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Consumed by an arid and seemingly endless expanse of rolling sand dunes and yellow-grey desert, Uzbekistan is a land of sparse vegetation and arduous terrain. Nonetheless, it is far from ecologically sterile. Mountain ranges, low-lying hills, and a precious scattering of irrigated oases, lakes, and verdant river valleys support some of the world’s rarest wildlife, including white-clawed bears, golden eagles, lynxes, and snow leopards. For centuries, trekking between yurt camps – invariably aided by faithful horses and camels – has been the best way to experience the solitude and grandeur of the great Uzbek wilderness, now with further options for rafting, skiing, mountaineering, and rock climbing.Read more
The only Central Asian state to border all other Central Asian states, land-locked Uzbekistan borders Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. Throughout history, its location between ancient kingdoms and competing empires has made it a vital place of cultural and economic interchange. By the time the region was conquered by the Arabs in the 8th century, it had been an established trading post on the old Silk Road for centuries. The dawn of Islamic cultural fluorescence only enriched and empowered the region, and today, a string of ancient cities maintain a dazzling profusion of fine historical architecture. Uzbekistan’s ornate palaces, impenetrable forts and citadels, elegant mosques, minarets, and madrasahs all express the philosophical and aesthetic values of a civilisation at its height.
Ethnically, Uzbekistan traces its roots to Turkic-speaking Uzbek nomads, who conquered the region in the early 16th century and went on to dominate Central Asia entirely. Today, their descendants mix with an eclectic range of minorities including Russians, Tajiks, Kazaks, Tatars, and Karakalpaks. Traditional Uzbek culture – including classical Uzbek music, famed for its interludes of powerful Sufi poetry – remains strong in the remote countryside, a land still isolated and somewhat entrenched after decades of Soviet rule in the twentieth century.
Places of interest in Uzbekistan
Celebrated as the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia, the old Silk Road trading post of Bukhara...
Situated in the Khorezm oasis in the Kara-Kum desert, the town of Khiva is a sleepy place of muted sand stone colours...
Situated in a large oasis in the Zerafshan river valley, the ancient city of Samarkand is one of the world’s oldest...
Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan, an ancient Silk Road city that retains its role as a vital hub of commerce....