The countries of Central Asia reflect the culture and past of the Silk Road, which connects China with Iran and Turkey. Of the peoples in this area, the Uzbeks are the most numerous. Most of them live in the area that has been called Uzbekistan since 1924. The country has the largest Turkic-speaking community outside Turkey, but also two centres of Persian culture, namely the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. Its integration into the Soviet economic system in the 1920s led over time to the interpenetration of the Uzbek economy with that of the other Union republics. The Parliament of Uzbekistan declared independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Uzbek Communist Party was renamed the People's Democratic Party.
In 1989, Islam Karimov came to power as the first secretary of the Communist Party. He was elected president in 1991 and remained so until September 2016. In February 2009, the court convicted five Islamists of religious extremism. President Karimov allows the United States to supply troops in Afghanistan through Uzbek territory. In February 2010, three men were convicted of the murder of Mark Weil, who had depicted the Prophet Mohammed in a theatre play. In the years 2010 to 2013, relations with neighbouring countries were tense. In January 2014, Swiss investigators begin a money laundering investigation of Gulnara, the eldest daughter of President Karimov. In March 2015, Karimov was re-elected as president; he died in September 2016. He is succeeded in December 2016 by the winner of the presidential election Shavkat Mirziyoyev. In February 2017, there is rapprochement with neighbouring countries. In 2018 and 2019, he manages to replace all important officials from the Karimov era. Mirziyoyev is re-elected in October 2021 with 80% of the votes.
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