, Golestan Mountains. In ancient times, this area contained Beitian, probably the summer "capital" of the Kangju confederacy.


See also

* Chinese Central Asia: Western Regions * Central Asian Football Federation * Central Asian Games * Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program * Central Asian studies * Central Asian Union * Central Asians in Ancient Indian literature * Pole of inaccessibility#Eurasia, Continental pole of inaccessibility * Economic Cooperation Organization * Hindutash * Inner Asia * Russian Turkestan *
Soviet Central Asia Soviet Central Asia (russian: Советская Средняя Азия}, ''Sovetskaya Srednyaya Aziya'') refers to the section of Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mon ...

Soviet Central Asia


References


Citations


Sources

*

*


Further reading

* * Chow, Edward. "Central Asia's Pipelines: Field of Dreams and Reality", in
Pipeline Politics in Asia: The Intersection of Demand, Energy Markets, and Supply Routes
'. National Bureau of Asian Research, 2010. * Farah, Paolo Davide, Energy Security, Water Resources and Economic Development in Central Asia, World Scientific Reference on Globalisation in Eurasia and the Pacific Rim, Imperial College Press (London, UK) & World Scientific Publishing, November 2015. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2701215 * Dani, A.H. and V.M. Masson, eds.
History of Civilizations of Central Asia
'. Paris:
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
, 1992.* Gorshunova. Olga V. ''Svjashennye derevja Khodzhi Barora...'', ('' Sacred Trees of Khodzhi Baror: Phytolatry and the Cult of Female Deity in Central Asia'') in Etnoragraficheskoe Obozrenie, 2008, n° 1, pp. 71–82. . . * * * Michael Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Michael, ed. ''Central Asia and the World: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan''. New York City, New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994. * Marcinkowski, M. Ismail. ''Persian Historiography and Geography: Bertold Spuler on Major Works Produced in Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Pakistan and Early Ottoman Turkey''. Singapore: Pustaka Nasional, 2003. * Martha Brill Olcott, Olcott, Martha Brill. ''Central Asia's New States: Independence, Foreign policy, and Regional security''. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1996. * * Hasan Bulent Paksoy. ''ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity under Russian Rule''. Hartford, Connecticut, Hartford: AACAR, 1989. http://vlib.iue.it/carrie/texts/carrie_books/paksoy-1/ * Svat Soucek, Soucek, Svatopluk. ''A History of Inner Asia''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. * Ted Rall, Rall, Ted. ''Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?'' New York: NBM Publishing, 2006. * Stone, L.A. ''The International Politics of Central Eurasia'' (272 pp). Central Eurasian Studies On Line: Accessible via the Web Page of the International Eurasian Institute for Economic and Political Research: https://web.archive.org/web/20071103154944/http://www.iicas.org/forumen.htm * Trochev, Alexei; Slade, Gavin (2019), in Caron, Jean-François (ed.)
"Trials and Tribulations: Kazakhstan's Criminal Justice Reforms"
''Kazakhstan and the Soviet Legacy'', Singapore: Springer Singapore, pp. 75–99, , retrieved 4 December 2020. * Vakulchuk, Roman (2014) Kazakhstan's Emerging Economy: Between State and Market, Peter Lang: Frankfurt/Main. Available at: www.researchgate.net/publication/299731455 * Weston, David

Bloomington, Indiana: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies, 1989. * Yellinek, Roie
The Impact of China's Belt and Road Initiative on Central Asia and the South Caucasus
E-International Relations, February 14, 2020.


External links

*
Central Asia ethnicity, languages, and religious composition maps
at Columbia University
General Map of Central Asia I – World Digital Library
a historic map from 1874 {{Authority control Central Asia, Regions of Asia Regions of Eurasia