Welcome to Ferghana Valley
Settled for over 2000 years, this green and gentle land is one of the most densely populated parts of the whole of Central Asia. Ringed by semi-arid mountains whose topography largely forbids large-scale, mechanised agriculture, it's unsurprising that this fertile belt that stretches across three countries (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) has been prized and fought over for centuries. The land is watered by the Syr-Darya (once known as the Oxus River) and its numerous tributaries support the growing of rice (visible on the outskirts of Isfara), cotton, wheat and vegetables. One of the joys of travelling from town to town is stopping to sample peaches, apricots, cherries and melons sold along the roadside.
Part of the Russian Empire in the 19th century, the Fergana Valley was incorporated into the Soviet Union in the 1920s and was divided between the three Central Asian republics when they gained independence in 1991.