Uzbekistan Uzbekiston Respublikasi

Area: 447,400 sq km


Climate: mostly mild latitude desert, long, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid grassland in east

Terrain: mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Sirdaryo (Syr Darya), and Zarafshon; Fergana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west

Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sariqarnish Kuli -12 m highest point: Adelunga Toghi 4,301 m

Geography—note: along with Liechtenstein, one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world


Population: 24,102,473 (July 1999 est.)

Ethnic groups: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5% (1996 est.)

Religions: Muslim 88% (mostly Sunnis), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%

Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%

    Médecins Sans Frontières are fighting the effects of the diminishing of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan. See the link to the MSF-website for more information on MSF's activities in Uzbekistan.

One famous son of Uzbekistan is Timur, also known as Timur Lenk or Tamerlane in the West. He was born close to Samarqand. Famed for his military skills and cruelty, he conquered most of Persia, Anatolia, Syria, Central Asia, Georgia, northern India, but on his way to China, he fell ill and died in Shymkent, taking the same route that we will take to China. Timur was also a man of the arts: Taking many artisans and scientists from the countries he conquered, Timur laid the groundwork for the "Timurid renaissance". The Great Mughals of India were his direct descendants.

Route notes of the rally:

…coming from Turkmenistan.

Friday 19th May - Day 19 — Chardzhou to Samarkand 400km

We cross the Amu Darya on a pontoon bridge and enter Uzbekistan (also independent since 1991) Uzbekistan is the native land of ancient civilisations - the great states of Bactria and Khoresm, Sogd and Parthia. The Great Silk Roads from China to Central Asia came this way, Alexander the Great swept through. We however, pass cotton crops and mulberry trees at the side of the road. As we enter Samarkand we first see the more modern Russian designed city but then we explore on a free day and see the ancient monuments for which Samarkand is justly famous.

Saturday 20th May - Day 20 Rest Day in Samarkand

Sunday 21st May - Day 21 — Samarkand to Tashkent 400km

On leaving Samarkand we head for the poppy infested fields over the Nutatau Mountains. After crossing the unmanned borders into Kazakhstan and back into Uzbekistan we arrive in the city of Tashkent.

Monday 22nd May - Day 22 — Tashkent to Bishkek 600km

This long transit section crossing both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan before arriving in Bishkek.

…moving on to Kazakhstan.