For its several thousand years of recorded history Uzbekistan has both benefited from, and been the victim of, its location at central Asia’s crossroads. For centuries Uzbekistan was one of the most important stops on the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between the Mediterranean and China. This brought a constant stream of travelers and traders to cities such as Samarkand and Bukhara, which was generally a good thing. Unfortunately, Uzbekistan was also right in the path, and therefore under the thumb, of conquerors such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and, most recently, the Soviets. Overall, not quite as good. Today Uzbekistan is independent, but is still trying to find its way.