About Uzbekistan

As the constituent parts of the Mongol Empire began to separate in the early 14th century, various tribes competed for regional influence. Amongst them, Timur (also known as Tamerlane) was ultimately victorious. Like Genghis Khan before him, he would conquer an empire stretching from Asia Minor to Delhi, even venturing up into southern Russia before his death in 1405. Central Asia again became truly ‘central’ with the rise of Timur, the ruthless warrior and patron of the arts who fashioned a glittering Islamic capital at Samarkand.

Born near Samarkand, in the heart of Transoxiana, in 1336, he survived youthful trials, like Genghis Khan, to dominate his homeland by 1370. As there is only one God in Heaven, so there should be only one king on earth' was a chronicler's explanation of the fearless ambition that raged from India to Russia, smashing Urgench, Baghdad, Damascus, Herat and Delhi. Meticulous planning enhanced classic nomadic warfare, concluded by brutality on an unprecedented scale.

Timur made Samarkand his capital, and he rebuilt and expanded it with the finest artisans and materials his empire could offer. With the plunder and slave-artisans of conquered lands, Tamerlane raised his capital Samarkand to its greatest heights. He patronised scientists and other scholars, and Samarkand became a centre for intellectuals and for religion. Its architecture was the envy of the whole Islamic world.

The Timurid Empire did not survive long after Timur's death. On his death in 1405, en route to savage China, his fragile empire collapsed to its core: his son ruled eastern Persia and his grandson, Ulug Beg, ruled Samarkand but prioritised scholarship and, in particular, his personal pursuit of astronomy, over matters of state.

In 1449 Ulug Begs preference for science over politics and religion met Islamic reaction and a son bent on patricide. His nephew avenged him but soon fell to Tamerlane's great-grandson, Abu Said, helped by Uzbek khan Abul Khair. A descendent of Shayban, Genghis Khan's grandson, Abul Khair had united the nomadic Turco-Mongol tribes on the steppes of today's Kazakhstan. His grandson, Mohammed Shaybani, a brilliant warrior and poet who campaigned with a travelling library, eclipsed Timurid authority by seizing Khorezm, Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent by 1505. Tamerlane's great-great-great-grandson Babur fought back bravely until defeat, by Shaybani's relatives in 1512, sent him south to found the Mogul Empire in India.

Uzbek tribes seized much of central Asia, and Uzbekistan entered into a new era: that of the khanates. The khanates were regional kingdoms controlled by a khan, and the most powerful of these was the Khanate of Bukhara, ruled by the Shaybanid dynasty. A second khanate was established at Khiva, and a third in the Fergana Valley at Kokand.

Under Abdullah Khan, ruler of Bukhara from 1557 to 1598, the Shaybanid Uzbek dynasty, the last great empire of Transoxiana, reached its peak. A relative by marriage from Astrakhan succeeded him to form the Astrakhanid dynasty, while a Shaybanid branch ruled Khorezm from Khiva, following the demise of Urgench. During the 17th century, the Uzbek clans continued to settle into oasis life, merging with the earlier inhabitants, Turkic and Iranian (Tajik), until the name Uzbek was used for the whole population. The Turkmen and Karakalpaks to the east and the Kazakhs to the north retained the nomadic ways of stockbreeders.

The strength of Shi'ite Saffavids in Persia cut off Central Asia from the cultural and intellectual stimulus of the Sunni Islamic world. Declining caravan trade further isolated the region, for the Silk Road had succumbed to sea routes and robbers plagued merchants by land. The 17th and 18th centuries were a difficult period for Uzbekistan: Silk Road trade was in decline, and the strength of the Shi'ite Safavids in Iran had isolated central Asia from other Sunni territories in the Middle East. Bandits and slave traders plagued those caravans that did brave the steppe. In 1740 the Uzbeks had little answer to the artillery of Nadir Shah of Persia, who conquered all the major cities before leaving his protege to found the Mangit dynasty in Bukhara. The next occupation would not be so brief. Russian generals were starting to take a serious interest in tlie lands beyond their southern border.

When Peter the Great sent an expedition to Khiva in 1717, it was the first time Tsarist forces had officially set foot on Uzbek soil. They were slaughtered to a man, luil would certainly be back, first invited in as allies and protectors against rival khanates, and later as invading forces. Russian forces entered Tashkent (1865), Bukhara (1867) and Samarkand (1868); they all became Russian protectorates.

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
14316.06 UZS
100 USD
1260108.57 UZS
100 EUR
1374873.3 UZS
100 GBP
1635368.41 UZS
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