Uzbekistan was not hit as hard by the disintegration of
the Soviet Union in 1991 as many other republics. Important
contributing reasons for this are that the country is almost
self-sufficient with energy and many agricultural products.
The country has vast natural resources and is one of the
world's largest cotton producers. Business development is
generally hampered by lack of water.
COUNTRYAAH, Uzbekistan's strict political control is reflected in the
highly centralized economy. Market economy has been
gradually introduced, but the economic reform processes are
slowing down. The country faces major challenges with
poverty and unemployment.
Mining and energy
Uzbekistan has rich natural resources, especially natural
gas, crude oil and coal, but also gold, silver, uranium,
copper, lead, zinc and tungsten. The country is among the
world's largest producers of uranium and gold. All uranium
ore is exported. The Muantau mine in the Kysylkum desert is
to be the world's largest open gold mine, and has accounted
for about three-quarters of the country's gold production.
In 2004, a new mining complex opened 30 kilometers from
In the early 1990s, Uzbekistan was the world's 10th
largest exporter of natural gas, but since the turn of the
millennium most of the gas has gone to meet domestic
consumption. Since 1995, the country has been a net exporter
of crude oil.
Two new oil refineries, opened around the turn of the
millennium, have increased capacity.
Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture is a significant part of the country's
economy. In 2008, agriculture (including forestry)
contributed about 30 per cent of GDP and employed about 44
per cent of the working population. Of the country's
agricultural area of about 250,000 square kilometers, only
10 per cent is cultivated land. The rest is used as pasture.
Large parts of agriculture are very intensively operated
with a large consumption of artificial irrigation,
fertilizers and pesticides. The significant consumption of
artificial irrigation has caused an ecological disaster in
the Aral Sea, which has now fallen to about 10 per cent of
its original size.
The most important agricultural areas are in the river
valleys, especially at the Aral Sea's mourning, and along
the rivers Seravshan and Syr-Darja and its bees. The main
agricultural product is cotton; Uzbekistan is the world's
fifth largest cotton producer. Cereals, rice, fodder crops,
vegetables and fruits are also grown, including melons and
grapes. Cotton is produced especially at the Aral Sea's sows
and in the Bukhara - Samarkand belt, where wheat is also
grown. Grapes are cultivated farthest east, around Tashkent
and in the Fergana Valley. There is also significant cattle
breeding and breeding of karakulsau and silkworms. In 2004
there were 6.2 million cattle, 10.6 million goats and sheep
and 145,000 horses.
The fishing industry is in crisis after most of the fish
died out in the severely diminished and polluted Aral Sea.
Previously, the sea was a work place for about 10,000
fishermen and accounted for just over 10 percent of inland
fishing throughout the Soviet Union. The few remaining fish
processing companies collect some of the raw materials from
the Baltic Sea.
In 2008, the industry (including mining) contributed 33
per cent of GDP and employed 20 per cent of the working
population. A significant part of the industry is based on
the processing of raw materials from agriculture and mining.
Textiles, fertilizers, agricultural machinery and other
machines are also produced.
The tourism industry is little developed. The main
tourist attractions can be found in Bukhara, Samarkand and
Khiva (current Hiva). The capital, Tashkent, on the other
hand, despite its 2000-year history, has few monuments. Most
were destroyed during the 1966 earthquake.
Uzbekistan has long been among the world's five largest
cotton exporters. The cotton is the main export commodity.
Other export goods are textiles, machinery, chemicals,
foodstuffs and fuels. The most important import goods that
year were machinery, light industrial products, foodstuffs
and various raw materials. Main trading countries are
Russia, China, Poland, and South Korea. Uzbekistan is in
customs union with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Transport and Communications
Uzbekistan (2008) has a railway network of around 4,000
kilometers and a road network of 86,500 kilometers, as well
as 1100 kilometers of inland waterways. The significant use
of Amu-Darja and Syr-Darja for artificial irrigation has
reduced the utility of the rivers as transport years.
Tashkent has three subway lines totaling 36 kilometers. Main
airport is outside Tashkent. Uzbekistan Airways is the
region's dominant airline, with routes to the other
countries in Central Asia, as well as to the United States,
Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe.