On arrival in the Fergana Valley many visitors wonder where the valley is. From this broad (22,000 sq km), flat bowl, the surrounding mountain ranges (Tian Shan to the north and the Pamir Alay to the south) seem to stand back at enormous distances – when you can see them, that is.
Drained by the upper Syr-Darya, the Fergana Valley has the finest soil and climate in Central Asia. It is Uzbekistan’s most populous and its most industrial region, as well as the country’s fruit and cotton basket, meaning it has long wielded a large share of Uzbekistan’s political, economic and religious influence.
The Fergana Valley’s eight million people are overwhelmingly Uzbek – 90% overall and higher in the smaller towns. For visitors the main attractions are the exceptional crafts, the kaleidoscopic bazaars and the chance to see the Silk Road in action – for centuries the valley has been the centre of Central Asian silk production.