Central Asia

Central Asia

Central Asia, central region of Asia, extending from the Caspian Sea in the west to the border of western China in the east. It is bounded on the north by Russia and on the south by Iran, Afghanistan, and China. The region consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.Central Asia’s landscape can be divided into the vast grassy steppes of Kazakhstan in the north and the Aral Sea drainage basin in the south. About 60 percent of the region consists of desert land, the principal deserts being the Karakum, occupying most of Turkmenistan, and the Kyzylkum, covering much of western Uzbekistan.

Most of the desert areas are unsuitable for agricultural use except along the margins of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya river systems, which wind their way northwestward through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and eastern Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan after rising in mountain ranges to the south and east. Those two major rivers drain into the Aral Sea and provide most of the region’s water resources, though northern Kazakhstan is drained by rivers flowing north into Russia. On the east and south Central Asia is bounded by the western Altai and other high mountain ranges extending into Iran, Afghanistan, and western China.

As part of the Soviet Union until 1991, the region was generally closed to mass tourism. Popular among Russian alpinists and explorers, Central Asia had the highest mountain peaks in the Soviet Union. Issyk-Kul, the enormous mountain lake in Kyrgyzstan, was a popular destination for beach holidays among Soviet citizens. Silk Road cities in Uzbekistan attracted archeologists and scientists. But western tourists did not hear much from the region because of its position among the republics of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were just one of the Soviet countries behind the Iron Curtain. There was only the occasional tourist – rare and daring – who would explore, experience and maybe write about Central Asia Tour.

There is another reason that Central Asia has taken so long to appear on the world scene: the decline of the Silk Road. Throughout its history, Central Asia has not been a single distinct political entity with defined borders. Rather, the region has been a crossroad of different cultures, home to nomads who were born to move from one place to another. The Silk Road was a trade route that enabled nomadic people to transport goods – and ideas – across the region over an interconnected matrix of roadways.

Central Asia, Silk Road

Trade was possible as people settled in cities along the route and established bazaars with countless goods for exchange between sellers and buyers. Several main routes of the Silk Road – and many more interconnections – traversed the territory of Central Asia. With the golden age of the Silk Road, the region flourished until the sixteenth century. Central Asia

After, alternate trade routes were established – faster sea routes from Europe to India and China. The region became unstable as many Silk Road empires simply ceased to exist, and clan-based kingdoms rose and fell until the twentieth century.Central Asia bazaar

Each country in Central Asia has maintained a strong national identity, and each country seeks to bring to bear its own historical significance on the continued development of the region. There have been varying definitions of Central Asia throughout the ages based on historical connections, geographical borders, and cultural peculiarities. Let’s discover in which context you might come to know Central Asia.Central Asia landscape

The modern idea of Central Asia as a region was introduced by famous Prussian geographer, Alexander von Humboldt, in 1843. His definition included Afghanistan and Western China because of the geographical connections and cultural interrelations. But the prolonged conflict throughout the 1800s between England and Tsarist Russia over control of the region, called The Great Game, resulted in the 1895 division of the territory of the Pamir mountain area, overseen by the Pamir Boundary Commission. The political annexation of the territory resulted in the population of the Pamir mountain area to be split between Afghanistan to the south and Tajikistan to the north. To this day, there are still Tajiks living in Afghanistan as a minority. But the territorial division split more than just the land. Afghanistan today is completely different – not related culturally, economically, or politically – to Central Asia, and Kashgar, in Western China, looks more Central Asian than the rest of China.

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