Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Hard-Won Peace

Magnet # 331: Flag of Uzbekistan

Material: Paper-Mache

Purchased By: Dad

It's yet another Independence Day post, only this time we head over to very nearly the other side of the planet, Uzbekistan. As it's celebrating just 19 years of being a nation, it's even younger than Trinidad and Tobago, but that's no reason not to join in the fun.

The history of what would become Uzbekistan dates all the way back to the Bronze Age, when the earliest settlers arrived, most likely from central Eurasia. Later, Iranian nomads bgean to arrive in the area, building up cities such as Samarkand to serve as centers of the government and commerce, while also creating extensive irrigation systems to aid in farming. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great came to the region, capturing Sogdiana and Bactrina, parts of which would later join with Uzbekistan. He married Roxana, the daughter of a Bactrian chieftain in the hopes of better uniting himself with the people there, but their resistance against him remained fierce. After he was gone, the territory eventually came under Persian rule, which would last for centuries. When the Silk Road rose to importance, its leading cities, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, would all go on to become part of Uzbekistan, and the trade greatly helped them to build up. When Genghis Khan and his Mongols conquered the area in the 13th century, however, they wiped out nearly all of those living there, replacing their culture and heritage with that of the Mongolian-Turkic peoples. Before long, Amir Temur rose to power. He went on to conquer much of Central Asia and is now remembered as the national hero of Uzbekistan. After his death, the lands he had gathered quickly fell apart and in 1501 the Uzbek nomadic tribes invaded, taking some of the lands that would become Uzbekistan. But by the 19th century, the Russian Empire was on the rise and looking to expand into Central Asia. Russians were pouring into the area and by the early 20th century, they had taken control of it, along with most of Central Asia. Despite some resistance, the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was formed in 1924. For the next six-and-a-half decades, the Soviets would take complete control of the lives of the Uzbeks, relocating their capital, taking land away from their territory, and doing all in their power to quash the Islamic religion. But the people persevered, and they were rewarded when during the fall of the Soviet Union, they gained their independence. The Republic of Uzbekistan was created on September 1st, 1991.

Today's Uzbekistan Independence Day celebrations are centered around the Alisher Navoi National Park, where members of the government, national heroes, and foreign diplomats gathered. President Islam Karimov expressed his concern in raising the country's standard of living and creating a more modern, liberalized society. But for the moment, he and his people have plenty to make them happy. Although their land has seen much conquering and conflict over the centuries all the way to modern times, at last they have arrived at a time of peace. Hopefully, it will persist and Uzbekistan will continue to grow and thrive, keeping its freedom for decades and even centuries to come.

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