Tashkent (Uzbek: Toshkent, Тошкент; Russian: Ташкент) is the capital city of Uzbekistan, and is an ancient city on the Great Silk Road from China to Europe. Little remains of the ancient city after the 1966 earthquake and earlier modernisation work following the 1917 revolution. Tashkent is a very Soviet city that has little remaining from its ancient Central Asian past. The city has a mixture of modern new office buildings, hotels, parks and crumbling Soviet style apartment blocks. The streets are generally clean and there are not too many potholes in the city center. Further out, the infrastructure is not so good.
Although Uzbek is now the official language, Russian is the native language for most Tashkent dwellers, although most also speak Uzbek. Most businesses use Russian in their signs, menus and other printed material. Only government institutions use Uzbek as the first language, and even then, many government forms and reports are in Russian, rather than Uzbek. Currently, Uzbek uses the Latin alphabet rather than the Cyrillic that was used during the Soviet Union. This is a source of some confusion for many Uzbeks, especially those of the older generation. Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, and Uzbekistan declared independence in 1991, the written Uzbek language was converted back into Latin characters. Many older Uzbeks have difficulty reading the Latin characters. Uzbek is a Turkic language, and while Uzbeks and Turks cannot completely communicate directly, the better educated on both sides can usually find some common understanding. Many of the signs in Tashkent are in Cyrillic. A significant number of Russian words are similar to their English counterparts. Learning the Cyrillic alphabet — which is not as difficult as one might think — will help a traveller to read signs and in restaurants. It is very useful for the casual visitor to Tashkent to learn a few basic Russian or Uzbek words and phrases. If you need to speak English, young people are your best bet, and even then there is no guarantee that they will speak more than very basic English.