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Uzbekistan Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

Since gaining power in 2016, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been steering Uzbekistan (the most populous country in Central Asia with a population of 33.25 million as of 1 January 2019) towards greater economic liberalisation. In a historic move, in March 2020, Mirizyoyev signed a decree abolishing state management of cotton industry.President Mirziyoyev has spearheaded unprecedented diplomatic outreach to neighbouring states, leading to the normalisation of previously difficult relations with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. He is developing a strategic partnership with Kazakhstan while increasing Uzbekistan’s involvement in Afghanistan, gaining him praise from the US. Better relations with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are important for landlocked Uzbekistan to secure and expand export routes to Russia, China and Europe. Mirziyoyev has overseen considerable expansion of Russian economic interests and the government’s decision in March 2020 to seek observer status in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) increases the likelihood of full membership in the 2–3-year outlook. At the same time Uzbekistan remains committed to the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) whose Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure is headquartered in Tashkent.The country is continuing to remove its foreign currency restrictions, alongside freeing of the exchange rate, and allowing consumer prices to move to market levels. Tax reform and privatisation are the next priorities. The state will balance extending market freedoms with its own near-term political agenda. Although high inflation and increased unemployment will be unavoidable during these reforms, investment activity will help to drive more elevated GDP growth of near 5% in the early 2020s.Although investment will accelerate because of the reforms, the investment environment still has major weaknesses: widespread corruption, inadequate rule of law, and poor infrastructure. The global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus crisis will provide a strong headwind to increasing investment in 2020, potentially depriving Uzbekistan of needed financing for further structural reforms and infrastructure development.

Operational Outlook

Uzbekistan remains one of the most corrupt former Soviet countries and doing business without paying bribes to officials is very difficult. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's initiatives provide ground for cautious optimism with regard to gradual improvement of commercial environment, including his order to create the position of Business Ombudsman under parliamentary authority, abolition of surprise audits starting from 2017, adoption of framework anti-corruption law and relaxation of currency controls. Firm state control of union activity minimises the likelihood of wildcat strikes.


Domestic militant groups generally lack capabilities to carry out attacks that will produce mass casualties. Uzbek security service has considerably degraded their capabilities by conducting regular anti-terrorist operations. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan's (IMU) dissolution and incorporation into the Islamic State is unlikely to raise terrorism risks. Accession to the Islamic State implies a shift in priorities as former IMU fighters will be embroiled in rivalry with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan increased border defence with Afghanistan, mitigating the risk of cross-border incursions. After a pause caused by events in Andizhan in 2005, the US has resumed security assistance.


The vast security apparatus augmented by police ensures that the crime level is low in all major cities in Uzbekistan. In 2017, almost 74,000 crimes were registered in Uzbekistan, which is 15.7% less than in 2016, according to the Uzbek Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, Uzbek organised crime syndicates are among the most prominent in post-Soviet states as they often operate in collusion with the law enforcement authorities and specialise in human and narcotics trafficking. Uzbekistan represents a major transit destination for opiates from Afghanistan en route to Russia and Europe. The economic slowdown in Russia prompted some Uzbek labour migrants in Russia to return, which increases the petty crime in Tashkent as well as such tourist destinations as Bukhara and Samarkand.

The Mirziyoyev administration is removing requirements for citizens to hold a compulsory residence permit (propiska) to live and work in Tashkent. This rule had been in place since the Soviet times and it is designed to control internal migration. This is likely to contribute to the influx of excess labour from the regions, which will, in turn, increase the likelihood of petty crime in Uzbekistan's capital.

War Risks

The government is very likely to use force to suppress civil unrest and against militant groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and its offshoots. While steering clear of the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Uzbekistan is an enthusiastic member of China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as evidenced by the fact that Tashkent hosts SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). Increased border defence mitigates risks of militant incursions from neighboring Afghanistan following the departure of coalition forces. President Mirziyoyev's renewed efforts to resolve border delimitation problems with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan reduce the likelihood of trans-border shootouts between border guards as was the case before.

Social Stability

The government uses harsh methods to suppress civil unrest, as evidenced by the violent dispersal of the protests in Andizhan in 2005. Increased criminalisation of participation in unauthorised demonstrations, coupled with the use of force for crowd control purposes, has had a mitigating impact on social protests in Uzbekistan. Although isolated and primarily economically motivated protests do occur, they are typically quickly contained. President Mirziyoyev's efforts to normalise relations with neighbouring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan significantly mitigate the likelihood of ethnically motivated communal violence in disputed border areas. Firm state control of unions makes wildcat strikes very unlikely.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Uzbekistan is located in an active seismic zone. There are regular tremors, but the last significant earthquake to cause major damage in Uzbekistan was in 1966.

Practical Information


Uzbekistan's climate is continental with hot and dry summers and cold and dry winters. Temperatures can fluctuate greatly, even over the course of a single day.

Summers can be scorching (40°C, even 50°C in the south). Winters are cool (5°C to 10°C) during the day in most of the country, but freezing in the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan which is exposed to Siberian winds. The climate is pleasant only in the spring and in the months of September and October. The country receives the majority of its rainfall in March-April and October-November, principally along the country's reliefs.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +998
Police: 02
Fire Dept.: 01
Ambulance: 03


Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal