Scattered nomadic groups maintained herds of sheep, goats, horses, and camels, and conducted annual migrations to find new pastures (a practice known as transhumance). The people lived in yurts (or gers) - tents made of hides and wood that could be disassembled and transported. Each group had several yurts, each accommodating about five people.

While the semi-arid plains were dominated by the nomads, small city-states and sedentary agrarian societies arose in the more humid areas of Central Asia. TheBactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex of the early 2nd millennium BCE was the first sedentary civilization of the region, practicing irrigation farming ofwheat and barley and possibly a form of writing. Bactria-Margiana probably interacted with the contemporary Bronze Age nomads of the Andronovo culture, the originators of the spoke-wheeled chariot, who lived to their north in western Siberia, Russia, and parts of Kazakhstan, and survived as a culture until the 1st millennium BCE. These cultures, particularly Bactria-Margiana, have been posited as possible representatives of the hypothetical Aryan culture ancestral to the speakers of the Indo-Iranian languages (see Indo-Iranians), and possibly the Uralic and Altaic cultures as well.

Later the strongest of Sogdian city states of the Fergana Valley rose to prominence. After the 1st century BCE, these cities became home to the traders of the Silk Road and grew wealthy from this trade. The steppe nomads were dependent on these settled people for a wide array of goods that were impossible for transient populations to produce. The nomads traded for these when they could, but because they generally did not produce goods of interest to sedentary people, the popular alternative was to carry out raids.

A wide variety of people came to populate the steppes. Nomadic groups in Central Asia included the Huns and other Turks, the Tocharians, Persians, Scythians and other Indo-Europeans, and a number of Mongol groups. Despite these ethnic and linguistic differences, the steppe lifestyle led to the adoption of very similar culture across the region.

shotest history of Central Asia:

The history of Central Asia is defined by the area's climate and geography. The aridness of the region made agriculture difficult and its distance from the sea cut it off from much trade. Thus few major cities developed in the region, instead the area was for millennia dominated by the nomadic horse peoples of thesteppe .

Relations between the steppe nomads and the settled people in and around Central Asia were long marked by conflict. The nomadic lifestyle was well suited to warfare and the steppe horse riders became some of the most militarily potent peoples in the world, only limited by their lack of internal unity. Periodically great leaders or changing conditions would organize several tribes into to one force, and create an almost unstoppable power. These included theHun invasion of Europe, the Wu Hu attacks on China and most notably theMongol conquest of much of Eurasia .

The dominance of the nomads ended in the sixteenth century, as firearm s allowed settled peoples to gain control of the region. Russia China , and other powers expanded into the region and had captured the bulk of Central Asia by the end of the nineteenth century. After the Russian Revolution the Central Asian regions were incorporated into the Soviet Union. Mongolia remained independent but became a Soviet satellite state . The Soviet areas of Central Asia saw much industrialization and construction of infrastructure, but also the suppression of local cultures, hundreds of thousands of deaths from failed collectivization programs, and a lasting legacy of ethnic tensions and environmental problems.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union five countries gained independence. In all the new states former Communist Party officials retained power as local strongmen. In no state is repression as great as it was in Soviet times, but none of the new republics could be considered functional democracies. Other parts of Central Asia remain part of China or Russia.