- Do they have elections? Yes.
- Do they have private property? Yes.
- Do they have freedom of the press? Nyet.
- Human rights? Not so much.
- Corruption – YES! At all levels of government and commerce.
I once heard a fellow traveler say, “The reason I travel is to learn how little I know about the world”. I wish I’d said that as our arrival yesterday in Uzbekistan shocked my expectations. What did I expect? Perhaps something more Asian with crowded streets, motor cycles and street vendors or something more Middle Eastern with women in hijabs or at least head scarves. What did I discover? Wide streets, smooth traffic flow (cars only, no bicycles or motor bikes), large and beautiful government and commercial buildings, extensive parks, a few people in traditional clothing but most in modern fashions, etc.
Of course Tashkent is the capital and the center of commerce and even here not all the neighborhoods look like this. There are still thousands of drab Soviet era apartment buildings and traditional neighborhoods of adobe walled homes with no windows only toward the inner courtyard and none to the outside (Arabic style).
Uzbekistan is the largest of the Central Asia Stans. Its population consists of over 100 ethnic groups and is primarily Muslim but there is religious tolerance and strict separation between religion and politics. It is a constitutional republic, in theory a democracy, but the President Islam Karimov has extensive powers and has held that position since 1991 when Uzbekistan gained independence from the Soviet Union. (That's 23 years!) One Internet source describes Uzbekistan as, “No country in Central Asia seems to have it so good, yet at the same time have it so bad, as Uzbekistan.
Follow our travels with stories and photos.
You can unsubscribe at any time.
Prefer Facebook Updates?