Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Growing Central Asian Population Means Not Only Expansion of Existing Cities but Creation of New Ones

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 15 – The growth in the population of the countries of Central Asia is so rapid that it is leading not only to the expansion of existing urban centers but to the creation of entirely new cities. Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan have taken the most steps in this direction, but the other countries of the region – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – aren’t far behind.

            The increasing desire of rural residents to urbanize is overwhelming the capacity of existing cities to cope, but the creation of entirely new cities poses particular challenges, involving not only the construction of infrastructure but the provision of elites to run them (новые-города-центральной-азии).

            In some cases, the governments involved have sought to move elites from existing cities to the new ones only to be confronted by resistance among those who have grown accustomed to the cities where they have lived for many years. And in others, the lack of necessary elites has created problems in the new cities whose populations may be less well integrated into urban life.

            Both these sets of problems suggest that this aspect of Central Asian urbanization is likely to become a new locus of social and political tensions in these countries, a locus that so far has received relatively little attention among urban theorists and political scientists either in these countries or beyond their borders.

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