[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
Namangan (Uzbek: Namangan / Наманган; Russian: Наманган) is the second-largest city in Uzbekistan (2011 pop. 449,200). It is the capital of Namangan Province, in the northern edge of Fergana Valley of north-eastern Uzbekistan.
It takes its name from the local salt mines (in Persian: نمککان namak kan).. Namangan, like other cities of the Fergana valley was originally populated by the Soghdian Iranic people, to later become Persian/Tajik speaking city. The influx of the Turkic people into the region starting in late medieval times to gradual turkification of the region and the city. However, until the middle of the 19th century, Namangan still had Tajik majority. Today the city is Uzbek/Turkic speaking city, albeit with a large Persian speaking Tajik minority. To the immediate north of the city, in the valleys of Kasansai and the ancient town of Akhsikat/Akhsikath/Akhsi, the population is still Tajik and Persian speaking. In fact, Akhsikat is the most northerly Persian speaking town in the world. The rise of Namangan was due primarily to the hard earthquake that largely destroyed Akhsikat, leading to its surviving population moving down river to Namangan.
Politically, Namangan became a part of the Uyghur Empire of the Karakhanid State and was known to have been a settlement in the 15th century. On the eve of the Russian invasion in 1867, the town was a part of the Khanate of Kokand since the middle of the 18th century. At the time of the Russian occupation, Namangan was a center of Islamic learning, with 20 madrassahs and over 600 mosques. After annexation by the Russians in 1867, cotton production and food processing became the dominant economic activity. Namangan suffered a destructive earthquake in 1926. The primary language of the people of the Namangan region is Uzbek; Tajiki is dominant particularly in Chust, Akhsikat and Kasan-sai districts.
Since Uzbekistan independence in 1991, Namangan has gained a reputation for Islamic revivalism, with many mosques and schools funded by charity organizations from Middle Eastern countries, including the conservative Wahabbi sect from Saudi Arabia. This has also translated into political opposition against the secular government of Uzbekistan. Some women have discarded traditional colorful scarves for large white veils or even the black paranja