Uzbekistan General Information
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Monday, 15 February 2016 12:21
Written by Administrator

Administrative Structure:

Uzbekistan consists of twelve provinces (vilayat) and the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan.Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan with population more than 27.7 million inhabitants. Among other larger cities are Samarkand (over 368,000), Namangan (340,000), Andijan (300,000) and Bukhara (263,000).

State and Public System:

On August 31, 1991 the Supreme Council of the Republic of Uzbekistan declared the independence of the country. September 1, 1991 became the Independence Day. On March 2, 1992 the Republic of Uzbekistan became the member of the United Nations Organisation.

The country started to build an open democratic state with a market economy. The Republic of Uzbekistan is a presidential republic. The head of executive power is President, who ensures coordinated operation and interaction between institutions of the government.

The Cabinet of Ministers is the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan. It represents executive power and provides guidance for efficient economic, social and cultural development, as well as for enforcement of the laws of the country, regulatory acts of Oliy Majlis, decrees and resolutions of The President.

The supreme representative body is the Oliy Majlis (Supreme Assembly), which consists of two chambers – the Legislative Chamber (lower house) and Senate(upper house).

The Judicial authority of the country is independent from legislative and executive branches of power, political parties and other public institutions. The Judicial system consists of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Higher Economic Court, as well regional city, inter-district and district courts.President of the Republic of Uzbekistan elected to a seven year term.

Flag:

National Flag of the Republic of Uzbekistan consists of three horizontalstripes: blue, white and green. Along the edges of the white strip, the middle section of the flag, there are two red lines. On the top, left-hand side of the blue section is a half-moon and twelve white five-pointed stars representing the 12 provinces of Uzbekistan. The half-moon is connected to Islam. The blue symbolises the sky and water. The white represents peace. The green is for nature. The red represents life.

Emblem:

The Emblem of the Republic of Uzbekistan depicts the rising sun over a valley, surrounded by a wreath of wheat earns on the right and branches of cotton on the left. A star, located on the upper portion of the Emblem, symbolises unity. The half-moon and star inside are referred to Islam. The legendary Semurg bird in the centre of the Emblem is a symbol of national renaissance. In the background, on a ribbon in the national colours of the Uzbek flag, is written “Uzbekistan”.

Holidays:

January 1- New Year’s Day (according to Gregorian calendar)

March 8 – International Women’s Day

March 21- Navruz (Eastern New Year)

May 9 – Victory Day

September 1 – Independence Day

October 1 – Day of teachers and instructors

December 8 – Constitution Day

Muslim holidays are Ramazan Khait and Kurban Khait – the date changes each year to correspond with the Lunar Calendar.

The favourite holiday in Uzbekistan is Navruz (New Day or New Year). Navruz is widely celebrated everywhere in Central Asia as the day of peace and charity. In Uzbekistan it was reintroduced in 1989. Navruz is also a Holiday of traditional games, music & drama festivals and lavish colourful fairs.Muslim holiday Ramazan Khait – two or three days of celebration at the end of Ramadan (the month of daytime fasting). These are the days of family visits, gifts and donations to the poor.

About 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan Muslim holiday Kurban Khait (The Feast of Sacrifice) is celebrated. During these several days locals visit the graves of relatives. Some of them slaughter an animal and share the meat with the family and the poor.

Victory day is celebrated on May 9 as a day to honour veterans and martyrs of the World War II.

Geography:

Uzbekistan (which means the Land of Uzbeks) lies in the heart of Central Asia and borders Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the North; Tajikistan to the West; Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan to the South. Uzbekistan occupies more than 447,400 Sq. Km. measuring 925 km from the North to South and 1400 km from the West to East.

Uzbekistan is land of mountains and rivers, steppes and deserts. Two-third of the territory is flat. The south and east are dominated by the Tian

Shan and Pamir-Alai mountain ranges. Among the biggest rivers are the Syr-Darya (2212 km long), the Amu-Darya (1415 km long) and the Zerafshan (877 km long) rivers. The Amu-Darya separates the Kyzylkum desert from the Karakum desert of Turkmenistan.

There are few lakes in Uzbekistan. The largest one, called the Aral Sea, is located in the southwest.

Nature has also bestowed Uzbekistan with unlimited wealth. About 100 kinds of minerals, fuel and energy resources have been discovered.

The fauna and flora in Uzbekistan are diverse. Some rare species of animals are found here. Soil is fertile, that allows growing more than 6,000 varieties of plants. Abundance of warmth and lights provides conditions suitable for growing subtropical fruit.

Climate:

The climate in Uzbekistan is sharply continental. There are more than 250 sunny days a year. Often it’s extremely hot in summer (June to August) – as much as 45-50C (113-122F) in the south of the country.

The hottest summer month is July. The average temperature in this period on plains and foothills is 25-30C (77-86F), and in the south it reaches 31-32C (88-90F).

Humidity is generally low in summer, as it almost never rains in this season.

In autumn (September to November) the weather is brilliantly clear and the temperature drops slowly as winter approaches. In winter (December to February) it is often overcast. Occasionally it rains or snows.

The average temperature in December ranges from -8C (18F) in the north to 0C (32F) in the south. However sometimes there are hard frosts and the temperature drops to minus 20-25C (minus 4-13F). The coldest winter month is January.

The best time for travelling to Uzbekistan is from mid March to mid June and from August to mid November. During this time the temperature is usually agreeable and does not rise higher than +25-30C (77-86F).

Ecology:

Air quality is generally good in Uzbekistan. However vehicles and some local industry cause some pollution problems especially in the larger cities.

Water is the biggest environmental problem. Tashkent as well as other main cities has a good water supply, which is chlorinated. The rural areas experience shortage of purified drinking water.

In Karakalpakstan (the Aral Sea area), there is a major problem of mineralisation, salinity, nitrates, and pesticide residues. Nitrates and pesticides in water are the results of intensive cotton farming along the Amu-Darya and the Syr-Darya river valleys.

The Aral Sea:

The Aral Sea is one of the world’s great ecological catastrophes, which has been deprived of its river sources because of excessive irrigation in the times of aggressive cotton production policy. That caused the Aral Sea shrinkage to one-third of its original size. An unusual environmental hazard is a “salt storm” when the wind blows across the vast salt flats surrounding the Aral Sea. A bad health situation is observed in the towns adjacent to the Aral Sea (throat cancer, infant mortality, decreased life expectancy, high rate of anaemia among women, high rates of premature delivery, tripling of the number of children suffering from nervous and psychological disorders).

Population:

The population of Uzbekistan is more than 27.7 million; the growth rate was 1.4 percent and population density is approximately 61 persons per sq. km.

The population of Uzbekistan involves more than 100 nations: Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Kazakhs, Tatars, Kyrgyz, Koreans, Germans, Jews and others.

40% of the population is urban and 60% is rural.

Language:

The official language is Uzbek (a Turkic group of languages). From the very ancient times local people had their own written languages the Sogdian and the Urhun alphabets up to the 8th century. After the Arab invasion in the 8th century the Arabic alphabet was introduced. It was in use up to 1929. After 1929 there occurred the rapid shift from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet and then to a modified Cyrillic as the official script. Though, nowadays the Latin script is gradually replacing it.

Russian language is still greatly utilised as a means of interethnic communication. However the knowledge of English has become increasingly common.

Religion:

Predominantly the Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims (80% of population), Shia (15%) along side with Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Jewish minorities. Freedom of worship is practiced.

Health:

There are more than 3000 rural medical posts in Uzbekistan. Public health care generally is free of charge. Recently some private medical practices have been introduced with modern facilities and equipment.

Education:

Education is compulsory from the ages of seven to sixteen. Special attention is paid to professional training. In 1997 the National Program of Personnel Training was adopted. This unique program envisaged continuity of education, regular updating and renewal of general educational and professional training.

According to government statistics about 1,160 academic lyceums and professional colleges, over 4,680 schools providing general education have been built and overhauled. The schools have been newly re- furnished and re-equipped. Also new computer and language classed have been opened.

High special education has been radically changed and transition to the European system of granting Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees has been undertaken. Nowadays, about 300,000 students study at 65 universities and institutes of the republic by 850 majors and professions. Some foreign universities such as the International Westminster University, Singapore Institute of Management Development, Moscow State University, Russian Economic Academy have opened their affiliates in Tashkent. Currently another affiliate of a foreign university – Polytechnic Institute of Turin has open in Tashkent, which becomes the only foreign Institution in Central Asia to train specialists in the field of engineering and machinery.

Culture:

Uzbekistan is a land of ancient and rich culture. Numerous historical monuments evidence its high cultural standards and national originality. Objects found during archaeological excavations are of lasting artistic value and show the deep historical roots of Uzbek culture. The wall paintings in the palaces of Varaksha (near Bukhara) and Afrosiab (in Samarkand) are considered priceless as works of antique art. Uzbekistan used to be a home for great scientists, philosophers and poets: Mohammed Al-Khorezmi (in Latin – Algorismi, great mathematician and astronomer, whose name was given to algorithm; from the title of his work “Al-Jebr” originated Algebra), Abu-Rayhon Beruni (astronomer, historian, poet and geographer), Abu-Ali-ibn-Sina, also known as Avicenna (scientist, an outstanding physician in the world of his day, the author of “Canon of Medicine”), Alisher Navoi (poet, father of Uzbek literature) and others.

The Uzbek musical culture is very rich and varied. The first information about musical instruments dates from the very ancient times; the depiction of musical instruments (lutes, harps, flutes, drums) on stone bas-reliefs, large and small statues, artefacts and mural paintings indicate to this fact. Most of these instruments are still popular in Uzbekistan.

Classical musical compositions, called makoms, have been the most common and favourite among Uzbeks for centuries. In the past, the development of music was closely connected with the art of bards. These days the tradition is maintained by small ensembles of musicians and singers, being heavily in demand at weddings and other festivals.

The history of theatrical art also originates from the epoch of antiquity. Depiction of performers in masks in ancient mural paintings is the proof of it. Nowadays, there are about many theatres of different genres and trends in the Republic: drama, musical drama and comedy, opera, ballet etc. The majority of them are located in Tashkent.

European art of opera and ballet is the strong sign of Russian influence. Nevertheless the local opera and ballet theatre has developed its own national features.

Crafts:

Folk arts are closely connected with the Uzbek traditional life style. Over the centuries craftsmen used to live and work at certain areas of the towns which often were named by the particular craft. The applied arts of Uzbekistan embrace a wide range of materials and styles. During the Soviet era development of the traditional handicrafts was not supported by the government and many of them disappeared almost completely.

Nowadays, most of the traditional crafts have been revived. Among them are ceramics, metal chasing and embossing, knife-making, stone carving, ganch (stucco) and wood carving, jewellery making, silk and gold embroidery, silk weaving, rug and carpet-making, fabric block printing, leather work, wood turning, and papier-mache work.

Traditions:

A great number of rites and customs accompany the Uzbek family life. Weddings are considered to be the most important event in one’s life. Preparations for this special occasion begin from the birth.

Uzbeks love to gather in big groups and entertain the whole village (kishlak) or mahallya (community in cities) on family occasions.

Mass people’s festivities are widely celebrated. They are followed by various ceremonies, festive bazaars at which musicians, dancers, wrestlers perform.

Uzbeks are very friendly and hospitable people. It is said: “If one does not have delicious food for a guest, one should have sweet words for him”.

Uzbeks are supportive of each other. The ancient custom of Khashar is a unique form of mutual assistance. If a fellow-villager finds himself in difficulty, all the neighbours gather to help him. Mutual assistance reveals itself also while preparing for wedding and circumcision parties, house building, and funeral ceremonies. Uzbeks traditionally have respect for older people.

Clothing:

Light-coloured cotton garments are the best for summer travel. A hat is a necessary accessory. Heat and dust make thick-soled walking shoes a better choice. In colder weather, bring warm boots and woollen layers. When desert trekking, be ready for nightly temperature drops. If you leave lowland Uzbekistan for the mountains of Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, prepare well for intense cold, strong winds and heavy snows.

There are no special clothing requirements for visiting Islamic religious site except that you should take care to cover most parts of your body including arms and legs.

A lavish display of jewellery, bulging handbags and wallets and a neck full of cameras will make you stand out in a crowd. Be discreet, respectful of local

culture and traditions and carry the minimum of valuables.

Cuisine:

Plov is the staple food for everyday and celebrations too. It consists of chunks of fried mutton or beef with onions, thinly shredded yellow or red carrot and rice cooked in a large iron pot.

Shashlyk, known also as kebabs, is skewered chunks of mutton or beef barbecued over charcoal served with sliced raw onions and non (rounds of unleavened bread).

Samsa (meat pies) is a pastry pie stuffed with meat and onion or pumpkin, potato, cabbage, mushrooms or nuts backed in tandyr. Tandyr is a traditional cylindrical clay oven, heated with coal or firewood. Skill is needed when placing the raw samsas or non on the inside wall of the oven.

Manty are large dumplings stuffed with finely chopped meat or pumpkin, seasoned with various spices and a large amount of onion, and then steamed in a special pot.

Shurpa is a meat and vegetable soup.

Lagman is a thick noodle soup with thinly sliced fried meat and vegetables.

During summer and autumn there is a wide variety of fruits: grapes, pomegranates, apricots – which are also dried and used during other times of the year – and dwarfing them all, the mountains of honey melons and watermelons.

Green tea is the staple drink of the Uzbeks. Black tea is popular as well, especially

in Tashkent. Chai-khanas (tea-houses) can be found everywhere in Uzbekistan.

Economy:

Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton, although the importance of this commodity has declined significantly since independence. Uzbekistan is the fourth largest cotton producing country in the world. Uzbekistan is also a major producer of gold with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world and has substantial deposits of copper, strategic minerals, gas, and oil.

At present different forms of economic co-operation with foreign companies are developing. Uzbekistan has joined the IMF, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Transport:

The various regions of the country are connected by air, rail and road.

Air:

The national airline is Uzbekistan Airway. Since the independence the airline has expanded its routes. It currently flies extensively within Uzbekistan to all the major towns and cities on a regular basis. Destinations include Andijan, Bukhara, Ferghana, Karshi, Navoi, Namangan Nukus, Samarkand, Termez, Urgench, Zarafshan etc. All domestic flights originate at Tashkent.

Uzbekistan Airways also flies to the following international cities (in alphabetical order): Almaty, Amritsar, Ashgabat, Astana, Athens, Baku, Bangkok, Beijing, Bishkek, Dubai, Yekaterinburg, Frankfurt, Geneva, Istanbul, Kazan, Kiev, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Kuala Lampur, Lahore, London, Mineralnye Vody, Milan, Moscow, New Delhi, New York, Novosibirsk, Osaka, Paris, Rome, Rostov-on-Don, Seoul, Sharjah, Simferopol, Sochi, St. Petersburg, Tel-Aviv, Tyumen, Ufa, Urumqi.

The Uzbekistan Airways uses the aircrafts such as Airbus 310, Boeing 767, Boeing 757, RJ 85, IL 114, TU 154

Uzbekistan is also served by international carriers such as Aeroflot Russian Airlines, Aeroflot-Don Airlines, Aerosvit Airlines, Armenian Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, Czech Airlines, Domodedovo Airlines, Iran Air, Korean Air,Kavminvodyavia, Perm Air, Lufthansa German Airlines, Rossiya Airlines, S7 Airlines, Tatar Airlines, Transaero Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Turkmen Airlines, Ukraine Air, Ural Airlines, UM Air.

Airport Embarkation Tax

No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.

Rail:

There are 3400 km (2113 miles) of railways linking the main cities of Uzbekistan – Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Urgench, Nukus, Termez and the Ferghana Valley. The Trans-Caspian Railway traverses the country. Tashkent is the key point for rail services for the whole Central Asia. There are two train stations in Tashkent – North and South. From here railway lines lead to Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.

Road:

A good road network serves Uzbekistan that connects all the neighbouring countries. There are regular bus services to all major towns in Uzbekistan.

Public transit:

Public transit is bus, tram and taxi. Tashkent has the only subway (metro) in Central Asia.

Communications:

Communication is ensured via the most popular one which is Internet. Also there is a system of line and station facilities of post, telephone, telegraph, and TV-and-radio communication as well.

Mobile phone services are also available in all the cities of Uzbekistan.

Customs Rules:

All the travellers are required to fill in the Customs Declaration Form in duplicate upon entering Uzbekistan. All currencies and other valuable items such as jewellery imported into the country must be declared in this form. The form should be kept carefully with other travel documents and given to customs officers when departing the country. This allows an easy export of all imported items.

Import regulations:

Free import by persons 16 years of age and older:

– 1,000 cigarettes or 1,000 grammes of tobacco products;

– 1/2 litres of alcoholic beverages and 2 litres of wine;

– reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use;

– Residents: goods up to USD 10,000.- for personal use only;

– Non-residents: goods up to USD 10,000. Exempt are vehicles.

Prohibited:

– photographs and printed matter directed against Uzbekistan;

– live animals (subject to special permit);

– military arms and ammunition;

– narcotics (opium, hashish, etc.);

– fruit and vegetables.

Additional Information on regulations:

No special permit is required for importing a video camera for personal use, provided declared on arrival and re-exported.

Export regulations:

Prohibited:

– firearms and ammunition;

– precious metals (gold, silver, etc.) and articles made thereof, except if such articles are personal effects of the passenger (e.g. personal jewellery) and declared upon arrival;

– articles containing precious stones and/or real pearls;

– antiquities and art objects (subject to duty and special permit from the Ministry of Culture);

– furs.

Pets:

Cats, dogs and birds (except pigeons) must be accompanied by veterinarian health certificate bearing seal of local Board of Health issued not more than ten days prior to arrival. Pets are generally not permitted in hotels. Pigeons are prohibited.

Baggage Clearance regulations:

Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in Uzbekistan.

Exempt:

Baggage of transit passengers with a destination outside of the C.I.S.

Airport Embarkation Tax

No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.

Currency rules:

Currency Import regulations:

Import allowed for residents:

– unlimited import of local currency (Uzbek Som-UZS);

– unlimited import of foreign currencies.

Import allowed for non-residents:

– unlimited import of local currency (Uzbek Som-UZS);

– unlimited import of foreign currencies. A declaration form has to be filled out upon arrival. Passengers carrying more than USD 1,000 may be checked physically.

Currency Export regulations:

Export allowed for residents:

– unlimited local currency (Uzbek Som-UZS);

– foreign currencies up to the amount of USD 2,000.- or equivalent in freely convertible currency. Larger amounts can be exported with a special permit from the Central Bank.

Export allowed for non-residents:

– unlimited local currency (Uzbek Som-UZS);

– foreign currencies not exceeding amount declared upon arrival. Proof of lawful exchange into Uzbek Som is required from passengers spending more than USD 2,000.-. Passengers failing to submit this proof have to pay a fine of 30 percent of the amount imported.

Currency

Uzbekistan currency is Uzbek Som. Currency code: UZS. One Uzbek Sum = 100 tiyn. Notes are in denominations of Som 100, 200, 500 and 1000 Soms (UZS). Coins are in denominations of 25, 50, and 100 Soms.

Currency exchange:

Banks and currency exchange offices exchange money at the official rates. Old US

dollar bills (prior to 1990), and those in poor condition (torn, with writing or stamps),

may not be accepted. It is illegal to change money in the black market and penalties can be harsh. Exchange offices give special certificate in confirmation of the exchange of foreign currency against soms.

Credit cards:

Master and Visa are acceptable in some of the major hotels in tourist centres and banks. Use of Credit Cards is limited.

Travellers Cheques:

Accepted by only a few banks. Amount should be declared upon arrival in Customs

Declaration Form.

Currency restrictions:

The import of foreign currency is unlimited, but should be declared on arrival. The export of foreign currency is permitted up to the amount declared on arrival.

Banking hours:

0900-1600 Monday to Friday. Exchange offices in major hotels work twenty-four-hour.

Shopping:

Handicrafts may be purchased at art workshops in all the cities of Uzbekistan. Every year a growing number of tourists to Uzbekistan stipulate the demand for manual craft products. Everyone wants to take home not only vivid impressions but also an original souvenir. Shops offer a wide choice of articles made of semi-precious stone; carved and painted wood, bone of horn, embroidered skull-caps, decorative wall-hanging suzane, ceramics, miniatures, varieties of hand-made silk, including khanatlas, etc.

The best place to experience the “Oriental life” is a bazaar. The bazaars of Bukhara and Samarkand offer goods ranging from herbs and spices to carpets. Famous “Bukhara” carpets are actually Turkmen products that have been sold for centuries in Bukhara’s carpet bazaars. Many museums have small retail shops with a variety of modern wares and some original items as well.