THE CAUCASUS NATIONS

The former Soviet republics of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan lie in the Caucasus Mountains. Many ethnic groups live here, and their differences have often led to violence. Georgia is mountainous, with fertile river valleys. Tourists are attracted to the subtropical cli- mate near the Black Sea. A conti- nental climate is found inland. After the fall of communism, the economy declined. Agricul- ture and machine manufactur- ing helped improve the econo- my after the mid-1990s. Georgia has increased the extraction of its manganese, coal, and oil reserves.About 70 percent of Georgia’s population are descendants of ethnic Georgians. Ethnic groups in the northern region seek autonomy, or independence, from Georgia. Armenia is landlocked and has a rocky terrain. Farmers grow crops in southern valleys. Rug making is a traditional craft. The people are primarily Christian. Armenia has had bitter relations with its neighbor Turkey. During World War I, Turks attempted to deport the people of Armenia. One third of all Armenians died en route or were killed in this act of geno- cide, the systematic killing or intentional destruction of a people.Armenia has more recently fought with the Azeri people of Azerbaijan, a mainly Islamic nation. Both Azeris and Armen- ians have feelings of nationalism, the desire of a cultural group to rule them- selves as a separate nation. This has led to violent conflicts.Azerbaijan is on the western coast of the Caspian Sea. Rich deposits of oil are the nation’s main source of wealth. Half the population are rural herders. Ninety per- cent of the population are ethnic Azeris. Most other ethnic groups fled as tensions intensified. Azerbaijan’s conflict with Armenia has caused severe economic problems. With no access to the Mediterranean and Black seas, Azerbaijan has trouble reaching world markets. Oil and chemical industries have caused great environmental damage.

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1 - What is genocide?
2 - Chart Skills Which nation’s pop- ulation will increase the least by 2025?

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THE CENTRAL ASIAN NATIONS

Stretching from the Caspian Sea to mountain ranges along China’s western border are the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.Mountains are found in the southeast. In the east are two of Asia’s largest deserts, the Kara Kum and the Kyzyl Kum. Central Asia’s climate is mostly arid or semiarid.Northern Kazakhstan has steppes and grassland with a rich topsoil called cher- nozem. This soil makes the region good for farming. Parts of Central Asia also have large reserves of oil and natural gas.The Central Asian nations have diverse ethnic, religious, and language groups. Most people in the region are Islamic. Since independence, some leaders have supported Islamic fundamentalism. Fun- damentalism is a set of religious beliefs based on a strict reading of a sacred text. Traditionally, most Central Asians were nomadic herders. Under Soviet rule, people were forced to work on government farms. Industrialization was encouraged, spurring the growth of cities. Since independence, industry has grown and tourism has become important.Rapid industrialization has led to environmental problems. Soviets diverted Central Asian rivers from the Aral Sea for irri- gation. The amount of water reaching the Aral Sea decreased, causing the sea to shrink and become more salty. This has also lead to desertification, the extension of the desert land- scape due to environmental changes caused by humans.

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3 - What is the most practiced religion in Central Asia?
4 - Map Skills What Central Asian country is the largest?

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