Tashkent, the capital of a young independent state, is the largest city in Central Asia. Besides, it is political, business, scientific and cultural center of Uzbekistan.
The officially registered population of the city in 2008 was 2.1 million. Unofficial sources estimate the actual population may be as much as 4.45 million.
History of Tashkent
In pre-Islamic and early Islamic times the town of Tashkent and the province were known as «Chach». The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi also refers to the city as “Chach”. Later the town came to be known as Chachkand/Chashkand, meaning «Chach City”. (“Tash” in Turkic language means stone. Kand, qand, kent, kad, kath, kud—all meaning a city—are derived from the Persian/Sogdian کنده kanda, meaning a town or a city. They are found in city names like Samarkand, Yarkand, Penjikent etc.).
Archaeological excavations have revealed that present-day Tashkent was the site of an ancient town which has continued to exist as a developed commercial and cultural center of the East. Eastern and western traditions and customs have merged into a single whole. Unfortunately, many of historical monuments of Tashkent have been destroyed after the revolution of 1917. The unique historical monuments including Kukeldash and Barak-Khana Madrassahs erected in 16th century have been preserved to this day. There was one important event in the history of Tashkent. In 1966, a destructive earthquake shook Tashkent and raised half of the city into ruins. In a year Tashkent actually revived and became even more beautiful.
After the 16th century, the name was steadily changed slightly from Chachkand/Chashkand to Tashkand, which, as «stone city», was more meaningful to the new inhabitants than the old name. The modern spelling of Tashkent reflects Russian orthography.
Tashkent started as an oasis on the Chirchik River, near the foothills of the Gulistan Mountains. In ancient times, this area contained Beitian, probably the summer «capital» of the Kangju confederacy.
The principality of Chach, that main town had a square citadel built around the 5th to 3rd centuries BC, some 8 kilometres (5.0 miles) south of the Syr Darya River. By the 7th century AD, Tashkent had over 30 towns and a network of over 50 canals, forming a trade center between the Sogdians and Turkic nomads. The region came under the sway of Islam in the early parts of the 8th century.
Under the Samanid dynasty, the city came was known as Binkath. However, the Arabs retained the old name of Chach for the surrounding region, pronouncing it al-Shash instead. The modern Turkic name of Tashkent (City of Stone) came from Kara-Khanid rule in the 10th century.
The city was destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1219, although the great conqueror had found that the Khorezmshah had already sacked the city in 1214. Under the Timurids and subsequent Shaybanid dynasties the city revived, despite occasional attacks by the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Persians, Mongols, Oirats and Kalmyks.
In 1809, Tashkent was annexed to the Khanate of Kokand. At the time, Tashkent had a population of around 100,000 and was considered the richest city in Central Asia. It prospered greatly through trade to Russia, but chafed under Kokand’s high taxes. The Tashkent clergy also favored the clergy of Bukhara over that of Kokand. However, before the Emir of Bukhara could capitalize on this discontent, the Russian army arrived.
The city began to industrialize in the 1920s and 1930s, but industry increased tremendously during World War II, with the relocation of factories from western Russia to preserve the Soviet industrial capacity from the invading Nazis. The Russian population increased dramatically as well, with evacuees from the war zones increasing the population to well over a million. The Russians and Ukrainians would eventually comprise more than half of the total residents of Tashkent.
On 26 April 1966, Tashkent was destroyed by a huge earthquake (7.5 on the Richter scale) and over 300,000 were left homeless. Some 78,000 poorly engineered homes were destroyed mainly in the densely packed areas of the old city where traditional adobe housing predominated. The Soviet republics and some other countries such as Finland sent «battalions of fraternal peoples” and urban planners to help rebuild devastated Tashkent. They created a “model Soviet city” of wide shady streets, parks, immense plazas for military parades, fountains, monuments, and acres of apartment blocks. About 100,000 new homes were built by 1970, many of which were filled with the families of the builders. Further development in the following years increased the size of the city with major new developments in the Chilonzar area, north-east and south-east of the city.During this great renovation of Tashkent city beautiful underground stations were constructed.Tashkent Metro is very clean and unique. Tashkent is the only city in Central Asia, which has a metro.
At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tashkent was the fourth largest city in the country and a center of learning in the science and engineering fields. With the 1966 earthquake and the Soviet redevelopment afterward, very little is left of Tashkent’s ancient history, including its significance as a trading point on the historic Great Silk Road.
Uzbekistan — Tashkent: after independence
Since 1991, the city has changed economically, culturally, and architecturally. The largest statue ever erected for Lenin was replaced with a globe, complete with a geographic map of Uzbekistan over it. Buildings from the Soviet era have been replaced with new, modern buildings. One example is the «Downtown Tashkent» region, which includes the 22-story NBU Bank building, an Intercontinental Hotel, International Business Center, and the Plaza Building.
In 2007, Tashkent was named the cultural capital of the Islamic world as the city is home to numerous historic mosques and religious establishments. In 2009 all people of Uzbekistan celebrated the great date, the 2200th anniversary jubilee of the city of Tashkent. After 2009 Tashkent city really changed its appearance. Today modern Tashkent is famous by new modern buildings with oriental motives, beautiful green gardens with colored flowers and fountains and big famous Chorsu-bazar where people can buy everything. At that moment, modern Tashkent is the most cosmopolitan city in Uzbekistan. More than 130 nations and nationalities live in peace and accord in Uzbekistan. The city is noted for its tree lined streets, numerous fountains, and pleasant parks.
Today Tashkent has a continental Mediterranean climate with long, hot and dry summers from June to September and short but cold winters from December to February. The temperatures in Tashkent can be extremely hot during July and August. With the average annual rainfall ranging from 100 to 200 mm, the country is largely arid and dry. Most precipitation occurs in the months of winter and spring, while the period between July and September is dry.