Uzbekistan is divided into one independent city, one autonomous republic and 12 provinces. It gained its sovereignty in 1991 after more than 100 years of Russian rule. Uzbekistan has been an authoritarian state for the last two decades under the governance of President Islam Karimov. He created a regime with a few influential persons including the daughter, Gulnara Karimova, holding key positions in government. The President is 72 years old and sick. The absence of formal political mechanisms and power succession are the two challenges facing the nation.
In recent years, there were significant developments in Uzbekistan. In June of 2010, the Uzbekistan government accommodated ethnic Uzbek migrants trying to escape violence in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. However, it also shut down the refugee camps within weeks and drove back these people towards the border. Two years later, the incumbent government also revealed plans to dispose hundreds of state assets to try and spread out the private sector. Likewise, Uzbekistan permitted NATO forces stationed in the region to withdraw its military vehicles and equipment through their territory as NATO troops were pulling out from Afghanistan.
In a surprise move in September of 2012, Uzbekistan divested the biggest mobile phone operator (Russian-owned Uzdunrobita) of its license to operate in the country and arrested several senior managers for various charges. The Russian parent company accused the government of a shakedown. The Swiss police launched a money-laundering probe that involved the eldest daughter (Gulnara) of President Karimov. Gulnara resigned her post as ambassador to the United Nations and other international organizations also in 2013.
Last year, International media rights groups expressed concern over the brief confinement of journalist Sergey Naumov while investigating child labour for cotton harvest activities in the north western city of Urgench. Many major clothes companies boycotted Uzbekistan due to its use of child labour.
Population. Ranked 44th in 2013.
GDP per capita. Ranked 129th in 2012.
425,400 sq km
Sq. km. Ranked 54th in 2008.