World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Asia

Uzbekistan Travelling Guide
Uzbekistan Travelling Guide

General background: Russia conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic set up in 1924. During the Soviet era, intensive production of "white gold" (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves. Current concerns include insurgency by Islamic militants based in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, a nonconvertible currency, and the curtailment of human rights and democratization.

Area comparative: Slightly larger than California.

Climate: Mostly midlatitude desert, long, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid grassland in east.

Terrain: Mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Syr Darya (Sirdaryo), and Zarafshon; Fergana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west.

Population: 25,563,441 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)

Religions: Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%

Language: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%

Government type: Republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch.

Capital: Tashkent (Toshkent)

Legal system: Evolution of Soviet civil law; still lacks independent judicial system.

Economic overview: Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country of which 11% consists of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. More than 60% of its population lives in densely populated rural communities. Uzbekistan is now the world's second largest cotton exporter, a large producer of gold and oil, and a regionally significant producer of chemicals and machinery. Following independence in December 1991, the government sought to prop up its Soviet-style command economy with subsidies and tight controls on production and prices. The state continues to be a dominating influence in the economy and has so far failed to bring about much-needed structural changes. The IMF suspended Uzbekistan's $185 million standby arrangement in late 1996 because of governmental steps that made impossible fulfilment of Fund conditions. Uzbekistan has responded to the negative external conditions generated by the Asian and Russian financial crises by emphasizing import substitute industrialization and by tightening export and currency controls within its already largely closed economy. Economic policies that have repelled foreign investment are a major factor in the economy's stagnation. A growing debt burden, persistent inflation, and a poor business climate led to disappointing growth in 2001. However, in December 2001 the government voiced a renewed interest in economic reform, seeking advice from the IMF and other financial institutions.

Communication/Telephone system: Antiquated and inadequate; in serious need of modernization.

Places of interest:

Travel tips: Travel tends to be an endless series of petty bureaucratic irritations and official hassles. Uzbekistan's government likes its foreign visitors in pre-programmed, obedient groups; independent travelers can expect to be on the receiving end of unwelcome official attention.