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Tashkent is the capital city of the Republic of Uzbekistan, a country located in the region of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. The city itself is located on the Zarafshan River, just to the west of the Ferghana Valley. The history of Tashkent goes back more than 2,500 years, to a time when there was evidence of habitation in the region. The name itself means "city of stone," perhaps indicative of the stones used in its construction. It grew to be a significant stop on the great silk road in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, yet remained in the shadows of the more important city of Samarkand, which is approximately 300 kilometers (185 miles) to the south.

The city's fall to Russian forces in 1865 signaled the beginning of Imperial Russian rule over the region. It was designated as the capital city of the Turkestan Governor-Generalship and was the Russian capital of Central Asia. Indeed, as the city grew in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, distinct districts were formed, for both indigenous peoples and for the European colonizers. Tashkent was the scene of some of the bitterest

fighting during the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the subsequent civil war. For much of this period, Tashkent was a Red bastion, surrounded by anti-Bolshevik forces.

The political importance of Tashkent continued through the Soviet period. While Samarkand was initially designated as the capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (UzSSR), in 1929 the honor was given to Tashkent. During World War II, numerous factories and industries were moved to Tashkent from areas within Russia and Ukraine that were threatened by invading German forces. Consequently, Tashkent became industrialized from the 1940s onward, giving the city a strong economic importance to Central Asia and the Soviet Union as a whole.

In 1966 Tashkent experienced a devastating earthquake that left significant portions of the city in ruins. The Soviet government made the city's reconstruction a national effort, and citizens from all parts of the country moved to Tashkent to help in the rebuilding, with a number staying afterward. As a result, the population of the city quickly exceeded one million, and by the late 1980s was more than 2.5 million. As of 2002 the official population of the city was 2.6 million residents, although some estimates are closer to 3.0-3.5 million, or 1214 percent of Uzbekistan's total population. While Samarkand and Bukhara make claims to be the cultural centers of Uzbekistan, Tashkent remains the political and economic power of the country. Moreover, it is a major transportation and trade hub for Central Asia.

See also: central asia; islam; uzbekistan and uzbeks


Allworth, Edward, ed. (1994). Central Asia: 130 Years of Russia Dominance, A Historical Overview. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Bennigsen, Alexandre, and Wimbush, S. Enders. (1985). Muslims of the Soviet Empire: A Guide. London: C. Hurst and Company.

Bulatov, M. (1979). Tashkent. New York: Smithmark Publishing.

MacLeod, Calum, and Mayhew, Bradley. (1999). Uzbekistan: The Golden Road to Samarkand. London: Odyssey.

Sahadeo, Jeff. (2000). "Creating a Russian Colonial Community: City, Nation, Empire in Tashkent, 18651923." Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign.

Roger Kangas

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Tashkent (tăshkĕnt´, –kĕnd´) or Toshkent (tŏsh–), city (1992 pop. 2,133,000), capital of Tashkent region and of Uzbekistan, in the foothills of the Tian Shan mts.; the name is also spelled Dashkent. The largest and one of the oldest cities of Central Asia, it is the economic heart of the region. It is also a major cultural center, a rail and highway junction, and an important air terminal. The city lies in a great oasis along the Chirchik River and on the Trans-Caspian RR. There is extensive trade in grain and raw cotton. Tashkent has one of the largest cotton textile mills in Asia. Other industries include railroad workshops, food- and tobacco-processing plants, and factories that manufacture agricultural machinery and consumer goods. The Tashkent oasis produces cotton and fruit. Irrigation canals on the Chirchik River supply power for several hydroelectric plants.

Among the city's educational and cultural facilities are Tashkent State Univ. and the Uzbek Academy of Sciences. There are many museums and parks, a Muslim university, and several theater companies. Tashkent is also a military center. The modern section of the city coexists with the old quarter (partly reconstructed), with its narrow, twisting streets, numerous mosques, and bazaars; Tashkent lost most of the old town in a 1966 earthquake that heavily damaged the city. Once the preserve of Russian bureaucrats and settlers, the modern section filled with Uzbeks in the early 1990s, as Russians left for homes in Russia.

First mentioned in the 1st cent. BC, Tashkent came under Arabic rule in the 7th cent. AD and passed to the Turkish shahs of Khwarazm in the 12th cent. It developed as a commercial center on the historic trade route from Samarkand to Beijing. Tashkent was captured in the 13th cent. by Jenghiz Khan and in the 14th cent. by Timur. With the breakup of the Timurid empire, the city passed to the khanate of Kokand.

Captured by Russian forces in 1865, Tashkent became (1867) the administrative seat of Russian Turkistan. It remained active in the caravan trade between Central Asia and W Russia and gained new prosperity with the construction (1898) of the Trans-Caspian RR. From 1918 to 1924, Tashkent was the capital of the Turkistan Autonomous SSR, and in 1930 it replaced Samarkand as capital of the Uzbek SSR, subsequently becoming independent Uzbekistan's capital.

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TASHKENT , capital of Tashkent district, Uzbekistan. Tashkent was conquered by the Russians in 1865. Previously there was a small community of Bukharan Jews living in a special quarter there. Russian rule improved the legal status of the Jews, and many Jews from neighboring *Bukhara consequently settled in Tashkent. Although Jews from European Russia were prohibited from settling in Tashkent under czarist rule, a small community of Russian Jews who belonged to categories permitted to settle outside the *Pale of Settlement was formed there during the second half of the 19th century. In 1897 there were 1,746 Jews in the region of Tashkent, most of whom lived in the town itself. On the eve of World War i about 3,000 Jews lived there and maintained Jewish educational and cultural institutions in which the language of instruction was Hebrew. A Tajiki-language Zionist newspaper, Raḥamim, was published. With the establishment of the Soviet regime, the Jewish cultural and religious institutions were gradually liquidated and the Zionist newspaper was replaced by a Communist one, Bairaki Huriet ("The Flag of Freedom"). During the 1920s and 1930s Tashkent became one of the centers to which active members of the Zionist Organization and members of the pioneering youth movements were exiled. During World War ii Tashkent became one of the most important absorption centers for refugees from the German-occupied regions. Many remained in the town after the war, and a large Jewish settlement was thus created.

Contemporary Period

In the 1959 census 50,445 Jews were registered in Tashkent (5.5% of the total population), most of them newly arrived Ashkenazi Jews and a minority of old-time Bukharan Jews. There was one synagogue for Ashkenazim and two for Bukharans all in the same compound. In 1963 the organized baking of maẓẓot was prohibited, but Jews continued to bake them at home. The synagogue buildings were damaged in the 1966 earthquake in the area; the Bukharan Jews repaired their synagogue, while Ashkenazim moved to a new synagogue building. Tashkent Jews applied for exit permits to Israel, particularly from 1968. After the mass exodus of the 1990s only a few thousand Jews remained in Tashkent, which maintained an active community center as part of the general revival of Jewish life.


Voskhod, 5 (1885), 1413–14; 6 (1886), 450–1; A. Neimark, in: Ha-Asif, 5 (1889), 74–75; E. Tcherikower (ed.), In der Tkufe fun Revolutsye (1924), 356–66; A. Rudnitski, Shanah be-Rusyah (1945), 193–7; I. Ben-Zvi, Niddeḥei Yisrael, ed. by A. Reuveni (1965), 165–6, 175 (= The Exiled and the Redeemed, 1957).

[Yehuda Slutsky]

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Tashkent Largest city and capital of Uzbekistan, in the Tashkent oasis in the foothills of the Tian Shan mountains, watered by the River Chirchik. It was ruled by the Arabs from the 8th until the 11th century. The city was captured by Tamerlane in 1361, and by the Russians in 1865. The modern city is a transport and economic centre of the region. Industries: textiles, chemicals, food processing, mining machinery, paper, porcelain, clothing, leather, furniture. Pop. (1997) 2,117,500.