Urgench is a city (1999 pop. 139,100) in western Uzbekistan. It is the capital of the Khorezm Province, on the Amu Darya River and the Shavat canal. The city is situated 450 km west of Bukhara across the Kyzyl Kum Desert. It is located at latitude 41° 32' 60N longitude 60° 37' 60E, at an altitude of 91 meters.
The history of the city goes back to the second half of the 18th century. The city should not be confused with the like-named city of Konya-Urgench (also known as "Old Urgench" or "Gurgench") in Turkmenistan. The city of Old Urgench was relocated to Urgench after the Amu Darya river changed its course in the 16th century, leaving the old town high and dry and without water. New Urgench was a trade center of the Khanate of Khiva.
Modern Urgench is a Soviet-style city with cotton motifs adorning many objects, from street lights to apartment houses. Of note is a monument to the twenty Komsomol members killed by Tekke basmachi on the banks of the Syr Darya in 1922, and a large statue to Muhammed al-Khwarizmi, the 9th century local mathematician who revolutionised algebra, outside the Hotel Urgench. A flat, dry place, this hotel is the main gateway for tourists to Khiva 35 kilometres to the southeast, whose old city, known as Itchan Kala, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.