Uzbekistan's capital (pop. 2,148,000) is also Central Asia's largest city and main transportation hub. It's a sprawling city of tree-lined boulevards, pretty parks and funky architecture. Contrary to its appearance, it is an ancient city—an earthquake destroyed much of Tashkent in 1966, and virtually everything there today was built or reconstructed after that.

Tashkent has few mosques, madrassas and mausoleums to rival those in Samarkand, Bukhara or Khiva, but it's a good place to experience contemporary Uzbek life. Take time to stroll the streets and walk through the parks; to cover large distances, hop on the subway (called the metro) or take a taxi.

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