Official Name : Republic of Uzbekistan
Capital : Tashkent
Currency : Sum (UKS)
Language : Uzbek
Population : 29.000.000
Visa Required : YES
Of course, when we think of Uzbekistan we think of the world famous “Silk Road” cities like Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand that produce exotic images of long camels caravans that plod through the desert with Eastern spices on board. In addition, cit Central Asian country always invokes images of golden domes covered in a beautiful layer of blue tiles and medressas - Koranic schools. Do not expect beautiful high mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and wild animals - Uzbekistan is largely flat, dry and consists of many deserts (especially in the west). The country of Uzbekistan, the heart of Central Asia, lived just like all its “stan-country”-neighbors under the rule of Moscow until it finally became independent in 1991. Russia used the land mainly for cotton construction, which resulted in a half empty "Aral" and heavily polluted soil. Uzbekistan is currently trying to survive by using its petroleum reserves. The country, which mainly consists of desert, is currently struggling with itself and there is great dissatisfaction with the incumbent government that rules hard and ethnic tension, especially in the fertile "Fergana" valley where most inhabitants live. For that reason, tourism is not really a reliable source of income. The economic situation in the country is generally rather poor while the soil is rich in raw materials. Unlike other Central Asian countries, the population is growing, there is relatively more agriculture and people are less nomadic than in neighboring Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, for example.
First I entered the country in the "busy" Fergana valley where you are instantly overwhelmed by the people who are much more curious than in the neighboring country and by the more Turkish (Middle East) influences. From the "green" valley I traveled to the capital "Tashkent" which offers little tourist attractions. "Samarkand" is the biggest attraction in the country if you ask me. It struck me immediately that the local population and the tourists are (deliberately) kept separate which is a shame. The "Registan", one of the biggest attractions of the whole region, is beautiful and unique. Mosques, medressas, mausoleums and mudbrick houses - a dizzying experience that you will not soon forget. Not for nothing is this all on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It gets a little drier, hotter and more intense when you drive to the second big Silk-Route city "Bukhara". Here a beautiful nice and romantic square next to a pond where you can relax in the hot hours. In the morning you can view the "Ark" (the fortress) of the city, the beautiful minarret and also very old mosques and other buildings next to the many bazaars that are located here. "Khiva" is really already in the desert and it was here that thousands of slaves were traded in the past. This walled city is a museum in itself - nice streets, high walls and especially in the evening you can only walk through narrow streets, alleys and squares and imagine yourself in "1001" night dreams. When someone asks what I think of Uzbekistan, I always say the same thing; the most beautiful tourist attractions despite their terrible "over the top" renovation work. What I missed was the warmth of the locals. You have to search them because it seems the worlds of tourist and locals are kept apart which is a shame because this should be part of the reason you’re travelling tot his part of the world.
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