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Central Asia. Afghanistan Mongolia Inner Mongolia 2 Independent countries before 1991 6 former Soviet republics 3 Autonomous regions of China Tibet Xinjiang.

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Presentation on theme: "Central Asia. Afghanistan Mongolia Inner Mongolia 2 Independent countries before 1991 6 former Soviet republics 3 Autonomous regions of China Tibet Xinjiang."— Presentation transcript:

1 Central Asia

2 Afghanistan Mongolia Inner Mongolia 2 Independent countries before 1991 6 former Soviet republics 3 Autonomous regions of China Tibet Xinjiang Kazakhstan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan Azerbaijan

3 Introduction  Geopolitical void  Long obscured by Russian and Chinese domination  Low economic link  Arid physical environments  Currently, key area of geopolitical and economic competition  Al Qaeda training camp  Discovery of oil/gas reserves

4 Environmental Geography Steppes, Deserts, and Threatened Lakes of the Eurasian Heartland

5 Central Asia’s Physical Regions Northern Steppes Central Deserts Southern Highlands

6  Highest and most extensive mountains in the world  Collision of the Indian subcontinent into the Asian mainland  Tibetan Plateau  Extensive uplands between Hymalayas and Kunlun Shan; averaged around 15,000 feet  Origin of many rivers  Indus, Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Huang He River

7 Central Deserts  Western desert belt  Lower elevation  Larger rivers  Kara Kum Desert  Kyzyl Kum Desert  Caspian/Aral Sea Basin Tien Shan Pamir Mt.  Eastern desert belt  Higher elevation  Smaller river  Taklamakan Desert  Gobi Desert  Tarim Basin

8 Northern Steppes  Between desert zone and taiga  Extensive pastures  Northern Kazakstan, Northern/central Mongolia

9  Dominance of dry climate  Deserts  Steppes  Arid highlands  Pronounced continentality

10 Environmental issues  Desertification  Salinization  Desiccation Aridity

11 The Shrinking of the Aral Sea 197319872000

12 The Shrinking of the Aral Sea  Cause  Diversion of rivers nearby (irrigation projects)  eg. Kara Kum Canal  Consequences  Ecological devastation  Economic damage : Fisheries, agricultural yields  Public health : High infant and maternal death


14 Population and Settlement Settled Oases amid Vacant Lands

15  Most of Central Asia is sparsely populated  Highland is largely uninhabited  Too arid or too high to support human life  Lowland (Desert, Steppe)  Concentrated population along the river valleys

16 Importance of mountains  For migratory pastoralists  Transhumance  For sedentary farmers  Source of water and wood supplies


18 Tarim Basin  Most of the inhabitants of Central Asian deserts live in the narrow belt where the mountains meet the basins and plains


20 Farmland in Uzbekistan


22 Steppe pastoralism

23 Migration of Han-Chinese High TFR in Afghanistan

24  Unparalleled high TFR in Afghanistan  Higher TFR compared to other former Soviet zones  Islam  Different TFR within Islamic countries  urbanization  Low TFR in Tibet  monasticism & polyandry

25 Recent migration and refugee flows  Return of ethnic Russians to Russia  Influx of Han Chinese into western China  Refugees from Afghanistan, and Tibet

26 Urbanization in ancient/medieval time Silk Road Mercantile centers

27 Samarkand, Uzbekistan

28 Urbanization under communist rule Administrative cities

29 Hohot, Inner Mongolia

30 Cultural Coherence and Diversity A Meeting Ground of Disparate Traditions

31 Historic overview of Central Asia 1000 B.C.013c 7c Birthplace of Indo- European peoples? Replaced by Altaic peoples Conquered by Mongol Empire Mongol Empire Tibetan kingdom

32 The Mongol Empire of the 1200s

33 Geography of language Altaic Indo-European Tibetan

34 Geography of language  Influx of Han-Chinese into autonomous regions threatens the sphere of indigenous languages in  Inner Mongolia: Mongolian  Xinjiang: Uygur  Tibet: Tibetan  Crossroad of disparate ethnic groups (Indo-European & Altaic peoples) creates ethnic complexity in  Tajikistan: dialects of Persian, etc…  Afghanistan: Pashtuns, etc… Afghanistan

35 Afghanistan’s ethnic patchwork

36 Geography of religion Islam Lamaist Buddhism

37 Islamic fundamentalism

38 Afghan women in public

39 Lamaist Buddhism  Mongolia, Tibet  Buddhism merged with the indigenous religion  Theocracy  Dedication to monasticism  Persecution under communist rule (1959)

40 Geopolitical Framework Political Reawakening in a Power Void

41 Partitioning of the Steppes  Power struggle between sedentary and nomadic groups (16c ~ 18c)  victory of sedentary states: China and Russia bordering the Steppes  Manchu (Ch’ing) dynasty (1644-1912)  Captured Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, eastern Kazakstan  Russian Empire (17c – 1917)  Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan

42 Central Asia was partitioned by Russia and China by the early 1900s with buffer states bordering British-ruled states Russia China British

43 Central Asia under communist rule  Soviet Union (1922)  Union republics  became independent states (1991)  Mongolia (1924)  China (1949)  Autonomous regions

44 Current geopolitical tension  The former Soviet republics  Kazakstan: Nationalistic effort of Kazaks against ethnic Russian in north  Tajikistan: war between secular lowland Tajik and Muslim mountain Tajik  Azerbaijan: invasion of Armenia in west  Autonomous regions in western China  Tibet: Tibetan’s protest against Chinese rule  Xinjiang: Uygur’s opposition to Chinese use of their homeland for nuclear testing, and suppression of religion

45 War in Afghanistan  1978-89 Invasion of Soviet Union  1995-97 Taliban (young Muslim religious students)  2001 U.S.’s war against Al Qaeda and Taliban  2002 Interim government in Kabul; other areas are controlled by local warlords

46 International dimensions of Central Asian tension  Since 1991, Central Asia emerged as a key arena of geopolitical tension  A number of important countries, including China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and U.S. vied for power and influence in the region  9/11 completely changed the balance of power in the region

47 Economic and Social Development Abundant Resources, Devastated Economies

48  One of the least prosperous regions of the world  Economic collapse in 1990s  end of Soviet subsidies

49 Kazakhstan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan Azerbaijan 7 former communist economies Mongolia  Economic liberalization since 1991 With the exception of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan  Agricultural base eg. Uzbekistan (3 rd largest cotton exporter)  Large deposits of oil and natural gas eg. Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Turmenistan The post-communist economies

50 Oil development in Azerbaijan

51 Tibet Xinjiang Autonomous regions of China  Tibet: Relatively isolated from the Chinese/global economy  Xinjiang: Large oil reserves, Dominance of Han Chinese  New transportation project that connects eastern China The economy of Tibet and Xinjiang

52 Ethnic tension in Xinjiang

53 Afghanistan Afghanistan Economic misery in Afghanistan  One of the weakest economies in the world  Production of illicit drugs in the late 1990s  War-torn economy (Taliban, US bombing campaign)

54 Influential countries have proposed different routes such that they can favor their interests Global linkages: direct foreign investment   

55  High level of social indicator in the former Soviet republics  legacy of social program enacted by socialist regime  Afghanistan ranks the lowest  warfare, low connectivity

56 Social conditions and the status of women in Afghanistan  Afghan women lead highly constrained lives  15 percent adult female literacy  6 million Afghan refugees in neighboring states  Pakistan, Iran…

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