Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (11): 1739-1760.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1810-z

• Special Issue: Urbanization, Resources and Environment in Central Asia • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Central Asian geo-relation networks: Evolution and driving forces

WANG Yun1,2,3(), LIU Yi1,2,3,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Institute of Strategy Research for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Guangzhou 510070, China
  • Received:2020-03-21 Accepted:2020-07-27 Online:2020-11-25 Published:2021-01-25
  • Contact: LIU Yi;
  • About author:Wang Yun (1993–), PhD Candidate, specialized in geopolitics and regional development.E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Priority Research of the CAS(XDA20040400);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871118)


Due to the unique geographical location and historical background of Central Asia, the region’s geo-relation networks are complex and changeable. A social network analysis was conducted in this study to visualize the 20-year evolutionary process of bilateral (diplomatic relations) and multilateral (intergovernmental organization (IGO) connections) networks in Central Asia since 1993. Additionally, a further empirical study determined the significant driving forces of the construction of the geo-relation networks. The results showed that since the independence of the five Central Asian countries, their degree centrality (C’D(ni)) values have been increasing, with the index values being the highest for Kazakhstan, followed by Uzbekistan, while the other three countries had relatively low values. The Central Asian countries maintain bilateral relations with post-Soviet nations, neighboring countries, and Western powers, and have gradually deepened and expanded their diplomatic networks. From each state’s perspective, the geostrategic approaches adopted by the five countries were different. Kazakhstan has focused on expanding its bilateral and multilateral relations, while the other Central Asian countries have attempted to increase their influence by joining influential IGOs. Various driving forces, including economic, political, cultural, and geographical factors, have played significant roles in the construction of geo-relation networks in Central Asia. The importance of these factors has changed over time, from political and cultural factors (before 1995) to relations with neighboring countries (1996-2001), and finally to economic power and cultural and religious proximity (after 2002).

Key words: Central Asia, social network analysis, geo-relations, evolution, driving forces