Sunday, June 14, 2009

Karakalpak Economy - A Brief Summary

The Republic of Karakalpakstan is a sovereign state within the Republic of Uzbekistan. Its territory is 166,600 sq. km (37% of the total area) and the population is 1.6 mln. people (approximately 5.6% of the total population), however, its GDP is only 2.4% of that of Uzbekistan. It is populated mainly by Karakalpaks in the North and Uzbeks in the South. Karakalpakstan consists of 14 districts.

Karakalpakstan has its own Constitution, which is in line with that of Uzbekistan. The state system of the Republic is based upon the constitutional division of powers between legislative, executive and judiciary branches. The Jokargi Kenes (parliament) is the legislative body of the Republic, while the Council of Ministers is the highest executive body.

Geographically, the territory of Karakalpakstan consists of the north-western part of the Kyzyl Kum Desert, the south-eastern part of the Usturt Plateau and the Amu Darya River delta, as well as the southern part of the Aral Sea. The Amu Darya is the only river that flows through the given area. There are a variety of natural resources such as gold, uranium, gas, iron, phosphorus, bentonite and kaolin clay, salt, marble, and granite. Climate is typically continental with dry and hot summers and cold winters. The traditional occupation of the Karakalpaks is livestock farming, agriculture and fishing.

On the east Karakalpakstan occupies the western half of the Kyzylkum Desert, a vast plain covered with shifting sands. The central part consists of the valley and delta of the Amu Darya (river), a low-lying area intersected by watercourses and canals. On the west the republic includes the southeastern part of the Ustyurt Plateau, a slightly undulating area characterized by flat summits rising to some 958 feet (292 m) above sea level. The climate is marked by cool winters and hot summers. Average rainfall is only 3 to 4 inches (75 to 100 mm).

About one-half of the population is urban. Nukus, the capital, Khŭjayli, Beruniy, Takhiatosh, Chimbay, Tŭrtkŭl, and Altykyl are the chief settlements.

The economy is predominantly agricultural. The industrial sector, while limited, includes light manufacturing, refineries that process oil from nearby petroleum fields, several building-materials plants that utilize the limestone, gypsum, asbestos, marble, and quartzite of the area, and a power station in Takhiatosh.

The main sectors of the economy are agriculture (cotton, rice, melons, watermelons, vegetables, karakul sheep, and cattle) and industry (electricity and energy production, textile and food industry). Cotton reprocessing is the leading branch of industry.

The Cotton Crop

Cotton is cultivated along the Amu Darya and in its delta and is processed at Chimbay, Qŭnghirot, Beruniy, Takhtakupyr, Khŭjayli, and Mangit. A well-developed system of irrigation canals supplies water from the Amu Darya to the crops. Besides cotton, crops include alfalfa, rice, and corn (maize). Cattle and Karakul sheep are raised in the Kyzylkum Desert.

Transport facilities in the republic include a railway from Kungrad (Qŭnghirot) to Charjou (Chärjew) in Turkmenistan, motor roads that link several cities of the republic, and air connections with Moscow, Tashkent and Muynak. Area 63,900 square miles (165,600 square km). Pop. (2007 est.) 1,678,191.

Karakalpakstan has its own peculiarities which define the character of its economy and infrastructure. Low density of the population and vast areas of land significantly increase the cost of investments into its industrial, physical and social infrastructure. Remoteness of settlements, factories and SME enterprises also increases the cost of manufactured production due to additional expenses for delivery of raw materials, energy resources, water, electricity, and export of this production. All this accounts to a great extent for the ’closeness’ of the Karakalpak economy from neighbouring regions and countries.

Karakalpakstan has is own Constitution and Parliament (Jokargi Kenes) which rules the country. The government is headed by the Council of Ministers of Karakalpakstan.

The Republic of Karakalpakstan has significant mineral resources: natural gas, crude oil. granite, bentonite, kaolin, marble, phosphoric and erbium-doped metals deposits with a sprinkle of precious stones and metals. It also has the largest oil and gas deposits in Uzbekistan. About 20 of these deposits were discovered on the Ustyurt plateau. The estimated oil and gas resources on the Ustyurt plateau amount to 1,7 trillion cubic meters of gas and 1,7 billion tons of liquid hydrocarbons.

The most developed industries are the production of construction materials, agricultural production and processing and metalwork. There are also textile and foodstuff factories in the republic. The Tahiatash and Tyuyamuyunsk power plants completely satisfy the demands for electric power in the republic with enough over to supply the neighboring Khorezm region and Turkmenistan. The Republic also has wind and solar power resources.

Cotton and rice are the two dominant agricultural crops. Fruit, vegetables, potatoes and forage plants are also cultivated in this region. Cultivation is possible in irrigated areas only. Livestock is generally pastoral including karakul sheep, cattle, camels and horses.

The total length of tarred roads in the Republic is about 3000 km and the Chardjow-Kungrad-Beineu-Makat railway passes through Karakalpakstan on route from Central Asia to Russia.

The Academy of Sciences of Republic of Uzbekistan has established a branch in Karakalpakstan.


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