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History: Central Asia, 140 years ago

History: Central Asia, 140 Years Ago

• To the North, the steppe allowed for rapid mobility, first for nomadic horseback warriors like the Huns and Mongols, and later for Russian traders, eventually supported by railroads. As the Russian Empire expanded to the East, it would also push down into Central Asia towards the sea, in a search for warm water ports. The Soviet bloc would reinforce dominance from the North and attempt to project power as far south as Afghanistan.
• To the East, the demographic and cultural weight of Chinese empires continually pushed outward into Central Asia. The Manchu Qing dynasty would conquer Xinjiang and Tibet. However, with the Sino-Soviet split, China would project power into Central Asia, most notably in the case of Afghanistan, to counter Russian dominance of the region.
• To the Southeast, the demographic and cultural influence of India was felt in Central Asia, notably in Tibet, the Hindu Kush, and slightly beyond. Several historical Indian dynasties, especially those seated along the Indus River, would expand into Central Asia. India's ability to project power into Central Asia has been limited due to the mountain ranges in Pakistan, as well as the cultural differences between Hindu India and what would become a mostly Muslim Central Asia. From its base in India, the British Empire competed with the Russian Empire for influence in the region in the 19th and 20th centuries.
• To the Southwest, Western Asian powers have expanded into the southern areas of Central Asia (usually Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan). Several Persian empires would conquer and reconquer parts of Central Asia; Alexander the Great's Hellenic empire would extend into Central Asia; two Islamic empires would exert substantial influence throughout the region; and the modern state of Iran has projected influence throughout the region as well.

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