ABOUT CIS COUNTRIES
Uzbekistan is a country of warmth and light where you can enjoy the clear sunny sky over 300 days a year. The warmth of the sun in Uzbekistan is complemented with the warmth and hospitality of the local people, which gives you the great feeling of comfort and coziness. The Uzbeks are famous for their hospitality but you can understand what a guest means for the Uzbeks only when you sit at a feast table prepared in your honor in an Uzbek home.
Uzbekistan boasts very diverse terrains and natural attractions. They are the impressive sand dunes of the Kyzylkum Desert; they are various plain and alpine lakes, steppes and green oases; they are the majestic mountains of the Tien Shan not far from Tashkent, with their breathtaking landscapes and healing resorts, with thousands of streams feeding the great rivers of Amudarya and Syrdarya; they are fertile valleys with orchards and gardens yielding the tastiest Uzbek fruit and vegetables, melons and grapes; they are numerous cotton fields… There is also a number of most interesting nature reserves with their unique flora and fauna in the country.
Uzbekistan is also a country of world-famous historic cities and sites of ancient settlements with their most impressive architectural monuments. During its long and rich history, the predecessors of today’s Uzbekistan experienced a lot of everything. They were involved in the growth and decline of the world’s most powerful empires of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane; they suffered from a lot of wars and massacres - and enjoyed outstanding blossoms of art and science. They were crossroads of civilizations’ interaction for centuries where various cultures met and exchanged their values; thousands of caravans crossed these lands along the Great Silk Road connecting the Middle East, Mediterranean and Europe with India and China. Foreign achievements became part of the local culture then, complemented it. Uzbek traditional cuisine, for example, adopted and modified recipes foreign merchants once shared with the locals.
Today’s Uzbekistan has a developed tourism infrastructure with various services provided. An excellent holiday in the country can be spent depending on income and preferences: you can stay either in a five-star hotel or in a modest traditional Uzbek guesthouse; you can opt for an exciting adventure tour (jeep safari, skiing and heli-skiing, paragliding, mountain hiking and climbing, etc.), a beach leisure stay, a guided sightseeing tour, etc.
Uzbekistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia. It is a unitary, constitutional, presidential republic, comprising twelve provinces, one autonomous republic and a capital city Tashkent.
Almost two-thirds of the country’s territory is desert and steppes; the rest part of it is mountains, valleys and oases.
Population: over 29 million : urbanites - 37%, and rural population - 63%.
The ethnic structure: Uzbeks - 80%, Russians - 5.5%, Tajiks - 5%, Kazakhs - 5%, Karakalpaks - 2%, Tatars - 1.5%.
Government: Uzbekistan is a presidential republic whereby the President of Uzbekistan is both head of state and head of government.
The capital of Uzbekistan is Tashkent, with a population of over 2.5 million. Tashkent is the only Central Asian city which has an underground railway system (Tashkent Metro). Its stations are probably among the world’s most beautiful.
Largest cities or towns in Uzbekistan
Electric power: 220 V AC, 50 À; CEE 7 standards 2-pin plugs and sockets.
Traveling about Uzbekistan is possible at any time of the year but the best periods to come are from March to July and from September to October inclusive. The period from the end of June to mid-August, called chilla by the locals, is the hottest: the day temperature frequently rises to 40°C and even higher in some parts of the country. Autumn is warm and abundant in agricultural produce; the bazaars are full of a wide variety of cheap and quality fruits, vegetables and cucurbit crops. At the end of November the day temperature may still remain around 10°Ñ. Although the average winter temperatures are not far below zero, they may occasionally drop to around minus 15° in the cities and lower in the mountains and the steppe areas. Showers, rains and snows in spring, autumn and winter are occasional; they are less frequent and shorter than in Europe, for instance.
How to Dress in Uzbekistan
Suitable clothing for travels about Uzbekistan differs as to the season. Clothes made of cotton and other natural textiles will be the best choice in warm and hot weather. You will feel best in T-shirts, light and loose trousers, shorts, or sundresses. Remember that your footwear must be comfortable, light and strong, since you will have to walk over rough ground surfaces at times. Sunglasses, light headwear and sunblock lotion should also be kept handy.
If you travel early in spring (March to the beginning of April) or at the end of autumn (October to November), it is advisable to take a windbreaker, a sweater or a similar garment. In winter the day temperature may sometimes fall to minus 10°Ñ - 25°Ñ (depending on the location), so a raincoat, a warm coat, a warm hat or a knit cap will be necessary.
If you plan to visit the mountains, steppe area or the desert, note that the difference between the day and night temperatures there is considerable, so have warm clothes to change into at night.
You should be considerate towards the local traditions, culture and religion. While visiting religious sites, women should wear loose garments covering most of their arms and legs, and of course the cleavage. Headscarves will also be advisable to put on. Note that you will have to take off your shoes while entering some of the sacred places where people pray.
Uzbek traditional cuisine is probably the best in Central Asia. It adopted and modified recipes foreign merchants once shared with the locals during the Silk Road times.
The most popular Uzbek dishes are the following: pilaf, laghman, samsa, shurpa, manti, nahud, and shashlik.
Visa and Stay Permit
Citizens of any countries other than Uzbekistan and the CIS countries enjoying visa-free regime agreements with Uzbekistan need visas to enter Uzbekistan or travel through its territory. These people can obtain Uzbekistan entry visas through a Visa Invitation Letter (Visa Support) from their host parties (host tour operators or travel agencies). Citizens of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland and the UK can apply for Uzbek visas to embassies or consulates of Uzbekistan without getting Visa Invitation Letter, independently.
Any foreigner to Uzbekistan is to get a stay permit within 3 working days (consecutive or not) during his / her visit to the country. If he / she stays at an Uzbekistan hotel or a guesthouse, such a stay permit for the period of stay at it is granted automatically. (Inquire whether the hotel / guesthouse you want to stay at provides such a permit unless your accommodation is organized by a host tour operator or travel agency. Also make sure you are given your stay permit certificate with the seal of your hotel / guesthouse when you check out.)
The thriving industry of traditional arts and crafts in Uzbekistan is a traveler’s attraction as well. The offer is enormous, and there is always a handmade piece of superb artistry you can buy at a very modest price. Traditional Uzbek handicrafts are very diverse and extremely appealing. They are ceramics, wood carving, ganch alabaster carving, knife forging, metal chasing and embossing, carpet weaving, silk making, miniature painting on varnished surfaces, wicker weaving, painting on leather and gourds, gold and bead embroidery, suzani tapestry making, national dress and footwear making (chapan caftans, duppi skullcaps, sharp-end mules, leather high boots, etc), household utensil making (kurpacha blankets, beshik cradles, various chests, etc) and many others.
You can easily buy Uzbek souvenirs at local bazaars, tourist sites, hotels or department stores. Almost all handicrafts can be taken out of the country but there are some regulations you can ask your guide or tour organizer about. There is a limit on carpets, for instance, and taking out antiques is forbidden.
Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. Georgian is the official language of Georgia.
Georgia is a land filled with magnificent history and unparalleled natural beauty.
Everything in Georgia speaks about its greatness and wealth. Georgia is a wonderful cradle of culture, religion and ancient history. Country where everyone can find something to his own mind and interests, a land of endless wonders- Georgia, once experienced, it will be with you forever.
Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 km² and its population is almost 4.7 million. Georgia is a unitary, semi-presidential republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy.
The landscape of the country is quite varied, with mountains and high peaks (Ushba, Shkhara, Kazbegi, etc.), mountain ranges, hills and low-lying lands. Georgia’s landscape ranges from lowland marsh forests, swamps and temperate rain forests to eternal snows and glaciers, while the eastern part of the country even contains a small segment of semi-arid plains. There are alpine and sub-alpine zones as well. Georgia abounds with small and large rivers. People in Georgia are famous for their distinguished generosity and hospitality.
There are numerous monuments - cult structures of the early Christianity, ancient churches and monasteries hiding in the Caucasian Mountains are silent witnesses to its rich history. The unique landscapes of this part of the world: high mountains, rapid rivers, green meadows, the turquoise sea … eloquently ‘speak’ about the rich nature… The generosity of the inhabitants of Georgia has become in best expressed by the saying “the Georgian hospitality” which implies a cheerful feast with endless toasts and magnificent Georgian wines. They have exceptionally strong traditions of hospitality, chivalry, and codes of personal honor. They believe that guests come from God. Friendship is prized highest among all the virtues.
Georgia, though a rather small country, has a variety of regions, which differ greatly from each other. Everyone has its own special beauty. They differ in nature, population features, habits and customs.
The climate of Georgia is extremely diverse, considering the nation's small size. There are two main climatic zones, roughly separating Eastern and Western parts of the country. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range plays an important role in moderating Georgia's climate and protects the nation from the penetration of colder air masses from the north.
Today transport in Georgia is provided by means of rail, road, shipping and air travel. Total length of roads excluding occupied territories is 19,060 kilometers and railways – 1,576 km. Positioned in the Caucasus and on the coast of the Black Sea, Georgia is a key country through which energy imports to the European Union from neighboring Azerbaijan pass. Traditionally the country was located on an important north-south trade route between European Russia and the Near East and Turkey.
Like most native Caucasian peoples, the Georgians do not fit into any of the main ethnic categories of Europe or Asia. The Georgian language, the most pervasive of the Kartvelian languages, is neither Indo-European, Turkic nor Semitic.
Ethnic Georgians form about 86.8% of Georgia's current population. Other ethnic groups include Abkhazians, Armenians, Assyrians, Azerbaijanis, Greeks, Jews, Kists, Ossetians, Russians, Ukrainians, Yezidis and others.
Largest cities or towns in Georgia:
Main religions: Orthodox Christian (83.4%), Muslim (10.7%), Armenian Apostolic (2.9%), Roman Catholic (1%), Others (2%)
Today 83.4% of the population practices Eastern Orthodox Christianity, with the majority of these adhering to the national Georgian Orthodox Church.
Georgian cuisine refers to the cooking styles and dishes with origins in the nation of Georgia and prepared by Georgian people around the world. The Georgian cuisine is specific to the country, but also contains some influences from the Middle Eastern and European culinary traditions. The cuisine offers a variety of dishes with various herbs and spices. Each historical province of Georgia has its own distinct culinary tradition, such as Megrelian, Kakhetian, and Imeretian cuisines. In addition to various meat dishes, Georgian cuisine also offers a variety of vegetarian meals.
Georgian cuisine uses well familiar products but due to varying proportions of its obligatory ingredients such as walnut, aromatic herbs, garlic, vinegar, red pepper, pomegranate grains, barberries and other spices combined with the traditional secrets of the chef ‘s art the common products do acquire a special taste and aroma, which make Georgian cuisine very popular and unique.
Georgian national cuisine is notable for an abundance of all possible kinds of meat, fish and vegetable hors d’oeuvres, various sorts of cheese, pickles and pungent seasonings, the only ones of their kind.
Georgia is the oldest wine region in the world. Archaeological excavations have uncovered that vine was first cultivated in at least 6000-8000 BC on the territory of Georgia. From 4000 BC ancient Georgians were burying clay vessels (Qvevri) in which wine was stored and fermented. Qvevris come in every shape and size and this tradition of wine-making is still present in Georgia.
The territory and climate of Georgia are perfect for wine-production, as there are no extreme weather conditions. There are over 400 varieties of vine in Georgia, yet just 38 of them are grown for commercial purposes.
In Georgian society and religion vine possesses a central position. It's very common in Georgia for families to grow their own grapes and produce wine. There is no feast that goes without wine and Tamada – Georgian toastmaster.
UNESCO included the ancient traditional Georgian winemaking method using the Kvevri clay vessels to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
Armenia, the Republic of Armenia is a sovereign state in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. Armenia is located in the South Caucasus, in the north-western part of the Armenian Highland and has no access to the sea. It shares borders with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.
The highest point is Mount Aragats (4090 m), and the lowest – Canyon of the River Debet (400 m). The relief is mountainous, with fast flowing rivers and few forests.
Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage.
The nature in Armenia is picturesque and diverse. More than 3000 species of plants are growing here, which is considered the half of the species composition of the Caucasus. All this is explained by the complex and diverse relief, soil and climate as well as an interesting location at the crossroads of different floristic provinces: Caucasian wet and drier Central-Atlantic and Armeno-Iranian.
Forests cover only 13% of the country. Here you can find the following types of trees: oak, beech, pine, linden, maple, ash, hornbeam and others.
The country is also rich in fauna. There are 76 species of mammals, 44 species of reptiles, 24 species of fish and over 300 species of birds, many of which have purely Armenian origin. The national symbol of the country is a crane (in Armenian – “krunk”).
Armenia is also known for its water resources, among which the most famous is Lake Sevan – one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Due to its exquisite beauty, the lake is called “the pearl” of Armenia and attracts tourists from all over the world. It is located at an altitude of 1900 m above sea level. Various fish species are bred there, among which the main place is taken by Sevan trout.
Due to the location in the subtropical zone, the climate of Armenia is continental. High altitude above sea level, as well as highly dissected terrain, explains the difference of weather in different regions of Armenia. Precipitation is distributed unevenly, depending on the altitude and on the season. Most of the precipitation comes in spring. In winter in the mountainous areas and ski resorts there are lots of snow, which stays on the slopes until mid-spring.
The summer is hot and dry. It begins in June and lasts till mid-September. In the capital and in the territory of Ararat Valley the daytime temperature reaches + 25/ 35 °C. The maximum temperature in summer is +42 °C. In the regions, the weather is rather mild; the difference between the regions and Yerevan is usually 7-10 degrees.
The autumn, especially its beginning, is considered the most pleasant time for visiting Armenia. The weather is mild, warm and sunny. The nature pleases with bright colors and lots of fruits and vegetables. The temperature varies from + 20 to + 30 °C
The winter in the capital is short and sometimes snowy. The temperature ranges from +2 to -10 °C. In mountain regions and ski resorts, it is always colder than in Yerevan and in the mid-December there is much snow which stays till the end of February.
The spring here is short. It begins in mid-Mart and lasts till mid-May. The temperature ranges from +12 to + 25 °C. In the regions, it is always a few degrees cooler than in the capital.
The population of Armenia is 3.219.400 people, where 90 % are Armenians and 10% ethnic minorities: Russian, Kurds, Jews, Persians, Georgians and others. The Armenian diaspora is much bigger than the population of Armenia and is 10 million people.
The official language is Armenian. It is considered a separate branch of the Indo-European family of languages. At this time, the Armenian language is divided into two branches: Eastern and Western. Eastern Armenian is spoken by Armenians living in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia, and Iran. Western is the language of the diaspora living mainly in Europe and the United States.
Armenian culture is rich and diverse. It has developed over the centuries, and because of its location has been subject of the influence of the West and the East. One of the most important events that influenced the process of cultural development was the adoption of Christianity in 301 AD and the invention of the Armenian alphabet in 405 AD. Christianity gave birth to new forms of architecture, visual art, and music.
Armenian architecture is one of the most important branches in the culture. It is considered one of the oldest and most valuable in the world and has a history of centuries. Here are preserved ancient architectural monuments which testify that talented architects have lived in Armenia at all times. Nowadays, there are about 14,000 architecture monuments, including the ancient chapels, castles, churches, monasteries and historic fortresses. No coincidence that Armenia is considered “an open-air museum.”
One of the unique symbols of the culture here are khachkars – cross-stones. On all the territory of Armenia there are several thousands of khachkars, each of which has its own unique pattern. Khachkars are made of basalt or tuff and represent the cross – the symbol of the crucifixion of Christ. In Noraduz village, the largest khachkar cemetery in the world is located.
Armenian music is unique and not similar to the motives of other countries and peoples. Since ancient times, people have composed songs, which later were passed on from generation to generation. The indelible mark was left by Armenian composers Komitas (1869 -1935) and Aram Khachaturyan (1903 – 1978). And of course it is difficult to imagine Armenian national music without “duduk” – the national instrument.
Armenia is the first country in the world that adopted Christianity. It was adopted in 301 by King Trdat III. At this time 98.7% of the population are Christians, of which 94.7% belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, and 4% are followers of other denominations of Christianity.
Armenian cuisine is considered one of the most ancient in the Caucasus. Due to the early emergence of stock raising and well-developed agriculture, Armenians have used a lot of grains, vegetables, meat, and dairy products.
One of the most important places in the national cuisine is occupied by meat dishes. The most popular are khorovats (Armenian barbecue), dolma, harisa, tjvjik, bozbash, basturma, hash and some others.
Among dairy products Armenia is known for its white cheese and fermented yogurt – matsun.
A national bread of all Armenians is lavash, which is known not only in the country but also abroad.
Due to warm and favorable climate, every year Armenian nature pleases its residents with a wide range of fruits and vegetables, without which it is impossible to imagine the Armenian traditional table. Fruits Armenians dry, add to various desserts and prepare all sort off delicious jams. The real living symbol of Armenia is an apricot, which absorbs all the warm rays of the Armenian sun.
The transport in the country is quite diverse. One of the most common types of it is a mini bus. There is also a subway in Yerevan, which has 2 lines and 10 stations. There are also lots of taxi services. There is also a railway in Armenia, which belongs to the South Caucasus Railway. A major role in the international passenger transportation is played by the aviation. In Armenia, there are only two airports – “Zvartnots” in Yerevan and “Shirak” in Gyumri.
Due to the fact that Armenia has not an access to the sea, water transport is not in demand.
In the capital as well as in some major tourist resorts, rope ways were constructed which correspond to high standards. Tatev ropeway (“The Rings of Tatev”) built in 2009 in Syunik Province is the longest in the world. It leads to the famous Tatev Monastery – a masterpiece of medieval architecture.
For the entrance to Armenia the visa is not required for the citizens of Russia, the CIS countries (except the Baltic States), as well as the citizens of the European Union. On the 1st of January, 2015 the law was signed, according to which US citizens can also cross the border without a visa. Citizens of other countries must obtain a visa immediately after the arrival at Yerevan’s airport. Visa for 21/120 days costs 3000/15000 AMD (US $ 6.25 / 31.25). After the expiry of the visa, it can be extended.
Currency in Armenia is known as “dram” and the currency code often used in exchange rate terminology is AMD. Dollars, Euros and Rubles can be exchanged almost anywhere in the country, with other major currencies also easy to exchange.
There are 3 mobile operators in the country: Beeline, VivaCell-MTS, and Orange. SIM-cards can be purchased straight at the airport or in any shop or kiosk of the country. You can top-up your balance whenever you want without any problem, just buy a special card in any grocery shop and follow the necessary instructions written on it.
In recent years, lots of shops, supermarkets, and trading centers have been opened in Armenia, where anyone can buy food, clothes, souvenirs and other commodities for any taste and possibilities. Most of the shops are open every day in a week from about 8:00 am to 9:00 pm; there are also supermarkets that work 24 hours a day. Bargaining is uncommon in Armenian stores, however, in markets it is a must.
Armenian carpets, cognac, fruits, duduk (musical instrument) and national handmade souvenirs are some of the most popular things tourists take home from Armenia. The greatest range of different national souvenirs is offered in “Vernissage” fair, which is located in the center of Yerevan near The Republic Square.
For the purchase of fresh fruits, vegetables and dried fruits we advise visiting Armenian markets, among which the most popular is “GUM”, which is located at the intersection of Mashtots and Khorenatsi streets. In addition to fruits and vegetables you can find there a variety of delicacies and sweets: halva, rahat-lukum, chuchhela, honey, traditional pastries etc.
For those who want to buy clothes, shoes and accessories of various well-known brands we advise visiting Armenian huge trading centers – Dalma Garden Mall and Yerevan Mall.