Central Asia and Azerbaijan
The dissolution of the Soviet Empire in 1991 led to the emergence of six new republics with a majority Muslim population, namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Since these countries, as constituent parts of the Soviet Union (USSR), supposedly had been subjected to economic and political modernization, their postindependence transition to an open economic system and democracy should have been easier compared to other postcolonial states of Asia and Africa. The international environment within which these states were to achieve these goals should also have been more congenial as they did not face the constraints and pressures of the cold war.
The reality, however, has been different. These countries did not become fully modernized under the Soviet system. Rather, certain aspects of the Soviet model of nation and state building stunted the natural development of their sense of nationhood. Other aspects of Soviet-era modernization have also been a hindrance, rather than a help, in their postindependence nation and state building and modernization and democratization efforts.
Other hindrances have been the legacy of tsarist Russian colonialism, the republics' geographical position, resource limitations, and certain aspects of precolonial cultural and political traditions that have survived Sovietization. Meanwhile, the nature of international and regional environments, although better than during the cold war era, have not enhanced the republics' ability to successfully pursue modernization and, more especially, democratization.
The landlocked nature of these countries severely limits their economic and commercial options by putting their economic fate largely in the hands of neigh-