The Republic of Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia that is bordered by Afghanistan to the south, Turkmenistan to the southwest, Tajikistan to the southeast, Kazakhstan to the north, and Kyrgyzstan to the northeast. The country lies between two major rivers: the Syr Darya in the northeast and the Amu Darya in the southwest. Uzbekistan was part of the USSR, with the Soviet government establishing the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic as a constituent in 1924. It declared its independence on August 31, 1991. Its capital, Tashkent (or Toshkent in Uzbek), is the largest city in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan uses the som as its official currency and sole legal tender. The word “som” (sometimes transliterated as sum) is the Uzbek word for ruble which means pure. Uzbekistan replaced the Soviet ruble with the Uzbekistani som at par in 1993. The Bank of Uzbekistan issued early som notes that were printed by Harrison & Sons, United Kingdom. These notes were of the same size, bore the coat of arms of Uzbekistan and the denomination in front and a view of the Sher-Dor Madrasah of the Registan in Samarkand at the back, did not have a security thread, and had a cotton boll and flower pattern watermark. Each denomination had its own unique color scheme. The serial numbers on the notes varied due to ink jet printing. The Central Bank of Uzbekistan Republic soon took over central banking functions from the Bank of Uzbekistan in the same year. On July 1994, a second som was introduced at a rate of 1 new som to 1,000 old som. Though the early new som notes were printed locally, the equipment used were supplied by Harrison & Sons. Thus, there was a contradiction between the Cyrillic text on the notes and the Latin text for the serial number prefixes. These notes all featured the national emblem of Uzbekistan on the obverse side and different landmarks in Tashkent and Samarkand on the reverse side. A family of larger denominations was added in circulation to ease transactions. This new family, which started with the 5,000 som note in 2013, used only Latin script.