Countryaah data, Uzbekistan has an average population density of 74
residents per km2, but a large part of the
population lives in the eastern part of the country, in the
Fergana Valley or in the metropolitan area. More than half
of the population lives in cities, of which the capital
Tashkent is dominant. Other cities include Samarkand
(509,000 residents, 2014) and Namangan (475,700). Natural
population growth during the post-war period has been
consistently high. However, the differences between city and
country are large. During the 20th century a not
insignificant move of mainly Russians took place. However,
even before independence, this was changed into a net move.
Russian residents are mainly concentrated in the capital and
other major industrial societies.
The ethnic map of Uzbekistan is complicated. According to
an estimate in 2008, the Uzbeks comprised 80 percent of the
population, the Russians 5.5 percent, the Tajiks 5 percent,
the Kazakhs 2.5 percent and the Tatars 1.5 percent. The
proportions between Tajik and Uzbek are sometimes
questioned; many bilingual Tajiks are considered to have
chosen to declare Uzbek nationality for political reasons.
The Russians' share of the population has decreased
considerably since 1980. The deportations and displacements
of the Stalin era meant that in the country there are still
(2008) 176,000 Koreans (displaced from the Soviet Far East),
100,000-150,000 Crimean Tatars and 16,000 Vulgate Germans.
However, these groups decrease as a result of emigration.
This also applies to other minority groups. The Bohemian
Jews have moved to Israel, but still in 2007 there were
5,000 left in the country. A large group of Greeks have also
fled poverty and settled in Greece. However, a few thousand
learn to remain in Uzbekistan. Since 1989, severe conflicts
between ethnic groups have led to, among other things,
ethnic cleansing and evacuations. Others have moved because
of the political climate and economic situation.
Uzbek is the official language of Uzbekistan and is
spoken by about three quarters of the population. Other
languages are Kazakh (in the northwest), Karakalpak (south
of the Aral Sea), Tajik (in the south), Tatar and Russian.
Islam reached Uzbekistan as early as the 6th century and
has dominated the area's cultural life since the Middle
Ages. The majority of Uzbekistan's population are Sunni
Muslims of the Hanafite law school. Islam was given an
important role in Uzbekistan's identity building after
independence in 1991, and the country's president Islam
Karimov adapted to the new situation. hajj (pilgrimage to
Mecca). A large number of mosques have been rebuilt or
reopened. However, freedom of religion is guaranteed in
Uzbekistan's constitution. The Islamic festivals roza
hayit (Id al-fitr) and the sacrificial feast qurbon
hayit (Id al-adha) are celebrated as official holidays.
In recent years there has been a growing interest in
Islamist movements in the country. The largest radical
organization is the Uzbek part of Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose goal
is to overthrow the current president. The authorities have
equated all Islamist groups with terrorists, leading to
arrests and persecutions. A militant Islamist organization
is the IJG, which is believed to be behind a series of
bombings in 2004. On May 13, 2005, security forces opened
fire on protesters in Andizan. Karimov blamed Islamists, but
probably social contradictions lay behind what ended in a
massacre with a large number of dead.
Alongside Muslims, there are small groups of Russian
Orthodox, Armenians, Catholics and a small group of
evangelical Christians in Uzbekistan. There are also old
groups of Zoroastrians and old believers. The religious
minorities have emigrated on a large scale since
independence. This applies not least to the Jewish group,
both Ashkenazi and Bukharan Jews, which amounted to 95,000
around 1990. In 2007, they were estimated at 5,000,
concentrated to Tashkent. There are 12 remaining synagogues
in Uzbekistan. By and large, the abdominal group has moved
to the United States.