DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS IN UZBEKISTAN
Kazakhs make up 3 percent of the population of Uzbekistan. In the 1990s, there were about 900,000 Kazakhs in Uzbekistan, compared to 8 million in Kazakhstan (now there are about 17 million in Kazakhstan). Some Kazakhs live in Karakalpakia.
In the 1990s, there were are about 180,000 Kyrgyz in Uzbekistan, compared to 3 million in Kyrgyzstan (now there are 5.7 million Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan).
There are about 200,000 Uyghurs in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Most Uyghurs live in Xinjiang in western China. Those in Central Asia have not been so anxious to return to their homeland
The main ethnic groups of Central Asia are the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, and Uyghurs of western China—which all speak Turkic languages—and Tajiks, who speak a Persian language. All of these groups are Muslims and all but the Uyghurs have their own country. Many were once nomads who lived in yurts. Some still do. The Uzbeks and Tajiks have a history of being more settled people while Kyrgyz and Kazakhs were nomadic horsemen and herdsmen. Large numbers of Uzbeks and Tajiks live in Afghanistan.
Tajiks in Uzbekistan
There are many Tajiks in Uzbekistan. They make up about five percent of the population, which works out to about 1.5 million people. In the 1990s there were about 630,000 Tajiks in Uzbekistan, compared to 4.4 million in Tajikistan. Members of the Tajik minority have suffered discrimination, in some cases being forced to change official identity from Tajik to Uzbek.
Some people who call themselves Uzbeks speak Tajik as their first language. Explaining how this could be so, one man told the New York Times, "In 1924 they started writing in our passports that we were all Uzbek. And if an old man insisted that no, he was Tajik...he ended up very far away."
There have traditionally been more Tajiks than Uzbeks in Bukhara, an important historical city now in Uzbekistan. Both Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are close to Bukhara. In 1924 the Soviet Union established the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, which included present-day Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Tajikistan became a separate republic in 1929. The Tajiks were given their own republic but it lacked Bukhara and Samarkand, cities with mostly Tajik populations that traditionally had been Tajik cultural and business centers.
Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer wrote: “The Soviet authorities attempted to shape ethnic identities throughout the USSR, and in Central Asia there were particular difficulties as most people here did not see their primary identities at the ethnic or national level. As part of the Soviet process, languages were standardised, traditions codified, pre-existing sub-ethnic identities (for example, tribe or city) were suppressed (for instance, by being removed as an option in the official census), privileges were granted or denied based on ethnic identity, and many people found that they were outside the borders of their titular republic (for example, ethnic Uzbeks inside Tajikistan). Despite the continuing rhetoric that the divisions between nationalities (that is, ethnic groups) would eventually disappear and give way to a unified people, ethnic identities continued to be strongly promoted in the Soviet republics... There were, however, also divisions within the ethnic groups.For Tajiks, there was the reality that ethnic Tajiks from different regions had obvious differences in dialect and in many other aspects of their culture.” [Source: “Tajikistan” by Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer, Australia National University, 2013]
Uzbeks Versus Tajiks
There has traditionally been a lot of intermarriage between the ethnic groups of Central Asia. Uzbeks and Tajiks have traditionally been difficult to distinguish from one another. The same is true with Kyrgyz and Kazakhs. Clan and regional ties have historically been more important than ethnic identity.
Central Asia is a meeting point of Turkic, Persian and Mongol cultures. Uzbeks and Tajiks have traditionally had very similar customs and lifestyles except the Uzbeks spoke a Turkish language and the Tajiks spoke a Persian language. Most ethnic Tajiks in Uzbekistan identify themselves not as Tajiks but as citizens of Uzbekistan.
Into the 20th century people referred to Uzbeks and Tajiks as Turks and Persians. The Uzbek and Tajik designations only really became widespread with the arrival of the Soviets and their desire to mold ethnic identities to suit their purposes.
Despite their different languages, official differentiation of Tajiks and Uzbeks occurred only when the Republic of Tajikistan was established in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. However, a substantial portion of the officially Uzbek population, estimated as high as 40 percent, is of Tajik ancestry, and Tajiks predominate in the urban centers of Bukhara and Samarkand. Substantial numbers of Germans and Ukrainians left in a mass emigration during the 1990s. [Source: Library of Congress February 2007 **]
Uzbeks Outside of Uzbekistan
In the 1990s, there were about 18 millions Uzbeks in Uzbekistan, 1.6 million in Tajikistan, 1.3 million in Afghanistan, 690,000 in Kyrgyzstan, 396,000 in Turkmenistan, and 14,700 in Xinjiang (western China). There are about 20,000 Uzbeks in the United States, Most of them are in New York and New Jersey. Most of the Uzbeks in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan live in the Fergana Valley. There are also large numbers of Uzbeks living in southern Tajikistan.
Uzbeks are scattered over a wide area of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Most of them are city dwellers that live in compact communities in Yining, Tacheng, Urumqi, Shache, Yecheng and Kashi. Uzbek autonomous countries have been set up in Dongjiang Mulei County, where Uzbek people are relatively concentrated. Most Uzbeks live in 1) Urumqi, Mori Kazakh Autonomous County, Qitai County and Tarbagatai in northern Xinjiang; and 2) Kashgar, Hotan, Shache and Karghalik in southern Xinjiang. More live in Yining County than anywhere else. Millions of Uzbeks live in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan as well as elsewhere in the former Soviet Union and Iran. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn ~ ; Chinatravel.com chinatravel.com \=/]
Uzbek population in China: 0.0008 percent of the total population; 10,569 in 2010 according to the 2010 Chinese census; 12,423 in 2000 according to the 2000 Chinese census; 14,502 in 1990 according to the 1990 Chinese census. [Sources: People’s Republic of China censuses, Wikipedia]
Russians in Uzbekistan
Number of Russians (and their percentage of the total population) in Uzbekistan: 1,100,000 in 1959 (13.5 percent); 1,473,000 in 1970 (12.5 percent); 1,665,000 in 1979 (10.8 percent); 1,653,000 in 1989 (8.3 percent); Approx. 900,000 in 1999–2000 (3 percent); Approx. 800,000 in 2007. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
In Uzbekistan, less than 5 percent of Russians affirmed Uzbek language ability in the last Soviet census, in 1989. Because of the obligatory teaching of Uzbek in all schools, the percentage is now higher, especially among the young. ^^
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “The cultural life of the Russian minority is also very limited in Uzbekistan. First directed by Svetlana Gerasimova, a member of the upper house of the national legislature, then by the academic Sergei Zinin, the Russian cultural center of Tashkent, opened in 1994, finds itself confined to organizing Russian cultural festivals and activities. It sporadically publishes an official news bulletin, in which it states its pleasure with the good situation of the Russian minority in Uzbekistan. Though the cultural center has opened regional offices in Bukhara, Nukus, Navoiy, Karshi, Samarkand, Termez, Chirchik, and Angren, cultural life is limited to Tashkent, where a performance center and the Russian-Jewish Ilkhom Theater function. The country also has several hundred Old Believers, mainly based in Karakalpakistan, who arrived in the Aral Sea region after their exclusion from the Cossack army in 1875. Today they live in Nukus, as well as small towns such as Tortkul, Beruni, and Kunrad. They are well integrated into the local Uzbek, Karakalpak, and Kazakh populations. The ruling regime has commandeered all of the groups representing minority nationalities, which now conclusively support the presidential apparatus and occupy themselves with the preservation of their cultural and linguistic rights. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
Russians in Central Asia
The Russians and Ukrainians and other Slavs that live in Central Asia arrived in several waves. The first came in the 19th century after the serfs were freed. Many arrived in the 1950s and 60s, particularly in Kazakhstan, during the Virgin Land campaign. The number of Russians as a percentage of the population rose from 2 percent of Uzbekistan’s population in 1917 to 13.5 percent in 1950 and fell to 8.3 percent in 1989.
Russians in Central Asia tend to live in enclaves and dominate certain cities, towns or neighborhoods. They make up a much smaller percentage of the population in all five Central Asian countries than they do on other Soviet republics. This is explained by the exodus of Russians and higher birthrate among the Central Asians.
Some two million Russians in Central Asia returned to Russia after the the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some of the ethnic Russians who fled Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan said they dis so because ultra-nationalism there made life "unbearable for non-natives." Many Russians who left for Russia have since returned. Some did so because they found the going tougher there than in Central Asia.
Of the more than eight million former Soviet citizens taken in by Russia between 1990 and 2003, half came from the five Central Asian republics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—which were home to more than one third of this Russian “diaspora.” Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “ Russians made up nearly 20 percent of the total population of these five states: some 9.5 million individuals in 1989. But their presence was not evenly distributed, and each state faced a unique domestic situation...Though their situations were diverse, the five states nonetheless had to manage a similar problem: how to affirm a “de-Russified” national identity in the wake of local economic collapse, which occurred as bonds among the former Soviet republicsbroke, and how to do so without integrating into the larger post-Soviet space. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007]
Russians in the Former Soviet Union
About 20 million Russians live outside of Russia in the former Soviet republics. The greatest number are in 1) the Ukraine (11.4 million); 2) Kazakhstan (6.2 million); 3) Uzbekistan (1.7 million); and 4) Belarus (1.3 million).
Russians once made up more than 20 percent of the population in smaller republic such as Estonia, Latvia and Kyrgyzstan. The percentage in these places is much lower now as many Russians have resettled to escape discrimination and anti-Russian sentiment.
By 1995, about 2.5 million Russians had moved back to Russia. The Russian government worried that Russia would be flooded with Russian returnees and was not forthcoming with the documentation necessary to live in Russia. Russians that had high-prestige jobs in the former Soviet republics were replaced by locals and were found they were not welcome in Russia. They were unable to get residence permits and were forced to work as illegal immigrants.
The increased numbers of Russians arriving from other CIS nations create both logistical and political problems. As in the case of non-Russian refugees, statistical estimates of intra-CIS migration vary widely, partly because Russia has not differentiated that category clearly from the refugee category and partly because actual numbers are assumed to be much higher than official registrations indicate. Many newly arrived Russians (like non-Russians) simply settle with friends or relatives without official registration. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]
Russians Migrate Out of Post-Soviet Uzbekistan
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “Uzbekistan experienced its first massive departures [of Russians] in 1989, following the pogrom against Meskhetian Turks in the Fergana Valley, which caused a wave of panic among minority populations. The country counted 1.6 million Russians, 8 percent of the population, in the 1989 census. Ninety-five percent lived in urban environments, and 42 percent of these lived in the capital, Tashkent. According to some researchers, more than 500,000 Russians left between 1990 and 1997. According to other estimates, approximately 5 percent (about 75,000 people) of the Russian population left Uzbekistan each year in the 1990s. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
“All sources agree that since independence at least half of the Russian community of Uzbekistan has migrated, about 800,000 people. Though it has slowed down, the daily queues in front of the Russian consulate in Tashkent testify to the fact that this flow persists today. At the beginning of the present decade, between 40,000 and 50,000 Russians were still leaving Uzbekistan each year. Though no census has been conducted since 1989, it appears that the Russian community of Uzbekistan still consists of about 800,000 people today, that is to say, less than 4 percent of the country’s population. The ratios of Russians to the rest of population in various areas of the country have collapsed. Their proportion has decreased from 9.97 percent to 5.81 percent in Syr Darya, from 14.64 to 9.29 percent in Tashkent, from 5.78 percent to 2.63 percent in Fergana, from 2.59 percent to 1.12 percent in Andijan, from 4.38 percent to 2.11 percent in Djizak, and from 4.38 percent to 2.11 percent in Kashkadarya. ^^
“In addition to the capital, Russians are still numerous in “creatio ex nihilo “industrial towns such as Angren, Bekobod, Almalik, Navoiy, and Akhagaran. In Chirchik, founded outside Tashkent in 1935, the majority of the city’s 150,000 inhabitants are Russian. The city’s economy was once based on a local hydroelectric plant that has since ceased operations. Thus, unemployment is widespread and the majority of inhabitants are retired. More and more of Uzbekistan’s Russians leave to settle in Kazakhstan, where economic conditions are improving. In 2003 and 2004, Kazakhstan experienced a positive balance of Russian émigrés, respectively 28,000 and 32,000 people. This figure is not explained solely by the return of former Russian residents to Kazakhstan, but also bythe migration of Russians from Uzbekistan.”^^
Russian Language, Media and Education Issues in Uzbekistan
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “ In Uzbekistan, Russian lost its status as the interethnic language of communication through a language law enacted in December 1995; however, minorities may still express themselves in their native language during administrative procedures. The full transition passage of state agencies to use of the Uzbek language, announced in 1997, was delayed until 2005, the year of the final abandonment of the Cyrillic alphabet in favor of Romanized script and the graduation from public school of the first generation of students educated entirely in Romanized Uzbek. In spite of the complete legal absence of Russian in Uzbekistan, the language remains present in urban environments, even as the entire administrative apparatus is Uzbek speaking. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
Uzbekistan “had only 93 schools that taught entirely in Russian as of 2004. Andijan, the third-largest city in the country, has only one Russophone school. More than 600 schools offer bilingual Russian-Uzbek instruction, or trilingual education in Russian, Uzbek, and Karakalpak, but this number was twice as large in 1992. Half of the Russianspeaking schools are located in or around Tashkent. In the 2004–2005 academic year, only 277,000 students (5.6 percent of all students in the country) studied in Russian, compared to 560,000 (12 percent) in 1993. In both primary and secondary education, the number of hours spent teaching Russian as a foreign language has drastically declined. Moreover, the transition of Uzbek from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin alphabet has now made teaching Russian more difficult.”^^
In Uzbekistan universities, “the number of specialty positions in Russian has fallen to the point where such positions now represent no more than onethird or one-quarter of those available in Uzbek. Faculties of Slavic philology have been transformed into departments of foreign language in which Russian is just one language among many others. In addition, the number of students authorized to enter these courses of study declined sharply in the late 1990s (from 525 in 1996 to 245 in 1999, a reduction of 53 percent), even though the volume of requests for Russian-language teachers remained significant in all the rural schools of the republic. The Uzbek authorities also refuse to allow branches of large Russian universities to open, although they did accept satellite institutes of the Russian Academy of Economics, the Moscow State University, and the Gubkin Institute for Oil and Gas Studies in Tashkent.” ^^
As for Russian media in Uzbekistan, “the Russian antenna channels were prohibited in the 1990s. One can now access them only by satellite or cable. Newspapers published in Russia are no longer available, not even in Tashkent. The national press retains a small Russian-language element. Some programs on Uzbek channels still dissem- inate information in Russian. One can purchase books from Russia only at private kiosks, and not in official bookstores. Their availability is also limited to the large cities.^ [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
Dungans are Chinese Muslims. Most are descendants of Muslim Chinese from Gangsu and Shanxi who fled their homeland after a failed Muslim rebellion in 1878. Most speak Russian as their first language as well as the Central Asian language of the people they live among. Many are trilingual, speak a Dungan dialect of Chinese but can not write in Chinese. Although most dress in Central Asia clothes they still eat Chinese-style dishes with chopsticks, speak Chinese at home and live in Chinese-style courtyard home with Chinese-style heated beds call kangs. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures: China, Russia and Eurasia “edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (C.K. Hall & Company]
There were about 70,000 Dungans in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, with 30,000 in Kyrgyzstan and 25,000 in Kazakhstan, and small number in Uzbekistan and Russia. They live mostly on the Chu Valley of Kyrgyzstan and the Kurdai region of Kazakhstan with a few in Bishkek, Almaty and other cities in the region.
The first Dungans arrived after the fall of Kashgar and the final victory of the Xinjiang by the Manchu. They were welcomed with open arms and given land by the Russians as part of Great Game scheme to win the support of Chinese Muslims so they could gain an advantageous position to claim territory in Central Asia.
The Karakalpaks are a formally nomadic people that have traditionally lived in the western deserts of Uzbekistan in a region now known as Karakalpakstan and fished in the Amu Darya delta and the Aral Sea. Karakalpak means “Black Hat People.” Under the Soviets, they were settled in towns and collectives and lost much of their culture. They are also called Kalpak or Karalapaks.
In the early 2000s, there were about 400,000 Karakalpaks, with 350,000 in Karakalpakia, 20,000 elsewhere in Uzbekistan, 3,000 in Turkmenistan. 2,500 in Russia and 2,000 in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. About 93 percent of them live Anu Darya Delta area of Karakalpakia. They make up 2 to 2.5 percent of total population of Uzbekistan and are outnumbered in Karakalpakia by Uzbeks in the south and Kazakhs in the north. Most Karakalpak live in settlements along irrigation canals of the Amu Darya Delta.
Karakalpaks are the result of the mixing of indigenous Iranians with invading Mongols, Turks and other Central Asian horsemen such as the Huns, Ogus Turks, Pechengs, Bashkirs and Ugrians. They allied themselves with the Seljuk Turks and the Golden Horde and fought against the Kipchaks in the 12th,13th and 14th centuries. They began referring to themselves as the Karakalpaks around 1500 when they settled in the Syr Darya delta. Afterwards the migrated closer to the Aral Sea and became subjects of the Bukhrarans, Kazakhs, Dzungarians, Khivan, Russians, Soviets and Uzbeks.
Karakalpaks have cultural and linguist ties with Kazakhs, Uzbeks and Kyrgyz. Their language—now the official language of Karakalpakstan—is a Turkic language closer to Kazakh than Uzbek. An effort has been made to switch from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet.
The Karakalpaks flirted with the idea of independence in the mid 1990s and claims that its needs are ignored by Tashkent.
Karakalpakstan (Karakalpakia) in an autonomous region within Uzbekistan. About half the size of Italy and adjacent to the Aral Sea, it occupies 165,000 square kilometers and is the largest “province” in Uzbekistan, covering the western third of the country. It is home to its own ethnic group, the Karakalpaks, and has it own government that handles matters like education with little interference from Tashkent.
Karakalpakstan is an arid region with low scrubby plants, gravel and sand. Most places receive less than 12.5 centimeters of rain a year. There are few trees other than the remains of tungai forests in the Amu Darya delta. It suffers from severe droughts and environmental problems associated with the disappearance of the Aral Sea. Deep bore wells that provide drinking water have salinity levels 90 percent above what is considered acceptable by the United Nations.
Almost all the agriculture is done with irrigation. Locals say that life itself would be possible without irrigation. The main crop is cotton produced in large collectives and state farms. Melons, sorghum, rice, wheat, alfalfa, grapes, apricots, apples, pears, potatoes and vegetables are also grown. There are also sheep and goats. Silkworms are raised.
In “Journey to Khiva” Philip Glazebrook described the region as “level and dim wastes of sand, a hard reddish granular surface tufted with spiny shrubs, which reached to every horizon. The sand formed low undulations, or occasionally hillocks encroaching the road, and a rare pool amid marsh grass flashed water at the cloudy, hurrying sky.” In some of the of pools are ducks.
Karakalpakstan was originally part of Russia and was created by merging the old Khiva, Khanate (1811-1920) and the Khorizem People’ republic of the early 1930s. It was made part of Uzbekistan in 1936. In the 1990s it was home to about 1.2 million people, including 400,000 Karakalpaks, 400,000 Uzbeks and 300,000 Kazakhs. There are also lots of camels. They have traditionally been used more as a source of milk and meat than for transportation.
Karakalpakstan is a very poor and undeveloped. People complain that there is no work, no money and no food. Karakalpaks live six years less than other people from Uzbekistan and have a higher infant mortality rate and suffer from a number of diseases brought about in part by environmental problems associated with the disappearance of the Aral Sea.
Population Patterns of Karakalpakstan
Population characteristics that have affected all of Uzbekistan have been especially pronounced in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan (the Uzbek form for which is Qoroqalpoghiston Respublikasi), Uzbekistan's westernmost region. In 1936, as part of Stalin's nationality policy, the Karakalpaks (a Turkic Muslim group whose name literally means "black hat") were given their own territory in western Uzbekistan, which was declared an autonomous Soviet socialist republic to define its ethnic differences while maintaining it within the republic of Uzbekistan. In 1992 Karakalpakstan received republic status within independent Uzbekistan. Since that time, the central government in Tashkent has maintained pressure and tight economic ties that have kept the republic from exerting full independence. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
In the 1990s, the population of Karakalpakstan was about 1.3 million people who live on a territory of roughly 168,000 square kilometers. Located in the fertile lower reaches of the Amu Darya where the river empties into the Aral Sea, Karakalpakstan has a long history of irrigation agriculture. Currently, however, the shrinking of the Aral Sea has made Karakalpakstan one of the poorest and most environmentally devastated parts of Uzbekistan, if not the entire former Soviet Union.
Because the population of that region is much younger than the national average (according to the 1989 census, nearly three-quarters of the population was younger than twenty-nine years), the rate of population growth is quite high. In 1991 the rate of natural growth in Karakalpakstan was reportedly more than thirty births per 1,000 and slightly higher in the republic's rural areas. Karakalpakstan is also more rural than Uzbekistan as a whole, with some of its administrative regions (rayony ; sing., rayon ) having only villages and no urban centers — an unusual situation in a former Soviet republic.
Karakalpak Life and Customs
Karakalpak have traditionally had large families. Eight to ten children was not unusual. Large nuclear families often live together in large extended family compounds with up to four generations present. Several extended families make up a “koshe” (a sub clan) and several koshe make up an “uru” (clan). Sometimes under the Soviets an entire collective was run by single koshe or uru.
Girls traditionally married young, often before they were 16. Even though the Soviets passed laws to discourage the practice the custom persisted by families’s hiding the true age of their daughters. Men are expected to pay a bride rice and women are expect to move in with the groom’s family and have few rights within the family.
Karakalpaks have traditionally unified more by Islam and then a sense of ethnic or national bonding. Most are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi School. Sufi traditions are strong. Their literature and music is in the form of recited and sung epics and poems. The most popular instruments are the “dutar” (a pizzicato instrument) and the “kobuz” (a kind of fiddle).
Karakalpaks raise camels for milk and meat. They are very fond of “shubat”, fermented camel's milk. In their homes Karakalpaks traditionally slept on the floor, ate from low tables and shunned Russian food. They also enjoy wild sports such as wrestling, ram fighting, cockfighting and “ylaq oyyny” (a polo-like sport using the carcass of a goat rather than a ball). Since Uzbekistan became independent, the Karakalpaks have tried to revive their traditional culture but have had their efforts thwarted by poverty and unemployment.
There are significant populations of Tatars, a Turkic people that look more like Russians than Turks, in Central Asia as there are in Russia and most of the other former Soviet republics. Tatars began settling in Central Asia in the 19th century at the encouragement of the tsars. In the late Soviet period, numerous Tatars migrated to the Central Asian republics, in particular Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Large numbers of Tatars were exiled to Central Asia at the end of World War II.
The Tatars is a name used to describe several distinct groups of Muslim Turkic people who speak Turkic languages. Most are Sunni Muslims and are identified in association with specific areas in Russia and the former Soviet Union. There are four main groups of Tatars; 1) the Volga Tatars; 2) the Crimean Tatars; 3) the Siberian Tatars; and 4) the Kriashen Tatars. Tatars are also called Tartars.
The Tatar language belongs to the Kipchak group and has several regional dialects. The region of present-day Tatarstan was occupied by the Mongols when the Golden Horde swept across the middle Volga region in the early thirteenth century. When the Mongol Empire fragmented two centuries later, one of its constituent parts, the Tatar Kazan' Khanate, inherited the middle Volga and held the region until its defeat by Ivan IV. Shortly thereafter, Russian colonization began. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated April 2016