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The Republic of Uzbekistan declared September 1, 1991 the Day of Independence. The new country appeared on world map and its priorities were to establish a free democratic society and to develop a market economy. The Republic has been recognized by more than 165 countries and diplomatic relations have been established with more than 120. The embassies of more than 40 countries and many authorized international non-governmental agencies have set up their offices in Tashkent. The embassies of Uzbekistan operate in 25 countries of the world and its consulates 10 countries. The country joined the UN in March 1992.
Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan. It is an ancient city on the Great Silk Road from China to Europe. Little remains of the ancient city after the 1966 earthquake and earlier modernisation work following the 1917 revolution. Tashkent is a very Soviet city that has little remaining from its ancient Central Asian past. The city has a mixture of modern new office buildings, hotels, parks and crumbling Soviet style apartment blocks. The streets are generally clean and there are not too many potholes in the city center. Further out, the infrastructure is not so good.
Samarkand is the second-largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarqand Province. The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West, and for being an Islamic centre for scholarly study. In the 14th century it became the capital of the empire of Timur (Tamerlane) and is the site of his mausoleum (the Gur-e Amir). The Bibi-Khanym Mosque (a modern replica) remains one of the city's most notable landmarks. The Registan was the ancient center of the city. The city has carefully preserved the traditions of ancient crafts: embroidery, gold embroidery, silk weaving, engraving on copper, ceramics, carving and painting on wood.