Country Overview : Uzbekistan is bordered by Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The south and east are dominated by the Tien-Shan and Pamir-Alai mountain ranges and the Kyzyl Kum Desert lies to the northeast. The capital, Tashkent, lies in the valley of the River Chirchik. A massive earthquake in 1966 flattened much of the old city. The new buildings are of little architectural interest. Samarkand, founded over 5000 years ago, flourished until the 16th century. The centre of the historical town is the Registan Square, where three huge Islamic seminaries - including Shir-Dor and Tillya-Kari - built between the 15th and 17th centuries dominate the area. Bukhara lies west of Samarkand and was once a centre of learning renowned throughout the Islamic world. There are more than 350 mosques and 100 religious colleges. The centre of historical Bukhara is the Shakristan, which contains the Ark, or palace complex of the Emirs. Plov is the staple food and consists of chunks of mutton, shredded yellow turnip and rice fried in a large wok. Tashkent has a variety of theatres which show everything from European operas to traditional Uzbek dancing and music.

447,400 sq km (172,740 sq miles).

Pouplation :
25,070,000 (2001)., Population Density : 56 per sq km.

Tashkent. Population: 2,142,700 (1999).

Uzbekistan is bordered by Afghanistan to the south, Turkmenistan to the west, Kazakhstan to the north, Kyrgyzstan to the northeast and Tajikistan to the east and has a colourful and varied countryside. The south and east are dominated by the Tien-Shan and Pamir-Alai mountain ranges and the Kyzyl Kum Desert lies to the northeast. The northwestern autonomous region of Karakalpakstan is bordered by the Aral Sea and the sparsely populated Ustyurt Plateau with its vast cotton fields.

Republic. Declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Head of State: President Islam Karimov since 1991. Head of Government: Prime Minister Otkir Sultanov since 1995.

The official language is Uzbek, a Turkic tongue closely related to Kazakh and Kyrgyz. There is a small Russian-speaking minority. Many people involved with tourism speak English. The Government has stated its intention to change the Cyrillic script to the Latin.

Predominantly Sunni Muslim, with Shia (15 per cent), Russian Orthodox and Jewish minorities.

Time :
GMT + 5.
Electricity : 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin continental plugs are standard.

Telephone :
Country code: 998. Area code for Tashkent: 71. IDD is available, but calls from hotel rooms still need to be booked either from reception or from the floor attendant. International calls can also be made from main post offices (in Tashkent on Prospekt Navoi). Direct-dial calls within the CIS are obtained by dialling 8 and waiting for another dial tone and then dialling the city code. Calls within the city limits are free of charge.

Mobile telephone :
GSM 900 network. Operators include Butzel (website : http:/www.buztel.com), Coscom (website : http://www.coscom.uz), Daewoo, Unitel, Uzdunrobita (website : http://www.uzdunrobita.uz) and Uzmacom (website : http://www.uzmacom.uz). Coverage is limited to certain areas around Tashkent.

Fax :
Services are available from major hotels for residents only.

Internet :
ISPs include Eastlink (website: http://www.eastlink.com). Internet cafes exist in Tashkent.

Telegram : Services are available from post offices in large towns.

Post : Letters to Western Europe and the USA can take between 2 weeks and 2 months. Stamped envelopes can be bought from post offices. Addresses should be laid out in the following order: country, postcode, city, street, house number and lastly the personís name. Post office hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1800. The Main Post Office in Tashkent (see above) is open until 1900. Visitors can also use the post offices situated in the major hotels. There are a number of international courier services based in Tashkent.

Press : There are no independent daily newspapers in Uzbekistan. The main editions are published in Tashkent and include Molodiozh Uzbekistana and Pravda Vostoka (both published in Russian); and Khalk suzi and Narodnoye Slovo (in Russian and Uzbek).

Radio :
BBC World Service (website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice) and Voice of America (website : http://www.voa.gov) can be received. From time to time the frequencies change and the most up-to-date can be found online.

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Information provided by Uzbekistan Tourism Board.


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