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Uzbek is both a language and a people that live in the Uzbekistan, a former republic of USSR and now an independed republic. Uzbeks are tradionally muslims and the language itself is somewhat similar to the Turkish.

It is so similar to Turkish that they can still be mutually understood. It is unusual among the modern Turkic languages in that it has now (almost entirely) lost vowel harmony, a characteristic feature of all the group.

A classical form of Uzbek called Chagatay or Chaghatay was written in Arabic script. Modern Uzbek was written this way until 1928, then in Roman until 1940, then Cyrillic after that. With the break-up of the Soviet Union some of the Turkic-speaking countries have replaced Cyrillic with a romanization based on the Turkish alphabet: this happened with Uzbek in 1997. The official name of the country in Cyrillic was Uzbekiston, with a breve accent over the Cyrillic U; now in roman script the country calls itself O`zbekiston, with an open quote after the O.

The use of O for what was formerly a long A is a feature of Uzbek phonetics. Many places have official names that are at variance with the more familiar spellings, e.g. the capital is Toshkent rather than Tashkent. The autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan is officially Qoraqalpog`iston (and the Kara-Kalpak people are Qoraqalpoq); and the river Sir-darya is officially Sirdaryo. Here are the names of some towns affected by spelling variation:

Buxoro             Bukhara
Farg'ona           Ferghana
Khorazm            Khorezm
Nuqus              Nukus
Samarqand          Samarkand
Toshkent           Tashkent

Note however that Karakalpakstan is autonomous because the Karakalpak people are different: Karakalpak is a dialect of Kazakh, and in their own language they are Qaraqalpaq and their capital Nukus is Nökis.

The president, normally given as Islam Karimov, is in Uzbek Islom Karimov.

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