Uzbekistan is a double landlocked country in Asia – it requires the crossing of at least two national borders to reach a coastline!
It’s capital, Tashkent, has a multi-ethnic population, with the majority ethnic Uzbeks. In this fact file, we’ve prepared 54 interesting facts about Uzbekistan, a country at the crossroads of the world’s cultures, that’ll give you an insight into its past and present…
In 329 B.C, Alexander the Great occupied Uzbekistan by seizing Samarkand.
With a history of over 2,500 years, the historic city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Samarkand is known as the crossroad and centre of the world’s cultures.
The Registan Mosque, a central square lined by ornately tiled, mosaic-clad madrassas is ancient’s Samarkand’s most famous site.
Uzbekistan’s Silk Road sites include Samarkand, Shakhrisyabz, Bukhara, and Itchan Kala.
Arabs occupied Uzbekistan and converted its population to Islam during the 7th and 8th Centuries.
Flag of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan was seized by Genghis Khan and was incorporated into the Mongol empire, during the 13th and 14th Century.
For nearly 200 years, Uzbekistan was ruled by Russia, as part of the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union.
Uzbekistan gained its independence on the 31st of August, 1991.
September 1st is Uzbekistan’s national holiday, when the country’s independence is celebrated.
Uzbekistan was known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, during its time as a republic of the USSR from 1924 to 1991.
The name Uzbekistan is a mixture of the Turkic words “uz” (self) and “bek” (master) and the Persian suffix “-stan” (country), meaning the “Land of the Free”.
Islam Karimov, the authoritarian President ruled the country from 1989 until he died in 2016.
History fans will be intrigued to learn that in 2002, archaeologists discovered a series of ancient pyramids in a remote part of Uzbekistan, believed to be 2,700 years old!
In 1966 Tashkent was hit by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
Tashkent Mosque, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia.
It is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Kyrgyzstan to the northeast, Tajikistan to the southeast, Afghanistan to the south and Turkmenistan to the southwest.
Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world to be ‘double landlocked’ (landlocked and totally surrounded by other landlocked countries). Liechtenstein is double landlocked by 2 countries whilst Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5!
The coordinates for Uzbekistan are 41.0000° N, 69.0000°
The terrain here is varied throughout the nation. In the west there are lowlands and flat plateau, with one of the world’s largest deserts in the centre and high mountains and semiarid grasslands in the east.
The lowest point in Uzbekistan is actually 39 feet below sea level, whilst the highest point – the Hissar ridge – is 15,233 feet above sea level!
The total land area of Uzbekistan is 172,742 square miles (447,400 square kilometres).
The Aral Sea, lying on the border of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, was once the world’s fourth-largest lake, but since the construction of a Soviet irrigation project in the 1960s, the lake has almost disappeared.
Uzbekistan’s population was 32.96 million in 2018.
It’s the most populated country in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan’s population is equal to 0.43% of the entire world population and ranks number 42 in the list of countries.
The capital city is Tashkent; it covers an area of 129.2 square miles (334.8 square kilometres) and has a population of 2.393 million (2016).
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) data from 2018, life expectancy in Uzbekistan is 69.7 years for males and 75 for females.
The residents of Uzbekistan enjoy long hot summers and mild winters, so don’t forget to pack your shorts!
The official language of Uzbekistan is Uzbek, whilst Russian and Tajik are also spoken here. ‘Bu murakkab til!’ (‘It’s a hard language!’).
Uzbekistan is home to the Muruntangold mine, one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world!
Apparently, in Uzbekistan it is only acceptable for a handshake to take place between two men! When greeting a woman, a man must bow with his hand over his heart.
You’ll need to exchange your holiday money into the Uzbekistani Sum if you want to sample a bottle or two of wine from one of Uzbekistan’s 14 wineries!
Each year, about 1,000 000 students, doctors, and government employees are forced to work in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields to pick cotton for the government.
Cotton accounts for around 7% of the country’s exports, and in Uzbekistan, it’s referred to as “white gold”.
Uzbekistan is the world’s 5th largest cotton exporter and the 7th largest producer.
The Muruntau gold deposit in Uzbekistan is the world’s largest gold mine by area. The mine is around 3.35km by 2.5km and at least 560m deep.
The country has the world’s 10th largest mine supply of gold and is the world’s 12th largest gold producer.
Uzbekistan’s gold accounts for around 44% of the country’s exports.
Uzbekistan grows vegetables, fruits, cotton and grain and rears livestock.
Its industry consists of food processing, textiles, metallurgy, machine building and natural gas.
Uzbekistan also exports energy products, ferrous metals and mineral fertilisers.
An elderly Uzbek man
At the end of a meal in Uzbekistan, it is common to run your hands over your face in the Amin gesture to show thanks.
There is a formal protocol for pouring tea in Uzbekistan. First, it’s tradition to rinse out a small tea bowl with a drop of hot tea, then return a bowlful to the pot three times before the tea is finally suitable for drinking.
The flag of Uzbekistan is striped blue, white, and green with red narrow margins between the stripes. Blue signifies water, white-peace and purity, green-nature, fertility, and new life, red-the life force vital to all humans. The white crescent moon represents the rebirth of an independent republic and for each month of the year, there are 12 white stars.
Uzbekistan excelled at the boxing medal table, winning 3 gold and 2 silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Plov is a national Uzbekistan dish. This Central Asian pilaf contains rice and fried vegetables usually served for lunch.
It’s said that Uzbekistan has the best melons and watermelons in the world.
Uzbekistan’s uranium reserves are ranked 7th in the world after Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Canada, South Africa, and Ukraine, and the 3rd in the world in its export, after Kazakhstan and Australia.
Uzbekistan is among the top 10 countries in the world on reserves and production of copper and tungsten.
Even today arranged marriages are quite common in Uzbekistan.
The Uzbeks believe that turning bread upside-down brings bad fortune because they honour the bread.
In Fergana, Tashkent, Bukhara, Khorezm, and Samarkand regions, early human tools and monuments have been found.
One of the few cities in the world where you can see the starry night sky, possibly because of low gas content, is Tashkent.
The 11th tallest tower in the world and the tallest TV tower in Central Asia is the Tashkent TV tower.
Do you know any fun or interesting facts about Uzbekistan that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!