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UZBEKISTAN

Last updated on April 12, 2001

The Republic of Uzbekistan lies in the heart of Asia, in the territory known since ancient times as Bactria, Maverannahr, and later on as Turkestan. The powerful Kushan Empire and the Kingdom of the Seleucids, the Parthian Kingdom and the Kingdom of Kharazm, the state of the Samanids and Tamerlane, the Bukhara Emirate and the Qoqand Khanate 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.


Map of Uzbekistan:

Uzbekistan

Facts at a Glance:

Full country name: Republic of Uzbekistan
Area: 447,000 sq km (174,330 sq mi)
Population: 23 million
Capital city: Tashkent (pop 2.3 million)
People: Uzbeks (71%), Russians (8%)
Language: Uzbek, Tajik, Farsi
Religion: Sunni Muslim (88%), Christian (10%)
Government: Republic
President: Islam Karimov


Hotels in Tashkent:

Shodlik Palace Hotel
Address: 5 Pakhtakorskaya St., Tashkent, 700011
Tel.: (+998 71) 2414222
Fax: (+998 71) 2414404
Location: Tashkent airport (TAS) - 15 km/9.3 ml
This new business hotel with elegantly designed rooms is located in a park area in the center of Tashkent.

Inter-Continental Hotel
Address: 107a Amira Temura St., Tashkent, 700084
Tel.: (+998 712) 207000
Fax: (+998 712) 206459
Location: Tashkent airport (TAS) - 6 ml/10 km
Lakeside location in the very city center near the National Bank, shopping arcades and business district, close to the main trade/exhibition centre. The hotel is a part of the Inter-Continental Hotels Group.

Sayokhat Hotel
Address: 115 Buyuk Ipak Yuli, Tashkent, 700077 Tel.: (+998 71) 2675374 Fax: (+998 71) 268 6782 Location: Tashkent airport (TAS) - 10 km/6.3 ml The Sayokhat Hotel is located on one of the main streets, 10 minutes from the city center.


Restaurants in Tashkent:

Istanbul
1 Pushkin St.
Tel: 33-73-67
Being located in the city center, it comes up to be the first choise for tourists who stopped in Uzbekistan hotel. The look of the restaurant is fancy western style, the service and food quality are average. Menu consists from national and western foods.

New World
28 Ataturk St.,
Tel: 33-33-22, 33-33-44
Beig located on the second floor of Alisher Navoi Ballet Theater, this restaurant becomes more and more famous thank to its korean food.Open: lunch (12:00 - 15:00) dinner (18 :00 - 21 :00) excellent service and high prices. English/Korean, excellent Korean food.

Opera
49 Hamza St.
Tel: 33-41-85
This excellent place is located behind hotel Uzbekistan and close to City center. There is live music available. Menu include some European but mainly French Food. Restaurant opens for dinner at 19:30, good service, high prices.


Region Telephone Codes:

Country code998
Andijan74
Bukara65
Djizak72
Ferghana73
Karakalpakia61
Khorezm62
Navoi79
Samarkand66
Syrdariya67
Surkhandaria76
Tashkent71


Environment:

Uzbekistan borders Turkmenistan in the west, Kazakhstan in the north and east, and Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and a sliver of Afghanistan in the south. It's a flat, monotonous country about the same size as Sweden - over two-thirds of it, mostly in the west, is steppe and desert. The only relief is the delta where the Amu-Darya empties into what remains of the Aral Sea. In the east, however, Uzbekistan tilts upward towards the mountains of its neighbors, and this is where the country's life-giving rivers rise. Central Asia's greatest waterway, the Amu-Darya, forms much of the border with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The richest farmland (and, therefore, the bulk of the population) is nestled in gaps in the mountains, on the alluvial planes at their feet, and along the country's three big rivers.

To describe Uzbekistan as an environmental planning disaster would be understating things. Several programs put in place in the Soviet era are still wreaking havoc on the country. In the 1960s, Soviet planners set out to increase Uzbekistan's cotton production through a system of vastly increased irrigation, which meant tapping the rivers flowing into the Aral Sea, in the north of the country. As a result, the sea has lost 75% of its volume and its area has reduced by half. The area's fishing industry has been destroyed, the climate has been perverted (there are four times as many rainless days as there were in the 1950s) and the resulting salination of soil and water as well as chemical residues from cotton farming have caused serious health problems in the population. Native flora and fauna have also been devastated. Irrigation projects in the steppes of Uzbekistan have also degraded the soil, polluted the water, and caused large-scale erosion, aridity and salinity.

Temperatures in Uzbekistan vary wildly, with 20?C (68?F) drops at night and dramatic differences between the deserts and mountains. Rain is minimal except at higher altitudes - what there is falls mainly from March to April and October to November, turning everything to mud. The lowlands can be quite pleasant from May to early June and September to early October. Midsummer is insane, with temperatures up to 40?C (104?F) in Tashkent, and 50?C (122?F) in southern Uzbekistan. In winter (January to February), daytime temperatures hover around -5?C to 10?C (23?F to 50?F).


History:

The land along the upper Amu-Darya, Syr-Darya and their tributaries has always been different from the rest of Central Asia. Its people are more settled than nomadic, with patterns of land use and social structures that changed little from the 6th century BC to the 19th century. The region was part of several very old Persian states. During the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great passed through and married the daughter of a local chieftain near Samarkand. Under the Kushan empire, Buddhism took hold and the Silk Road brought peaceful contact with the wider world. Towns grew and the area became rich.

In the 6th century AD, Western Turks rode out of the steppes, bringing Islam and a written alphabet. When they moved on to greener pastures, Persia took over again, until Jenghiz Khan and his hordes rolled over the country. With the rise of the ruthless warrior Timur in the 14th century, Uzbekistan again rose to prosperity and Samarkand became a glittering Islamic capital thanks to his patronage of the arts. Around this time, certain Mongol tribes took the name Uzbek. In the 14th century they began moving south, eventually conquering Timur's empire. By 1510 they had control of everything from the Amu-Darya to the Syr-Darya, and they have maintained control ever since. In the early 18th century the khan of Khiva asked Peter the Great of Russia for aid in defending his land against Turkmen and Kazakhs, stirring the first Russian interest in Central Asia. However, by the time the Russians got around to marching on Khiva, the khan no longer wanted their help and massacred almost the entire army. Apart from a few minor forays, the next major Russian excursion was made in 1839 by Tsar Nicholas I, who was eager to prevent British expansion in the area, but the mission was not a great success. Twenty-five years later the Russians again made a serious move on Uzbekistan and by 1875 the region was theirs.

After the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks proclaimed the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Turkestan, despite the fact that most Central Asians defined themselves not by country, but as ethnic Turks or Persians. In October 1924, Uzbekistan was declared, although it changed shape and size many times in the following decades. For rural Uzbeks, Soviet rule meant forced collectivization of their farms, and a huge shift to cotton cultivation. For the intelligentsia it meant devastating purges.

The first serious non-communist popular movement was formed in 1989 to speak out on cotton farming and the use of Uzbek as an official language. Although (or because) the movement was very popular, it was not permitted to contest elections. After Moscow's 1991 coup, Uzbekistan was declared independent, and its Communist Party changed its name but retained everything else. The party's leader, Karimov, has held onto power ever since, largely because genuine opposition groups are still not allowed to contest elections. In fact, since independence his power has grown and dissent has shriveled, thanks to restrictions on travel, political activism and publishing, the introduction of a virtual police state, and the ever-present threat of violence. Officially Uzbekistan is a multi-party democracy, but in reality opposition groups are terrorized out of existence. Karimov ran unopposed in the 1995 elections. In 1999, militant Islamic groups struggled to overthrow the government. Sixteen people were killed and hundreds injured in Tashkent by bomb blasts that February. Uzbek fighter planes have not been successful in their attempts to dislodge the Islamic gunmen who have stationed themselves across the southern border.


Economic Overview:

Relying on considerable natural resources, a highly educated labor force and a growing capacity to utilize them, the Government of Uzbekistan has attempted to craft a clear mechanism for economic development combining an emphasis on preserving macroeconomic stability and industrial capacity with efforts to improve the level of foreign trade and investment.

Soon after declaring independence, the Government of Uzbekistan established economic policies that were unequivocally opposed to the "shock therapy" approach, favoring instead efforts to support state enterprises and shield consumers from inflation through a combination of state subsidies, strict price controls and periodic wage increases. Initially, these policies enabled the government to hold the 1991-1994 GDP decline to 17% compared to a CIS average near 40%. However, this conservative approach became increasingly untenable in 1994, following Uzbekistan's expulsion from the Russian ruble zone. Faced with mounting economic problems accented by soaring inflation of the transitional currency known as the "som coupon", the government began a genuine economic reform program including stricter fiscal policies, freeing of prices on most commodities, cooperation with international financial institutions, modest steps toward privatization, overtures to foreign investors and institution of a permanent currency, the som.

After instituting these policies, the government made impressive gains against inflation, an end-year inflation rate of 27.6% for 1997, down from 64.4% at the end of 1996. Similar progress was made in preserving the GDP which went from a 4.2% drop in 1994 to a 5.2% growth in 1997. Furthermore, tight fiscal policies and a positive balance of trade brought the government budget deficit to 2.4% of GDP in 1997 compared to 6% in 1994 and 11% in 1993.

Uzbekistan's leading trading partners outside of the CIS are: 1) USA - 8% of total export and 13.6% of total import; 2) Korea - 7.6% of total exports and 10.2% of total imports; 3) Germany - 2.7% of total exports and 18.1% of total imports; 4) Turkey - 1.2% of total exports and 11.2% of total imports; 5) United Kingdom - 10.4% of total exports and 3.3% of total imports. Since June 1994, Uzbekistan has held GATT observer status. In December of 1994, the government of the country submitted an application to GATT/WTO for accession of Uzbekistan to the World Trade Organization. One of the main tasks of government activity in this direction is the successful integration of Uzbekistan into the international trade system. In September 1998, the Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime of the Republic of Uzbekistan was submitted to the WTO Secretariat.


Consultancy Agencies:

Arthur Andersen Ltd.
Business Complex, Suite 27
Khamid Olimjon Square, Western Side
Tashkent 700000, Uzbekistan
Tel: 133-83-69, 132-00-43/72, 40-64-82
Fax: 40-64-83

Deloitte & Touche
1 Turob Tula Street, 3rd Floor
Tashkent 700003, Uzbekistan
Tel: 139-13-77, 144-22-65
, (7) 40-61-26
Fax: 40-61-27

Ernst & Young
1 Sodik Azimov Street Lst Lane Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Tel: 132-03-71, 132-03-72
Fax: 132-03-73

KPMG
24 Amir Temur, 4th Floor
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Tel: 40-66-59, 34-51-42, 34-04-71
Fax: 40-68-77

Price Waterhouse
53 Suleymanov Street
Tashkent 700015, Uzbekistan
Tel: 55-97-47, 55-85-49, 55-83-81
E-mail: executiv@pwl.bcc.com.uz


Culture:

The Uzbek people have a rich cultural heritage from the merging of centuries- old and modern civilizations. The best tradition of Uzbekistan is its hospitality. Every traveler, regardless of position, is treated as if he were sent by God.

Holidays are spent enjoying dances and singing, holding horse contests, watching the national wrestling-Kurash, and dining on local dishes. Located in the heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is the land where the great civilizations of the past met and got down to business. Tamerlane, Alexander the Great, Marco Polo and Genghis Khan all stirred up dust in the fabled cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara. Uzbekistan has had a colorful and romantic role in history, although it is probably best known as a waystation on the fabled Silk Road.


Museums:

Museum of Applied Arts
12 Shpilkova St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 56 39 43, 56 40 42
Open: Everyday

Museum of Fine Arts
16 Proletarskaya St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 36 73 45

Amir Temur Museum
Amir Temur Circle
(Opposite Uzbekistan Hotel)
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: n/a

Fine Arts Museum
16 Mouveranakhr St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 36 73 45, 36 34 44
Open daily: 10.00 - 17.00 (closed on Tuesdays)

Museum of the History of the People of Uzbekistan
3 Sharaf Rashidov St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 33-57-13, 33-69-60
Open dally: 10:00 - 18:00 (closed on Sundays)

Ural Tansykbaev's Museum
2 Cherdantzev St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 62-62-30

Tamara Khanum's Museum
1 Pushkin Pishpekskaya St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 67-86-90
Open Daily: 10:00- 16:00

Mukarrama Turgunbayeva's Museum
5 Mustaqillik Square
(inside the Bakhor Concert Hall)
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 56-40-42
Open Weekdays: 10:00 - 17:00

Sergei Yesenin's Museum
20 Tolstoy St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 33-11-19

The National Nature Museum
16 Sagban St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 44-33-72, 44-36-70.
Open: 10- 5p.m. Tues-Sun

The Navoi Literature Museum
89 Navoi St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 44-14-86.
Man-Saturday.

Museum of Health Service of Uzbekistan
72 Akhunbabaev St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 334-053, 334-278

Museum of Cinematic Art
96, Uzbekistanskij proezd
Tel: 458-161

Museum of history of The Turkestan Military District
Gorki Ave.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 624-646

Yuldash Akhunbabaev Museum
19, Ordjonikidze St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 335-131

Gafur Gulyam Museum
1, Arpapaya St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 4 54-394

Abdulla Kahhar Museum
26, Navruz St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 560-804

Mukhtar Ashrafi Museum
Centre 1, 15-25,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 320-221

Sergey Borodin Museum
18, Ordjonikidze St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 330-932

The Tram Museum
4 Privokzalnaya St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 99-70-40.


Theaters:

The Navoi State Opera-Ballet Theater
28, A. Ataturk St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
TEL: 33-90-91 (cashier),
33-22-22 (deputy director)
Performances start at 18:00, on Saturday;
Sunday at 15:00. Day off-Monday, vacation-July.

The Ilkhom Experimental Theater (Russian)
5, Pakhtakorskaya St.,
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Tel: 412241, 412252, 414324
Fax: 890046
E-mail: ilkhom@ilkhom.silk.org
performances starts at 18:00. Cutting edge Western

The Mukhimi Theater of Musical Comedy (Uzbek)
187 Almazar St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 45-16-33 (administrator), 453-655, 454-211
Starts at 18:00, Sat-Sunday at 17:00
Closed Tuesdays, vacation-August.

The Gorky State Drama Academic Theater (Russian)
28, Khamza St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 33-81-65 (cashier)
33-42-10 (administrator)
Starts at 18:00, Sat-Sunday at 17:00.
Closed Mondays. Vacation-July, August.

The Hamza Drama Theater (Uzbek)
34 Navoi St.,
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Starts at 18:00

Tyuz Youth Spectators' Theater (Russian)
56 Navoi St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Sat at 17:00; Sunday at 12:00.

The Uzbek State Puppet Theater
1 Kosmonavtov Prospect
Tashkent Uzbekistan
TEL: 56-73-95, 56-73-98 (cashier)
Day-time performances at 11:00 and 14:00
Days off- Saturday, Monday.
Vacation - August.

Tashkent State Musical Comedy Theater
12 Volgogradskaya St. Ulugbek Metro
Tashkent Uzbekistan
TeL 778-611, 778-354

Operetta Theater
Massiv Chilanzar, Kwartal 2
TEL: 77-84-92, 77-85-29

Russian Theater for Children
55 Alisher Navoi St.,
TEL: 44-10-83, 44-00-88

The Abror Khodoyatov drama State theatre
3, Uighur St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 441-170, 441-354

Satire theatre
16, Navoi St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 410-550

The "Sin-San" Korean studio-theatre
51, Khamza St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Te: 334-185

The Uzbek State Philarmonic Society
11, Uzbekistansky St.
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tel: 334-643, 333-769


Events:

Holidays:

January 1New Year's Day
March 8Women's Day
March 21Nawruz
May 1International Labour Day
May 9Victory Day
Date is announced every year according to the lunar calendarId-Al Fitr
Date is announced every year according to the lunar calendarId-Al Zuha
September 1Independence Day
December 10Constitution Day

By far the biggest Central Asian holiday is the spring festival of Navrus (New Days), an Islamic adaptation of pre-Islamic vernal equinox or renewal celebrations, celebrated approximately on the vernal equinox (21 March). It's a two day affair consisting of traditional games, music, drama festivals, street art and colourful fairs, and one of the best places to get in on the fun is Samarkand. Ramadan, the month of sunrise-to-sunset fasting, is observed with little fanfare in most of Uzbekistan, and travellers will still find plenty of food available. Qurban, the Feast of Sacrifice, is celebrated with the slaughter of animals and the sharing of meat with relatives and the poor.

In May of even-numbered years, Tashkent hosts a film festival which features celluloid style from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Samarkand hosts the Children's Peace & Disarmament Festival every 23 October - celebrations revolve around the International Museum of Peace & Solidarity, a remarkable collection of memorabilia. The Nukus' Pakhta-Bairam harvest festival, held in Karakalpak in December, is one of the few places in the world where you'll see a game of ylaq oyyny. In this Central Asian form of polo, players hit a goat carcass around the field - Prince Charles would fit right in. If that gets the adrenalin flowing, you can also check out wrestling, ram fighting and cock fighting.


Facts for the Traveler:

A visa is required for all travelers to Uzbekistan. To obtain business and tourist visas, contact the Consular Section of the Embassy of Uzbekistan:

1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 887-5300
Fax: (202) 293-6804

Visas may also be obtained upon arrival at the airport in Tashkent.

Health risks: Hepatitis A & E, diphtheria & undulant fever. Play it safe and don't drink the water even if locals say it's OK to drink.

Time: GMT/UTC plus 5 hours.

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz.

Weights & Measures: Metric.


Money & Costs:

Currency: Sum (S)

Relative costs:

  • Budget meal: US$3-5
  • Moderate restaurant meal: US$5-10
  • Top-end restaurant meal: $10-20
  • Budget room: US$12-20
  • Moderate hotel: US$20-50
  • Top-end hotel: US$50-100
If you're travelling with a friend, staying in modest hotels, eating in budget restaurants and travelling by bus or train, you can get around Uzbekistan for US$30-40 per day. Unfortunately, you'll often have trouble finding a cheap place to stay and will have to settle for a pricey tourist hotel, so a more realistic budget is around US$50-60 a day. Hiring cars and doing excursions will add significantly to your expenses. You should also take into account that foreigners pretty much always pay more than locals.

You'll have little luck with anything other than cash in Uzbekistan. Although a (very) few places change travelers' cheques, you shouldn't rely on them. US dollars are by far the easiest to exchange, with Deutschmarks the second most popular. There's not much point taking really big notes, as there are so many counterfeit ones floating around that many people won't take them; reconcile yourself to carrying a huge wad of US$10 bills. Oh, and make sure they're crisp, new ones too, or no one will touch them. Uzbektourism hotels in tourist centres take major credit cards, and you should be able to get a cash advance in Tashkent.

There are a few top-end restaurants where a service charge of 5-10% is added to your bill, but tipping is not common in Uzbekistan, and runs contrary to Islamic ideals of hospitality. Bribery, on the other hand, is very popular, but if you choose to use it remember you are pushing up prices for those who follow you. Bargaining is expected in markets - the asking price for food will be pretty close to the selling price, but for handicrafts expect a more substantial reduction.


When to Go:

Spring (April to June) and fall (September through October) are, generally speaking, the most pleasant times to travel. The weather is mild and in April the desert blooms briefly. In autumn it's harvest time, and the markets are full of fresh fruit. If you're interested in trekking the mountains, summer (July and August) is a better time to visit; at all other times the weather is unpredictable and there can be snow in the passes.


Attractions:

Tashkent

The Uzbek capital, once the fourth largest city in the former USSR, is Central Asia's hub and has better international flight connections than any other city in the region. That said, it's not a picture-postcard destination. Thanks to a huge earthquake in 1966 and the subsequent enthusiasm of Soviet planners, little remains of the city's 2000-year history. Most visitors agree that Tashkent is the most Soviet city in Central Asia and it's said that many of the region's anxious Slavs who won't or can't return to the Motherland are moving to the relative cultural security of this city since it is still at least half Russian-speaking (if not Russian).

It's worth taking a stroll around the remnants of the old town, eski shakhar. This maze of narrow dusty streets lined by low, mudbrick houses, mosques and medressas (Islamic academies) seems to have been spared by Soviet planners to show what things would have been like without the glories of socialism. Kukeldash Medressa is a grand 16th century academy undergoing restoration, whose plaza overflows with worshippers on warm Friday mornings; the tiny 15th century Jami mosque nearby was used during the Soviet era as a sheet metal workshop. Chorsu Bazaar, a huge open market beside Kukeldash, draws crowds of people from the countryside, many in traditional dress.

What Tashkent lacks in old things, it makes up for in big museums about them. The Museum of Fine Arts has a fine collection of the art of pre-Russian Turkestan, including Zoroastrian artefacts, serene 1000-year-old Buddhist statues and Sogdian murals. The Museum of Applied Arts opened in 1937 as a showcase for turn-of-the-century applied arts, though the building itself - designed in traditional Tashkent style - is more interesting than its contents. There are other museums devoted to History (always with a capital 'H'), antiquities, literature, geology and railways. For a bit of light relief, check out the Navoi Opera & Ballet Theatre, the venue for some of the world's cheapest classical opera and the only Soviet building in Tashkent with anything approaching a personality.


Off the Beaten Track:

Ferghana Valley

This broad, flat, fertile valley, surrounded by the Tian Shan to the north and the Pamir Alay range to the south, is the heartland of Uzbekistan, the most densely settled part of Central Asia and the focus of the region's silk production. The Russians were quick to turn vast areas of the valley to cotton production and transform its ancient trading towns into ugly industrial zones, so for the visitor its main assets are a conservative, proud and hospitable people, the kaleidoscopic bazaar at Marghlan and the proximity of the mountains. Transport hubs in the valley include Kokand, Ferghana and Marghilan. Daily flights connect Tashkent to Ferghana, buses travel to Kokand and trains to Marghilan.

Shakhrisabz

This small, un-Russified town 90km (56mi) south of Samarkand, seems nothing special until you start bumping into the ruins dotted around its backstreets and the megalomaniac ghosts of a wholly different place materialise. This is Timur's home town, and once upon a time it probably put Samarkand itself in the shade. There's little left of Timur's Ak-Saray Palace except bits of the gigantic, 40m (131ft) high entrance covered with gorgeous filigree-like blue, white and gold mosaics, but it's staggering to try and imagine what the rest of this glorious summer palace must have looked like. Ditto the Dorussiadat ('Seat of the Power & Might') which may even have overshadowed the palace. Other attractions include the tombs of Timur's forbears, the giant Kok-Gumbaz Mosque and the intended Crypt of Timur, which strangely contains the remains of two unidentified corpses. Taxis and buses do the two hour jaunt from Tashkent to Shakhrisabz.

Moynaq

Moynaq encapsulates more visibly than anywhere else the absurd tragedy of the receding Aral Sea. Once one of the sea's two major fishing ports, it now stands some 40km (25mi) from the water. What remains of Moynaq's redundant fishing fleet lies rusting on the sand, beside depressions marking the town's futile efforts to keep channels open to the receding water. The town's shrunken population of 2000 souls now suffers the full force of the Aral Sea disaster, with hotter summers, colder winters, debilitating sand, salt and dust storms, and a gamut of health problems. The town remains a tragic monument to the conscious environmental havoc wreaked by the Soviet Union's policies in Central Asia. Moynaq is 210km (130mi) north of Nukus - take a taxi or a bus between the two towns. To get to Nukus, take a daily train or bus from Tashkent.


Activities:

There's good rafting and kayaking a few hours by bus from Tashkent - you'll find flat water on the Syr-Darya and Angren rivers and more exciting stretches on the Ugan, Chatkal and Pskem. The peak rafting season is in September and October. The recreation zone of Chimgan, three hours by bus north-east of Tashkent, is a popular centre for winter sports, though it runs a poor second to those near Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and Almaty (Kazakhstan).

There are fine walks in the Angren River Valley, four hours by bus west of Tashkent; the canyon of the upper Angren, in particular, is spectacular. There are also good hiking trails from the Uzbekistan pocket of Shakhimardan, in the Pamir Alay Range south of the Ferghana Valley, all of which head into surrounding Kyrgyzstan.


Getting There & Away:

Air Travel

Good passenger air links are available from New York, Frankfurt (Germany), Istanbul (Turkey), Moscow (Russia), China, Pakistan, India and Israel. There are daily flights from Tashkent to most of Uzbekistan's major cities and Moscow and less frequent service to other CIS cities. Charter air cargo service is available from Europe to Uzbekistan. The Tashkent international airport is located southeast of the city (4.3 miles) and is served by eight international airlines including: Uzbekistan Airways, Aeroflot, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Turk Hava Yollari Airlines (Israel), Ariana Airlines (Iran), and LY Airlines (Israel).

United Tours Corp is acting as an exclusive sales agent for Uzbekistan Airways in New York: tel. (212) 245-1100 or (800) 245-0203. Lufthansa can be reached toll free at Tel. (800) 645-3880.

Turkish Airlines can be reached toll free at tel: (800) 874-8875.


Getting Around:

Taxis
Taxis should have the checkerboard stamp on the side. Accepting rides from private or "gypsy" taxi may seem like an attractive alternative late at night, when few official cars are on the road, but this can be dangerous and is not recommended. Costs usually run the local equivalent of $12. Officially, it is 24 sums per kilometer plus 20 sums for the service. To reach the dispatcher, dial 062 or 34 51 60.

Metro
Tashkent's underground system, the only one in Central Asia, currently has two lines; a third is under construction. The Chilanzar line runs northeast to southwest. The current price for a token is 6 sum (less than 10 cents). The crowds can be intense, especially at rush hour, but it is air-conditioned.

Buses, Trolleybuses, Trams: Tickets for other means of transport are currently 6 sums. Be sure to check out the routes of such vehicles before boarding. Many main routes have crushing crowds; you may prefer to hail a cab rather than fight the crowds.


Tourist Agencies:

Osiyo Intour Business
115.,Buyuk Ipak Yuli St,
Tashkent, Uzbekistan 700077
Tel: 686733, 686781, 686764
Fax: 686783

UzbekTourizm
47, Khorezm St.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan 700047
Tel: 1333854
Fax: 1367948

Sambuh
35, Latofat St.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan 700047
Tel: 549538
Fax: n/a


Recommended Reading:

Trekking in Russia & Central Asia, by Frith Maier, is an unrivalled guide to the area's wild places.

On the Other Side: A Journey Through Soviet Central Asia is Geoffrey Moorhouse's account of his journey to Samarkand on the eve of independence.

FM Bailey's Mission to Tashkent is a boy's own account of being a British spy in Central Asia in 1917.

For more outrageous japes, try Patrick French's Younghusband, a biography of the archetypal Great Gamester. Fans of dense text should get a kick out of Ahmed Rashid's Islam or Nationalism, a well-written assessment of recent political history.

Realms of the Russian Bear, by John Sparks, is an elegant, beautifully illustrated work on the flora and fauna of the region.

Samarkand, by Amin Malouf, is a ripping fictionalised account of the life of Persian poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam.


Useful Links:

General Information:
Info over president, land
The official site of Uzbekistan (Russian version only)

Embassies, Consulates and Visa
US embassy in Taskent or www.usembassy.uz
Uzbek embassy in the US
Travel Document
BISNIS (Business Information in the Newly Independent States)

Travel Agencies and Travel Tips
The Lonely Planet
Uzbekistan Airlines
Uzbekistan Consular Information Sheet
All Russian Hotels: find and book hotels all over de CIS.

Miscellaneous
United Nations
All about Tashkent

Last updated on April 12, 2001


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