25+ Interesting Facts About Uzbekistan

  1. Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Two major rivers, Syr Darya and Amu Darya, establish borders on its northeast and southwest.
  2. Uzbekistan is the third largest and the most populous country in Central Asia. Its population density is the highest in the region.
  3. Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein, a small European country, are the only two doubly landlocked countries. All five neighboring countries of Uzbekistan (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan) are also landlocked (surrounded by land).
  4. Uzbekistan is the only Central Asian country that borders all the other four countries of the region.
  5. Three Uzbek cities (Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva) are among the most famous cities on the Silk Road. Bukhara and Samarkand are also UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  6. Uzbekistan is the world’s 5th largest producer of uranium and the 2nd largest in Asia after Kazakhstan. (Source)
  7. The Muruntau Gold Mine in Uzbekistan is the world’s largest open-pit gold mine. Its estimated annual production is 2 million ounces of gold. Scientists believe it contains vast gold deposits due to geological events millions of years ago. (Source)
    Satellite image of Muruntau gold mine
    The world's largest open-pit gold mine is in Uzbekistan

  8. Uzbek cuisine, particularly the national dish plov, is well-received throughout the region. However, Uzbek cuisine is considered the deadliest in the world due to excessive salt and meat and too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Uzbekistan has the highest rate of diet-related deaths in the world. (Source)
  9. The largest ethnic group in this Central Asian country is Uzbek (nearly 84%), followed by Tajiks (around 5%). The remaining population has Kazakh, Russian, Karakalpak, and Tatar ethnicities.
  10. Uzbek is the predominant and the only official language in Uzbekistan. Like other countries of the region, many Uzbeks can speak and understand the Russian language.
  11. More than 76% of the population in Uzbekistan follows Islam, particularly the Sunni branch of the religion. The remaining people are either non-religious or follow Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
  12. Alexander the Great’s wife, Roxanna, was an inhabitant of Sogdiana in present-day Uzbekistan. Alexander married this princess after defeating his father and a local noble, Oxyartes.
  13. Uzbekistan came under the rule of Muslim Arabs in the 8th Century. A local Sunni Muslim dynasty, the Samanid Empire, took power during the 9th Century.
  14. The Mongol Empire destroyed the local Khwarzmian dynasty in the 13th Century. Later, Timur established the Timurid Empire during the 14th Century, with Samarkand as its capital.
  15. According to some accounts, Uzbekistan is named after Oz Beg Khan, the first Muslim ruler of the Golden Horde during the 14th Century. The name was adopted by Turkic-Mongol tribes of Siberia that settled in this area.
  16. Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire in India, was a Timurid prince of Uzbekistan. He founded the Mughal dynasty after facing defeat from Uzbeks at the beginning of the 16th Century.
  17. The Russian Empire captured Uzbekistan after defeating the local Emirate of Bukhara during the last half of the 19th Century. Uzbekistan and other parts of Central Asia came under Soviet rule in 1920.
  18. The Soviet Union forcibly deported a large number of Koreans from the Far East to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in 1937. In 1944, the Soviets exiled Crimean Tatars from Crimea (a peninsula in Ukraine) to other parts of the country, while the majority of them arrived in Uzbekistan.
  19. Tashkent Metro, a subway system in Uzbekistan’s capital, is one of the most beautiful subway systems due to striking decorations on its 43 stations. It was the first subway system in Central Asia, built in 1977, but remained hidden from the outside world until 2018 due to its usage as a nuclear bomb shelter. (Source)
  20. Like many of its neighboring countries, Uzbekistan gained independence from the USSR in 1991 during the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
  21. Cotton is the largest cash crop in Uzbekistan. However, its production using water from the Aral Sea, once the world’s fourth-largest lake, since the 1950s has almost dried up the lake. Uzbekistan has also faced criticism for using child labor in cotton production. (Source
    Aral Sea in 1989 and 2014
    Cotton production in Uzbekistan has dried the Aral Sea

  22. Islam Karimov became the first president of Uzbekistan after independence in 1991, and he retained this position until his death in 2016. His rule is known as a ruthless dictatorship.
  23. Uzbekistan faced its biggest internal crisis in 2005 in Andijan, an eastern city. Uzbek forces opened fire on thousands of unarmed protestors on May 13, 2005. It resulted in over 700 deaths, including women and children. The protest was against the dictator’s merciless policies and corruption. Due to Western criticism, Uzbekistan later closed a US military base and developed closer ties with Russia. (Source)
  24. Former Prime Minister Shavkat Miromonovich became Uzbekistan’s second president in 2016. He eased the financial restrictions of his predecessor and improved relations with neighboring countries.
  25. Nearly 80% of Uzbekistan is flat with a desert or semi-arid climate. The southeastern areas (including Tashkent and Samarkand) contain high mountains with a continental climate.
  26. Karakalpakstan is an autonomous republic and the largest administrative division in Uzbekistan. The majority population of this republic consists of Uzbeks and the indigenous Karakalpaks, an ethnicity closely related to Kazakhs.
  27. Uzbekistan is one of the few countries with a nearly 100% literacy rate. The rate of higher education in the country is 30%. (Source)
  28. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in Uzbekistan. Five cultural sites mainly belong to localities on the Silk Road. Two others (Western Tien-Shan and Cold Winter Deserts of Turan) are natural sites.

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