Before Islam influence started in the 8th century AD, Tashkent was influenced by the Sogdian and Turkic cultures in its early history. After its destruction by Genghis Khan in 1219, the city was rebuilt and profited from the Silk Road. From 18th to 19th century, the city became an independent city-state, before being re-conquered by the Khanate of Kokand. In 1865, it fell to the Russian Empire, and became the capital of Russian Turkestan. In Soviet times, Tashkent witnessed major growth and demographic changes due to forced deportations from throughout the Soviet Union. Much of the city was destroyed in the 1966 Tashkent earthquake, though it was rebuilt afterwards as a model Soviet city. It was the fourth-largest city of the Soviet Union at the time, after Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev. Most important scientific institutions of Uzbekistan, such as the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, are located in Tashkent.
There are several universities and institutions of higher education. Tashkent is situated in a well-watered plain on the road between Samarkand, Uzbekistan's second city, and Shymkent across the border. Tashkent is just 13 km from two border crossings into Kazakhstan. Tashkent sits at the confluence of the Chirchiq River and several of its tributaries and is built on deep alluvial deposits up to 15 metres (49 ft). The city is located in an active tectonic area suffering large numbers of tremors and some earthquakes.
Tashkent features a Mediterranean climate bordering a humid continental climate. As a result, Tashkent experiences cold and often snowy winters not typically associated with most Mediterranean climates and long, hot and dry summers. Winters are cold and often snowy, covering the months of December, January and February. Most precipitation occurs during these months which frequently falls as snow. The city experiences two peaks of precipitation in the early winter and spring. The slightly unusual precipitation pattern is partially due to its 500 m (roughly 1600 feet) altitude. Summers are long in Tashkent, usually lasting from May to September. Tashkent can be extremely hot during the months of July and August. The city also sees very little precipitation during the summer, particularly from June through September.