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Three young boys at the Islamic seminary of the Char Minar, Bukhara

Uzbekistan, in the ancient cradle between the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya rivers, is the most historically fascinating of the Central Asian republics. Within it are some of the oldest towns in the world, some of the Silk Road's main centres and most of the region's architectural splendours.

It occupies the heartland of Central Asia, sharing a border with all the other 'Stans', which is one of the reasons why it considers itself the most important of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, and why it is increasingly fulfilling the role of regional gendarme.

It's incredibly frustrating for travellers that the republic with arguably the most to offer has the worst attitude towards visitors. Politically the old USSR is alive and kicking here, and for individuals not under the wing of the state travel conglomerate, Uzbektourism, travel tends to be an endless series of petty bureaucratic irritations and official hassles. Uzbekistan's government likes its foreign visitors in the form of pre-programmed, obedient pods; independent travellers can expect to be on the receiving end of unwelcome official attention.

Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track
Getting Around
Further reading

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