Central Asia is an extremely large area of mountains, vast deserts, and grassy steppes. It is bordered by the Caspian Sea in the west and China in the east, and by Afghanistan to Russia in the south and north. The region has historically been linked with the nomadic people acting as a crossroad for the movement of people and goods within Eurasia. The crossroads position has often intensified conflicts within the region. Central Asia is made up of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The five nations have a total population of 69 million people with Uzbekistan having the highest population.
Countries of Central Asia
Uzbekistan - 32,979,000
- Uzbekistan is the most populous nation in Central Asia, with a population of about 32 million people, nearly half the region’s population.
- The country has a relatively young population, with 35% of it being younger than 14 years.
- The majority of the population (80%) are Uzbeks while the rest of the population is made up of Russians (2%), Tajik (5%), and Kazakhs (3%).
- The country is 89% Muslim, mostly of Sunni origin while the Eastern Orthodox account for 9% of the population. The rest of the population identifies with minor religions including Korean Christians, Buddhism, and Baha’is.
Kazakhstan - 18,311,700
- The population of Kazakhstan is estimated at 18,311,700 where 46% live in the rural areas and 54% form the urban population.
- The population of women is slightly higher than that of men.
- The country’s population is made up of several ethnic groups including Kazakhs (64%), Russians (24%), and Uzbeks (3%). Other ethnic groups include Tartars, Germans, and Ukrainians among others.
- The population of Kazakhstan increased steadily from 6 million in 1939 to 16 million in 1989 census. It then decreased to 14 million in 2002 as a result of several Russians returning to Russia.
- The high rate of urbanization in the country during the first 50 years of the Soviet era led to a decline in rural population from 90% in the 1920s to less than 50% since 1970.
Tajikistan - 8,734,951
- Tajikistan’s population is estimated at 8.7 million with (70%) of the population under the age of 70.
- Tajiks are the main ethnic group in the country although Uzbeks and Russians make up a sizeable minority.
- The official language of Tajikistan is Tajik, although Russian is also commonly used in business and communication.
- The largest cities in the country include Dushanbe, Khujand, and Kulob with a total population of 900,000.
- About one million Tajik men and several women work abroad, especially in Russia.
- Over 65% of the female population lives in rural areas.
Kyrgyzstan - 6,019,480
- Kyrgyzstan’s population is estimated at around 6 million.
- The majority of the population (34%) of is under the age of 15 while 6.2% are above the age of 65 years.
- The country has a population density of 69 people per square kilometer.
- The majority of the population lives in rural area with only one-third living in urban areas.
- Kyrgyz is the largest ethnic group in Kyrgyzstan, comprising of 71% of the population. Other ethnic groups include Russians, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Kazakhs. The country has over 80 ethnic groups.
Turkmenistan - 5,662,544
- Turkmenistan has an estimated population of 5.6 million.
- The majority of the population is ethnic Turkmens with a sizeable minority of Russians and Uzbeks.
- Other ethnic minorities include Kazakhs, Tatar, Kurds, Armenians, and Balochs among others.
- Turkmens account for 85% of the population while Uzbeks and Russians account for 5% and 3% of the population respectively