Uzbekistan's rich history dates back millennia. The Central Asian region has been inhabited by humans for over 1 million years. During the last half a century, scientists have uncovered several Stone Age settlements. Particularly famous are the ancient Kulbulak and Obi Rakhmon settlements, as well as Teshiktash and Amankutan.
Productive lands, good water sources, and an abundance of heat contributed to the development of farming. Large areas of desert and steppe near farming districts served as the pastures for cattle. With their evolution the inhabitants of these regions established various relations with neighbors. Based on the trinity of geographical, economic, and social factors, ancient states like Sogdiana, Bactria, Khorezm, and others formed.
The Ancient Orient
Almost continuous wars took place between the states of the ancient Orient. Their goal was to conquer other lands for slaves and other valuable items. Rich resources of the region, and its geographical position drew the attention of numerous occupants. In the second half of the first millennium b.c., the states situated on the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan were conquered by Akhemenid kings and were included in the huge Akhemenid Empire as eastern possessions. In 329—327 b.c., Alexander of Macedonia occupied the lands. On the ruins of Macedonian power, the contours of new state unions started taking shape. Bactria and Sogdiana joined the State of Seleucids. Later they joined the Greek-Bactrian Kingdom and Kushan Empires. In the 6th century a.d. these Central Asia states included in the Turkic Kaganate that united various tribes in the region.
As a result of constant occupation, periods of economic and cultural prosperity were interchanged with eras of deep recession. However, the development process continued. And the Great Silk Road that connected Rome and China contributed to this in many ways. Historical chronicles credit the Chinese emperor with the idea of laying this unique transcontinental road, after a Chinese courier returned home in 125 b.c. to report that beyond the Great Chinese Wall, and the seemingly unlimited steppes and deserts, there were powerful states such as Khorezm, Sogdiana, and others with a highly developed and unique culture.
In the early 7th century, Arabs intruded the territory of this region. The period of Samanid rule was marked by prosperity of cities that turned into large centers of international trade and culture. Then this land was occupied and governed by the dynasties of Gaznevids, KaraKhanids, and Seldjuks.
According to the scientists, the process of national formation in the territory that is now Uzbekistan dates back to around 1000 b.c. This process was lengthy. However, the term “Uzbek” was introduced in the 15th and 16th centuries a.d., during the period of Shaibani Khan’s rule.
Amir Temur, an ancient ruler and national hero, became one of the main influences on statehood in this region. In the second half of the 14th century, taking advantage of the disintegration of the states of Chengiz Khan’s heirs in Central Asia, Amir Temur united them and founded a powerful state with capital in Samarkand. In 1380 Amir Temur made military marches to other countries, conquering Iran, the Caucasus, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Northern India.
Establishment of a centralized state called Movaro-un-Nahr in Central Asia, and the elimination of fractures, created favorable conditions for the development of an economy that had previously been exhausted by the rule of Mongols. Due to Amir Temur’s political energy, state, social, and military governance improved substantially.
Science, architecture, urban construction, literature, painting, and applied arts thrived under the rule of Temur and his heirs, and were represented in the large empire. For instance, Temur's famous grandson, Ulugbek, ruled a state very near to the contemporary Uzbekistan. Ulugbek was not only a statesman, but a student of world history, an outstanding scientist, and an organizer and patron of science and arts. He founded an astronomical observatory unparalleled for its time.
Nowadays, the names of great statesmen, scientists, philosophers, and poets whose achievements were included in the jewel box of the world civilization are well known in many countries. Among them is Abu Ali bin Sino (Avicenna) who, with Hippocrates, is considered as the founder of modern medicine; mathematician al-Khorezmi whose treatise, "Rules of Reintegration and Reduction" introduced Arabic numerals to the west; astronomer Ulugbek who make astronomy a science. This list is added by Sunni scholars Bahouddin Nakshband, Al-Bukhari, At-Termizi, scientist Abu RayKhan Beruni, poet Alished Navoi and many others.
Wonderful palaces, mausoleums, madrassas, and minarets created during the Temurid era still amaze tourists with their grandness. Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Shahrisabz, which are included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO, are deemed jewels of history.
After a recession during the occupation of this land by Shaibani Khan, development of civilizations like the Bukhara, Kokand, and Khiva Khanates emerged.
Indeed, neighboring Russia could not ignore this geopolitically important region, since it held great economic opportunities for Russia. Russia was interested in agricultural products like cotton and leather. Handcrafters’ products were still famous for their wonderful quality and perfect finish. In late 1840s and early 1850s, the gradual occupation of the region’s territories by the Russian empire. In 1867 the Turkestan province, with center in Tashkent, was established.
The period after the October Revolution in Russian in 1917 became another page in Uzbekistan’s history. Soviet rule was declared in Turkestan in 1918. In 1924, as a result of national and state demarcation, the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was established and included in the USSR.
Uzbekistan declared its independence from the USSR on August 31, 1991 at the extraordinary session of the Supreme Council of the country. On March 2, 1992 Uzbekistan joined the United Nations Organizations as equal member, and joined the Helsinki process by signing the Final Act of the Summit for Security and Cooperation.
Today, independent Uzbekistan is also member of leading economic and financial organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Economic Association of Black Sea Countries, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a number of other prestigious international organizations. The interest of partners in developing relationships with Uzbekistan is explained not only by the great potential of Uzbekistan's natural resources, but also by the effectiveness of its economic policy.