Click the map to view a part of the world that is of considerable interest to today's big players: Russia, China and the United States. Iran and India are also muscling their way into the picture. Britain's influence, on the other hand, is waning.
Throughout history Central Asia has been the scene of a contest that has been dubbed The Great Game. The original game was played by the British Empire and the Russian Empire. The Russians eventually gained control of Central Asia and this vast territory was an instrumental part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. During World War II, the Germans were determined to seize Central Asia. What were they after? O-I-L. To get to the Baku, Azerbaijan oil fields, the German war machine had to go through Stalingrad, Russia. Stalingrad is now called Volgograd. See if you can find these cities on the map.
If you are interested in understanding more of the Battle of Stalingrad, I would suggest reading the posts under history. If you'd rather just stick with this post, I highly recommend the following talk by Steve LeVine, who recently authored The Oil and the Glory. In his presentation, Mr. LeVine discusses the quest for Central Asia's oil in the past and continued quest for it today. For further research, view Steve LeVine's blog by clicking here.