The West Central Asia Region

The Country Similarity Index groups the countries located between Europe and Asia into the West Central Asia Region. They include Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Here are some of the traits most of these countries share:

GEOGRAPHY
Countries in this region are located in the transitional zone between Europe and Asia. Except for Turkey, all the countries in this region are landlocked and most rainfall does not flow to the ocean, but to endorheic lakes. They tend to have dry climates, but slightly more rainfall and lower average temperatures than countries in the Middle East. Most of the land in this region is sparsely vegetated with Holarctic flora, while a low percentage of the land is forested. Wheat is the most commonly farmed crop, but cotton and barley are also popular. Furthermore, all countries have a mountain that is taller than 3,000 meters.

photo by Adam Jones

DEMOGRAPHICS
A large percentage of people in this region have a mix of Caucasian and East Asian ancestry, to varying degrees. In all countries except Tajikistan, there are more females than males. People in this region are typically well-educated, however incomes are not particularly high, especially for females. The region has significant populations of both farmers and service sector workers. The people tend to have around the world average height and weight.

photo by Fulvio Spada

CULTURE
Except for Tajikistan, the majority of people in West Central Asia natively speak Turkic languages that are closely related to each other. Due to all countries except Turkey being once part of the Soviet Union, Russian is a common second language. Both the Latin script and the Cyrillic script are used in the region. Unlike the Middle East, the Muslims in West Central Asia are not as religious. Still, most countries observe Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as national holidays. Nowruz, Women’s Day, and Victory Day are also observed in all countries, except for Turkey. Wrestling is a popular sport in the region. All countries except for Turkmenistan have won an Olympic medal in it. Boxing is also popular. Beef and lamb are two of the most consumed meats in the region. Tomatoes are also an especially prominent part of the cuisine. Wheat and potatoes are staple grains.

photo by Hans Birger Nilsen

GOVERNMENT
Autocratic governments are common in the region. Most countries hold rigged elections where their leaders regularly win in a landslide. Only Kyrgyzstan could be considered democratic. Freedom of press is severely compromised and there is substantial censorship of the internet. Their judicial branches usually have a constitutional court, following the European model. Furthermore, their legal systems all follow Civil Law. The death penalty is almost non-existent in these countries. Although West Central Asia is mostly Muslim, all countries allow the sale of alcohol. Abortion is also unrestricted in all countries. Not only is same sex marriage not allowed in these countries, but also polygamy. Their governments give substantial unemployment benefits and retirement pensions. Tuition-free college is common. All countries except for Turkey have received a significant amount of arms from Russia. Mandatory military service and military drafts for males are common.

photo by Jirka Di

Infrastructure
The infrastructure in West Central Asia is neither especially well-developed nor poor. Most people have access to electricity and improved sanitation. The majority of households have television, but access to the internet is spotty. All countries in the region drive on the right side of the road. Except in Turkey, all countries still use Russian gauge railroad tracks. Natural gas is an especially common source of energy. Coal and hydropower are also used. All countries use Type C, F electrical outlets. The electrical voltage is between 220 and 240 volts and the frequency is 50 hertz. Their militaries commonly use Russian-made equipment.

photo by George Dolgopsky

West Central Asia‘s Most Representative Country: Uzbekistan (75.1 regional average)

Most Similar Region to West Central Asia: Arab Region (3-A)

(Statistics as of 2020)

photo by Allan Mustard

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