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Asia, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, republic in Central Asia, bordered on the west and north by Kazakhstan, on the east by Kyrgyzstan, on the southeast by Tajikistan, and on the south by Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. The Qoraqalpogh Autonomous Republic (also known as Qoraqalpoghiston, or Karakalpakstan) occupies 37 percent of Uzbekistan's territory in the western portion of the country. Toshkent (Tashkent), located in the northeast, is the capital city and chief industrial and cultural center. Uzbeks make up the majority of the republic's population. In the official state language of Uzbek, the republic is called Uzbekiston Respublikasy (Republic of Uzbekistan).

Uzbekistan was the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1924 until 1991, when it gained its independence. In 1992 Uzbekistan was officially designated a secular and democratic republic with the ratification of its first post-Soviet constitution. Although the constitution guarantees a multiparty system, the republic's president, Islam Karimov, has established an authoritarian-style regime that has been intolerant of opposition groups. Although Uzbekistan was widely regarded as the most favorable of the Central Asian states for economic development, its transition from the planned economy of the Soviet period to one based on the principles of a free market has proceeded slowly since independence.

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