About Uzbekistan

About Uzbekistan

COUNTRY PROFILE

 

Formal Name: Republic of Uzbekistan (O’zbekiston Respublikasi).

Capital: Tashkent.

Other Major Cities: Namangan, Samarqand (Samarkand), Andijon (Andizhan), Bukhoro (Bukhara, Buxoro), and Nukus (in order of population size).

Independence: Uzbekistan celebrates September 1, 1991, as its date of independence. That is the date on which independence from the Soviet Union was declared.

Public Holidays: Uzbekistan celebrates New Year’s (January 1), the Feast of the Sacrifice

(date determined by the Islamic calendar), International Women’s Day (March 8), Navruz (Uzbek New Year, March 21), Memorial Day (May 9), Independence Day (September 1), the end of Ramadan (date determined by the Islamic calendar), and Constitution Day (December 8).

 Flag: The flag is divided into three equal horizontal stripes of blue (top), white, and green, which are separated by thin red stripes. On the left side of the blue stripe is a crescent moon with 12 five-pointed stars, all in white.  

The blue represents water; the white, peace; the green, nature; and the red, life. The stars represent either the 12 provinces of Uzbekistan.

 

GEOGRAPHY

Location: Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia, east of the Caspian Sea, directly south of Kazakhstan, north of Turkmenistan, and on the  western borders of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Size: The area of Uzbekistan is 447,400 square kilometers, of which 25,400 square kilometers is land surface.

Land Boundaries: Uzbekistan has land boundaries with the following countries: Kazakhstan, 2,203 kilometers; Turkmenistan, 1,621 kilometers; Tajikistan, 1,161 kilometers; Kyrgyzstan, 1,099 kilometers; and Afghanistan, 137 kilometers.

Length of Coastline: None. Uzbekistan is landlocked.

Topography: Uzbekistan’s topography is diverse. Almost 80 percent of the surface is desert, dominated by the Qizilqum (Kyzyl Kum) Desert of the north-central part of the country. The mountains of the far southeast and far northeast, which are foothills of the Tian Shan Range, reach 4,500 meters in elevation. In the northeast, the Fergana Valley, which is the country’s center of population, agriculture, and industry, is 200 to 500 meters above sea level, surrounded by mountain ranges, and intersected by the Syr Darya River. The far west is dominated by the Turan Lowland, the Amu Darya valley, and the southern half of the shrinking Aral Sea.

Principal Rivers: Uzbekistan is not endowed with substantial river systems; the most important rivers are the Amu Darya, the Syr Darya, and the Zarafshon, all of which flow from other countries across a small expanse of Uzbekistan. Other rivers are the Akhangaran and the Chirchik, both in the northeast.

Climate: The climate of landlocked Uzbekistan is continental, with hot summers and cool winters. Summer temperatures reach 40°C, averaging 32°C. Winter temperatures reach –38°C, averaging –23°C. Rainfall averages vary between 100 millimeters per year in the northwest and 800 millimeters per year in the Tashkent region. Precipitation falls mainly in the winter and spring.

Natural Resources: Uzbekistan is self-sufficient in natural gas and oil in the near term. Gold is the most plentiful mineral having export value. Significant amounts of copper, lead, silver, tungsten, uranium, and zinc also are present. Nearly all of Uzbekistan’s arable land requires intensive irrigation.

Land Use: Some 10.5 percent of Uzbekistan’s land, most of it in the Fergana Valley, is classified as arable, and 0.8 percent is planted to permanent crops. About 0.4 percent is forested. Most of the rest is desert.

Time Zone: Uzbekistan’s time zone is five hours (+5) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

 

The Republic of Uzbekistan gained its independence in 1991, after being part of the former Soviet Union since 1924, and it has begun its transition to a market economy. Uzbekistan is a presidential republic, and conducts presidential and parliamentary elections on a regular basis. The Republic of Uzbekistan is situated between the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya, and covers an area of 448.9 thousand sq. km. The length of the territory of the Republic from west to east is 1 425 km from north to south - 930 km.

The territory in the north and north-east of the Rebublic of Uzbekistan borders with Kazakhstan, in the east and south-east with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the west with Turkmenistan, in the south with Afghanistan. The total length of the country border is 6 221 km. The long border with Afghanistan is 137 km, with Kazakhstan - 2 203 km, with Kyrgyzstan - 1 099 km, with Tajikistan - 1 161 km and Turkmenistan - 1 621 km
Uzbekistan is a resource-rich, doubly-landlocked country, strategically located in the heart of Central Asia. Its population of about 32 million (as recorded in the beginning of 2017), approximately half of which lives in urban areas. Uzbekistan’s population accounts for approximately 46 per cent of Central Asia‘s population of 66 mln people.

The capital of Uzbekistan is Tashkent, with a population of over 3 million. Tashkent is the only Central Asian city which has an underground railway system (Tashkent Metro). Its stations are probably among the world’s most beautiful.

In Uzbekistan, during its history there lived surprisingly talented, people with surprisingly deep knowledge of science. Uzbek people with their kindness, hospitality and carefully keeping the traditions and customs attracted many tourists from different corners of the world. The traditions of the people are being carefully preserved. The UNESCO has recognized cities of SamarkandBukhara, Khiva as invaluable architectural monuments of the past.

Good level of service and stable political situation make Uzbekistan attractive place for tourists from all over the world. Number of luxury hotels and inexpensive bed and breakfasts has increased in main tourist cities to accommodate foreign guests. Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, is a real garden - city: various parks, squares, fountains will surprise you with the cleanliness and freshness. And if to you will want to have a rest from city vanity, you can visit Charvak artificial lake or to drive on ski in Chimgan Mountains. Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva will immerse you into the past, when these cities were main stopping points of the caravans that traveled through the ancient Silk Road.

Uzbekistan today is the country where thousands-old antiquity exists in harmony with modern civilization. Harmonious correlation of times is seen everywhere. Ancient monuments, Old Town houses made of adobe bricks stand next to many-storied sky scraping buildings constructed in accordance with the unique designs worked out by architects of the 20th century. Uzbek ceramics, embossing, wood carving, golden embroidery, carpets, varnished miniature, jewellery are well known far outside our country.

 

HISTORY OF UZBEKISTAN

Uzbekistan is the exotic heart of the Silk Road, ancient caravan routes used for the silk and spice trade between East and West. Experience the past and present of five Central Asian countries as you explore legendary cities, which played a great role in the history visit religious sites and museums, attend cultural programs, and meet local people. If you want to find yourself in the center of civilization, visit and explore the legendary cities like Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand, and Tashkent, with their noble squares and breathtaking architecture. As far back as in the pre-Islamic period, Zoroastrism -- the world spread religious system was born on the territory of the present day Uzbekistan (in Khorezm) and became common property of all mankind. There was formed the highest technological culture of those times: town-planning, irrigation systems, armory, silk-weaving, cultivation of grain, cotton, grapes and fruits. In those times local technologies and master-craftsmen (Ustos) were highly valued and appreciated. The synthetic character is rather typical for this particular civilization: Combination of achievements gained by the Sogdians, peoples of Khorezm, Turks, India, China, Iran, Middle East and by Hellenism.

 

The religious extension of Islam to Maverannahr, accompanied by military invasions of the Arabs in the 7-8th centuries met with the resistance from the local religious tradition, embodied in the Zoroastrism of the Sogdians and Backtrians, Buddhism of the residents of Balkh and the Upper Amudarya, and the growing authority of the Christian communities. However later on the population of the region was convinced in the great cultural and moral possibilities of Islam.

The final victory of Islam in Turan may be related to the creation of politically and spiritually united state of the Samanid Turks in the 9th century with the center in the Zarafshan oasis (Samarkand and Bukhara). It was based on the rise of trade and development of the local artisans' production export.

The new spiritual and economic situation in Central Asia determined a new technological progress. It seems to be appropriate to mark the production of the Samarkand paper (since the 8th century under the Chinese influence the people of Samarkand learned to manufacture paper from the rags), which supplanted papyrus and parchment in the Moslem countries at the end of the 10th century. The real flourishing of the genetic fund of the population was caused by the abundance of grain. Scientists al-Khorezmi, Beruni, Farabi, Abu Ali ibn Sino (Avicenna) brought fame to their Motherland all over the world. They were respected by Moslems, as well as Christians, Judaists and Buddhists.

The Islamic spiritual and political Renaissance after the Mongols invasion was based not only on the strategic plans of nobility but first and foremost on the needs of the population majority to liberate Central Asian civilization from the brute power and animosity between the tribes. Feeling that necessity, Timur (1336-1405) united townsfolk, countryfolk and steppe communities of Maverannahr. Under the power of Timur military victories were consolidated by creating a complicated system of the administrative governing, and the common norms of law ("Code of Timur"). Considerable funds were given from the state treasury for the construction of grandiose public structures, gardens, roads and canals. The Timurids Renaissance in the 15th and the first half of the 16th century is based on the cultural-economic integration of the region. The area of its rich technological potential was extended up to the Mediterranean Sea and Northern India (culture of the Great Mogul Empire), Many scientific achievements of the Timurids epoch made a great impact on the European science (it is enough to mention the astronomical tables of Samarkand astronomers from Ulughbek's observatory).

In 19th century Russian merchants came into the region of the Kazakhs and Uzbeks because of the commercial opportunities. The Russian military became involved in the region because Russians in the border area were being captured and sold as slaves in the markets of Bukhoro. These captives included sailors from ships wrecked on the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea.

Russian military expeditions captured cities of Tashent in 1865, Bukhoro in 1865 and Samarqand in 1868. Russia established protectorate status for the Khanate of Bukhoro in 1868 and the Khanate of Khiva in 1873. The Uzbek Khanate of Kokand came under the control of the Russian Empire in 1876. The other two Uzbek khanates maintained their nominal independence as protectorates of the Russian Empire until about 1920.

The Russian government increased cotton production in the region. It wanted Russia to have a safe source of cotton. During the American Civil War it lost its supply of cotton from the southern United States and did not want to experience that devastating disruption of its economy again.

In 1924 under the control of the Soviet Union the area of Uzbekistan was deemed the Uzbek Soviet Social Republic. It continued under that designation until 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed and Uzbekistan became an independent republic.

THE ECONOMY

Uzbekistan is blessed with a warm climate and long growing season. There is also water for irrigation. This made Uzbekistan ideal for growing cotton. Agriculture in the 1990's accounted for about 40 percent of Uzbekistan output and cotton accounted for 40 percent of that output. Uzbekistan accounted for 61 percent of the total cotton production of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan during the 1990's was the fourth largest producer of cotton in the world and the third largest exporter of cotton.

Under the Soviet system most of the land was in collective and state farms and therefore it was easy for economic planners in Moscow to require Uzbekistan to provide as much cotton as possible to the Soviet economy. In 1990 the average farm had 24 thousand acres of land and a workforce of more than 1100. Under the Soviet system the members of the collective farms were allowed plots of up to about an acre to grow vegetables. These small plots collectively produced about one quarter of total farm output.

Uzbekistan historically produced a good deal of natural gas but under the Soviet system most of this gas was used in Uzbekistan. After independence in 1991 there have been efforts made to develop means of exporting the natural gas. This required the building of pipelines to the outside world. Under the Soviet system the transportation system of Uzbekistan was entirely oriented to trade with Russia.

Uzbekistan had oil fields but until 1994 their output was insufficient for Uzbekistan's needs. In 1994 a new major oil field was discovered in the Ferghana Valley that promised to vastly increase Uzbekistan's petroleum production.

Uzbekistan also has small deposits of coal which are used for thermal power generation and it has hydroelectric power sources.

High concentrations of gold are found in many locations around the world and the former soviet republic of Uzbekistan is one of them. In 2014 Uzbekistan was responsible for mining some 102 metric tons of gold which put them #8 on the list of gold producing countries in the world. 

Not only are they solidly entrenched in the top 10 of this list but the country is well positioned to find even more active gold reserves in its short term future. Gold production plays a huge part of driving the economy in Uzbekistan. Most of the gold is said to be concentrated around the area of the country known as Central Kyzyl-kum.

Nature of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's natural world is very diverse. It is composed of desert areas and snowy mountains, rivers and completely dry lands. Sand, clay and stony deserts cover about 40% of the country’s area.The most part of its territory lies in the Turon plain, where there are no sudden steep-drops and hills. The Turon plate and mainland, which later became the Tian Shan and Pamir -Alai Mountains, were formed in the Paleolithic period. Later, the sea covered the plate for a long time. The mountain chains are thought to have fully developed during the Alps orogenesis. Mountains and foothills make up about one-fifth of the territory of Uzbekistan. The highest point is 4,643 meters. Mountains cover the east of the country.

The mountain ranges blocked the humidity from the Indian Ocean. It caused considerable climatic change: the weather became dry and huge desert areas appeared. As rivers and winds kept changing their directions, the upper layer of soil was continuously displaced from one place to another. It led to the formation of the Kyzyl Kum and Kara Kum deserts. It is not without reasons that the climate of Uzbekistan is called ‘extreme’: day as well as year temperatures are characterised by sharp drops. One can experience these ‘temperature extremes’ particularly in the mountainous areas where during the day the heat is really scorching but after sunset the puddles get covered with ice crusts.   Traveling about Uzbekistan is possible at any time of the year but the best periods to come are from March to July and from September to October inclusive. The period from the end of June to mid-August, called chilla by the locals, is the hottest: the day temperature frequently rises to 40°C and even higher in some parts of the country. Autumn is warm and abundant in agricultural produce; the bazaars are full of a wide variety of cheap and quality fruits, vegetables and cucurbit crops. At the end of November the day temperature may still remain around 10°С. Although the average winter temperatures are not far below zero, they may occasionally drop to around minus 15° in the cities and lower in the mountains and the steppe areas.

RELIGION OF UZBEKISTAN

Islam is the majority religion in Uzbekistan with a more than 90% Muslim population. Approximately 5% of the population are Russian Orthodox Christians. There are more Sunnite Muslimsthan Shi'ite Muslims among the residents in Uzbekistan. Islam was brought to Uzbekistan during the 8th century when the Arabs entered Central Asia.Currently, more than 2,000 religious organizations representing 16 different religions are operating in Uzbekistan. The 16 religions in Uzbekistan include Islam, Orthodox Church, Judaism, Buddhism, the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Evangelical Christian Baptist Church, Full Gospel Christian Church, New Apostolic Church, the Christian Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hare Krishna, and Religious Society of Bach.

In other words, more than 150 Christian organizations, eight Jewish communities, six Baha’i communities, one Hare Krishna society, and one Buddhist temple freely operate in Uzbekistan

Believers in Uzbekistan freely celebrate all religious holidays. Thus, every year Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha and Ramadan on a larger scale; Christians, Easter and Christmas; and Jews, the High Holy Days and Purim.

 

UZBEK CUISINE

Palov (Pilav) is the signature dish of Uzbekistan – as even at wedding parties. There are more than 120 different recipes, but you should try palov in Uzbek weddings. Although the ingredients wherever you go are pretty similar – oil, meat, onion, carrots and rice – in our variety, you add chickpeas and raisins. It is believed to be one of the oldest recipes in Uzbek cuisine, which has Persian roots. Alexander the Great was served a kind of palov upon his capture of the Sogdian capital of Marakanda, which is now known as Samarkand. Alexander’s army brought it back to Macedonia and spread it throughout Eastern Europe

Among the liquid dishes, various kinds of Shurpa and Mastava take an important place in Uzbek national cuisine. The basis of these dishes is the bouillon of fatty meat. It’s knows as nomadic soups among the foreigners. Homemade noodle soups are also very popular in Uzbek national cuisine. Samsa is prepared in all areas of Uzbekistan with various fillings: meat, pumpkin, onion, chicken. Samsa is baked in a tandoor oven and it’s also very famous among the dishes. Mainly, lamb is preferred source of protein in Uzbek cuisine. Lambs are valued not only for their meat and fatty tail (source of fat for culinary), but also for their wool. Beef and horse-meat are also used in significant amounts for meals. Camel and goat meats are less common. Mainly, lamb is preferred source of protein in Uzbek cuisine. Lambs are valued not only for their meat and fatty tail (source of fat for culinary), but also for their wool. Beef and horse-meat are also used in significant amounts for meals. Camel and goat meats are less common.

Tea, as ceremony, is one of the most wonderful oriental traditions. Tea at the beginning is offered to any guest and there is additional set of customs which includes preparing, serving and drinking tea. Green tea dominates and is considered to be the drink of hospitality. Black tea is preferred in Tashkent. Both teas are sometimes served with milk, and often with sugar. Tea-drinking ceremony in Uzbek cuisine also includes consumption of such foods as somsa, lepyoshkas, halva and various fried and baked foods. "Choykhona" (tea-house) is an important part of traditions of Uzbek society. Always located in shaded site, preferably, located near cool stream, Choykhona is the place for social interaction, communication and brotherhood. Uzbek men, gathered around low tables, set on trestle-beds, decorated by carpets, enjoy delicious plov, shashlyk and endless “pialas” (tea cup) of green tea.

Seasons, especially winter and summer make impact on the composition of main menu. In summer, fruits, vegetables and nuts are everywhere. In Uzbekistan, fruits grow in abundance – grapes, melons, water-melons, apricots, pears, apples, quince, persimmon cherries, pomegranates, lemons and fig. Vegetables are no less abundant, including some less known varieties of green radish, yellow carrot, gourd family, in addition to regular eggplants, peppers, turnips, cucumbers and juicy tomatoes.

 

“Sumalak” plays special role in the national Uzbek cuisine. In antiquity, sumalak as ritual dish was cooked before the beginning of spring sowing works. Sumalak is cooked from germinated seeds of the wheat, which should be grinded, and then boiled in the cauldron on the cotton oil with permanent adding of flour and water for 10-12 hours. It’s considered that sumalak should be cooked with motets and humorous, jolly singings. Aftercooling, themeal serv donatable. It’s considered, that this meal gives people physical and spiritual power. There is legend about origin of sumalak. Once upon a time, city-fortress at the bank of Jeikhan was taken on siege by the nomads from East. When the city run out of all provisions, the patriarchs ordered to take out remaining stocks, the last bags of dampened and germinated wheat. When defenders of the city tasted unattractive broth, they so much burst of energy and they started to beat off the attacks of enemies with such a rage, that the enemies got confused and retreated. So, the peace was regained.

“Shashlyk” is one of the most popular meals served in Uzbekistan, is loved by everyone. Usually, it’s marinaded pieces of lamb and fat of sheep pulled on metallic sticks and cooked on burning hot coal. There are several varieties of shashlyk, with the most common to be shashlyk of lamb’s meat and shashlyk of liver. Hot shashlyk is served with the sliced onion. Before eating, while shashlyk is hot, they add some pepper with vinegar. Shashlyk could be cooked also from quail or fatty fish (cat-fish, chub, sazan – fresh water fish which belongs to the family of carps). It’sveryspecialandunique.

“Qazi” is special type of sausage, made of the horse meat and fat, using special spices, is made using ancient recipes, handed from generation to generation, this sausage has excellent dark color. It’s delicacy, which is usually served on special occasions.

Salads: Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant in Uzbekistan, that surely fosters abundance of salads, served with every meal. The most popular salad is “achik-chuchuk”, the salad, made from sliced fresh tomatoes, onion, cucumber and fennel or basil. You must also try very tasty salad, made of grated carrot, garlic, spices and mayonnaise.