Uzbekistan

About Uzbekistan

The jewel in the crown of Central Asia, Uzbekistan literally translated as “the land of Uzbeks” is located roughly between two  big rivers and the main sources of water of  Central Asia, Amudaryo (better known by its Greek name Oxus in the West) and  Syrdaryo (  Jaxartes).Throughout the centuries this region has been known by different names like TransOxiana, Movoronahr (the land beyond the river) and Turkestan (the land of Turks).

 

 Owing to its favorable location right in the center of  Central  Asia, bordering all other former Soviet Union “Stans”- Kazakhstan to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east and southeast, Turkmenistan to the southwest, as well as Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan played one of the most important roles in shaping the history and culture of this region. The cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva served as major stopovers and main centers of trade and enlightenment on the crossroads of the Great Silk Road that linked the civilizations of the East and the West. Wide tree-lined streets, old and Soviet style buildings and huge parks of Tashkent, Blue domed  mosques and madrassas of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva adorned with mosaic and majolica tilework never seizes to be amazed at.

Quick Uzbekistan facts

Area

447, 800.sq km (roughly the size of Sweden or the state of California).

Capital

Tashkent

Time:

GMT + 5:00.

Country Code:

+998.

Languages:

Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, Karakalpak.

Currency SUM (UZS)

 US$1 = 3360 sum (March,2017).                                

Population

31 million (52.4 people per square kilometer), (the most populous in Central Asia, more than 60 %).

Phrases

Hello (assalomu aleykum); Thank you (rakhmat), good bye ( khayr).

Ethnic Groups:

80% Uzbek, 5% Tajik, 5% Russian and 7% others.

The route took its name from silk, the commodity most in demand in Europe from China during the Roman period.
 

 the region's cradle of culture for more than two millennia, its abundance of history and impressive sights has attracted travellers for all time.. The former Soviet republic is home to medieval cities, mosques, minarets and medressas, and some of the heartiest cuisine  (thick  stews, dumplings and breads). Its capital city Tashkent, the largest city in Central Asia with a population of over 2 million, is a mix of Russian and Uzbek style, an indication of the fact that for many years it was a key city of the USSR. Extravagant mosques, both ancient and new, sit alongside modern highways and Soviet monuments. The metro station in the capital is bedazzled with marble pillars and chandeliers, rightly deserving of its title as one of the world’s most beautiful train

Location and geography.
The Republic of Uzbekistan the ‘land of the Uzbeks' lies in the heart of Asia, between the two major rivers of Central Asia, the Syr Darya (Jaxartes) and the Amu Darya (Oxus), in the territory known since ancient times as Bactria, Maverannahr ( the land beyond the river), and later on as Turkestan.
Administratively the republic consists of the republic of Karakalpakistan (Capital - Nukus town territory - 166,59 thousand sq.km. Population - 1551, 9 thousand people) and 12 regions (Andijan, Bukhara, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, Navoi, Namangan, Samarkand, Surkhandarya, Sirdarya, Tashkent, Ferghana, Khorezm).
Uzbekistan's blend of desert, steppe, oases and river valleys places it at the heart of the complex interaction of nomadic culture and oasis settlement that patterns the history of Central Asia. Most of the territory of Uzbekistan is occupied by plains (near four fifth of the territory). One of the main is the Turanian plain (lowland). There is one of the largest deserts of the world - the Kizilkum desert on the north of central part of the territory of Uzbekistan. In the east and northeast of the country are situated spurs of Tien - Shan and the Pamirs, here is the highest spot of the country (4 643 м).

Climate.
Uzbekistan is a dry country aptly termed ‘the sunny republic', as every year brings over 300 days of sunshine and 300 millimeters (12 inches) of rainfall. The climate is classified as continental, with hot summers and cool winters. Summer temperatures often surpass 40 degrees above zero; winter temperatures average about minus 23 degrees, but may fall as low as low as minus 40.

History.
Rich archaeological remains in the area preserve an intriguing mix of Hellenistic, Buddhist and Scythian influences in the laconic desert castles of Khorezm and Bactria and trace a development to the rich Sogdian palaces and wall paintings of Varakhsha and Afrosiyab. But it was the arrival of Islam in the eighth century and its alien synthesis of styles that transformed the face of Central Asia as much as its soul.
The most powerful Kushan Empire and the kingdom of Seleucids, the Parthian Kingdom and the kingdom of Kwarazm, the state of Samanids and Tamerlane, the Bukhara Emirate, Khiva and Kokand Khanates once flourished in this region. The cities of Samarkand and Bukhara served as major centers of trade and enlightenment on the crossroads of the Great Silk Road linking the civilizations of the East and the West. The route took its name from silk, the commodity most in demand in Europe from China during the Roman period.

Economy.
In addition to beautiful landscapes and great history, Uzbekistan is also the world's fourth - largest cotton nation, world's seventh - largest gold producer and harbors significant reserves of oil and natural gas, as well as uranium, silver, copper, zinc, coal and lead. Other mainstays of Uzbek economy include fruit and vegetables, animal husbandry and textiles, but it is the republic's mineral wealth that most excites foreign investors.

The political system.
The political system of Uzbekistan is based on its Constitution in accordance to which the highest legislative body is a bicameral parliament - Senate and Oliy Madjlis (Supreme Council).The President who heads both the State and the Government is elected for seven years by universal suffrage through direct ballot.
 

Distance between cities of Uzbekistan.

 

 

Tash.

And.

Bukh.

Gul.

Djiz.

Karshi

Navoi

Nam.

Nukus

Sam.

Term.

Ferg.

Urg.

Tash

 

447

616

118

203

558

509

432

1255

354

708

419

1119

And.

447

 

784

375

421

668

669

67

1342

516

892

73

1566

Bukh.

616

784

 

485

363

161

125

778

558

268

434

749

503

Gul.

118

375

465

 

106

353

254

369

1027

201

557

340

1001

Djiz.

203

421

363

106

 

247

248

415

921

95

471

386

916

Karshi

558

668

161

353

247

 

241

662

719

152

273

663

664

Navoi

509

669

125

354

248

241

 

663

383

153

477

634

610

Nam.

432

67

778

369

415

662

663

 

1336

510

886

85

1552

Nukus

1255

1342

558

1027

921

719

683

1336

 

826

992

1307

136

Sam.

354

516

268

201

95

152

153

510

826

 

376

481

765

Term.

708

892

434

577

471

273

477

886

992

376

 

857

937

Ferg.

419

73

749

340

386

633

634

85

1307

481

857

 

1538

Urg.

1119

1566

503

1001

916

664

610

1552

136

765

937

1538

 

The distance between cities is indicated in km.

Uzbek customs and traditions

Uzbek culture reflects a beautiful synthesis of these influences, while maintaining its own unique traditions. The traditions and customs of the Uzbek people have been shaped by their unique position at the crossroads of the Great Silk Road. . Art, philosophy, science, and religious ideals were exchanged, enriching the cultures of both the travelers and their hosts

Hospitality and traditional respect to elders are the main characteristics of Uzbek family. Traditions, associated with the family and community, are the most important in the Uzbek culture.

Usually, Uzbeks live in large families that consist of several generations. Therefore preference is given to large houses built on the land. Families receive guests with a great respect. Invitations to lunch and dinner are always accepted and you are expected to come on time. When planning a visit it is recommended to take souvenirs or sweets for the host’s kids.

Greeting each other is a feature of the Uzbek culture which combines several elements. Normally only men greet each other by handshaking.  A handshake while meeting someone for the first time denotes a formal introduction (however, generally, women are not be expected to shake hands with men). Women and people who sit in the background are greeted by putting the right hand on the heart and accompanying this jest with a slight bow of head. But close friends or family members of the same sex kiss on both cheeks. It is traditional to ask about health, state of affairs at work and home while shaking hands.

Upon entering the premises shoes are taken off. It is necessary to take the place indicated by the host. The further it is from the entrance, the more honorable it is.

In rural areas in case of guest’s visit usually women don’t sit at the same table with men in order not to interfere their discussion.

First tea is offered to the guests. Tea like among many other Central Asian “Stans” takes one of the important places in Uzbek culture and life as a considerable element of hospitality. It is the host’s exclusive prerogative to make and share tea with the guests during the tea ceremony.

Uzbekistan Weddings

Weddings, the birth and upbringing of children and many other Uzbek ceremonies, associated with family life, represent the combination of Islamic rituals with more ancient forms related to mystical practices. A wedding party for marriage is the whole community event, at which at least three hundred guests are present. The wedding party is preceded by several steps of preparations. The rituals begin with an engagement ceremony, according to which, before the man and woman are engaged, the man's family needs to go the woman's house to propose the marriage several times. The engagement is performed with the permission of parents of a bride and groom. Sovchi (matchmakers) state the purpose of their visit and, after the woman's family approves the proposal, they make the ceremony of “Non sindirish” (bread breaking). Usually two loaves of bread are taken together and then broken, after which the girl is deemed to be engaged. The use of bread signifies the beginning of a new family with a hope that the bride and groom will spend the life together through every thick and thin. Both families invite relatives and friends for dinner to discuss and decide on the date of the wedding. Then comes Fotikha-toi, a very important stage during which the future is secured with blessing (Fotikha). After that before the wedding date man's family sends gifts such as cloth, food, and daily essentials to the woman's family during festivals.

Next stage is Kiz - oshi (girl’s meal) and kuyov - nakhori (groom’s breakfast) follow. And at last comes Nikokh toi, final stage of the wedding, which combines several traditional rituals. On this day, the groom together with his djura (friends) enters the bride’s house.  Poyandoz (a white cloth) is spread at the threshold under his feet. The groom goes to the bride, who remains sitting behind the chimildyk (the traditional curtain). Coins and candies are strewn under his feet. Women, mostly aunts and sister-in-laws of the bride, hold her for ransom behind the chimildyk. The groom’s friends have to “buy” the bride for him by paying some nominal money to them. After this the bek - khalfa (the woman who reads divine texts) evicts any evil spirits from the area with the help of a mirror and smoke from burnt grass called isyrik. Then the newlyweds are brought a piala (bowl) of sweet tea or juice and they finish the drink sip by sip one after the other. This symbolizes a wish for a sweet life in the future. Wedding is a very important significant event in the life of the Uzbek people, which is celebrated with a great ceremony and up to 1000 guests invited.

Uzbek National dress

Beautiful fabrics and decorative needlework used in traditional clothing are peculiar to the civilizations of other Central Asian “Stans” including Uzbekistan. The general evolution of oriental dress inevitably affected Uzbek national dress and, nowadays, most Uzbeks wear European-style clothes, especially in the cities. Still some of the distinctive and unique features of traditional clothing have been preserved. In rural areas and at national ceremonies one can still see people in traditional dress, and even today, gold-embroidered zarchapan (caftan) and turbans made of gold or silver brocade are indispensable parts of men's wedding garments.

Uzbek skullcaps-Tubeteika

Headgear is one of the main elements in the traditional Uzbek clothing. The national headwear in many “Stan”countries of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan is a tubeteika (skull-cap). This hat proudly worn on top of Uzbek’s head is called Takia, toki, dopi or toubeteïka. Tubeteikais derived from the Turkic word “tubé”, which means “top, peak”. Tubeteika is worn by everybody: men, women, and children. Traditional men’s skullcap is of black colour, embroidered with an inwrought white pattern in a form of four “paprikas” and 16 miniature arches, the common form of which is tetrahedral and slightly conical. For everyday use people wear simple and widely used everyday cap called “qalampir”.. There are smart skullcaps enriched with bright and colorful embroideries and patterns for special festival occasions. Each region of Uzbekistan is characterized by its own peculiar headdress 'do’ppi' in height and pattern. A long time ago caps used to be an indication of people’s ethnic origins, tribe and region.

Despite the wide range of variety it is considered that there are only six main schools of “do’ppi” embroidery in Uzbekistan: Ferghana, Tashkent, Kashkadarya-Surkhandarya, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khorezm-Karakalpak. For special festivals the cap makers prepare smart “do’ppi”-caps with rich bright and gold embroidery and patterns. Despite a country-wide influence of the European culture on the Uzbek society, traditional skullcap is an essential attribute of the national identity.

Uzbekistan music

Music is plays a vital part in Uzbek society. Uzbekistan is often regarded as one of the most musically diverse countries in Central Asia thanks to the long history of music in the country and the large number of different music styles and musical instruments.  From the lullabies sung to an infant when it is first placed in its cradle, to the ancient laments heard at funerals and commemorative ceremonies, the strains of these melodies accompany every aspect of life.
Some of the Uzbek ritual traditional music is thousands of years old. Indeed, the sounds of the Uzbek instruments will convey to you the essence of the mysterious music of the East. Many of the instruments that produce these stirring notes have remained unchanged throughout the centuries. The names of such string instruments are: Dutor (two string lute), Rubob (long-necked fretted lute), Tanbur (long-necked fretted lute), Tor (long-necked fretted lute), Ud (long-necked fretted lute), Gʻijjak (spike fiddle), Chang (struck zither).

A Central Asian classical music style, Shashmaqam is believed to have arisen in the cities of Bukhara and Samarqand in the late 16th century. The term "shashmaqam" translates as six maqams and refers to the structure of music with six sections in different musical modes, similar to classical Persian traditional music. During the performance of Shahmaqam the music is interrupted by Interludes of spoken Sufi poetry, typically beginning at a low register and gradually ascending to a climax before calming back down to the beginning tone. Famous singers and composers Turgun Alimatov and Mukhammadjon Mirzayev were virtuouses of traditional Uzbek songs and music.

Nowadays, singers such as Yulduz Usmonova and Sevara Nazarkhan have brought Uzbek music to global audiences by mixing traditional melodies with modern rhythms and instrumentation.

Uzbekistan Bazaars

The bazaars of Uzbekistan, like in other “stans” are vibrant and exciting. They are not only the place of commerce, but also the dynamic center of the community, a place where not only goods and produce, but ideas, news, philosophies, culture and politics are traded, a place of human contact where people chat to each other and exchange the news.

Normally, traders sit in the open air, placing their goods on the ground or on the makeshift stalls.  Almost everything is on sale-from succulent fresh fruits and crisp vegetables to fine jewelry and gold embroidery, from hand-tempered knives to handmade musical instruments, from ceramic bowls to painted cradles. You can get all the information about merchandise you want to buy from salespeople, who can tell you how it is grown, where it is made, all the intricate details of its history. And if an item costs more than you were planning to spend, you can always strike a bargain.

Uzbekistan Chaikhanas-teahouses

Tea is the staple drink of Central Asian “Stans”, which comprises several traditional rituals. When a guest visits a family he or she is always immediately served tea. According to the tradition, before serving it, the host pours a tea from the teapot (that has just been filled with boiling water to brew) into the cup (piala) and pours back to the teapot at least three times. The first returning is called “loy”, meaning mud, the second “moy”(oil)and only after the third time it becomes “choy”or tea. It is offered in a small cup called a piala. As a token of respect for the guest the host while serving tea fills only one-half of the piala, and then putting the left hand on his heart, with his right hand holds out this piala to the guest. At the same time the fresh bread is served with some sweets. . Tea should always be drunk while it is hot. Only in this way it is believed that full aroma and flavor of the tea emerge.

Tea houses, preferably situated near a stream of clear water, with a central samovar to hold the tea, and low tables on mats for the guests to sit around, can be found almost everywhere in Uzbekistan full of old men chatting the afternoon away with a pot of tea in the shade. They are the perfect place for men to discuss just about anything. If the bazaar is the place where one can find out the latest news, the chaikhana is the place to discuss it in depth. Besides drinking tea and chatting, in the chaikhana men cook up a pilaf, between endless cups of green tea and discuss their vital problems.

Uzbekistan Applied & Decorative Art

The mastery of unique works of applied and decorative arts is one of the most famous aspects of Uzbekistan's culture. Uzbek masters have been passing the old traditions of wood carving, metal chasing, carpet weaving, classical and gold embroidery, jewelry making and many others from generation to generation. The craft centers functioning in various parts of Uzbekistan help revive all of these applied arts which were almost lost during the Soviet period.

One can view some of the older examples of the centuries-old techniques in the Museum of Applied Arts of Uzbekistan and the Museum of Fine Arts. Bazaars are the best spots to find many examples of the recent revival of handicraft traditions, like blue-and white ceramic pottery from Rishtan, detailed gold-thread embroidery and colorful satin of Bukhara and Margilan, and intricately carved pencil-boxes, engraved copper lamps, and hand-forged daggers.

Uzbekistan Festivals

Like other “stans” of Central Asia the holidays and festivals of Uzbekistan are closely connected with the history and culture of the country.

Here is the list of the most popular of them:

New Year, celebrated on the eve of the New year on the 31st of December is similar to other former Soviet “stan” countries, this family holiday is celebrated with a grand pompousness. People start preparing for this event well beforehand by doing food shopping for the festive table, as well as decorating a fir tree with lots of decorations. Family members exchange gifts during this time and every family member expects a Father Frost with his Frost Maiden to visit their house and give them presents.

The day of defenders of the Native land is celebrated on the 14th of January. Though it is not a day off, in Uzbekistan it is celebrated as the day of the foundation of the armed forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

International Women’s Day, also known as the Mothers’ day is celebrated on the 8th of March.

As this holiday coincides with the first days of Spring Men congratulate women, their mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, by giving them flowers and other gifts.

 Navruz, one of the main holidays of Central Asian “stans” with a 2500 year history, is widely celebrated in every corner of Uzbekistan. Its celebration starts on the 21st of March, the day of vernal equinox, but preparations begin several days beforehand. People in the cities and villages clean their homes, discard their old and broken items and buy new clothes for the holiday. The celebrations can last for several days with music and dance, as well as traditional games like wrestling, ram and rooster fighting.

The day of memory and honour  (May, 9th) is a holiday connected with the sad history of Uzbekistan. On this day people honor the memory of the compatriots who fell victim of World War II, as well as other wars, protecting the freedom and independence of the country.

Independence Day, the biggest national holiday, is celebrated on the 1st of September with big concerts and performances, as well as firework at one of the main squares of Tashkent and other cities.

On the first of October  the Day of teachers and instructors is widely celebrated in Uzbekistan. On this day school and university students thank their teachers with flowers and gifts. This day is a national holiday.

Constitution Day is celebrated on the 8th of December. The constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan was accepted by the Oliy Majlis (Legistlative chamber/Parliament) on 8th December, 1992.Various events devoted to the constitution day are held at schools, organizations and institutions. It is a national holiday.

Besides these holidays, several national festivals are also held in Uzbekistan. One the biggest and perhaps the most culturally significant events is a folk festival called “Boysun Bakhori” (The Spring of Boysun), held in Boysun, a mountainous district in Southern Uzbekistan.This festival is deemed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humankind. During this festival ritual songs and dances peculiar to this region are performed, thousands years old local traditions and customs are shown by local performers.

Another annual festival held in the center of Old Bukhara is called Silk and Spices festival. Craftspeople from other regions of Uzbekistan and other countries get together in this noble town. One can see weavers and potterns at work, admire masterpieces of hand painted miniatures, silk, as well as taste a variety of tears and wines, indulge in locally made sweets. Puppet shows make visitors laugh and cry, tightrope walkers be thrilled at. Strains of musicians perform on various stages throughout the day. In the evening, special theatrical performances help tourists complete their knowledge of this unique culture.

Sharq Taronalari is an international world music festival held every two years in the ancient city of Samarkand. It attracts folk singers from various countries all over the world who practice traditional musical genres. The main event takes place at the Registan Square of Samarkand.

 



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