(Republic of Uzbekistan, O‘zbekiston Respublikasi)
- Location:Central Asia
- Capital: Tashkent (Toshkent)
- Language(s): Uzbek, Karakalpak
- Population: 28,465,453
- Total Area: 447,400 sq km
- Currency: Uzbekistan Som
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Even though the country is predominantly Muslim, it produces some of the finest wines in Central Asia.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 3.54 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Green tea
The Republic of Uzbekistan is in Central Asia and it shares borders with the following states in the region: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Like many of its neighbors, Uzbekistan was also one of the constituents of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republic until it became independent in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the western part of the country, there is the autonomous republic of Qoraqalpoghiston (also known as Karakalpakstan or Karakalpakiya). The capital of the country is the city of Tashkent (or Toshkent). There is one peculiar geographical feature noticed with the country. Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country (a country surrounded by countries that are landlocked themselves). Just two countries in the world have this property and I find that quite fascinating.
As expected, around four-fifths of the people in the country are Uzbeks while the others are classified as Kazakhs, Russians, Tatars, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Ukrainians and the Karakalpaks. In terms of religious affiliations, more than 90% of the citizens are Muslims and there are Jews, Christians and Buddhists. The official language in the country is none other than Uzbek while Tajik and Russian are spoken in some other communities. Uzbeks are very passionate about their country and you will always see the patriotic zeal in all their actions. For the average Uzbek, love for the motherland is very important. Many of the people have settled in big cities like Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. Although plentiful in the past, the number of nomads in the country is dwindling.
To feel the real magic of the Uzbek spirit, you need to taste the food. Uzbeks are some of the most talented cooks I have ever come across and before you doubt this, you will have to eat the shashleeq first. Although Uzbek foods are quite similar to what I ate in other Central Asian states, the Uzbeks have a way of making their dishes somewhat distinct. Shashleeq is made from pieces of mutton, which are then heated and served with a variety of spices. You must also endeavor to taste the bakhsh, which is rice prepared from vegetables. Irrespective of the type of Uzbek home in which you are received, you can be sure of getting a meal that will stimulate your senses.
As it is the tradition in many of the Central Asian states, green tea is the most popular drink in Uzbekistan. All over the country, there are communal houses where people gather to drink tea and gist with friends. These teahouses are called chaikanas and are found all over Central Asia. If there was any place where I was able to connect with the Uzbek root, it was in a brightly-painted chaikana in Samarkand. Uzbekistan is a Muslim country but it is very interesting to know that the country is a major producer of wines and as a tourist, you will always have more than enough to drink.
Sports in Uzbekistan
Unlike what many tourists would expect of a Central Asian nation, Uzbekistan is a very interesting place when it comes to sports. Some of the most popular sports in the country include football, basketball, rugby and ice hockey. As expected, the most popular of all the sports is football which draws its support from all age groups.
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