The Fergana Valley spans eastern Uzbekistan, southern Kyrgyzstan, and northern Tajikistan in Central Asia.
The valley, which is ethnically diverse and was the scene of strife in the early twenty-first century, is divided into three republics of the former Soviet Union. The Fergana, a sizeable triangular valley in a frequently dry portion of Central Asia, owes its fertility to two rivers, the Naryn and the Kara Darya, which travel east and meet near Namangan to form the Syr Darya river. At the valley’s southwestern end, Alexander the Great founded Alexandria Eschate, which dates back over 2,300 years.
As a crossroads of Greek, Chinese, Bactrian, and Parthian civilizations, Chinese historical accounts date its towns to more than 2,100 years ago. Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, was born there, linking the region to modern-day Afghanistan and South Asia. The Russian Empire seized the valley at the end of the nineteenth century, and the Soviet Union annexed it in the 1920s. In 1991, the country’s three Soviet republics won independence. The region is predominantly Muslim, populated by ethnic Uzbek, Tajik, and Kyrgyz people who are commonly mixed together and do not adhere to modern borders. There have also been significant Russians, Kashgarians, Kipchaks, Bukharan Jews, and Romani minority in the past.
Cotton cultivation, which was introduced by the Soviets, is still important to the economy, as are a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables. There has a long history of animal breeding, leatherwork, and a burgeoning mining industry, which includes coal, iron, sulphur, gypsum, rock salt, naphtha, and a few tiny known oil reserves.