About Uzbekistan

Alexander the Great spent around two years in Uzbekistan during his conquest of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. He experienced there not just some of the most difficult fighting of the entire campaign, but also some of the most remarkable events of his expedition into Asia.

Through 330bc, Alexander had chased the Persian nobleman Bessus around Afghanistan. Bessus was leading the Persian resistance to Alexander, and Alexander had to capture him to ensure the complete submission of the Persian Empire. In 329bc, Alexander crossed the Oxus after leaving the Afghan city of Balkh, and was shortly able to get hold of Bessus, who was sent off for execution. However, Alexander remained in the region to consolidate his power. Perhaps foolishly, he did not make use of his natural allies in the region. Shortly after crossing the Oxus he discovered a town that was inhabited by Greeks, who welcomed him wholeheartedly. However, on discovering that they had collaborated with the Persians when they had invaded Greece in 480bc, he executed the entire settlement and levelled it to the ground. Proceeding northward, he captured Samarkand and then reached the Syr Darya (River Jaxartes) where he founded Alexandria Eschate, 'Alexandria-the-Farthest', modern-day Khojend in Tajikistan.

Despite this immediate success, there was considerable disquiet in the area. Alexander faced a number of uprisings from the indigenous Sogdians and Scythian tribesmen. They were able to employ guerrilla hit-and-run tactics again Alexander, relying on their mastery of horsemanship and archery to strike at his columns from a distance. Alexander had not faced this sort of warfare before, and he had to develop new tactics to defeat the nomadic warriors, including the combined use of catapults and archers, as well as hunting his opponents down to their fortresses and carrying out a conventional campaign of sieges. Despite being badly injured and suffering from dysentery, Alexander was able to lead his men to a notable success against the Scythians on the Syr Darya River.

As Alexander gained the upper hand, his opponents rallied at a fortress called the Sogdian Rock on top of a large escarpment. Its site is not known for certain, but it is thought to be near Samarkand. They thought it impregnable, and taunted Alexander that he would need soldiers with wings to capture it. Alexander was so irked by their jibes that he called for volunteers to scale the sheer cliffs up to the fortress. Three hundred men came forward and, using ropes and tent pegs, they made the ascent in the dead of night. Although 30 were lost in the climb, by morning they were inside the fortress. Alexander's herald shouted that they had found the soldiers with wings, and the defenders, amazed, surrendered immediately.

According to Greek historians, Alexander met on the rock a princess named Roxane, the daughter of one of the local rulers, Oxyartes. They record that he fell in love with her on sight and arranged a marriage with her. Having made such an alliance, he was ready to proceed out of Uzbek lands on his attempt to conquer India. The legend of Roxane still lives today, and many distinguished families in the region claim descent from the union of Alexander and Roxane.

Did you know?

Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world to be ‘double landlocked’ (landlocked and totally surrounded by other landlocked countries). Liechtenstein is double landlocked by 2 countries whilst Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5!

Did you know that Uzbekistan lies in the very heart of Eurasia, the coordinates for Uzbekistan are 41.0000° N, 69.0000°

Uzbekistan is home to the Muruntan gold mine, one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world! The country has 4th largest reserves of gold in the world after South Africa, USA and Russia

Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter.

It is Uzbek tradition that the most respected guest be seated farthest from the house’s entrance.

Tashkent’s metro features chandeliers, marble pillars and ceilings, granite, and engraved metal. It has been called one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

The Uzbek master chef is able to cook in just one caldron enough plov to serve a thousand men.

When you are a host to someone, it is your duty to fill their cups with for the whole time they are with you.  What you must not do, however, is to fill their cup more than half-full.  If you do that as a mistake, say it is a mistake immediately.  Doing it means you want them to leave.  Wow!  Amazing, right?

To Uzbeks, respect means a whole lot.  For this reason they love it if, even as foreigners, you endeavour to add the respectful suffix opa after a woman's name; and aka after a man's.  Example: Linda-opa and David-aka.  You could also use hon and jon respectively.

Having been an historic crossroads for centuries as part of various ancient empires, Uzbekistan’s food is very eclectic. It has its roots in Iranian, Arab, Indian, Russian and Chinese cuisine.

Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Many distinguished scholars share an opinion that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Indeed, today in the world there were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.

One of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran that was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader, is kept in Tashkent. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. 

Tashkent is the only megapolis in the world where public transport is totally comprised of Mercedes buses. And due to low urban air polution it is one of the few cities where one can still see the stars in the sky.

You would be surprised to know that modern TV was born in Tashkent. No joke! The picture of moving objects was transmitted by radio first time in the world in Tashkent on 26 of July 1928 by inventors B.P. Grabovsky and I.F. Belansky.

Uzbekistan is the only country in the world all of whose neighbours have their names ending in STAN. This is also the only country in Central Asia that borders all of the countries of this region

Uzbeks are the third populous Turkik ethnicity in the world after Turks and Azeris (leaving both in Azerbaijan and Iran)

Did you know that there was silk money in Khiva? Super interesting right? Of course, but the best part of having silk money was that it could be sewn into your clothing.

Famous Islamic physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna in the Latin world) who was born near Bukhara was the one of the first people to advocate using women’s hair as suture material – about 1400 years ago.

Uzbekistan has a long and bloody history. The most notorious leader of Uzbekistan was Timur (or Tamerlane) who claimed descent from Genghis Khan. His military campaigns have been credited for wiping out some 5% of the world’s population at the time.

If you have thought that some of the Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan resembles that from Northern India, then that is because Timur’s great great great Grandson, Babur Beg, was the founder of the Moghul Empire that ruled much of India for almost four centuries! Babur’s great great Grandson was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.

Uzbekistan was once a rum producig country. There is still a real arboretum in Denau (city near Termez on the border with Afghanistan), grown from a selection station that studied the prospects of plant growing in the unusual for the Soviet Union subtropical climate of Surkhandarya region: only here in the whole of the USSR sugar cane was grown and even rum was produced!

Uzbekistan has been ranked one of the safest countries in the world, according to a new global poll. The annual Gallup Global Law and Order asked if people felt safe walking at night and whether they had been victims of crime. The survey placed Uzbekistan 5th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th. Top five safest countries:

  • Singapore
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Uzbekistan
Exchange rates
100 RUR
14449.76 UZS
100 USD
1262518.91 UZS
100 EUR
1359374.21 UZS
100 GBP
1594055.66 UZS
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