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Uzbekistan, officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Before 1991, it was part of the Soviet Union.
Once part of the Persian Samanid and later Timurid empires, the region which today includes the Republic of Uzbekistan was conquered in the early 16th century by nomads who spoke an Eastern Turkic language. This region was subsequently incorporated into the Russian Empire in the 19th century, and in 1924 it became a boundaried constituent republic of the Soviet Union, known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbek SSR). It subsequently became the independent Republic of Uzbekistan on 31 August 1991 (officially, from the following day). Most of Uzbekistan’s population today belong to the Uzbek ethnic group and speak the Uzbek language, one of the family of Turkic languages.
The capital is Taškent. The officially registered population of the city in 2012 was about 2.309,300 million.
Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 29,559,100 citizens comprise nearly half the region's total population. The population of Uzbekistan is very young: 34.1% of its people are younger than 14 (2008 estimate). According to official sources, Uzbeks comprise a majority (80%) of the total population. Other ethnic groups include Russians 5.5%, Tajiks 5% (official estimate and disputed), Kazakhs 3%, Karakalpaks 2.5% and Tatars 1.5% (1996 estimates).
Uzbekistan has an area of 447,400 square kilometres (172,700 sq mi). It is the 56th largest country in the world by area and the 42nd by population. Among the CIS countries, it is the 5th largest by area and the 3rd largest by population.
Uzbekistan lies between latitudes 37° and 46° N, and longitudes 56° and 74° E. It stretches 1,425 kilometres (885 mi) from west to east and 930 kilometres (580 mi) from north to south. Bordering Kazakhstan and the Aral Sea to the north and northwest, Turkmenistan to the southwest, Tajikistan to the southeast, and Kyrgyzstan to the northeast, Uzbekistan is one of the largest Central Asian states and the only Central Asian state to border all the other four. Uzbekistan also shares a short border (less than 150 km or 93 mi) with Afghanistan to the south.
Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country. It is one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world — that is, a country completely surrounded by landlocked countries — the other being Liechtenstein. In addition, due to its location within a series of endorheic basins, none of its rivers lead to the sea. Less than 10% of its territory is intensively cultivated irrigated land in river valleys and oases. The rest is vast desert (Kyzyl Kum) and mountains.
The highest point in Uzbekistan is the Khazret Sultan, at 4,643 metres (15,233 ft) above sea level, in the southern part of the Gissar Range in Surkhandarya Province, on the border with Tajikistan, just northwest of Dushanbe (formerly called Peak of the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party). The climate in the Republic of Uzbekistan is continental, with little precipitation expected annually (100–200 millimeters, or 3.9–7.9 inches). The average summer high temperature tends to be 40 °C (104 °F), while the average winter low temperature is around -23 °C (-9 °F).
The Uzbek language is the only official state language, and since 1992 is officially written in the Latin alphabet. The Tajik language is widespread in the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand because of their relatively large population of ethnic Tajiks. It is also found in large pockets in Kasan, Namangan and Khokand in Fergana valley, as well as in Ahangaran, Baghistan in the middle Syr Darya distrist, and finally in, Shahrisabz, Kitab and the river valleys of Kafiringan and Chaganian rivers, forming altogether, approximately 25-30% of the population of Uzbekistan.
Islam is by far the dominant religion in Uzbekistan, as Muslims constitute 90% of the population while 5% of the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, and 5% of the population follow other religions according to a 2009 US State Department release. However, a 2009 Pew Research Center report stated that Uzbekistan's population is 96.3% Muslim. An estimated 93,000 Jews were once present in the country.