Roza Zharkynbaeva, D.Sc. (Hist.), Professor at the Tynyshpaev Kazakh Academy of Transport and Communications (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


The Central Asian states are currently attracting the keen attention of the world community due to the geopolitical significance of their location next to China, Pakistan, India, Iran, and Afghanistan, as well as to economic factors (natural and human resources and transit potential for transcontinental trade). The countries of the region, which enjoys considerable natural and human resources, are vastly different from each other in terms of territorial dimensions, population size, economic potential, mineral reserves, and state of the social, environmental, and managerial spheres.

This article takes a look at how human resources are faring in the Central Asian region after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of the newly independent states.

Demographic Development of the Central Asian Region in the Soviet and Post-Soviet Periods: General and Specific

Demographic processes reflect the deep-seated changes occurring in a countrys economic and sociopolitical life. During Soviet times, the population in the Central Asian countries underwent significant growth and life expectancy increased; more than 34 million people, or 11% of the population of the Soviet Union (1991), lived in the Central Asian republics. What is more, considerable success was achieved in public health, education, and raising the standard of living.

The Central Asian republics were characterized by high average annual population growth rates2.75% compared to 0.90% for the Soviet Union as a whole (in some other regions, in the Baltic states and the NonBlack Soil Zone, for example, this index was even lower). The regions urban population grew rapidly, whereby there was a simultaneous increase in the number of rural residents, which was the main characteristic of the Central Asian urbanization phenomenon.

A real picture of the sociodemographic situation in the regions countries that developed during the years of independence can be gained by studying the results of the censuses carried out approximately every 10 years on the U.N.s recommendations. Population censuses provide a wealth of information about the countrys socioeconomic development, but they do not show the short- and mid-term changes that occur at the national and regional level.

Nevertheless, on the whole, the data gleaned from censuses can be an efficient tool for making decisions aimed at improving the sociodemographic situation.

The first population census during the yeas of independence in Central Asia was carried out in 1995 in Turkmenistan, where a population of 4,481,000 people was recorded. In 1999, the

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