Tashkent or Toshkent , is the capital and largest city of Uzbekistan, as well as the most populated city in ex-Soviet Central Asia with a population in 2018 of 2,485,900. It is located in the north-east of the country close to the border with Kazakhstan. Tashkent lies in the northeastern part of the country. It is situated at an elevation of 1,475 to 1,575 feet (450 to 480 metres) in the Chirchiq River valley west of the Chatkal Mountains and is intersected by a series of canals from the Chirchiq River. The city probably dates from the 2nd or the 1st century bce and was variously known as Dzhadzh, Chachkent, Shashkent, and Binkent; the name Tashkent, which means “Stone Village” in Uzbek, was first mentioned in the 11th century.
Before Islam influence started in the 8th century AD, Tashkent was influenced by the Sogdian and Turkic cultures in its early history. After its destruction by Genghis Khan in 1219, the city was rebuilt and profited from the Silk Road. From the 18th to 19th century, the city became an independent city-state, before being re-conquered by the Khanate of Kokand. In 1865, it fell to the Russian Empire, and became the capital of Russian Turkestan. In Soviet times, Tashkent witnessed major growth and demographic changes due to forced deportations from throughout the Soviet Union. Much of the city was destroyed in the 1966 Tashkent earthquake, though it was rebuilt afterwards as a model Soviet city. It was the fourth-largest city of the Soviet Union at the time, after Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev. Today, as the capital of an independent Uzbekistan, Tashkent retains a multi-ethnic population, with ethnic Uzbeks as the majority. In 2009, the city celebrated its 2,200 years of written history.
Data and Facts
- Tashkent, Uzbekistan is in the Guinness World Records for having the oldest Koran, specifically the Holy Koran Mushaf of Othman owned by the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan. That Koran once belonged to Caliph Othman (c.AD 588-656) third successor to the Prophet Mohammed. Today about half of the original 706 pages survive
- Tashkent city occupies 129 square miles (335 square kilometers), within which live an estimated 2 million people.
- Including city proper, Tashkent’s built-up urban area encompasses 415 square miles (1,075 square kilometers) which serves as home for approximately 2.8 million inhabitants
- Population density is much higher within Uzbekistan’s capital city with an average 15,300 Uzbeks per square mile (5,900 per square kilometer). Density diminishes to an average 6,700 people per square mile (2,600 per square kilometer) when Tashkent’s built-up urban area is factored in
- The only five-star hotel in Tashkent is HYATT Regency Tashkent. It includes seven floors, 300 guest rooms sized from 35 to 190 square meters, five conference rooms, two restaurants, a bar, a spa area, a pool, many open terraces with a beautiful view of the capital
The Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan exercises executive power in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The members of the government are the President of Uzbekistan, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, Ministers, and deputy ministers. It has its legal basis in the Constitution of Uzbekistan. Cabinet of Ministers - The Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan is the executive power body of the Republic of Uzbekistan, ensuring guidance over effective functioning of the economy, social and cultural development, execution of the laws, and other decisions of Supreme Assembly, as well as decrees and resolutions issued by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Republic of Uzbekistan is a presidential constitutional republic, whereby the President of Uzbekistan is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Supreme Assembly, the Senate and the Legislative Chamber. The judicial branch (or judiciary), is composed of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, and Higher Economic Court that exercises judicial power.
The movement toward economic reform in Uzbekistan has not been matched by movement toward political reform. The government of Uzbekistan has instead tightened its grip since independence (September 1, 1991), cracking down increasingly on opposition groups. Although the names have changed, the institutions of government remain similar to those that existed before the breakup of the Soviet Union. The government has justified its restraint of public assembly, opposition parties, and the media by emphasizing the need for stability and a gradual approach to change during the transitional period, citing the conflict and chaos in the other former republics (most convincingly, neighboring Tajikistan). This approach has found credence among a large share of Uzbekistan's population, although such a position may not be sustainable in the long run. Despite the trappings of institutional change, the first years of independence saw more resistance than acceptance of the institutional changes required for democratic reform to take hold. Whatever initial movement toward democracy existed in Uzbekistan in the early days of independence seems to have been overcome by the inertia of the remaining Soviet-style strong centralized leadership.
Today Tashkent is the main economic and cultural centre of Central Asia. Cotton is the chief crop of the region in which it is situated. Wheat, rice, jute, vegetables, and melons are also grown, and silkworms are bred. The city lies in the most industrially developed part of Uzbekistan, and much of its industry is in some way connected with cotton—the manufacture of agricultural and textile machinery and of cotton textiles. It also has various food-processing industries.
Since independence, the economy of Uzbekistan continues to exist as a Soviet-style command economy with slow transformation to market economy. The progress of governmental economic policy reforms has been cautious, but cumulatively Uzbekistan has shown respectable achievements. Its restrictive trade regime and generally interventionist policies continue to have a negative effect on the economy. Substantial structural reform is needed, particularly in these areas: improving the investment climate for foreign investors, strengthening the banking system, and freeing the agricultural sector from state control. Remaining restrictions on currency conversion capacity and other government measures to control economic activity, including the implementation of severe import restrictions and sporadic closures of Uzbekistan's borders with neighboring Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits.
Working closely with the IMF, the government has made considerable progress in reducing inflation and the budget deficit. The national currency was made convertible in 2003 as part of the IMF-engineered stabilization program, although some administrative restrictions remain. The agriculture and manufacturing industries contribute equally to the economy, each accounting for about one-quarter of the GDP.
For purchasing power parity comparisons in 2006, the U.S. dollar is exchanged at 340 som.
Uzbekistan's GDP, like that of all CIS countries, declined during the first years of transition and then recovered after 1995, as the cumulative effect of policy reforms began to be felt. It has shown robust growth, rising by 4% per year between 1998 and 2003, and accelerating thereafter to 7%-8% per year. In 2011 the growth rate came up to 9%. Given the growing economy, the total number of people employed rose from 8.5 million in 1995 to 13.5 million in 2011.
This healthy increase of nearly 25% in the labor force lagged behind the increase in GDP during the same period , which implies a significant increase in labor productivity. Official unemployment is very low: less than 30,000 job seekers were registered in government labor exchanges in 2005-2006 .
Underemployment, on the other hand, is believed to be quite high, especially in agriculture, which accounts for fully 28% of all employed, many of them working part-time on tiny household plots. However, no reliable figures are available due to the absence of credible labor surveys. The minimum wage, public-sector wages, and old-age pensions are routinely raised twice a year to ensure that base income is not eroded by inflation. Although no statistics are published on average wages in Uzbekistan, pensions as a proxy for the average wage increased significantly between 1995 and 2006, both in real terms and in U.S. dollars. The monthly old-age pension increased in real sums by almost a factor of 5 between 1995 and 2006.
Stabilization efforts implemented with active guidance from the International Monetary Fund rapidly paid off, as inflation rates were brought down to 50% in 1997 and then to 22% in 2002. Since 2003 annual inflation rates averaged less than 10%.The severe inflationary pressures that characterized the early years of independence inevitably led to a dramatic depreciation of the national currency. The exchange rate of Uzbekistan's first currency, the «notional» ruble inherited from the Soviet period and its successor, the transient «coupon som» introduced in November 1993 in a ratio of 1:1 to the ruble, went up from 100 rubles/US$ in the early 1992 to 3627 rubles in mid-April 1994. On July 1, 1994 the «coupon soʻm» was replaced with the permanent new Uzbek soʻm in a ratio of 1000:1, and the starting exchange rate for the new national currency was set at 7 som/US$, implying an almost two-fold depreciation since mid-April. Within the first six months, between July and December 1994, the national currency depreciated further to 25 som/US$ and continued depreciating at a fast clip until December 2002, when the exchange rate had reached 969 som/US$, i.e., 138 times the starting exchange rate eight and a half years earlier or nearly 10,000 times the exchange rate in early 1992, soon after the declaration of independence.
Then the depreciation of the som virtually stopped in response to the government's stabilization program, which at the same time dramatically reduced the inflation rates. During the four years that followed the exchange rate of the som to the US dollar increased only by a factor of 1.33, from 969 som to around 1865 som in May 2012.
From 1996 until the spring of 2003, the official and so-called «commercial» exchange rate – both set administratively by the Central Bank – were highly overvalued. Many businesses and individuals were unable to buy dollars legally at these «low» rates, so a widespread black market developed to meet hard currency demand. The spread between the official exchange rate and the curb rate widened especially after the Russian financial crisis of August 1998: at the end of 1999 the curb rate stood at 550 som/US$ compared with the official rate of 140 som/US$, a gap by nearly a factor of 4 . By mid-2003, the government's stabilization and liberalization efforts had reduced the gap between the black market, official, and commercial rates to approximately 8% and it quickly disappeared as the som was made convertible after October 2003.
Two years after the death of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s first president, the once impenetrable country has shown interest in opening up to international investors. Enthusiasts regard this as the «Uzbek spring», a new beginning for the country under its new leader, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Others have pointed to the sluggish and inconsistent pace of liberal reforms in the Central Asian state, which could just be used as façade to attract foreign capital.
Take Tashkent City, a government-sponsored project that aims to develop a high-tech business hub in Uzbekistan’s capital at a total cost of around $1.3 billion. British, Korean and German companies were awarded the main lots for construction. As Mirziyoyev, who is overseeing the project, stated in October 2017: «Tashkent City is a project which we will use to announce ourselves to the international community.» But closer scrutiny into one of the foreign investors into Tashkent City reveals a complex network of companies and individuals closely linked to Central Asia, casting doubt on the positive news that Uzbekistan’s official media initially trumpeted. Hyper Partners GmbH, though heralded as a German investor for Tashkent City’s Lot 3, seems to belong to a network of Uighur businessmen, partnering with a Kazakh entrepreneur currently facing fraud charges. Neither this company, nor others associated with its public directors, has any record of experience of large-scale construction projects.
The Uzbek government’s desire to showcase its friendliness to foreign investors led journalists to investigate the ownership of the companies that won the tenders to develop Tashkent City, unveiling a complex network of companies and individuals which operate without a clear financial rationale. With the help of legal experts in Germany, we were able to disentangle the threads and highlight the network behind Hyper Partners GmbH, one of Tashkent City’s main investors and foreign contractors.
The project worth 5.5 million USD is aimed at developing, based on Korean experience, a system of providing comprehensive assistance to entrepreneurs in implementation of their business projects.
Within the framework of the project, standard business incubators that provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to receive practical assistance from qualified specialists in implementation of their business ideas will be created in Tashkent. Here proposals will be developed to improve the normative-legal framework in supporting future entrepreneurs, stimulating their activities, developing an innovative business ecosystem in Uzbekistan. In the business incubator, special attention will be paid to the development of youth entrepreneurship.
Tashkent International Airport «Yuzhniy» is just a few kilometers from the city centre. Airlines serving Tashkent include Aeroflot, Air Astana, Air Baltic, Asiana, Uzbekistan Airways and Turkish Airlines. It is also the hub of Uzbekistan Airways , which flies to many destinations including Almaty, Tokyo, Bangkok, London, and New York-JFK. All the airports in Uzbekistan have immigration posts and Uzbekistan Airways Operates direct flights from Samarkand, Bukhara, Urgench, Andijan, Fergana airports to CIS Countries. Note that while the domestic and international terminals are at the same airport the only way to get from one to the other is by road, a ten minute taxi ride and see notes below about the taxi situation. A taxi should not cost more than 5000 som between the terminals, but the taxi drivers will try to cheat you. Alternatively, there are two buses that operate between both terminals, 11 and 77.
In the international terminal, buses leave from in front of the terminal. Walk straight out, past the parking lot where the bus stops are just before the main road. In the domestic terminal, the bus stop is to the left of the terminal in a large parking lot that does not look like a bus stop. Note that buses do not operate at night. Pay the driver after the ride. As of June 2017, a bus ride costs 1000 som and marshrutka ride costs 1200 som. A short and inexpensive taxi journey is the easiest way to get to the city center. One should bear in mind, however, that upon exiting the international terminal, a large number of men will be crowded at the exit door offering «taxi» services. For the most part, these are not «official» taxis. «Taxi» drivers will attempt to charge whatever they believe an international tourist can stomach. You have to buy a token to unlock the trollies. Baggage collection is a lengthy wait - can be up to 1.5 hours. There are only two luggage belts. The indicator showing the belt to collect your luggage may not be correct. It is therefore good to stay in the centre of the two luggage belt so that you can see both belts at the same time.
Arrival customs clearance has changed a lot in recent times - No declarations forms or long lines while all bags are checked. The usual Red/Green channels to walk through. If stopped by an customs officer they'll send you to one of the x-ray machines to check bags. This seemed to happen only to returning citizens with large amounts of luggage. Tourists mostly walked through without being stopped. You can go through the «green» corridor, without completing the customs declaration, if imported foreign currency does not exceed the equivalent of 2,000 US dollars and the cost and the number of imported goods do not exceed the norms not subject to customs payments established by law or there are no goods whose import or export is prohibited or restricted in accordance with the law. The entire amount of foreign currency in cash exceeding the equivalent of 2,000 US dollars is subject to mandatory written declaration when importing and exporting. Be aware that the arrival area has a number of ATMs , hence arriving with a few USD is a good idea, there are exchange banks before customs. Travellers should also be wary of the «tourist welcome desk» before customs, they may overcharge you on the SIM card and offer the third placed network that has poor reception across the country, and no 4G no matter what they claim... You are better getting SIMs in town unless you speak no Russian. Go to the airport early and check in early, the taxi may try to charge 3000SOM for an official drop-off, or walk for 50 metres for free. The departures area is on the upper floor, however the access road has been closed, so you have to walk around the left hand side of the arrivals level and up some stairs/escalator, or up the road. Sometimes, simple items such as expensive chocolate may have problem clearing and have to be disposed by the custom officers doing the checking. The Uzbekistan Airways Main Ticketing office is located at Amir Timur Str,51. Flight tickets can also be purchased from hundreds of ticketing agents and some even offer free ticket delivery.
Tashkent is a key stopping point for rail services from Central Asia. There are direct connections to Moscow, Russia and Almaty, Kazakhstan. If changing trains it is possible to travel from or to Dushanbe in Tajikistan and Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. It is possible to travel to China . Ticket prices are cheap by western standards, but will need to be paid for in cash. There are many warnings about thefts of personal belongings on the trains.
To Samarkand there is a fast train that now leaves daily at 8AM arriving Samarkand at about 10:10AM. On Saturday and Sunday there is a second train that leaves Tashkent at 7AM arriving Samarkand at 9:10AM. The return train is at 5PM and 6PM, arriving back to Tashkent around 7:10 and 8:10PM respectively. All trains leave now from the Northern Railway Station , Tukestan kochasi, Metro station «Toshkent». Make sure that you buy ticket in advance or arrive 1 hour before train departure as the queue for ticket office is often long, though appears to have improved recently as there is now a formal ticketing system which has avoided most people jumping the queue. Get a ticket on arrival from a machine on the left that has English, Russian and Uzbek options. The even easier choice is to do an e-ticket, making sure you print it at home first. Alternatively you can get the ticket office to print your tickets, even if booked online, though it will take a few minutes and you need your reference numbers . To travel by bus to Uzbekistan a traveller has to take a bus to the border post,then cross the border on foot and then take another bus to the final destination.
From the first days of independence Uzbekistan has paid great attention to the comprehensive development of information and communication technologies and their wide application in all spheres of life of state and society. Over a short period the authorities created the legal framework conducive to further formation and progress of market of IT-technologies. In particular, in 1992 the Law «On telecommunications» was adopted, which established general principles of progressive promotion of the industry. Issues of ICT legal regulation received further development in the Law «On information» dated December 11, 2003. President's Resolutions «On measures for further implementation and development of modern information and communication technologies» dated March 21, 2012 and «On further development of computerization and introduction of information and communication technologies» dated May 30, 2002, became important documents in this direction. At present the Complex program of development of National information and communication system of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2013-2020 is being implemented. This program was approved by President's Resolution dated June 27, 2013.
Making a statement at enlarged meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the socio-economic development in 2015 and the most important priorities of economic program for 2016, President Islam Karimov noted that in today's conditions in the era of Internet and electronics, the widespread introduction of information and communication technologies in the fields of economy, radical acceleration of creation of system «Electronic government» are of priority significance. As the head of our state underlined, development of ICT has a direct impact on the level of competitiveness of the country, allows you to collect and summarize vast amounts of information, offers great opportunities for management at strategic level. The task of regular improving of the governance, strengthening the capacity of IT-industry was entrusted to the Ministry for development of information technologies and communications, created by the Resolution of the Head of our state dated February 4, 2015. In addition, since 2002 a Centre for development and introduction of computer and information technologies UZINFOCOM operates, which assists in the development and implementation of national programs of computerization and introduction of ICT in all sectors of public administration, economic and social spheres. As a result of comprehensive measures at airports, railway stations, places of frequent-stay travelers, parks, shopping malls and other public places of the capital and each administrative center of republic Wi-Fi points have been created. The high development rates of national Internet segment should be separately noted. Uzbekistan has 10.2 million web users. According to UZINFOCOM center, in January 2016 the number of websites in the UZ zone exceeded 25 thousand, while growth totaled more than 30% compared to same period of last year. The use of ICT and software products in the management and production processes plays a major role in the development of sectors of the economy and the domestic industry. For instance, in 2014-2015 in the framework of a special state program 86 projects have been realized in order to introduce information systems in large joint-stock companies, associations and organizations totaling more than 330 billion soums. Particular attention is paid to development of national market of software products. In order to stimulate domestic programmers the National register of software developers has been created, which already included 69 companies. A directory of software manufacturers Software.uz has been developed that provides necessary information to citizens and businesses.
According to the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan «On measures to further strengthen the incentives of domestic software developers» dated September 20, 2013 new benefits and preferences for members of software industry were introduced. Thus, they are exempt from customs duties for imported equipment for their own use, components, parts, technical documentation and software until January 1, 2017. Information system E-Sud for electronic proceedings is functioning effectively since 2004. Through its implementation, procedures such as keeping registration books, document management within court, direction of judicial notifications and procedural acts, familiarization of sides with case are completely automated now. All educational institutions of the republic are connected to ZiyoNET network, which is functioning since 2005. In the library of portal, which was updated in 2014, has more than 75 thousand units of informative-educational resources, including textbooks, dissertations, research papers and others. As part of implementation of resolution of Head of our state «On measures on further improvement of foreign language learning system» dated December 10, 2012, «Foreign Languages» section has been created on ZiyoNET, which includes over four thousand materials such as textbooks, interactive lessons, games, relevant video and audio. The country regularly hosts major events dedicated to the development of hi-tech industry. In particular, Week of information and communication technologies ICTWeek Uzbekistan is being held since 2004. Traditionally it is opened with national exhibition of information technologies ICTExpo, which takes place once in two cities - Tashkent and Samarkand. The exhibition presents existing and future forms of ICT-based services, oriented to business community and authorities, and general population. Among the important events of the week - The Forum for Information and Communication Technologies ICTForum, wh ere representatives of leading companies, industry experts and foreign experts discuss state and prospects of progress in this sphere.
As part of the week conferences BestSoft Uzbekistan are also being held, during which they demonstrate the latest achievements of software developers, and e-Government Uzbekistan dedicated to the strategic objectives in the field of «e-government», results of implemented projects, exchange of experience and ideas in this direction. Training of personnel in the development of ICT sector is topical.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
In 1983, the population of Tashkent amounted to 1,902,000 people living in a municipal area of 256 km2 (99 sq mi). By 1991, (break-up of Soviet Union) the number of permanent residents of the capital had grown to approximately 2,136,600. Tashkent was the fourth most populated city in the former USSR, after Moscow, Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and Kiev. Nowadays, Tashkent remains the fourth most populous city in the CIS and Baltic countries. The population of the city was 2,295,300 people in 2004.
Tashkent's 2020 population is now estimated at 2,517,381. In 1950, the population of Tashkent was 754,688. Tashkent has grown by 138,232 since 2015, which represents a 1.14% annual change. These population estimates and projections come from the latest revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects. These estimates represent the Urban agglomeration of Tashkent, which typically includes Tashkent's population in addition to adjacent suburban areas.
Russian and Uzbek are both the main spoken languages. As with most of Uzbekistan, street signs and other things are often a mix of Latin and Cyrillic scripts.