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Uzbekistan is in Central Asia and until 1991 was part of the Soviet Union. One of only two double-landlocked countries in the world, it’s right in the centre of Central Asia, bordering Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Becoming an independent country in 1991, Uzbekistan’s First President was Islam Karimov, who died in September 2016. His successor, Shavkat Mirziyoyev , who was elected with 90% of the votes, has been very popular and does seem to be making a lot of positive reform in the country. Largely though, Uzbekistan is still very similar to Turkmenistan politically, but without the same extent of social restrictions. It does seem however, that a few things (such as the economy for example) are moving in the right direction.
Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and is by far the largest city in Central Asia. Samarqand, Bukhara and Khiva though are much more famous names around the world, with the unique and iconic Silk Road remnants, such as the Registan, Amir Timur’s Mausoleum and Bibi Khanum’s Mosque.
Like in the other Central Asia countries, although Russians made up a large percentage of the population until the early 90s, Uzbeks now account for about 70% of the population, followed by Tajiks, Kazakhs, Karakalpaks, Russians, and other ethnic groups from the region.
With the visa restrictions easing in the last couple of years, Uzbekistan has become a lot easier to visit and is attracting more different types of people. Don’t worry though, it still definitely ticks the box for somewhere off the beaten path, and there’s plenty to explore that the average traveller might not come across.