Today the government is strengthening the Uzbek group identity, to prevent the splintering seen in other multiethnic states.Some people have assimilated with seemingly little concern.

Modern Uzbeks hail not only from the Turkic-Mongol nomads who first claimed the name, but also from other Turkic and Persian peoples living inside the country's borders.

The Soviets, in an effort to divide the Turkic people into more easily governable subdivisions, labeled Turks, Tajiks, Sarts, Qipchaqs, Khojas, and others as Uzbek, doubling the size of the ethnicity to four million in 1924.

In 1990, 600,000 Germans lived in Uzbekistan; 95 percent have left.

In 1990, 260,000 Jews lived in Uzbekistan; 80 percent have left. Uzbek is the language of about twenty million Uzbeks living in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The arid land of this autonomous republic supports a nomadic lifestyle.

Recently, the drying up of the Aral Sea has devastated the environment, causing more than 30 percent of the area's population to leave, from villages in the early 1980s and then from cities.Russians and Tajiks are each 5 percent, Karakalpaks 2 percent, and other nationalities the remainder.From 1989 to 1996, five hundred thousand more people emigrated than immigrated; most of the emigrants were educated.The twelve stars on the flag symbolize the twelve regions of the country.The crescent moon, a symbol of Islam, is common, though its appearance on the national flag is meant not as a religious symbol but as a metaphor for rebirth.Since independence there has been a shift back to Roman script, as well as a push to eliminate words borrowed from Russian.