Tashkent, which translates from Uzbek and Russian into English as Stone City, is the largest and capital city of Uzbekistan, with a population of around 2.3 million. Tashkent is a diverse city — although nearly 60% of the population identify as Uzbek, it also has considerable Russian and Tajik populations. Around 7% of its residents were registered as 'Other Nationalities' in the 2008 census, which includes a significant number of expatriates. Due to its location in Central Asia and its proximity to Eastern Europe and trade routes, Tashkent has historically been an international city, and to this day welcomes visitors and international residents.
Uzbekistan is an Islamic country, with around 97% of its residents identifying as Muslim. There is, however, a native Christian population practicing Russian Orthodox Christianity, and small Roman Catholic communities in some cities. Relocating expatriates should be aware that many local residents will not speak fluent English, although in the Russian communities, English speakers may be more common.
While Tashkent's local residents will be used to its particular climate, it may take some getting used to for those who only recently moved to Tashkent. Due to its location, Uzbekistan has a Mediterranean climate, but with strong continental climate influences. This means that its climate is rather polarized, with long, hot, and dry summers giving way to cold, snowy, and wet winters.
These winters usually take place between December and February, when the residents of the city experience an average of 70 cm of snow over 32 days. Due to its higher altitude (around 500 meters) and the surrounding mountainous regions, Tashkent experiences unusually large amounts of precipitation during the early spring months.
British expatriates and those from other colder climates will, on the other hand, be delighted to learn that living in Tashkent means long, hot and dry summers lasting on average for six months between May and September, and featuring very little to no precipitation.
Like many countries in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has a rather strict visa policy. If you are visiting or staying with friends on arrival, you must produce a letter of invitation in order to be granted a visa before you travel to the country. On arrival, your host should register you with their local Department of Foreign Travel and Exit (which also deals with foreign citizens and expatriates).
If you move to a different district during your stay, you may need to register again. This is important, as when leaving the country a full record of your movements whilst in Uzbekistan will be required. If you cannot provide this information, then you may be fined or deported.
If you are staying for more than three days, you must also register with the Ministry of Internal Affairs within those three days of your arrival, including weekends. Failure to do so means you can incur a hefty fine, have your passport taken for inspection, or be deported. However, most hotels will do this on your behalf.