Arabian armies invaded in 712 and brought Islam and Arabic. Genghis Khan conquered the Silk Road cities and plundered them in 1212.
Later the region became a pawn in the contest between Russian and Britain for regional control. Following the Russian Revolution, the new Soviet regime divided the former Turkestan into five separate republics. Uzbekistan became an official Soviet Republic in 1925.
In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev removed the head of the Communist Party in Uzbekistan and replaced him with Islam Karimov. Karimov was officially elected president in 1990 and has ruled Uzbekistan since it declared independence in 1991. The country is in a gradual transition to democracy.