Tashkent (Toshkent), Uzbekistan
Tashkent, on the Chirchik river in the foothills of the western Tien Shan mountains, is Uzbekistan’s capital and the largest city in Central Asia.
Established in the first century AD, Tashkent had a succession of names including Chach, Chachkent, Shashkent and Binkent. Arabs seized control in the seventh century and the Turkish shahs of Khwarazm became the rulers in the twelfth century. Situated on the Silk Road between Samarkand and Beijing, the city prospered. In the thirteenth century it came under the Mongols led by Genghis Kahn and in the following century the Timurids ruled. They were succeeded by the Shaybanids and, in 1809, the khans of Kokand.
Following the Russian invasion of 1865, the city was made the administrative centre of Turkestan. The Trans-Caspian railway linked it with Russia in 1889. Soviet rule was established in 1917 but when the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was divided 7 years later, Samarkand was made capital of Uzbekistan. Capital status was transferred back to Tashkent in 1930.
Most of Tashkent was destroyed in an earthquake in 1966, which left over 300,000 homeless. Soviet brutalist architecture replaced most of the infrastructure. After the collapse of the USSR it was confirmed as capital of independent Uzbekistan.
At the centre of a rich cotton producing region, textile and related industries are vital to the urban economy. Also important are tobacco and food processing, chemicals, agricultural machinery and consumer goods.
A major transport hub, Tashkent is on the Trans-Caspian railway. There is a metro system within the city and a nearby international airport. There is a university and several institutes of higher education.
Places of Interest
Leading attractions include the Palace of Arts, the fifteenth century Barakkhan Madrasah theological school and numerous theatres, such as the Navoi Opera and Ballet. There are museums of fine arts and applied arts, and the large Chorsu bazaar is also a major attraction.