Central Uzbekistan covers a huge swath of the country, from the important historic cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Shahrisabsz down to Termiz and the Surkhandarya region on the southern border with Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Defined by Central Asia's two great rivers, the Syr-Darya (Jaxartes) and Amu-Darya (Oxus), these are the lands historically known as Transoxiana, where steppe and semi-desert meets the mountain spurs of the Hissar, Fan and Nuratau Mountains.
The Timurid empire, Sheybanid Uzbeks and the emirate of Bukhara all ruled large parts of Central Asia from central Uzbekistan. For visitors Samarkand and Bukhara are the big draws and deserve a couple of days each. Shakhrisabz has some tantalising remains of Timur's summer palace, but recent renovations have destroyed much of the town's charm. Termiz is way off the beaten track but has some intriguing remains from its rich Buddhist past.