The history of the five CA countries is the history of a region, not of five separate political entities. Over time Central Asia has been ruled either by foreign empires, which incorporated the region into their territories as a single political unit, or by a few regional multiethnic states. Rulers of these states never identified themselves with specific ethnic groups. As a result, for most of their history the indigenous ethnic groups of this region have seen themselves as members of a regional community sharing the same fate, rather than as citizens of different states. Despite their recent independence, there are indications that the Central Asians will share more or less the same fate, which will be that of the region.
The history of Central Asia prior to its annexation by Russia can be divided into two major eras: the pre-Islamic and Islamic eras. The pre-Islamic era was the Iranian era as most parts of Central Asia were under Iranian control; the Islamic era was the era of gradual loss of Iranian control over this region.
The history of the settled peoples in the pre-Islamic era is more or less the same, as their territories were captured or ruled by the same powers. The settled areas have been the habitat of civilized peoples for at least the last 4,000 years. The domination of Iranian peoples over Central Asia began in the second mil¯ lennium B.C. 1 However, the region was incorporated into the Iranian (Persian) empire of Achamenids ( 330-559 B.C.) only around the sixth century B.C. 2 No indigenous state existed in Central Asia prior to that date. 3 Alexander of Macedo¯ nia's invasion of Iran and the subsequent fall of the Achamenids helped other