Central Asia is a region of Asia from the Caspian Sea in the west to central China in the east, and from southern Russia in the north to northern India in the south. It is also sometimes known as Middle Asia or Inner Asia. The Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, with a population of almost 59 million and covering an area of 1.5 million square miles, secured their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Onto the scene in the early 1990s there came various churches and mission-sending bodies from many parts of the world desiring to make their positive contribution toward these countries that are are seeking their new national identities and improved infrastructures. These sisters and brothers from the world Christian community become involved in relief and development NGOs (nongovernment organizations) while serving in alongside ways with the emerging local churches. These local churches with their own leadership welcome cooperation in discipling, equiping, empowering and mentoring their new followers of Jesus.