General Information about Central Asia

The Central part of Asia — this is the contrasts land: where are the both – lofty mountains with ice-rivers, and extensive lowlands with sandy and rocky deserts. At the territory with a square of about б mln. km2, in between of parallels 30° and 50° of north latitude, in its entirety or half are located such major Asian countries as, China, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenia, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, Kirghizia.

All the time the Central Asia historically connected with inhabiting its reaches nomadic people as well as with the Great Silk Road.

The Central Asia – Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tadzhikistan, Kyrgyzstan, as well as Kazakhstan – appeared as the place of people concentration, products and messages from various sides of Eurasian Continent — Europe, Mid East, South and Eastern Asia.

The all central part of Asia key feature — is farness from oceans, from humidity channels. For one, from Tien-Shan to Atlantic Ocean almost 3 thousand km, to Indian Ocean — 2 thousand km. But for mountains, focused on the east of central Asia, then full this area will appear as a great desert. But in mountains, owing to its huge height water resources emerged — ice-streams and long-standing snow. Going down, ice streams started to dissolve, that’s why give the birth to rivers.
One of the largest mountain systems in central Asia is — Tien-Shan. It run forth from Issyk Kul lake in Kirghizia along the territory of China and Mongolia upon 2,5 thousand km almost. Few tens of mountain ranges and mountain mass take rise on the high of 5000 -6000 m and above. Down the side of the hills run over the 10 thousand of ice streams. East the mountains spiral down, reaching Gobi desert borders (mong. «dry spot»), the largest one in Central Asia.

In Tien-Shan and Hindu Kush rise two big rivers — Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya. They run to west and, crossing the deserts space, fall in internal-drainage Aral Sea. Syr-Darya, run down the Tien-Shan heights, makes journey along the lowland with the length of about 3 thousand km. It supplies the water to Fergana basin and, once broke through Farkhad mountains, run over the Kyzyl Kum eastern suburb. Syr-Darya waters feed the irrigation systems in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The length of Amu-Darya, generated on Hindu Kush hill sides in Afghanistan, is over 2,5 thousand km. Stepped out the mountains to lowland, it’s crossing the Kyzyl Kum and Kara Kum deserts, no one inflow accepts; its channel switches the direction frequently, making up inflows and branches. In Amu-Darya basin since long were spaced oasis, reactivated deserts.

South of small bald peak spreads the Turanskaya lowland: its west end riches the Caspian Sea, and the southern— Kopet Dagh xp., eastern one— TienShan. Just at that spot are positioned Kara Kum (Turkic – «black sands») and Kyzyl Kum (Turkic «Red Sand»). The Kara Kums occupied around 350 thousand km2, basically on the territory of Turkmenistan. Sands, carried by rivers and winds, will form ranges of from 3—5 to 40—50 m height, extended down the dominant winds. Xerocolous bush and weeds, without making the continuous cover, are on the top of them. Abasements were occupied with saline soils, to the cells, like honeycombs, were embedded salt lakes. Sand barchans, where nothing breeds absolutely, occupy 5 % of Kara Kum square. For many ages here feed flock of sheep, that after all eat up and stumbled down to the ground still scant vegetation. At the depth of, under the layer of sand, lie the ground waters. So as to get to it, there were constructed few thousands of wells and artesian boreholes.

To the north Karatau and Kirghiz Alatau, where looks out over the lowland the central river in Kirghizia Chu river, the Muyunkum desert spreads.

The second desert, running the north of the Chu river and west of the Balkhash lake, the Kazakhs phrased as Betpak-Dala — dishonest lowland, means this land is barrenness. The square of Betpak-Dala — 75 thousand square km. From among the deserts of Central Asia Betpak-Dala rated as one of the most developed. However, when from the Hungry Steppe to tight mountain gate hot wind blows, then «desert breath» kills the crop in productive Fergana Valley.


Before the XVI century the great importance in historical and cultural relation growths as well as in commerce between the East and West nationals, supported the Great Silk Road, far-famed in the ancient world (the German historian and geographer K. Ritgofen presented the name in 1877). It was originated in II B.C., long before its creation in the territory of Central Asia and the Ancient Orient were already existed channels for trade and economic purposes (“lapis lazuli route, “imperial route” as well as others.).

The Great Silk Road length made 12 thousand kilometers. It started on the shore of Yellow Sea and run to Eastern Turkestan, Central Asia, Iran, Mesopotamia, towards the Mediterranean Sea coast. There were large ancient cities and settlements were positioned themselves on that way — Sian, Dun-Juan, Yarkend, Samarkand, Tashkent, Bukhara, Merv. From Sogda to China were delivered woolen textile, carpets, different decorations as well as gems; from Fergana — pedigreed horses; from Badakhshan lapis lazuli was delivered; from India to Central Asia caravan processions with cotton cloth were passed, carrying cotton seeds either, rice was transported from China, and from the Central Asia to China — grapes, Persian walnuts, pomegranate fruits and other commodities were delivered.

The Central Asia actually played indisputable significant role in integration of two grand civilizations – western and eastern, presented itself as the captain for both. More over, the operation of the Great Silk Road in many ways promoted the economic and cultural rise of the Central Asia in itself.

In XIII c., soon after the Central Asia capture by Moguls, the Great Silk Road slightly turned its direction. Many of caravans passed by Movarounakhr (Central Asia), run straight for Volga Caspian Sea northward, and there from moved to Black Sea. (by reason that since the Moguls the region was practically destroyed).

Amir Temur, stepped as Maveranakhr and Khorasan ruler in 1370, spoke for the Great Silk Road corridors renewal via the Central Asia territory (just made the same on Volga, there done in Maveranakhr Genghis Khan, wasted It). And the caravan processions once more opened the trip via Herat, Balkh and Samarkand. The Great Silk Road main functions came to: goods exchange, accumulation and expansion of new technologies as well religions (Buddhism, Nestorianism, active information sharing along with the diplomatic contacts, arranged ambassadorial caravans. For Central Asia the Great Silk Road came as a factor of rapid and efficient growth and development. As well as the role of Central Asia in itself in terms of the Great Silk Road was recognized as a grand: such seemed to do the function of memory, and then the new for that time technologies transferred to another states from the Central Asia. The commodities from Central Asia were valued for its fine quality.

The Central Asia appeared to be in the node of the Great Silk Route main ways. Over there met tradesmen, crafts men, men of science and musicians from all over the world.
The Central Asia has never been rend from the global civilization key focuses. This region affected not just the social, economic and cultural development of neighboring states (Shumer, Assyria, Midiya, Iran, India), but held some certain contacts with Transcaucasia, Mediterranean, Volga region, as well as with the nomadic tribes of current South Russia and Kazakhstan. Since the Akhemenids’ there arise the Greek settlements, opens the active cultures interaction process of neighboring states. Such fact is enhanced after the Alexander the Great wining. As the political life of Greek states in Central Asia was of a short-duration, the Greek and the Central Asian cultures integration process contributed to the great spiritual and material culture expansion in the region. Within this period, relations between the Central Asia and Indian cultures as well as Eastern Mediterranean were continued. The contacts with China near the III c. B.C. were initiated.

It has been known, that the Chinese imperator VuDi in 138 y. B.C. appointed his ambassador Chjan Tsyan to search teammates to fight against the militant Huns nomadic tribes, that wasted the northern Chinese suburbs. Travelling, the ambassador was captivated by Huns for full ten years. He was managed to run away and through the high mountains of Central Tien-Shan he reached the Issyk-Kul lake. Passed the along-shore Naryn river, he entered then the Fergana valley. It was a real suddenness for him, when he discovered a plenty of settlements and towns through the valley, integrated in one state. He made en effort to reach an agreement with the Fergana Valley governor, but who agreed just for commercial relations establishment, and Chjan Tsyan proceeded to travel next to South. Coming back from journey, again he was captivated by Huns, but this once escaped two years after. Chjan Tsyan submitted a paper to the imperator concerning his stay in Central Asia, where indicated the easy ways for merchandising operation, that later grown up as foundation of the Great Silk Route. The imperator gave a title «The Great Explorer». The information about the exchange between China and Central Asia were preserved, mainly in Chinese chronicles, since the I c. B.C. till the VII—VIII cc. A.C. The early sources narrated about the gift offerings, that directed from the Central Asian region states to imperial palace. As well as from here were dispatched presents, when China wished to call someone from the local rulers. Among the Central Asian presents and gifts, in particularly were recognized the glorious horses Davani, light-footed racers, that were qualified as «of heaven», «wing bearings». And they were recognized, for the legend, lived in China: in order to confirm its divinity and find the eternity, the imperator supposed to be translated into Heaven with the help of earth horses team. And exactly Chjan Tsyan delivered to China «of Heaven» horses. This enterprising voyager exported from the Central Asia not just the horses, as well as feed for – Lucerne seeds. Soon after Lucerne crops were developed all over China.

Thanks to the Great Silk Route the Central Asian nationals found out more about the economy developments as well as Western and Eastern culture, and the nationals of the West discovered the Central Asian region high status development.

In 16 century the Great Silk Route was no more for the reason, that the Portuguese discovered more cheap and convenient way to deliver commodities from India and China, and it was sea route.

Considering the unique in terms of civilization history role of the Great Silk Route, UNESCO approved the program «The Great Silk Route – the way of dialogue » in 1987. The main idea of that program was – to demonstrate, how, along the wars, over a period of many centuries the lead in processes carried between states and nationals, and the key factors of the process were represented commercial relations as well as cultural interchange.

The effect of UNESCO program «The Great Silk Route – the way of dialogue» was the creature of the Central Asian studies International Institute in Samarkand, that was called to contribute to research the civilization history in Central Asia.

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