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At the end of 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union transformed the
fifteen republics of that union into independent states with various
capabilities for survival. Among them were the five republics of Central
Asia: Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Until that time, Central Asia had received less attention from the outside
world than most of the other Soviet republics, simply because it was the
most remote part of the Soviet Union. Aside from their incidental coverage
in the 1991 Soviet Union: A Country Study , the Central Asian
republics have received no treatment in this series. Since their
independence, these republics have attracted considerable attention in the
West, largely because of the improved opportunities for exploitation of
their rich natural resources, notably oil and natural gas. As the fourth
of the six-volume subseries covering all the post-Soviet states, this
volume brings new information about a region of enhanced relevance in the
world's economy and geopolitical structure.
The marked relaxation of information restrictions, which began in the
late 1980s and has continued into the mid-1990s, allows the reporting of
much more complete information on Central Asia than what was available one
decade ago. Scholarly articles and periodical reports have been especially
helpful in accounting for most aspects of the five republics' activities
since they achieved independence. The authors have provided a context for
their current evaluations with descriptions of the historical, political,
and social backgrounds of the countries. In each case, the author's goal
was to provide a compact, accessible, and objective treatment of five main
topics: historical background, the society and its environment, the
economy, government and politics, and national security. Brief comments on
some of the more useful, readily accessible sources used in preparing this
volume appear at the end of each chapter. Full references to these and
other sources used by the authors are listed in the Bibliography.
In most cases, personal names have been transliterated from the
vernacular according to the transliteration system of the United States
Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Some names, such as Boris N. Yeltsin and
Joseph V. Stalin, are rendered in the conventional form widely used in
Western sources. The same distinction has been applied to geographic
names: the BGN spelling is used for the vast majority, but a few, such as
the largest cities, Tashkent and Moscow, are given in their widely used
conventional forms. Some geographical names regrettably are missing
diacritics because the typesetting software being used cannot produce all
the necessary characters (although they do appear on the maps).
Organizations commonly known by their acronyms (such as the
IMF--International Monetary Fund) are introduced by their full names, in
both vernacular and English forms where appropriate. Adjectives derived
from the name of a republic ("Kazakstani" and "Uzbekistani,"
for example) are used in all cases except where such a term denotes
persons or groups of a specific ethnic origin. In the latter cases, the
adjective is in the form "Kazak" or "Uzbek." The same
distinction applies to the proper nouns for citizens of a republic ("Kazakstanis,"
for example) as distinguished from individuals of an ethnic group ("Kazaks").
A chronology at the beginning of the book combines significant
historical events of the five countries. To amplify points in the text and
provide standards of comparison, tables in the Appendix offer statistics
on aspects of the five societies and national economies. Measurements are
given in the metric system; a conversion table is provided in the
The body of the text reflects information available as of March 1996.
Certain other portions of the text, however, have been updated beyond that
point. The Introduction discusses significant events and trends that have
occurred since the completion of research; the Country Profiles and the
Chronology include updated information as available; and the Bibliography
lists recently published sources thought to be particularly helpful to the
Data as of March 1996