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20 Fascinating Facts About Uzbekistan

20 Fascinating Facts About Uzbekistan


1. Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Asia. A landlocked country is surrounded by land and does not have access to the open sea. Currently, there are 45 landlocked countries in the world and five partially recognized states.

2. Uzbekistan is also one of just two doubly landlocked countries, Liechtenstein being the second. A double landlocked country is surrounded only by landlocked countries and requires the crossing of at least two national borders to reach a coastline.

3. The country was at the heart of the historic Silk Road, the ancient trading route or “superhighway” that connected China with Europe and the Middle East.

4. Uzbekistan was occupied by Alexander the Great when he captured Samarkand in 329 BCE.

5. The historic city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Samarkand is known as a crossroad and melting pot of the world’s cultures, with a history of over 2,500 years going back to 1500 BC. Its most famous site is the Registan Mosque: a central square flanked by ornately tiled, mosaic-clad madrassas (historic Islamic schools).

Registan Mosque Uzbekistan

6. Uzbekistan’s Silk Road sites include four of the country’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Samarkand, Shakhrisyabz, Bukhara, and Itchan Kala. The fifth is the Tien-Shan mountains.

7. During the 7th and 8th centuries, Arabs conquered Uzbekistan and converted its population to Islam.

8. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Uzbekistan was conquered by Genghis Khan and was incorporated into the Mongol empire.

9. Uzbekistan was ruled by Russia for nearly 200 years, as part of the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, before gaining independence in 1991.

10. During its time as a republic of the USSR from 1924 to 1991, it was known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.

11. Uzbekistan is a combination of the Turkic words “uz” (self) and “bek” (master) and the Persian suffix “-stan” (country). This essentially translates as the “Land of the Free”.

12. Uzbekistan’s flag is striped blue, white, and green with red narrow margins between the stripes. Blue represents water; white is for peace and purity; green is for nature, fertility, and new life; red represents the life force essential to all humans. In the upper corner is a white crescent moon signifying the rebirth of an independent republic and 12 white stars for the months of the year.

Uzbekistan Flag

13. Authoritarian President Islam Karimov ruled the country from 1989 until his death in 2016.

14. In 1966, the capital city of Tashkent was flattened by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

15. Every year, around one million students, doctors, and government employees are forced to work in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields to pick cotton for the government.

16. Cotton in Uzbekistan is known as “white gold”. Cotton accounts for around 7% of the country’s exports.

Uzbekistan Cotton

17. The Aral Sea, located on the border of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, was once the world’s fourth-largest lake. Since the construction of a Soviet irrigation project in the 1960s, the lake has almost disappeared. It has been described as ‘one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters.

18. Uzbekistan is home to one of the world’s largest open-pit gold mines. The Muruntau Gold Mine in the Qizilqum Desert is the world’s largest open-pit gold mine and it has the second-highest level of annual production at 66 tonnes. The pit is around 3.35km by 2.5km and at least 560m deep.

19. Uzbekistan has the world’s 10th largest mine reserves of gold and is the world’s 12th largest gold producer. Gold accounts for around 44% of the country’s exports.

20. In Uzbekistan, at the end of a shared meal, it is common etiquette to run your hands over your face in the amin gesture to signify thanks.

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