History of osh
Depending on the legend, the city’s foundation dates back to either Alexander the Great or King Solomon. Archaeological finds, however, are up to 3,000 years old, making Osh one of the oldest places in Central Asia. Arabic sources mention the city for the first time in the 8th century, in the course of the Islamic expansion in Central Asia. Due to its location, it was an important trading centre on the main Silk Route from Kashgar to Samarkand, which brought it prosperity. Osh is still home to one of the largest markets in Central Asia, in the same place it was 2,000 years ago. The city was also known as a centre of silk production.
After its conquest by Genghis Khan’s troops, Osh was subsequently part of Timur’s empire. According to historical sources, the city was surrounded by a city wall that had three gates. The main mosque and the central market were located near the river Ak-Buura. Osh was protected by its citadel.
For a short time, Osh belonged to the empire of Babur, the later founder of the Mughal Empire. However, he lost the Fergana Valley relatively early to Uzbek tribes, who conquered the area from the west. Subsequently, Osh was part of the Kokand Khanate until it was conquered by the troops of the Russian Tsar.
osh in soviet times
At the beginning of the Soviet era, the Fergana Valley in the far east was divided between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Osh became part of the Kyrgyz Soviet Social Republic. In the 1960s, the population increased due to increased industrialization.
Towards the end of the 1980s, the first disputes arose between Uzbeks, who demanded an autonomous region “Fergana Valley” within the Kyrgyz SSR, and Kyrgyz, who for their part wanted to disempower the still influential Uzbeks by, for example, transferring agricultural enterprises previously run by Uzbeks to Kyrgyz. This led to disputes that peaked in 1990 and 2010 in particular.
These ethnic tensions also had an impact on the composition of the population. In 2009, Uzbeks still made up more than half of Osh’s population. After the tensions of 2010, though, many Uzbeks moved to Uzbekistan. However, official data on the current proportions of the population cannot be found.
Osh today has about 320,000 inhabitants. Like the capital Bishkek, the city is a separate administrative district and is sometimes called the “second capital”. Osh is characterised by a continental climate. In the dry summers, it averages about 32 degrees, while during winter the thermometer usually stays below 0 degrees on average.
Very little of historic Osh has been preserved. The most important sight is Mount Suleiman-Too, meaning “Throne of Solomon”. The 1,100-metre-high mountain is considered sacred and is the country’s most important pilgrimage site. The mountain is almost regarded as a second Mecca by the local population.
Air connections: The international airport is located about 10 km north of Osh. There are connections mainly to cities in the Russian Federation (including Moscow and St. Petersburg). There are also connections to Almaty in Kazakhstan and to Kuwait. The only domestic connection is a daily flight to the capital, Bishkek.
Rail connections: Osh is connected to the Uzbek railway network. However, the line is used exclusively for freight traffic. There are no passenger connections.