Memos from Asia

Why Does Nobody Know about Central Asia in the West?

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1. Central Asia was a part of the USSR

A piece of information about the history:

Illustration of the Map and Flags of the Republics of the Former USSR

The continued wars and conflicts between Central Asian countries made them weak against the aggression by the Russian Empire. Consequently, by the 19th century, the Russian Empire invaded entire Central Asia. At the time, the region was closed to tourism and international relations. The restrictions continued after the collapse of the Russian Empire; at the time of the Soviet Union.

How it affected the region’s popularity?

The Soviet Union closed Central Asia to mass tourism and foreign tourists. Not many people left the region and went to Europe or other parts of the globe. The foreigners were deprived of the opportunity to see the highest mountain peak, spectacular Silk Road cities, attractive mountain lake Issyk Kul, historical buildings, famous holidays, and many other attractions.

Hence, as the number of people who visited the countries was few, the people that heard about the place were less too.

2. Lack of inventions

The investigation by Unesco showed that Central Asian countries spend a much lower amount of money on research and development compared to other Asian countries. Instead, they import the technologies and required materials from outside countries. According to Unesco, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan spend 0.2% of GDP on Research and Development, while Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan spend 0.1% of GDP. There is no data indicated about Turkmenistan. Unesco.

The highest GDP in Central Asia belongs to Kazakhstan, which is over 180 billion USD in 2019. Kazakhstan is followed by Uzbekistan with over 57 billion USD. The total nominal GDP of all 5 Central Asian countries make up around 295 billion USD. World Bank. It means the total expenditure in these countries except Turkmenistan is only 1.051 billion in $PPP. This amount is extremely low, for instance, Singapore spends $2.1 billion in PPP.

The number of researchers is also the direct cause of the lack of innovation in the country. The number of researchers in Uzbekistan is 501 per million population, while in Singapore it constitutes 6,632 researchers. Unesco

3. Independent only since 1991

Another reason why many people do not know much about Central Asian countries is that these countries are relatively young. Central Asian countries declared independence in 1991. Only 29 years have passed since independence. Possibly, reforms today will result in even faster development.

4. Silk Road

Central Asian countries have many Silk Road cities. Hence, the decline of the famous trade route decreased the importance of the countries in the region. Silk Road route connected the west and east, so many people know about the Central Asian region until the 16th century. Kalpak Travel

5. Brain drain

After becoming independent, the new states experienced hard times both in economy and politics. Central Asian countries could not sufficient opportunities for young talents. As a result, many people, scientist, talented young generation could not use their skills and went to other Western countries or Russia. However, today when the condition of the economy of countries become stable and started to grow, the countries also started to pay huge attention to science and development.

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