Getting to know the 'stans'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 January, 2005, 12:00am

When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, a number of new countries came into existence. These included five countries in Central Asia. Their names all end with the suffix 'stan', which means 'land/country' (just as in the older countries Afghanistan and Pakistan). Here is some information about them.


Arrange the following sentences in the correct order to create a paragraph about Kazakhstan.

A. The country also has people from different backgrounds.

B. Unfortunately, these are not being exploited yet.

C. Kazakhstan is a very large country whose regions are quite unlike each other.

D. The area was used for nuclear tests and rocket launches.

E. Supporters of the government say this is because of the country's strong leaders.

F. The north is cold and industrial; the south is warm and agricultural; the east has mountains and many people; the west has oil and few people - and the centre is desert.

G. This is partly the result of poor infrastructure and many serious pollution problems left behind by the Soviet Union.

H. There is also the problem of the Aral Sea which has now almost completely dried up.

I. Others say the government is too powerful.

J. There has not been much racial tension.

K. The Kazakhs are the largest group (about 50 per cent of the population), but there are also many Russians, Kurds, Koreans and others.

L. The country should be rich as it has a lot of energy resources.


Match the two halves of these sentences about Kyrgyzstan.

1. Kyrgyzstan is a very poor country

2. The Americans use bases in the country

3. The population is

4. A number of different languages

5. The main exports are

6. The country was part of the Soviet Union

7. In 2002, there were big demonstrations

A. are spoken in the country.

B. until 1991.

C. in their fight against terrorism.

D. against the government because of the poor economy.

E. fruit, vegetables and tobacco - with some gold.

F. with a lot of unemployment.

G. just more than five million.


Use these words to fill the blanks.

agriculture/ fighting/income/independent/mountains/neighbouring/population smuggling/state/war

Tajikistan is a country of [8] ____________, with most people making a living from [9] ________________. When the country became [10] ________________ in 1991, there was a civil [11] ___________. As many as 50,000 people may have been killed in the [12] ________________. Most of the [13] _______________ are Muslims and some of them want Tajikistan to be an Islamic [14] _______________. About six million people live in Tajikistan. The gross national [15] _____________ income per person is a very low US$190. The troubles in [16] ____________________ Afghanistan affect the country badly, and there is a great deal of drug [17] ____________ in the area.


Come up with words to complete the blanks.

Turkmenistan [18] c_____________ mainly of desert. It is a poor [19] c ____________ with little contact with the outside [20] w _______ , but it has a lot of potential as it has large reserves of [21] o___________. There are some minority [22] g______________, but most of the people are Turkmens. There is little freedom in the country, and the [23] m_______________ are controlled by the [24] g_____________. With the worldwide demand [25] f_________ energy, Turkmenistan may get the investment it needs to extract its wealth and to [26] b____________ pipelines to move it to customers. Hopefully, Turkmens will then have a happier [27] l____________.


Proofread this passage on Uzbekistan. There is one error in each line.

28. Uzbekistan is situating on the

29. ancient Silk Road running Asia to

30. the Europe. It contains famous cities such

31. Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent. Many

32. peoples feel that it is a shame that

33. the country have not changed much since

34. it's Soviet days. The economy is still

35. centralised and there is a lot waste.

36. Living standards and living expectancy

37. are both low. There is growing tense

38. between the government and Islamic groups

39. there have bomb attacks in the capital.

40. The country produces the cotton, gold,

41. nature gas, textiles and motor vehicles.


C, F, A, K, J, E, I, L, B, G, D, H

1.F 2.C 3.G 4.A 5.E 6.B 7.D 8. mountains 9. agriculture 10. independent 11. war 12. fighting 13. population 14. state 15. income 16. neighbouring 17. smuggling 18. consists 19. country 20. world 21. oil 22. groups 23. media 24. government 25. for 26. build 27. life 28. situated 29. from Asia 30. delete 'the' 31. as Bukhara 32. people 33. has 34. its 35. a lot of waste 36. life expectancy 37. tension 38. groups and 39. have been (or are/were) 40. delete 'the' 41. natural