Uzbekistan's early inhabitants were nomadic people who migrated from the north to Central Asia by the first century BC. Situated along the Silk Road, the region was frequented by people from many cultures from Asia and Europe, and became an important trade center.
The region was conquered by various empires, including Macedonia in 327 BC, the Parthian empire, the Sassanid Empire, and several others. The arrival of the Arabs in the 8th century brought some of the most notable changes to the region, centered in the province of Transoxiana. The Arabs brought the religion of Islam, quickly converting the people and also bringing major cultural changes.
Genghis Khan led the Mongols to conquer the region of modern-day Uzbekistan in the 13th century, and many Iranians were forced out. After Khan's death, the territory was divided, and by the 14th century the former Transoxiana became ruled by Timur. Timur was a strong leader, and under his rule the region flourished and expanded. After his death, the Uzbek people invaded Transoxiana around 1501 and ruled Central Asia as the Khanates of Bukhoro and Khorazm, and later the Emirate of Bukhoro, and the Khiva and Kokand Khanates.
Russia conquered these khanates and much of the neighboring regions by the 19th century, and these regions soon joined the Soviet Union as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became independent in 1991.
Uzbekistan shares borders with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia, and is not only landlocked, but it is one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world. Uzbekistan does, however, have a border along the Aral Sea.
The terrain of Uzbekistan is largely flat deserts, with the eastern mountain ranges, and a fertile valley region. The Qizilqum Desert stretches across much of northern Uzbekistan with lowlands, near the Fergana Valley, with plains covering much of the land. Through the valley flows the Syr Darya, which empties into the northern Aral Sea. The other important rivers are the Amu Darya and Zarafshan. The Tian Shan mountains traverse southeastern Uzbekistan and the highest point in the country is at Adelunga Toghi, which is 4,301 meters (14,111 feet) above sea level.
Points of Interest
Uzbekistan has many sites of interest in its cities, including many mosques, like Masjid-i Juma, the Neighborhood Mosque, and the Namazgah Mosque. There are also markets with domed architecture, where visitors can find local handicrafts like the traditional caps and figurines. Other points of interest are the bathhouses that were constructed in the 16th century and still in use, and memorials dating back to the 14th century and the rule of Timur.
In terms of outdoor recreation, Uzbekistan is home to Ugam-Chatkal National Park in the Tian Shan mountains, which is a habitat to many native species like bears, wolves, foxes, and many others. There are also several ecological reserves, including Jeyran Eco Center, home to endangered jeyran, the native gazelles. Outdoor adventures include hiking, skiing, and camel rides to overnight camps in yurts near the lakes.
The main airport in Uzbekistan is Tashkent International, while several other airports in the country, in the cities of Andijan, Bukhara, Namangan, and Samarkand. There are also domestic flights available between these cities. Another way of getting into Uzbekistan is via train, with service from Russia and Ukraine. Trains are a good way of getting around Uzbekistan, with frequent and comfortable service at good prices. The main railway travels between Tashkent to Samarkand and Bukhara. Many of the trips are offered as overnight trains.
There are roadways into Uzbekistan from surrounding Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, but entry points are limited and sometimes closed for security reasons, and the roads can be dangerous. Taxis and buses are sometimes available to cross into Uzbekistan. Within the country, there are many shared taxis, though the roads can be quite dangerous and may not even be available in some areas, in which the cars will go off-road. Bus, for this reason, may not be the best choice for long distances, but are fine within the cities. There are also metro trains and taxis in the cities.
Last Updated Date: February 22, 2020