Khiva is a small agricultural town of 45,000 inhabitants located about 1000km north-west of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, and almost 600km north of Bukhara. According to archaeological evidence, the town dates to the middle of the first millenium BC. Khiva became prominent in the tenth-century as a stopover on the route between the Khorezm capital of Gurganch (Konya-Urgench) and Merv in Iran. It continued to flourish under the Khorezm Shahs during the following centuries. Khiva was almost levelled by Genghis Khan in 1226. It revived during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when it became the capital of Khorezm after Gurganch was destroyed by Timur, but was destroyed again by Nadir Shah of Iran in 1740.
Khiva re-emerged as a power under the Kungrad Dynasty. Large scale re-building was carried out, mosques, madrasas, and hammams were lavishly endowed. In 1873, Khiva became a protectorate under Tsarist Russia. The Soviets incorporated Uzbekistan after World War I. In 1990, Uzbekistan declared independence.