About Uzbekistan

03 October 2017

The Uzbeks are a Central Asiatic people who speak a language belonging to the Chagatay branch of the Turkic language subfamily. They are a predominantly Turkic people, Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school, yet their ethnogenesis shows significant Persian and Turco-Mongol elements. The origin of the ethonym itself is in dispute. One view holds that the group name derives from Uzbek Khan (1282-1342), the last powerful ruler of the Golden Horde and responsible for its conversion to Islam, though the nomadic Uzbeks were never subject to him. Etymological argument states that the name means 'independent' or 'the man himself', from иг, self, and Bek or 'Beg', a noble title of leadership.

The process of the formation of the Uzbeks began in the 11th century and solidified in the 14th as a conglomeration of Turkic tribes. Their language, Chagatai or Old Uzbek, evolved at the same time. These nomads clashed with the Timurids, Ulug Beg and Babur, as they moved south from the Kazakh steppes to dominate Transoxiana in the 16th century. This Shaybanid Uzbek dynasty promoted the transition to sedentary life by merging with the earlier inhabitants in the 16th and 17th centuries, until the name Uzbek came to be used for the whole population.

By the early 20th century, the Uzbeks were yet to be consolidated into a nation. First and foremost an Uzbek was (and remains) a Muslim, while his next point of reference was his home town. The tsarist administration generalized the settled inhabitants of Turkestan as Sarts, or 'traders', a word of Sanskrit origin, to distinguish them from nomads. The Uzbeks comprised three major ethnic layers. The first was the urban population, oasis-dwelling Uzbeks intermingled with the original Persian (Tajik) inhabitants of Central Asia. The second and third layers were the semi-nomadic descendants of the pre-Shaybanid Turco-Mongol tribes and the Shaybanid Uzbek tribes. The latter two groups still preserve some tribal identity, such as the Kipchaks, Karluks, Mangit and Kungrat, ethnic groupings shared by other Turkic nations.

Soviet delimitation, "negative ethnic gerrymandering" in the words of American expert Edward Allworth, gave the Uzbeks the heart of Central Asia, less than the original Uzbek domains, but encompassing the historic power centres. Soviet historiography encouraged an anachronistic Uzbek nationalism, once firmly within the Russian fraternal embrace, but which has since taken on a life of its own. The belief that the glories of Transoxiana are an exclusive part of the Uzbek heritage, plus the Uzbeks' numerical superiority, leaves neighbouring republics wary of 'great Uzbek chauvinism'. At over 30 million strong, the Uzbeks are the third-largest nationality in the former Soviet Union, with substantial minorities in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Up to two million Uzbeks inhabit northern Afghanistan, with another 15,000 in northwest China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

Uzbek dance

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People of Central Asia

Across this region, for some two thousand years, the Silk Road had nourished caravan-towns - Samarkand, Bukhara, Margilan -whose populace had spoken an Iranian tongue. The Uzbeks were latecomers, migrating south at the end of the fifteenth century. They took their name from a khan of the Golden Horde, for their origins were Turkic, but already their blood was mixed with Iranians', and they added only the last layer to a palimpsest of peoples identifying themselves less by nation than by clan.

03 October 2017

White felt ak-kalpak, the yurt-like headgear of the Kyrgyz, symbolize a proud nation of mountain nomads. One translation of their name is 'indestructible', for about 93 per cent of Kyrgyzstan's territory comprises the lofty mountains of the Tian Shan and Altai ranges. The Kyrgyz know them as the Wings of the Earth', a remote refuge from countless invasions.

03 October 2017

Like the Uzbeks, the Kazakhs have a complex ethnic history stretching back to various nomadic tribes breeding livestock on the steppes of Turkestan long before the Mongols of Genghis Khan. A popular explanation derives the ethonym, first used in the 16th century, from kaz (goose) and ak (white), after the legend of a white steppe goose that turned into a princess who birthed the first Kazakh. 

03 October 2017
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
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13743.53 UZS
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