Top events in Uzbekistan

May
09

On the 9th of May Uzbekistan observes Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers. It is a day of great pride and sadness where nearly all residents of...

June
01

A traditional festival, or get together, celebrating local music held annually on the first weekend of June in the Chimgan mountains. Musicians...

June
01

An annual three-day event that celebrates the city's historical and cultural heritage, distinctive crafts and traditions – making it also a...

Uzbekistan
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Uzbekistan

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Uzbekistan Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

447,400 sq km (172,742 sq miles).

Population

28.7 million (2013).

Population density

64.1 per sq km.

Capital

Tashkent.

Government

Republic. Declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Head of state

President Islam Karimov since 1991.

Head of government

Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev since 2003.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin continental plugs and Australian-style flat, angled three-pin plugs are used.

Uzbekistan is a land scattered with some of the finest architectural jewels amongst the Silk Road countries and has attracted some of the world’s greatest travellers, and conquerors. From the West came Alexander the Great, from the East came Tamerlane and Genghis Khan. While the country is young, having gained independence in 1991 after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the roots of Uzbekistan are ancient.

The historic town of Samarkand, a major Silk Road crossroad and emporium, which was founded in 7BC as ancient Afrasiab, is regarded by many as the ‘Jewel of Islam’ and ‘the Pearl of the East’. Today it still boasts sparkling turquoise domes and towering minarets rich with intricate Islamic tile work, as well as many well preserved madrassas (Islamic schools) from the time when Central Asia was a centre of empire and learning.

Good examples of this architecture can be found all over Uzbekistan. The ancient walled city of Khiva, the most preserved and remote of the Silk Road cities, is a living ‘museum city’ where a vast collection of Islamic architecture remains frozen in time (although zealously restored) within its bastioned city walls. Here, tourists and wedding parties can often outnumber locals, all drawn by its photogenic setting.

Bukhara is probably the best of the ‘big three’. It has not been as rigorously restored as Khiva and the winding narrow streets of the old town in Bukhara city (where there is said to be a mosque for each day of the year) retain plenty of romance. Travel writers and historians all agree that Bukhara – the ‘Pillar of Religion’ and the ‘Dome of Islam’ – is one of the most interesting cities in the world. It is a place of mullahs and merchants which, fortunately, was not as sovietised as Samarkand, and therefore avoided the concrete grey tower blocks and monoliths which blight Samarkand’s cityscape. While the Soviets did sanitise and secularise Bukhara to some degree, by draining canals and converting mosques to offices, it has always managed to retain its eastern ambience.

The Ferghana Valley, which is surrounded by the Tien Shan and Pamir mountains is the country's most fertile region and still produces silk. It is well worth visiting for its friendly bazaars and the landscape of mulberry trees and fruit orchards. Around 80% of the country is flat desert, but the mountain ranges that rise in the far southeast and northeast attract hikers, cyclists and backcountry skiers, while experienced mountaineers come to climb the 4,000m (13,000ft) peaks around the Tien Shan.

Uzbekistan’s landscape is also home to one of the world’s worst ever natural disasters, the Aral Sea (a lake whose name refers to the thousands of islands that once spread across it). Once the world’s fourth-largest lake, it is now completely depleted after Soviet planners used the sea’s resources to irrigate cotton fields. This resulted in a destroyed ecology, climate and fishing industry. The resulting salt and dust sandstorms continue to blight the health of tens of thousands of people. Despite this disaster, and various other threats – namely a hardline government, corrupt officials and Islamic militants – the people of Uzbekistan remain genuinely hospitable to visitors, in itself, a prime attraction.

 

 

Travel Advice

Last updated: 27 April 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

There have been occasional incidents of mugging and petty crime against foreigners. Policemen, or sometimes those pretending to be policemen, may seek to impose an on-the-spot fine. If you are any doubt you should ask for an ID or pay any fines at the nearest police station. Keep valuables out of sight and avoid unlit or remote areas. Avoid obvious displays of wealth, especially in rural areas. Avoid walking alone at night.

There have been reports of raids on local establishments, including restaurants. The perpetrators do not identify themselves and bear no visible means of identification. Foreigners have not been targeted, but the use of violence against restaurant guests and staff has been reported. If you are inadvertently caught up in a situation like this, keep calm, follow any instructions given and leave the area as soon as permitted and safe to do so.

Dual Nationality

Dual nationality is not recognised in Uzbekistan. If you enter Uzbekistan on an Uzbek passport and also hold British nationality the British Embassy can only provide very limited consular assistance. In cases of arrest or detention consular access is unlikely to be granted.

Local travel

Land borders between Uzbekistan and neighbouring states, particularly Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are often closed at short notice. Check in advance which border posts are open.

You should take care in areas bordering Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Uzbekistan’s borders are potential flashpoints and there is a risk that uncontrolled border areas may be land-mined.

Tensions exist over recognition of the Uzbek/Kyrgyz border. There have been a number of security incidents in this region including several gunfire exchanges. Security incidents have also been reported along the Uzbek/Tajik border.

Road travel

If you drive in Uzbekistan, make sure you have all registration papers, including motor insurance. You must carry your UK Driving Licence or an International Driving Permit at all times.

Take care as many roads are poorly-surfaced and badly-lit.

Driving is on the right in Uzbekistan. Vehicles approaching a roundabout have the right of way over vehicles already on the roundabout.

Seatbelts for drivers and passengers are compulsory and the use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited.

There are security checkpoints at the city limits of Tashkent and other towns.

A new regulation has been introduced allowing only licensed taxis (with certain colour and signs and card payment equipment) to operate in Uzbekistan. However, unlicensed taxis continue to operate. You should use official taxis where possible.

Many buses and taxis in Uzbekistan run on Compressed Natural Gas and safety regulations are often not followed. Where possible you should opt for modern vehicles when travelling by bus or taxi.

Rail travel

Take care when travelling long distances by train. If you have to travel overnight, keep valuables in a safe place. Don’t leave your belongings in the compartment unattended. Lock the door from the inside. You will need to present your passport with valid visa when booking train tickets.

Air travel

Uzbekistan Airways operate regular services to a number of European destinations. Uzbekistan is also served by Turkish Airlines.

We can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

In 2008 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Uzbekistan.

A list of incidents and accidents in Uzbekistan can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety Network.

Political situation

The political situation in Uzbekistan is stable.

You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.

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