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The first recorded settlers were Eastern Iranian nomads, known as Scythians. The area was incorporated into the Persian Empire and, after a period of Macedonian Greek rule, was ruled by the Persian Parthian Empire and later by the Sasanian Empire, until the Muslim conquest of Persia in the 7th century. The Muslim conquest in the 7th century converted the majority of the population, including the local ruling classes, into adherents of Islam. During this period, cities such as Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara began to grow rich from the Silk Road.
The local Khwarezmian dynasty, and Central Asia as a whole, were decimated by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. After the Mongol Conquests, the area became increasingly dominated by Turkic peoples. The area was gradually incorporated into the Russian Empire during the 19th century, with Tashkent becoming the political center of Russian Turkestan. In 1924, after national delimitation, the constituent republic of the Soviet Union known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it declared independence as the Republic of Uzbekistan on 31 August 1991.
Uzbekistan has a diverse cultural heritage due to its storied history and strategic location. Its first major official language is Uzbek, a Turkic language written in the Latin alphabet and spoken natively by approximately 85% of the population. Russian has widespread use as a governmental language; it is the most widely taught second language. A majority of Uzbeks are non-denominational Muslims.
Following the death of Islam Karimov in 2016, the second president, started a new course, which was described as a A Quiet Revolution and Revolution from Above. He stated he intended to abolish cotton slavery, systematic use of child labour, exit visas, to introduce a tax reform, create four new free economic zones, as well as amnestied some political prisoners. The relations with neighboring countries of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan drastically improved. However, the Amnesty International report on human rights in the country for 2017/2018 described continued repressive measures, including forced labor in cotton harvesting, and restrictions on movements of freed prisoners.
The Uzbek economy is in a gradual transition to the market economy, with foreign trade policy being based on import substitution. In September 2017, the country's currency became fully convertible in the market rates. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. The country also operates the largest open-pit gold mine in the world. With the gigantic power-generation facilities of the Soviet era and an ample supply of natural gas, Uzbekistan has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia.