Learn more about Uzbeks
- This article is about the ethnic Uzbeks.
|Total population||22-28 million|
|Regions with significant populations|| Uzbekistan:|
15,600,000<ref>D. Carlson, "Uzbekistan: Ethnic Composition and Discriminations", Harvard University, August 2003</ref>
21,480,000<ref>CIA factbook 2005 - Uzbekistan</ref>
|Language||Uzbek, northern and southern dialects|
|Religion|| Sunni Islam <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">other Turkic peoples:
The Uzbeks (Self designation sg. O‘zbek, pl. O‘zbeklar) are a Turkic people of Central Asia and comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan and are also located in other adjacent countries in the region. Uzbeks can be found primarily in Uzbekistan, along with large populations in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and the Xinjiang province of China. Smaller diaspora populations of Uzbeks from Central Asia are also found in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, North America and Western Europe.
The origin of the name Uzbek remains disputed. One view holds that it is eponymously named after Uzbeg Khan, although the nomadic Uzbeks were never entirely subject to him. An etymological argument states that the name means independent or the lord itself, from O`z (self) and Bek (a noble title of leadership) <ref>Calum MacLeod, Bradley Mayhew “Uzbekistan. Golden Road to Samarkand” - Page 31</ref>.According to Harold Lamb in his biography of Babur, ``Uzbek`` means red headgear.
The roots of the Uzbek people stretch back for many millennia, while the identity of modern Uzbeks was shaped by events during the early 2nd millennium CE. Different tribes and peoples, have inhabited Central Asia and have made contributions to the modern Uzbek population.
Many of the ancient peoples who lived in Central Asia were Iranian peoples including Sogdians, Bactrians, Ferganians and the Saka–Messagetae tribes. It is believed that these populations were either absorbed into larger invading Turkic tribes and/or were pushed into smaller pockets, as in Tajikistan, or retreated further south into Iran and Afghanistan.
In ancient times, various Altaic-speaking tribes began to move to the area between the Amu Darya (Oxus in Greek) and Syr Darya (Jaxartes in Greek) rivers. Some of these early tribes included the Huns who eventually occupied this region around the 3rd century BCE and continued their conquests further south and west.
Following Arab incursions into the region, Islam supplanted Buddhism and other religions in Central Asia (such as Nestorian Christianity), while local Iranian languages survived into the next 2nd millennium. What drastically changed the demographics of Central Asia was the invasion of the Mongols led by Genghis Khan in the 13th century. Numerous native populations were wiped out by the Mongols and a process of population replacement began in earnest. During this period numerous Turkic tribes began to migrate and ultimately replace many of the Iranian peoples who were largely killed, absorbed by larger Turkic-Mongol groups, and/or pushed further south and Central Asia came to be known as Turkestan. Much of modern Uzbekistan took shape during the reign of Tamerlane, a prominent Turkic-Mongol conqueror who reigned over a vast empire from his capital at Samarkand. Later, between the 15th and 16th centuries, various nomadic tribes arrived from the steppes including the Kipchaks, Naymans, Kanglis, Kungrats, Mangits and others and these tribes were led by Muhammad Shaybani who was the Khan of the Uzbeks. This period marked the beginnings of the modern Uzbek nationality and formation of an Uzbek state in what is today Uzbekistan, as these tribes were the first to use the name 'Uzbek'. So powerful was this early Uzbek state that it challenged much larger empires, the Safavids and Mughals, for control over Khorasan and Afghanistan.
Within a few generations of Shaybani Khan's death, the Uzbek state broke up into three major khanates based in Bukhara, Khiva, and Kokand until the early 19th century. The Russian Empire eventually infiltrated Central Asia and the khanates were annexed to the empire during the mid to late 19th century. Until 1924, the bulk of the settled Turkic population of Russian Turkestan, who were of very heterogeneous descent, were known as Sarts by the colonial authorities, and only those groups speaking Kipchak dialects who had arrived in the region with Muhammad Shaybani Khan were called 'Uzbeks'. In 1924, when the new Uzbek SSR was created, the Soviets abolished the term 'Sart' and decreed that all settled Turkic speakers would henceforth be known as Uzbeks. Uzbekistan, under Russian and then later Soviet administration, became multi-ethnic as populations from throughout the former Soviet Union moved (or were exiled) to Central Asia.
The Uzbek language is an Altaic language and is part of the South-eastern (Central Asian) or Karluk group of Turkic languages. Modern Uzbek bears the closest remblance to Uyghur,slightly less so to Kazakh, Turkmen, and more distantly, to Turkish. Modern Uzbek is written in wide variety of scripts including Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic. After the independence of Uzbekistan from the former Soviet Union, the government decided to replace the Cyrillic script with a Latin alphabet.
Modern Uzbek has also absorbed a considerable vocabulary and - to a much lesser degree - certain grammatical elements from non-Turkic languages, most of all from Persian as well as Arabic and Russian among others.
Uzbeks come from a predominantly Sunni Muslim background, usually of the Hanafi school, but variations exist between northern and southern Uzbeks. The majority of Uzbeks from the former USSR came to practice religion with a more liberal interpretation due to the official Soviet policy of atheism, while Uzbeks in Afghanistan and other countries to the south have remained more conservative adherents of Islam. However, with Uzbek independence in 1991 came an Islamic revival amongst segments of the population. People living in the area of modern Uzbekistan were first converted to Islam as early as the 8th century AD, as Arab troops invaded the area, displacing the earlier faiths of Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. The Arab victory over the Chinese in 751, at the Battle of Talas, ensured the future dominance of Islam in Central Asia.
 Genetic origins
The modern Uzbek population represents varying degrees of diversity derived from the high traffic invasion routes through Central Asia. Once populated by Iranian tribes and other Indo-European peoples, Central Asia experienced numerous invasions emanating out of Mongolia that would drastically impact the region. According to recent Genetic genealogy testing from a University of Chicago study, the Uzbeks cluster somewhere between the Mongols and the Iranian peoples:
From the 3d century B.C., Central Asia experienced nomadic expansions of Altaic-speaking East Asian-looking people, and their incursions continued for hundreds of years, beginning with the Hsiung-Nu (who may be ancestors of the Huns), in 300 B.C., and followed by the Turks, in the 1st millennium A.D., and the Mongol expansions of the 13th century. High levels of haplogroup 10 and its derivative, haplogroup 36, are found in most of the Altaic-speaking populations and are a good indicator of the genetic impact of these nomadic groups. The expanding waves of Altaic-speaking nomads involved not only eastern Central Asiawhere their genetic contribution is strong, as is shown in figure 7dbut also regions farther west, like Iran, Iraq, Anatolia, and the Caucasus, as well as Europe, which was reached by both the Huns and the Mongols. In these western regions, however, the genetic contribution is low or undetectable (Wells et al. 2001), even though the power of these invaders was sometimes strong enough to impose a language replacement, as in Turkey and Azerbaijan (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994). The difference could be due to the population density of the different geographical areas. Eastern regions of Central Asia must have had a low population density at the time, so an external contribution could have had a great genetic impact. In contrast, the western regions were more densely inhabited, and it is likely that the existing populations were more numerous than the conquering nomads, therefore leading to only a small genetic impact. Thus, the admixture estimate from northeast Asia is high in the east, but is barely detectable west of Uzbekistan.
The Uzbek population, according to this study, shows substantial East Asian ancestry, with significant Caucasoid admixture. The Uzbeks display a somewhat closer genetic relationship with Turkic-Mongols than with Iranic populations to the south and west.
Another study out of Uzbekistan corroborates this genetic evidence as to the origins of the modern Uzbeks and other regional Turkic peoples:
These migrations are reflected in the DNA, too, and it is clear that despite the majority of modern Central Asians speaking Turkic languages, they derive much of their genetic heritage from the conquering Mongol warriors of Genghis Khan.
The Turkic peoples as a whole share common languages and many common cultural traits, but do not have common origins. The Uzbeks are descended to a large degree from Turkic-Mongol invaders whose invasions span literally millennia from the first millennium CE with the early migrations of the Gokturks to later invasions by the Uzbeks themselves during the early and mid period of the 2nd millennium. Throughout the centuries, these migrating Altaic peoples began to outnumber the native Iranian peoples of Central Asia and appear to have assimilated the vast majority through intermarriage, while mainly the Tajiks survived albeit with some Turkic intermingling as well. Thus, in the case of Uzbekistan and most other Central Asian states, it was not only a process of language replacement, such as what took place in Turkey and Azerbaijan, but also a mass migration and population replacement that helped to shape the modern Turkic peoples of Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states.
 Uzbeks in China
- Allworth, Edward. The Modern Uzbeks: From the 14th Century to the Present, Hoover Institution Press (July, 1990).
- Calum MacLeod, Bradley Mayhew “Uzbekistan. Golden Road to Samarkand” page31.
- Critchlow, James. Nationalism in Uzbekistan: Soviet Republic's Road to Sovereignty, Westview Press (October, 1991).
- Noble, Ivan. BBC News, DNA analysis tracks Silk Road forbears
- Rashid, Ahmad. The Resurgence of Central Asia : Islam or Nationalism? Zed Books (April 15, 1995)
- Zerjal, Tatiana, et. al. A Genetic Landscape Reshaped by Recent Events: Y-Chromosomal Insights into Central Asia, Am. J. Hum. Genet., 71:466-482, 2002.
- Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Part 9, pages 483-489
 See also
|Chinese ethnic groups (as classified by the government of the PRC)|
|Achang • Bai • Blang • Bonan • Buyei • Dai • Daur • De'ang • Derung • Dong • Dongxiang • Evenk • Gaoshan • Gelao • Han • Hani • Hezhen • Hui • Jing • Jingpo • Jino • Kazakh • Kirgiz • Korean • Lahu • Lhoba • Li • Lisu • Manchu • Maonan • Miao • Monba • Mongol • Mulao • Nakhi • Nu • Oroqen • Pumi • Qiang • Russian • Salar • She • Shui • Tajik • Tatar • Tibetan • Tu • Tujia • Uyghur • Uzbek • Va • Xibe • Yao • Yi • Yugur • Zhuang • Undistinguished ethnic groups|