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CENTRAL ASIA TO THE YEAR 2000

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1994
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YURI BREGEL
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Geography
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Akbar III 1948-2012
Stacked Wooden Logs

Description

"An Historical Atlas of Central Asia" written by Yuri Bregel. This is stated on Page no 97 of this book

The republics created during the “national delimitation” of Central Asia, with some later changes (see map 46), existed until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
Among the most dramatic political developments during this period was the forced collectivization carried out from 1930 to 1932, affecting most heavily the Qazaqs, who were subjected at the same time to forced sedentarization. This caused huge losses of livestock (slaughtered by the Qazaq nomads) and a widespread famine; in many regions there were spontaneous rebellions suppressed by Soviet troops, and some 300,000 Qazaqs fled to neighboring countries, primarily China. The Qazaqs lost 85% of their beef cattle, 88% of their horses, 93% of their sheep, and 94% of their camels; at least 1.5 million Qazaqs died as a result of famine and epidemics. In other republics the collectivization caused a new flare-up of the Basmachi movement, as well as the flight of some groups of the population to Afghanistan and Iran. Collectivization was soon followed by Stalin’s “Great Purges” of the mid-1930s, during which hundreds of thousands were persecuted and perished. The purges wiped out most of the old Central Asian educated class.

The economic development of Soviet Central Asia, besides the disastrous collectivization, was characterized by an overwhelming stress on cotton cultivation (at the expense of cereals). Although there was substantial industrial development, especially in mining, the production of electric power and natural gas, and in industry serving agriculture (manufacture of fertilizers, irrigation equipment, and cotton machinery), the stress on cotton not only remained, but increased during the Soviet period, and Soviet Central Asia became a region of monoculture. Exacerbated by extremely inefficient central planning, insufficient investment, low productivity, and widespread corruption, it had disastrous consequences for the environment. Since cotton requires more water for irrigation than other crops, more and more water was diverted to irrigation canals and reservoirs from the two main Central Asian rivers, the Amu-Darya and the Sir-Darya. As a result, by the 1990s these rivers dried up before they reached the Aral Sea; the Aral Sea began quickly to lose water to evaporation and was on its way to becoming a salt marsh. Northern winds carried salt and sand from the dry sea bed over hundreds of miles, creating numerous public health problems, especially in Khorezm. The Soviet authorities were unable and unwilling to cope with these problems. In Kazakhstan another severe environmental problem was caused by the testing of nuclear weapons, conducted west of Semipalatinsk without any concern for the health of the population.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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Shah Sharaf Barlas

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