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.
According to 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 Murantau.
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 percent of GDP and employed about 44 percent of the working population. Of the country’s agricultural area of about 250,000 square kilometers, only 10 percent 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 percent 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 percent of GDP and employed 20 percent 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.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Uzbekistan is Tashkent with a population of 2,500,000 (with suburbs, UN estimate 2019). Other major cities include Samarkand with a population of 566,000, Namangan with a population of 521,000, Andijan with a population of 437,000 (with suburbs, UN estimate 2019).
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.