Fergana ValleyThe Fergana Valley (also Ferghana Valley) is a region of Central Asia spreading across Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Text of the 1911 encyclopedia, to be wikified, updated and included into the above article.
It is bounded by the provinces of Syr-darya on the N. and N.W., Samarkand on the W., and Semiryechensk on the N.E., by Chinese Turkestan (Kashgaria) on the E., and by Bokhara and Afghanistan on the S. Its southern limits, on the Pamirs, were fixed by an Anglo-Russian commission in 1885, from Zor-kul (Victoria Lake) to the Chinese frontier; and Shignan, Roshan and Wakhan were assigned to Bokhara in exchange for part of Darvaz (on the left bank of the Panj), which was given to Afghanistan. The area amounts to some 53,000 sq. m., of which 17,600 sq. m. are on the Pamirs.
The most important part of the province is a rich and fertile valley (1200-1500 ft.), opening towards the S.W. Thence the province stretches northwards across the mountains of the Tian-shan system and southwards across the Alai and Trans-Alai Mts., which reach their highest point in Peak Kaufmann (23,000 ft.), in the latter range. The valley owes its fertility to two rivers, the Naryn and the Karadarya, which unite within its confines, near Namangan, to form the Syr-darya or Jaxartes. These streams, and their numerous mountain affluents, not only supply water for irrigation, but also bring down vast quantities of sand, which is deposited alongside their courses, more especially alongside the Syr-darya where it cuts its way through the Khojent-Ajar ridge, forming there the Karakchikum. This expanse of moving sands, covering an area of 750 sq. m., under the influence of south-west winds, encroaches upon the agricultural districts.
The climate of this valley is dry and warm. In March the temperature reaches 68° F., and then rapidly rises to 95° in June, July and August. During the five months following April no rain falls, but it begins again in October. Snow and frost (down to -4° F.) occur in December and January.
Out of some 3,000,000 acres of cultivated land, about two thirds are under constant irrigation and the remaining third under partial irrigation. The soil is admirably cultivated, the principal crops being wheat, rice, barley, maize, millet, lucerne, tobacco, vegetables and fruit. Gardening is conducted with a high degree of skill and success. Large numbers of horses, cattle and sheep are kept, and a good many camels are bred. Over 17,000 acres are planted with vines, and some 350,000 acres are under cotton., Nearly 1,000,000 acres are covered with forests. The government maintains a forestry farm at Marghelan, from which 120,000 to 200,000 young trees are distributed free every year amongst the inhabitants of the province.
Silkworm breeding, formerly a prosperous industry, has decayed, despite the encouragement of a state farm at New Marghelan. Coal, iron, sulphur, gypsum, rock-salt, lacustrine salt and naphtha are all known to exist, but only the last two are extracted. Some seventy or eighty factories are engaged in cotton cleaning; while leather, saddlery, paper and cutlery are the principal products of the domestic industries.
A considerable trade is carried on with, Russia; raw cotton, raw silk, tobacco, hides, sheepskins, fruit and cotton and leather goods are exported, and manufactured wares, textiles, tea and sugar are imported and in part re-exported to Kashgaria and Bokhara. The total trade of Ferghana reaches an annual value of nearly ~3,500,000.
A new impulse was given to trade by the extension (1899) of the Transcaspian railway into Ferghana and by the opening of the Orenburg-Tashkent railway (1906). The routes to Kashgaria and the Pamirs are mere bridle-paths over the mountains, crossing them by lofty passes. For instance, the passes of Kara-kazyk (14,400 ft.) and Tenghiz-bai (11,200 ft.), both passable all the year round, lead from Marghelan to Karateghin and the Pamirs, while Kashgar is reached via Osh and Gulcha, and then over the passes of Terek-davan (12,205 ft.; open all the year round), Taldyk (11,500 ft.), Archat (11,600 ft.), and Shart-davan (14,000 ft.). Other passes leading out of the valley are the Jiptyk (12,460 ft.), S. of Khokand; the Isfairam (12,000 ft.), leading to the glen of the Surkhab, and the Kavuk (13,000 ft.), across the Alai Mts.
The population numbered 1,571,243 in 1897 ,and of that number 707,132 were women and 286,369 were urban. In 1906 it was estimated at 1,796,500. Two-thirds of the total are Sarts and Tjzbegs (of Turkic origin). They live mostly in the valley; while the mountain slopes above it are occupied by Kirghiz, partly nomad and pastoral, partly agricultural and settled. The other races are Tajiks, Kashgarians, Kipchaks, Jews and Gypsies. The governing classes are of course Russians, who constitute also the merchant and artisan classes. But the merchants of West Turkestan are called all over Central Asia Andijanis, from the town of Andijan in Ferghana. The great mass of the population are Musulmans (1,039,115 in 1897).
The province is divided into five districts, the chief towns of which are New Marghelan, capital of the province (8977 inhabitants in 1897), Andijan (49,682 in 1900), Khokand (86,704 in 1900), Namangan (61,906 in 1897), and Osh (37,397 in 1900); but Old Marghelan (42,855 in 1900) and Chust (13,686 in 1897) are also towns of importance.
For the history, see KHOKAND.