Traveling Silk Road is a journey through history that is very much alive today
GeographyArea: 447,400 sq. km., slightly larger than California.
Major cities: Capital--Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million); Samarkand (600,000); Namangan (378,000); Bukhara (350,000).
Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.
Climate: Mid-latitude desert; long, hot summers, mild winters.
Nationality: Uzbek. Population (July 2011 est.): 28.128 million.
Ethnic groups (1996 est.): Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5%.
Religions: Muslim 88% (mostly Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.
Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.
Education: Literacy--99.3% (total population).
Health (2011 est.): Life expectancy--69.48 years men; 75.71 years women.
Work force (15.28 million): Agricultural and forestry--28.2%; industry--33.9%; service services--37.9%. (Source: World Development Indicators Database, April 2009).
Economy(Note: Government of Uzbekistan statistics are not consistently reliable. This report relies on unofficial estimates and states clearly when a figure is an estimate. Estimates by international financial institutions also use Government of Uzbekistan statistics.)
GDP: 2011 real GDP growth was 8.3%, according to Government of Uzbekistan statistics. Actual GDP growth was likely lower; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate is 7.1%.
Inflation: The IMF estimated that consumer price inflation reached 13.1% in 2011, though actual inflation was likely higher, over 20%.
Per capita GDP: Estimated per capita GDP in 2010 was $1,336; GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis was $3,012.
Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, gold, coal, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, molybdenum. Natural gas production in 2010 was 60.1 billion cubic meters (bcm); oil production was 3.7 million tons.
Agriculture: Products--cotton, fourth-largest producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock. The agricultural production growth rate in 2011 was 6.6%.
Industry: Types--textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas, automobiles, chemical. The industrial production growth rate in 2011 was 6.3%; electricity production was 51 billion kilowatt hours.
Budget (2012 projections): Revenues--$11.5 billion; expenditure and net lending--$12 billion.
Trade: Exports (2009)--largest contribution from energy products, cotton, gold, mineral fertilizers, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, food products, services, and automobiles. Imports (2009)--largest imports were machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Major trade partners (2010)--Russia 29.2%, China 9.5%, Kazakhstan 8.3%, South Korea 7.4%, Turkey 4.4%.
External debt (total gross, 2011 est.): $7.7 billion.
HISTORYLocated in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road--Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva--are located in Uzbekistan, and many well-known conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the 8th century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Genghis Khan and his Mongols overran its territory in 1220. In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan's most noted tourist sites date from the Timurid dynasty. Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates. Russia placed the rest of Central Asia under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.
In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories including the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Ferghana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton growing and natural resource potential. The extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than a third of its original volume, making this one of the world's worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATIONTravel Alerts, Travel Warnings, Trip Registration
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings. Country Specific Information exists for all countries and includes information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. The travel.state.gov website also includes information about passports, tips for planning a safe tripabroad and more. More travel-related information also is available at http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.
The Department's Smart Traveler app for U.S. travelers going abroad provides easy access to the frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more that appear on the travel.state.gov site. Travelers can also set up e-tineraries to keep track of arrival and departure dates and make notes about upcoming trips. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (requires iOS 4.0 or later).
The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). A link to the registration page is also available through the Department's Smart Traveler app. U.S. citizens without internet access can enroll directly at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By enrolling, you make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and so you can receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
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