Chief among the causes of dissension and despair in Uzbekistan is the country's economic situation. According to United Nations (UN) figures, in 1994 Uzbekistan was one of the poorest of the developed countries in the world, with the average monthly wage less than US$50. But vast natural resources suggest the potential for Uzbekistan to become one of the most prosperous countries in Central Asia, provided the necessary reforms can be made to unleash that potential. At the end of the Soviet era, Uzbekistan was rated as one of the least industrialized Soviet republics. Government reform, with the theoretical goal of achieving a market economy, moved cautiously and unevenly in the directions of industrialization and market reform in the early 1990s. By the mid-1990s, signs indicated a more serious reform effort.
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