Artem Dankov, Fellow at the World Politics Department of the History Division, Tomsk State University, member of the research group on international security and conflict problems, Youth Division, Russian Association of Political Science (Tomsk, Russia)

The Central Asia region, which is located in the very heart of the vast Eurasian continent at the crossroads where four of the largest civilizations (Russian, Chinese, Indian, and Islamic) meet, has a long and profuse history teeming with difficulties and conflicts.

The Ferghana Valley is a territory where all the problems of the Central Asia region (border conflicts, poverty, shortage of fertile land and water resources, unemployment, ethnic disputes, and so on) are concentrated and come together in a tangled ball of contradictions. So an analysis of the main, primarily economic, problems of the Ferghana Valley is vital to understanding the overall situation in Central Asia and around it.

The Ferghana Valley, an intermontane depression nestled in the foothills of Tien Shan, up to 300 km in length from the West to the East and up to 170 km from north to south, is one of the main agricultural regions of Central Asia. Only four roads (Ferghana-Tashkent, Ferghana-Khujand, Osh-Bishkek, and Osh-Khorog) and one railroad branch (Ferghana-Khujand) link the valley to the outside world.

In Soviet times, national-state demarcation was carried out in Central Asia, including in the Ferghana Valley, on the basis of a rather arbitrary idea of ethnic borders. The Ferghana Valley, which was always a single area, was divided by the administrative borders of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, which acquired the status of state borders after the

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