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Uzbekistan - A Nation between Desert and Mountains

Steppes and deserts framed by rugged mountains characterise Uzbekistan's landscapes. The Uzbek culture developed in the midst of this harsh environment. It is full of oriental influences, which originate from the country's rich past as a part of the Silk Road.

City Samarkand in Uzbekistan

Geography - Surrounded exclusively by inland countries

Uzbekistan is a Central Asian inland country, which is surrounded exclusively by other inland countries (like no other country on earth apart from Liechtenstein). Kazakhstan shares the Aral Sea with Uzbekistan. The agricultural use of its tributaries Amu Darya and Syr Darya caused the sea to dry out, so that it has fallen into separate smaller bodies of water. The country has hot, dry summers and cold, inhospitable winters. It is crossed by the Turkestan Range and the foothills of the Tian Shan.

Mountainous landscape in Uzbekistan

Nature - Barren, harsh rocks and fertile forests

Uzbekistan is mostly covered in dry, barren deserts and steppes. These harsh landscapes stretch for miles. While grasses and undemanding shrubs grow in some regions, the landscape in other areas is dominated by red and yellow sand which is hardly vegetated. The milder regions are home to urials, the markhor goat and gazelles. In the pure desert areas, life mainly happens in the air or on the ground. At the horizon you see the rugged, harsh rocks of the mountains protruding from the ground. In the east of the country you find fertile areas. The country's few forests are populated by lynxes, bears and wolves.

Markhor goat in Uzbekistan

Natural sights - Diverse natural regions

Travellers can experience the typical desert landscape in the Kyzyl Kum Desert, for example. The Chatkal National Park is also worth a visit because it displays the diversity of the country's breathtaking, unspoiled mountain world. The Chimgon region, surrounding the mountain of the same name, constitutes a classic recreational area, which offers great conditions for winter sports and invites visitors to hike and relax outdoors in summer and winter. You find Uzbekistan's green side in the Fergana Valley, where you can watch how silk is produced traditionally. The Nuratau Mountains are a first rate destination for ecotourism. You can get to know the population's native rural life in this landscape.

River in the mountains in Uzbekistan

Culture - Uzbek traditions

Over 100 different peoples and ethnic groups live in Uzbekistan. In former times, many loose tribes populated the territory, which were annexed by Genghis Khan. When the caravan trade along the Silk Road flourished in the 16th and 17th century, the area of the present-day Uzbekistan also underwent an economic and cultural boom. In the 19th century the Russian Empire won control over Central Asia, including Uzbekistan. Later on, the country was part of the Soviet Union. When it broke down, Uzbekistan gained independence. The country is still greatly influenced by the Islam, a religious tradition which began in the 8th century. In addition, several Uzbek cities are former provinces of the powerful Persian Empire. The impact of that rich culture characterises the country to the present day, which is apparent from the Uzbek tradition and numerous buildings.

People in Uzbekistan

Cultural sights - Magnificent buildings

Magnificent buildings emerged in the cities along the legendary Silk Road in the past. Especially the significant Persian provinces Buxoro and Samarkand accommodate numerous testimonies of this glorious era such as the ostentatious mosques and mosaics, minarets and tombs. Travellers gain a fascinating insight into the traditional oriental-Islamic world in the middle of a harsh desert landscape in the city Khiva. It is enclosed by an impressive, mighty town wall. The capital Tashkent also holds worthwhile historical sites: the historical old town with its traditional mud-brick houses and the winding alleys as well as the Islamic school Kukeldash madressa, which was built in the 16th century. Tashkent's modern side is shown in its television tower, which measures 375 metres and is the highest television tower in Central Asia.

Capital Tashkent in Uzbekistan

Experience - Tasting pilaf and green tea

Just like the culture, the country's cuisine is constituted of many tessellated influences. Soups are particularly typical of the country. In addition, the Uzbek inhabitants love eating a dish consisting of rice, carrots and meat, the so-called pilaf, and different types of shashlik. Characteristic is also green tea, which the people drink in tea houses. The Orient is alive on Uzbekistan's bazaars. They smell of exotic spices, people haggle and salespeople advertise their goods noisily. On these bazaars you can get local products like carpets, bags, ceramic ware or traditional clothing, with the tubeteika (the scull cap) as the most famous example. Visits to the theatre are particularly popular in Uzbekistan, which are possible in Tashkent and the other big cities. Furthermore, the capital has many clubs and discos for going out.

Pilaf dish in Uzbekistan

Activities - Trekking tours through Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's vast landscapes are ideally suited for experiencing adventures in unspoiled nature. Many operators offer trekking tours, on which visitors take part in the inhabitants' traditional way of living. You can explore Uzbekistan on foot, on horseback, by mountain bike or by motorcycle. The mountains accommodate demanding courses for cross-country skiing and climbing.

Sporting activities in Uzbekistan

Information

There are several international airports in the country with Tashkent (TAS) as the most important one. You can travel from town to town or to the neighbouring countries by train. Buses also run between the cities. The official language is Uzbek but Russian is also commonly spoken.

Uzbekistan is the right destination for travellers who want to get to know the special oriental-eastern European culture with its rich testimonies. In addition, the country offers ideal conditions for those who are looking for an adventure in the wild, harsh nature off the usual tourist paths.

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Information

Flag of Uzbekistan
Region:
Asia
Size:
447,400 km²
Population:
30,183,400
Capital:
Tashkent
Timezone:
UTC+5
Currency:
Uzbekistan som (UZS)
Languages:
Uzbek