Fergana Valley

The Fergana Valley in Central Asia spreads across eastern Uzbekistan, southern Kyrgyzstan and northern Tajikistan.

Fergana Valley
Farg‘ona vodiysi, Фергана өрөөнү,
водии Фaрғонa, Ферганская долина,
وادی فرغانه
Fergana Valley (highlighted), post-1991 national territories colour-coded
Length300 km (190 mi)
Area22,000 km2 (8,500 sq mi)
LocationKyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
Coordinates40.9008°N 71.7578°E / 40.9008; 71.7578
RiversSyr Darya river (Naryn and Kara Darya)

Divided into three republics of the former Soviet Union, the valley is ethnically diverse and in the early 21st century was the scene of conflict. A large triangular valley in what is an often dry part of Central Asia, the Fergana owes its fertility to two rivers, the Naryn and the Kara Darya, which run from the east, joining near Namangan, forming the Syr Darya river. The valley's history stretches back over 2,300 years, when Alexander the Great founded Alexandria Eschate at its southwestern end.

Chinese chroniclers date its towns to more than 2,100 years ago, as a path between Greek, Chinese, Bactrian and Parthian civilisations. It was home to Babur, founder of the Mughal Dynasty, tying the region to modern Afghanistan and South Asia. The Russian Empire conquered the valley at the end of the 19th century, and it became part of the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Its three Soviet republics gained independence in 1991. The area largely remains Muslim, populated by ethnic Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz people, often intermixed and not matching modern borders. Historically there have also been substantial numbers of Russian, Kashgarians, Kipchaks, Bukharan Jews and Romani minorities.

Mass cotton cultivation, introduced by the Soviets, remains central to the economy, along with a wide range of grains, fruits and vegetables. There is a long history of stock breeding, leatherwork and a growing mining sector, including deposits of coal, iron, sulfur, gypsum, rock-salt, naphtha and some small known oil reserves.[citation needed]