(sămərkăndˈ, Rus. səmərkäntˈ) [key
], city (1991 pop. 395,000), capital of Samarkand region, in Uzbekistan, on the Trans-Caspian RR. It is one of the oldest existing cities in the world and the oldest of Central Asia. At the time of its greatest splendor medieval Samarkand was a fabulous city of palaces and gardens, with paved and tree-lined streets and a water system that supplied most of the individual houses. It had great silk and iron industries and was the meeting point of merchants' caravans from India, Persia, and China.
Modern Samarkand still is a major cotton and silk center. Wine and tea are produced, grain is processed, and there are industries producing metal products, tractor parts, leather goods, clothing, and footwear. The irrigated surrounding region has orchards and gardens and wheat and cotton fields. Samarkand is the seat of the Uzbekistan state university and of medical, agricultural, and teachers' institutes and the site of a regional museum.
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