Portal:Central Asia

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Introduction

Map of Central Asia

Central Asia stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. The region consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is also colloquially referred to as "the stans" as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix "-stan", meaning "land of".

Central Asia has a population of about 105 million, consisting of five republics: Kazakhstan (pop. 17,987,736), Kyrgyzstan (5,955,734), Tajikistan (8,734,951), Turkmenistan (5,662,544), and Uzbekistan (31,446,795). Afghanistan (34,656,032), which is a part of South Asia, is also sometimes included in Central Asia.

Central Asia has historically been closely tied to its nomadic peoples and the Silk Road. It has acted as a crossroads for the movement of people, goods, and ideas between Europe, Western Asia, South Asia, and East Asia. The Silk Road connected Muslim lands with the people of Europe, India, and China. This crossroads position has intensified the conflict between tribalism and traditionalism and modernization.

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Central Asia is a diverse land with many ethnic groups, languages, religions and tribes. The demography of Central Asia includes the demographics of the nations of the five former Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, a group which has a total population of about 61 million. When Afghanistan, which is not always considered part of the region, is included, then Central Asia has a total population of about 90 million as of 2010. It is to be noted that Pakistan has a large population of Central Asian peoples. Although most central Asians have belonged to religions which were introduced into the area within the last 1,500 years, such as Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, Ismaili Islam, Tengriism, and Syriac Christianity, Buddhism was introduced to Central Asia over 2,200 years ago, and Zoroastrianism, over 2,500 years ago.

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