Author: Richard Pomfret
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On Christmas Day 1991 the Soviet Union disappeared, and five unprepared Central Asian republics became nation states. In December 1992 the author was seconded to the United Nations as an economic advisor to the five countries and to Azerbaijan and Mongolia, which were also in transition from central planning. This book tells the story of the following year in Central Asia. The Central Asian oases were key points on the silk road from China to West Asia and to Europe, until maritime explorers opened up sea routes that led to several centuries of decline in the region. Conquered by Russia in the nineteenth century and under Communism isolated from the world in the twentieth century, the early 1990s brought dramatic new challenges for the people in the midst of economic and political chaos. The rich history, Islamic traditions and uncertain future made 1993 an interesting year in Central Asia.