One of the longest-serving dictators.
One of the longest-serving world leaders having ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist since before its independence.
Karimov rose through the Soviet bureaucracy before being appointed the first secretary of Uzbekistan's Communist party - the republic's top position - in 1989.
In August 1991, when a hardline group attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, he initially appeared to support the coup. Only when it was clear that it had failed and the Soviet Union was disintegrating did he declare Uzbekistan independence.
When Soviet Union collapsed, he became president, a position he maintained for the next 25 years through sporadic elections that international observers labelled undemocratic.
He was accused as one of the world's most brutal dictators, jailing and torturing thousands of his critics. In 2005, Uzbek security forces fired at largely unarmed protestors in Andijan, in the country's fertile Fergana valley. The government announced a death toll of 187, but witnesses and non-government organizations said that several times that number were killed.
Uzbekistan being rich in energy reserves - the world's fifth-largest cotton exporter as well as a top 10 producer of gold and uranium - and viewed as a strategic crossroads by China, Russia and the United States.
He was a wily politician, as successful at playing off western, Russian and Chinese interests to his own advantages as he was managing the power struggles between Uzbekistan's political clans. After the US-led campaign in Afghanistan started in 2001, he became a key western ally. A situation Karimov exploited. He dropped alliances while enjoying photo-opportunities.
The 'war on terror' provided Karimov with plenty of ammunition to intensify his own war on religious freedom, and he ordered mass arrests of those suspected of 'illegal' religious practice under the pretext of safeguarding central Asia from extremism.
Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov was born in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand. He was born to a poor family and raised in a state orphanage. He studied engineering and economics. He rose through the bureaucracy of the Soviet Union.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin