About Uzbekistan

The boy Temujin was born of a Mongol chief around 1167 north of the Gobi desert. Through bitter struggle he removed all rivals, notably the tribe of Tartars, whose name East and West would adopt for the united hordes Temujin gathered in 1206. They proclaimed him Genghis Khan, master of 'all the people with felt tents', and China was but the first to suffer his fury. After the Khorezmshah's governor at Otrar slaughtered a Mongol merchant caravan in 1218, Genghis dispatched three envoys to Mohammed's court. When Mohammed killed one and burnt the others' beards, he sealed his fate. Contemporary historian Juvaini hardly exaggerates the result: "For every drop of their blood there flowed a whole Oxus; in retribution for every hair on their heads, it seemed that a hundred thousand heads rolled in the dust at every crossroads."

The Mongol horsemen were deadly archers, able to ride for days and nights on end, sleeping in the saddle, nourished by the blood of their steeds. Strategies like the feigned retreat overcame numerical inferiority, while massed ranks of Sogdian prisoners formed protective walls from enemy arrows.

Mongol forces marched on the Kara-Khitan Khanate, and by 1218 controlled territory as far west as Lake Balkhash in the southeast of what is now Kazakhstan. Genghis Khan initially looked towards the Khwarezmid Empire as a trading partner, but when his mercantile caravan was slaughtered and a subsequent envoy killed, battle lines were drawn. With 200,000 troops under his command, he marched across the Tian Shan Mountains and into the heart of Uzbekistan.

The Mongols first seized Otrar, murdered many of its inhabitants and enslaved the rest. Inalchuq, the governor responsible for the previous envoys demise, had molten silver poured into his eyes and ears as punishment. In quick succession Mongol forces seized and decimated Samarkand and Bukhara, leaving them as virtual ghost towns. Pyramids of severed heads were raised as a sign of victory. In Termez the entire population was killed, and perhaps a million people were slaughtered in a bloodbath in Urgench.

By 1221 Genghis Khan's domains spread from China to the Caspian and the grand cities of Central Asia lay in ruin. His successors pushed even further, simultaneously challenging the Japanese and the Germans from the greatest land empire the world has ever seen.

Their campaigns left some five million dead, yet in their wake the Mongols established the Pax Mongolica, over a century of stability and recovery of which Marco Polo was a witness and beneficiary. As the уam horse relay system speeded communications to a level surpassed only by 19th century engineers, the Silk Road traveller could march with impunity "from the land of sunrise to the land of sunset with a golden platter upon his head". Before his death in 1227, the Great Khan divided his realm between his four sons. Most of Uzbekistan fell within the ulus of Chagatai, his second son. Initial hostility to Islam laded as subsequent rulers adapted to local Turkic culture and by the 14th century their language was known as Chagatai Turkic. Fragmentation of power sparked wars among various fiefs, brilliantly exploited by the Turkicized Mongol Tamerlane.

The Mongol invasion was a turning point for central Asia in numerous ways: it broke Islamic hegemony, replacing it with a Turkic identity; it razed cities to the ground, destroying any pre 13th-century architecture; and it gave the regions population much of the genetic make-up it has today.

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
13979.97 UZS
100 USD
1271999.93 UZS
100 EUR
1380908.11 UZS
100 GBP
1611369.35 UZS
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