Uzbekistan is rich in history. Samarkand was conquered by Alexander the Great. Islam was introduced by Arabs in the 8th-9th century. The most famous leader to come from Uzbekistan is Tamerlane who was born in Shahrisabz south of Samarkand. Russia conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic set up in 1924. During the Soviet era, intensive production of "white gold" cotton and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry.
Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991, following the break up of the Soviet Union. The country is a democracy, however, since 1991 it has been run by President Islam Karimov, whose security services are widely believed to have killed several hundred protesters in Andijan in 2005 and have been responsible for some severe breaches of the most basic human rights torture and killings. The country is wealthy in natural resources, yet most of the money is distributed into the president's ruling elite, and much of the country still remains quite poor. Little power exists outside of the presidents family or his close allies. The country remains as the most corrupt out of any former USSR state.
2012 1433: Jul 20 - Aug 18
2013 1434: Jul 9 - Aug 7
2014 1435: Jun 28 - Jul 27
The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days. Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country.
Jan 1 New Year Yangi Yi Bayrami
Mar 8 International Women's Day Xalqaro Xotin-Qizlar Kuni
Mar 21 Navroz Persian New Year Navro'z Bayrami
May 9 Remembrance Day, Peace Day or Liberation Day Xotira va Qadirlash Kuni, remembering that Uzbek troups participated in the Soviet army and that 500.000 Uzbek soldiers were killed in World War II.
Sep 1 Independence Day Mustaqillik Kuni, remembering the proclamation of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991
Oct 1 Teachers' Day O'qituvchi va Murabbiylar Kuni
Dec 8 Constitution Day Konstitutsiya Kuni, remembering the proclamation of the first constitution of independent Uzbekistan in 1992.
Holidays in accordance with the lunar year: the dates of these holidays vary according to the lunar calendar.
Kurban Kait Qurbaon Hayit
RamadanRamazon Hayit, Islamic fasting month
Uzbekistan measures 1450 km West to East and 930 km North to South.
Mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Syr Darya Sirdaryo and Zarafshon; Ferghana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west.