History of the region
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan form Central Asia, a cradle of ancient culture and civilization. The first ancient states appeared in VIII – VII B.C. In IV B.C., Alexander the Great conquered Central Asia and made it a part of his empire. In I-IV A.D., the Kushan State spread from the Indus to Balkh. With the Arab invasion in VII, Central Asia’s new history began. Arabic literature, mathematics, chemistry, astronomy and architecture (Islamic madrassahs, mosques, minarets and geometrical, epigraphic and vegetative ornaments) changed the face of this region forever.
The Turkic States of Karakhanid, Seldjurkid and Gaznevid were formed in the XI-XII centuries. This empire stretched from China to the modern Afghanistan. The Mongols led by Chenghiz Khan in 1220 overthrew this empire. Towns, settlements and irrigations systems were destroyed, while the population was slaughtered or dispersed. A century later, the weakening of the central power led to chaos in the country fueled by constant war until Tamerlane took over power in 1370.
Tamerlane is one of the most significant individuals in the history of Central Asia. He created a huge and powerful empire and established the Timurid dynasty. His reign lasted for 45 years. It was an epoch of centralization of the state, development of diplomacy, construction and improvement of cities and their infrastructures especially Samarkand and Shakhrisabz (Kesh, Tamerlane’s birthplace). Small towns and settlements were built around Samarkand and named after the capitals of the Muslim world such as Bagdad, Damask, and Cairo. Tamerlane’s descendants of the Timurid dynasty also assisted in the development of sciences (Ulugbek), literature (Alisher Navoi, Djami) and the arts (Kamaliddin Bekzod).
At the beginning of the XVI century the nomadic tribes led by Sheibani-Khan invaded and conquered the Timurid empire. These Turkic tribes called themselves Uzbek and later this name became the name of the entire empire. Afterward the three states built under the Uzbek’s, namely the Bukhara Emirate, Khiva and Kokand khanates, were replaced by the Soviets in the XX century. It was during this time that political centralization, economic development and national policy began taking place in Central Asia although some of the heritage and religion of the area were inhibited.
The breakup of the Soviet Union brought five new republics in Central Asia. Independence was declared by each of the five republics: Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, September 1, 1991; Turkmenistan, October 27, 1991; Kazakhstan, December 16, 1991; and Tajikistan, September 9, 1991. All five republics have been members of NUO since March 2, 1992 as well as many other international organizations. The transition to independence has demanded adaptation to new political conditions such as market economy and democratic rule, changes in the culture and alphabets and the establishment of many new institutions.
Regions of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is divided into 12 regions, one autonomous republic and one city.
Republic of Karakalpakstan, Andijan region, Bukhara region, Fergana region, Djizak region, Khorezm region, Namangan region, Navoiy region, Kashkadarya region, Samarkand region, Syrdarya region, Surhandarya region, Tashkent region, Tashkent city.
Territory: 447 400 sq km
Uzbekistan is situated in the very heart of Central Asia between the valleys of the Syr-Darya and the Amu-Darya rivers. Uzbekistan borders Kazakhstan to the North and West, Kyrgyzstan to the North and East, Tajikistan to the East and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the South and West. The landscape of Uzbekistan is diverse with fertile valleys, deserts, plains and mountains located throughout the country. Uzbekistan is one of the six predominantly Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union and is probably one the most popular to visit for tourism due to its historical heritage and sites, diverse landscape and Islamic art produced in the ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Tashkent and Shahrisabz.
The climate of Uzbekistan is hot and dry in the summer and fall with temperatures ranging from +26C to +45C throughout the country. The winters are humid, with temperatures ranging from 5C to -30C in different parts of the country. The best time to visit Uzbekistan is during the spring and autumn months when the temperatures are mild, although Uzbekistan is also known for its renowned winter ski resorts.
Flora and Fauna
The flora of Uzbekistan is rich and varied. The mountainous regions of Uzbekistan are composed with 20 percent of vegetation species – endemic. There are many junipers, pistachio and almonds located in the mountains. Most of the country’s territory is covered with desert with typical dry vegetation. Asian deer, rodents, snakes (cobra, black snake, etc) and lizards (agama, varan) inhabit these deserts. The fauna of mountains is diverse: mountain goats, snow leopards, marmots, turtles, snakes and numerous birds. Many animals of Uzbekistan are included in the Red Book, which legally protects all species listed.
The population of Uzbekistan is nearly 26 million. The density of the population is 52.8 people per km2. There are various ethnicities in Uzbekistan including Uzbeks (80%), Russians (5.5%), Tajiks (5.3%), Karakalpaks (2.5%), Tatars (1.5%), Kazakhs (.3%) and others. Urbanization of the population is 38 %.
The official language is Uzbek (Turkic origin), with a large part of the population speaking Russian (Slavonic origin). In some areas of Uzbekistan such as Samarkand, Bukhara and Namangan, Tajik (Persian origin) is also spoken. English is spoken to a degree in Uzbekistan and the language has taken a larger role of the curriculum of schools and universities.
The main religion of Uzbekistan is Islam. Ninety percent of the population is Sunni Muslim, while the remaining religions of the population include Christianity (Russian Orthodox, Catholicism and Protestantism), Judaism and Buddhism.
New Year (January 1),
International Women’s Day (March 8),
Navruz (the celebration of Spring, March 21),
Victory Day (May 9),
Independence Day (September 1) and Constitution Day (December 8).
Religious holidays are observed according to the lunar calendar date.
INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC FLIGHTS
All airlines in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan provide flights internationally and domestically. Havo Yullari, Uzbekistan’s one airline provides domestic flights to 10 major cities of the country and offers inexpensive international flights to over 45 countries in the world.
One of the more comfortable and affordable modes of transport throughout Central Asia is by bus and car. Buses connect to most of the towns domestically and within Central Asia with very understandable schedules and low fares. Private microbuses and taxis are also readily available giving the tourist better mobility with their travel schedule.
In the spring, summer and autumn seasons, it is highly recommended to take light and comfortable clothes made of natural fabrics (cotton, flex), a pullover or rain gear for possible rainy weather (the nights are also cold in the mountains and desert). Footwear should be practical, firm, easy to wear and specific to walking and hiking.
Carry on luggage is limited. The luggage sizes must be according to the dimensions given at www.uzairways.com. The maximum weight allowed per person on international and domestic flights is 20 kg not including carry on items. In the case of lost or damaged luggage, a tourist is requested to report to the “Lost Properties” service at the airport and fill in the claim application.
The main dish of Uzbekistan is ‘pilaf’. ‘Pilaf” is made mainly from rice, carrots and mutton and has over 40 different variations of preparation throughout Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Other traditional Uzbek dishes are shorva (soup made of meat and vegetables), shashlik (kebab cooked over coals), manti (steamed dumplings) and samsa (meat or vegetables baked dough wraps). The local traditional drink is green tea.
The official currency of Uzbekistan is the Soum. The exchange rate is established by the National Bank of Uzbekistan weekly. Local banks, official currency changing kiosks and hotels throughout Uzbekistan can carry out Exchange of currency. Credit cards and travelers’ checks are accepted at banks and some hotels. It is recommended that tourists bring U.S. Dollars in small notes to Uzbekistan while traveling. The notes should be in good condition and not be older than 1993. Keep all receipts of currency exchange to show to the customs service while leaving Uzbekistan. Avoid changing money at the black market.
Tourists traveling in Central Asia can buy carpets made of wool and silk, silk dresses, articles made of wood, clay and jewelry. It is possible to buy these items at the local bazaars. One must be prepared to bargain, however, as vendors in Uzbekistan are world renown for their bargaining skills. There are some restrictions and limits to export that can be provided upon your arrival.
220 volts, with the European model of wall outlets. Electricity can cut off occasionally throughout Central Asia, especially in outlying areas due to outdated electric stations, lack of raw material or government set limits on electric consumption (mainly in the winter and summer months).
GMT + 4 in the summer time and + 5 in the wintertime for Uzbekistan.
More information for the region