Here is one more reason for you to put Uzbekistan on your travel bucket list. Source: Shutterstock

LOCATED in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is a landlocked country comprising 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and a capital city.

It is bordered by five other landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south; Turkmenistan to the southwest; and is one of the world’s only two doubly landlocked countries.

Arguably Central Asia’s most impressive showstopper, Uzbekistan boasts a rich and diverse natural environment dotted with spellbinding architecture and ancient cities.

The country also offers a diverse cultural heritage due to its fascinating storied history, with tales of the Silk Road. Case in point, Bukhara, the ancient city of Uzbekistan.

Bukhara was a prominent stop on the Silk Road trade route between the East and the West, and a major medieval center for Islamic theology and culture. It still contains hundreds of well-preserved mosques, madrassas, bazaars, and caravanserais, dating largely from the 9th to the 17th centuries.

Source: Shutterstock

A long time ago, Bukhara was the setting for verminous dungeons, barbaric torture, and despotic rulers. But now, the city is so serene that it is difficult to imagine it as the setting of such violence.

One of Uzbekistan’s more eccentric attractions, such as the fast-disappearing Aral Sea, has been quickly gaining popularity. It lies between Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south and was one of the four largest lakes in the world until it was destroyed by agriculture.

In September 2018, Stihia (which means “element” in Russian) was staged in an area of desert dotted with rusting boats of the dried-out Aral Sea. An electronic music festival with a mission, it was held to attract tourism to the economically depressed region.

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But despite these harsh realities and challenges, Uzbekistan remains an extremely friendly country filled with warm and welcoming people. And if this destination is on your travel bucket list, then you are in luck.

According to a presidential decree, in a bid to boost tourism, Uzbekistan will introduce 30-day visa-free travel for tourists of 20 countries, mostly Central American ones. The visa-free travel regime will roll out from January 1, 2020, Xinhua reported.

To date, the number of countries that Uzbekistan has introduced the 30-day visa-free regime has reached 85 and its authorities say this is not a limit. The government’s aim is to attract more than nine million foreign tourists by 2025 and increase the share of the tourism industry in the gross domestic product from 2.3 percent in 2017 to five percent in 2025.

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