Useful country information
Total area: 172,741 sq mi (447,400 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 28,929,716 (growth rate: 0.93%); birth rate: 17.02/1000; infant mortality rate: 19.84/1000; life expectancy: 73.29; density per sq mi: 159.1
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Tashkent, 2.227 million
Other large cities: Namangan, 1.565 million; Andijan, 1.448 million; Samarkand, 1.309 million
Monetary unit: Uzbekistani sum
National name: Ozbekiston Respublikasi
Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
Ethnicity/race: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazak 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)
Religions: Islam (mostly Sunnis) 88%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%
Literacy rate: 99.4% (2011 est.)
During the Soviet era, intensive production of "white gold" (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry.
Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves.
Current concerns include insurgency by Islamic militants based in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, a non-convertible currency, and the curtailment of human rights and democratization.
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