Uzbekistan is a mineral-filled country in Central Asia with over 36 million people. It is famous for its cuisine, beautiful architecture, and a super-fast rail system. Even though Muslims make up the majority of the population, the country’s tolerance rate is commendable. Here, we highlight some fascinating Uzbekistan facts to help you understand more about the country.
1. It Is a Doubly Landlocked Country
Sometimes referred to as a double-landlocked country, a doubly landlocked country is surrounded by other landlocked countries. There are only two doubly landlocked countries: Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan. Liechtenstein is surrounded by Austria and Switzerland, while Uzbekistan is surrounded by Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.
2. Uzbekistan Is One of The World’s Largest Gold Producers
Located in the Qizilqum Desert of Uzbekistan, the Muruntau gold deposit is the world’s largest open-pit gold mine. It measures approximately 3.3 by 2.5 km and has a depth of about 600 meters. With the country mining 80 tons of gold yearly, Uzbekistan ranks among the top 10 largest gold producers. The country is also rich in uranium and natural gas; it is the largest electricity producer in Central Asia.
3. It Is a Secular Country
According to Article 61 of Uzbekistan’s constitution, all religious organizations and associations in the region are equal before the law. Even though Islam is the most dominant religion (88%), others, like Orthodox Christianity and pagans, do not feel left out.
4. Uzbek Is the National Language of Uzbekistan
Even though natives can communicate in Russian and other ethnic languages, Uzbek is Uzbekistan’s only formal national language. Officially written in the Latin alphabet, Uzbek has been the official language since 1992, immediately after the country gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
5. Tashkent Is Uzbekistan’s Capital City
Historically known as Chach, Binkat, or Shash, Tashkent is Uzbekistan’s capital and largest city. With a population of over 3 million people, it is the most populated region in Central Asia. Even though the city was destroyed in 1966 by the Tashkent earthquake, it was rebuilt as a model Soviet city.
6. The Silk Road Passed Through Uzbekistan
Spanning over 6,400 kilometers, the Silk Road was a network of Eurasian trade routes dating back to the second century BCE. The road connected the Western world with the Middle East and Asia. It passed through Uzbekistan, with its capital, Tashkent, among its biggest beneficiaries.
7. It Has the Largest Military in Central Asia
Examples of Central Asia countries include Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Uzbekistan. Of all these, Uzbekistan has the biggest military, with over 65,000 service members. The Global Firepower recently identified Uzbekistan as the country with the most powerful army in the region.
8. Uzbekistan Has An Impressive Literacy Rate
About 99.9% of adults in Uzbekistan can read and write, making it one of the most literate countries. Unfortunately, only about 76% of the under-15 population is currently enrolled in education, meaning the literacy rate will likely reduce significantly soon.
9. Palov Is Uzbekistan’s Signature Dish
Agriculture hugely influences Uzbek’s cuisine. With a lot of grain farming in the region, most natives rely on noodles and bread. Even though it wasn’t available for everyone until the 1930s, Palov, a main course consisting of meat, onions, carrots, and rice, is the country’s staple food today. Mutton is also a popular delicacy in the country since sheep are widely domesticated.
10. Soccer Is the Most Prominent Sport in Uzbekistan
People in Uzbekistan love soccer, with most following the Uzbek Super League keenly. Other popular sports in the country include hockey, rugby, futsal, chess, and basketball. The country is also home to former professional cyclist Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, who won the green jersey points in the Tour de France.
11. Cotton Is Uzbekistan’s Main Cash Crop
Accounting for over 17% of Uzbekistan’s exports, cotton is the country’s most important cash crop. Uzbekistan’s annual cotton production averages 1 Million tons of fiber, contributing up to 5% of the world’s silk production. It ranks well in the top 10 cotton-producing countries and is the 11th biggest exporter.
12. Two Men Were Executed By Boiling in Uzbekistan
In 2002, two men, Muzafar Avazov and Husdin Alimov, who were taken as “religious prisoners,” were executed by being boiled to death. Even though this wasn’t done publicly, the doctors who examined their bodies swore that the only way to explain the burns on the deceased bodies was that they were immersed in boiling water.
13. Uzbekistan Has Serious Policies to Curb Exam Cheating
Uzbekistan is so serious about curbing exam cheating that the authorities shut down the country’s internet and SMS services for about six hours during key college exam periods. However, natives say that despite the stringent measures, students still cheat, given the country’s high corruption levels.
14. Child Labor Was a Thing in Uzbekistan
Even though the country’s cotton industry has always been commendable, the same cannot be said about the conditions of the workers in the cotton farms. In the past, child labor in cotton production was deemed “normal,” with children as young as 9 employed in the cotton fields. Child workers who refused to work were beaten, while adults were penalized with lower incomes.
15. Uzbekistan Suffered a Cotton Ban
Given the continued reports of human rights misconduct in Uzbekistan, several companies, including Tesco, H&M, and Adidas, announced a ban on Uzbekistan’s cotton products. The authorities in the country responded to the international pressure by banning children from working in cotton fields. In 2022, the Cotton Campaign ended its call to boycott Uzbek cotton. Forced labor is no longer a thing.
16. Uzbekistan Has One of the Fastest Rail System
Uzbekistan is one of two countries in central Asia with a subway system. Tourists hail the Uzbek high-speed rail as clean, comfortable, and efficient, almost to what is in Europe. The bullet trains clock as high as 250km per hour (160mph).
17. It Has the Highest Population in Central Asia
With a population of over 36 million people, Uzbekistan has the highest population in Central Asia. In fact, it contributes to about half of the entire region’s total population. Uzbeks make up the majority of the people. The other ethnic groups include Russians, Tajiks, Karakalpak, Kazakhs, and Tatars.
18. A Woman Once Pretended to Be Miss Uzbekistan in 2015
The Miss World Competition usually happens yearly; it was hosted in Indonesia in 2013. For this edition, something peculiar happened: a woman known as Rakhima Ganieva entered the competition, claiming to represent Uzbekistan. On the contrary, Uzbekistan had never had a Miss Uzbekistan competition, so the Ministry of Culture and Sports had no idea who she was.