From the 1600s to the late 1800s, Russia and then Britain
began to manipulate the politics of Central Asia. Russia
moved first into Siberia, then gradually into Kazakhstan,
while Britain moved up through India. They were not welcomed
by either the nomads or the oasis dwellers.
China united the territories of the Tarim Basin into
the province of Xinjiang in 1878, its control was
fragile as Xinjiang and Mongolia bordered Russia.
Russia constructed a railway across northern Mongolia
to link with the Trans-Siberian route to Vladivostok.
This increased Russian dominance of trade in Central
Asia. However it had only a small impact on nomadic
life and the way the oasis city dwellers lived.
During the 1800s cotton production was promoted by
the Russians when they colonised Turkestan. This remained
a cottage industry, however, until the 1920s, when
the Soviet regime established an industry based more
on manufacturing. People in Central Asia were forced
to grow cotton for the textile mills of the USSR.
at turning nomadic pastoralists with a strong
patriarchal tradition into settled agriculturalists
failed as a social experiment, and, more significantly,
made inappropriate use of land. In Uzbekistan,
where cotton became a major crop, taking up lands
previously dedicated to grazing and small-scale
intensive farming, the resulting environmental
disaster is yet to be contained. (Sumner, 1999:19)
Following the Bolshevik Revolution, in the early 1920s,
Central Asia's major cultural groups formed the basis
of people's republics. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan,
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan became part of the Soviet
period of World War II and its immediate aftermath also
saw the forced migration of minority ethnic groups from
many regions of the Soviet Union into Central Asia
By the 1950s, the Kazakhs, for instance, made up just
under 30 per cent of the Kazakhstan population. This,
combined with collectivisation and the enforcement of
Soviet values including a strongly anti-Islamic sentiment,
combined to devalue the traditions and traditional lifestyles
of both nomadic and urban Central Asians.
the recent break-up of the Soviet Union and the re-emergence
of the smaller nations of Central Asia, Siberia and
the Caucasus have encouraged a reassessment of the values
of tradition and a passionate inquiry into the history
of the various regions. (Sumner, 1999:19)
Three countries that exerted influence on Central Asia were
Russia, China and Britain. Using the timeline
and the text on recent politics, summarise their influence,
using a table like the one below.