History of Karakalpakstan

According to historical sources, people lived in Karakalpakstan back in the Neolithic Age. The gravestones tombs of Darius I, dating back to the 5th century BC, say that the Aral Sea and Syrdarya (the territory of modern Karakalpakstan) was occupied by the “Saka tigraxauda” (Scythians with pointy hats").

In the 2nd- 6th centuries BC Turkic tribes migrated from the territory of the Altay and East Turkestan. An assimilation of the indigenous and nomadic Turkic Saka population resulted in two new ethnic communities of Pechenegs and Oghuz. Those were the tribes of Pechenegs that formed the basis of the formation of ethnic Karakalpak.

The very word 'karakalpak "means " black hats "and refers to that part of the Pecheneg tribes living on the territory of modern Karakalpakstan who wore hats from the black sheep's wool. They were called “black hoods” in the Russian and “kara malahayli” in the Mongolian.

In the historical sources, in the 10th century, the tribes of Pechenegs moved from the territory of modern Karakalpakstan to the south because of the new Russian invasion of Turkic tribes from the east. There they were part of the Nogay khanate before its collapse under attack of Kalmykian tribes. Pechenegs returned to their native steppes, and from that moment they are referred to as the Karakalpak.

In 1714 Karakalpaks headed by one of the chieftains of the tribes Eshmuhammed-khan (Eshimhan) founded their state Karakalpak Khanate on the territory of the Aral Sea and Syrdarya, but in 1723 it disintegrated under the attack of the mentioned Kalmyks. Karakalpak State split into two parts: some tribes migrated to Tashkent and were named upper Karakalpaks, while the other remained in the lowlands of the Syrdarya river and was named the lower Karakalpaks.

In 1731, together with lower Karakalpaks together with Kazakh tribes sent an embassy to the Russian Emperor to ask for citizenship. In 1735 the lower Karakalpaks became subjects of the Russian Empire. The territory of Karakalpakstan was attacked several times by the khans of Khiva, in particular in 1809 and 1811. The Karakalpaks were part of the Khiva Khanate up to early 20th century. After Khiva Khanate’s abolition, Karakalpakstan was renamed by the Soviet authorities into the Karakalpak Autonomous Republic, which became part of the Uzbek SSR in 1936. After Uzbekistan gained independence Karakalpakstan was renamed the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

Today, the Republic of Karakalpakstan is autonomy within the Republic of Uzbekistan. Its population exceeds 600,000 people, but because many of the Aral Sea problems, Karakalpaks moved to other areas of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Karakalpakstan is famous for its ancient monuments, the ruins of numerous forts scattered across the sandy deserts in the Karakalpakstan as well as the in the neighboring Khorezm region.