This article provides an overview of Samarkand for those keen to explore the possibility of living and working in the city. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
Land area: 1,198 sq km
National language: Uzbek
- Currency: Uzbek som/sum/soum
Samarkand, the capital and administrative centre of Samarkand Region, is an ancient and historic city located in the Zarafshan Valley in north-eastern Uzbekistan. It is the second largest after Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan. In the 14th century, Samarkand was the capital of the Timurid dynasty. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia, Samarkand “has lived through many historical events and upheavals” and was an important city on the Silk Road linking China and the Mediterranean. It was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2001 as “Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures”.
Samarkand is well connected with an international airport, located near the city centre, and a railway network that connects to many cities in the country.
As of January 2021, Samarkand has a population of more than 546,000 people. In 2019, more than 40 percent (236,200) of its population are employed and almost half (258,500) are economically active. The majority of its population are employed in the eduction and agriculture sectors. As with the rest of the country, Uzbek is the main language, although Tajik is also widely used in Samarkand.
Economic profile and key industries
After a major political and economic transformation under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan is reaping the benefits from reforms implemented in various sectors of the economy and opening up to foreign investors. The Samarkand region is rich in natural resources and is one of the largest producers of cotton, silk and wine in Uzbekistan. Many of its enterprises operate in key economy sectors, which include construction, pharmaceutics, chemical industry, fruit and vegetable processing, foodstuff manufacturing, agriculture, engineering and tourism. Its major industries are agricultural processing, textiles and metals.
The industrial sector is of great importance to Samarkand, accounting for 43.4 percent of the regional indicator of industrial volume in 2018. Meanwhile, its services sector is dominated by trading and transportation.
Tourism in Uzbekistan has been growing in recent years after President Shavkat Mirziyoyev took office in 2016. The city of Samarkand, with its ancient mosques, madrasahs (Islamic schools) and mausoleums of historical figures such as the conqueror and ruler of the Timurid dynasty Shuja-ud-din Timur bin Taraghay Barlas, or commonly known as Timur or Tamerlane, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
Tourism in Samarkand is mainly centred on cultural, historical and religious sites. One of Samarkand’s main historical attractions is the Registan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was once “the main city square, full of markets and lined by caravanserai (roadside inns)” and the site for royal proclamations, parades as well as executions. The square is surrounded on three sides by three madrasahs: Tilla-Qori Madrasah, Ulugbek Madrasah and Sher-Dor Madrasah.
The Bibi-Khanym Mosque is another important historical monument in Samarkand. Built between 1399 and 1404 to commemorate Timur’s wife, it is one of the largest mosques in Central Asia. Other most visited places in Samarkand include pilgrimage sites such as Imam al-Bukhari and Shakhi Zinda memorial complexes.
Singapore and Samarkand
In 1996, Singapore’s Bedeil Trading invested more than US$5 million in a joint venture to establish Singapore-Samarkand, an ice-cream manufacturing company. Today, the company’s premium ice-cream sold under the brand name “Dairy Classic” is very popular and well-known in the region.