Parts of the Pamir and Trans-Alai mt. systems are in the east, and the highest peaks in the country are Ismoili Somoni Peak (24,590 ft/7,495 m) and Lenin Peak, formerly Kaufmann Peak (23,405 ft/7,134 m). The southeast is occupied by an arid plateau c.12,000 to 15,000 ft (3,660-4,570 m) high. The only extensive low districts are the Tajik section of the Fergana Valley in the north and the hot, dry Gissar and Vakhsh valleys in the southwest. The Amu Darya, Syr Darya, and Zeravshan are the chief rivers and are used for irrigation. Dams and irrigation projects, notably the Nurek dam and the Great Gissar Canal, have opened almost 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) of land to cultivation and also provide hydroelectric power, but the country experiences critical energy shortages in the winter when water levels are lower. In addition to the capital of Dushanbe, other important cities are Khudjand, Uroteppa, and Qŭrghonteppa.
Most of Tajikistan's people are concentrated in its narrow, deep intermontane valleys. About 80% of the population is composed of Tajiks (also spelled Tadjiks or Tadzhiks), a Sunni Muslim people who speak a language virtually indistinguishable from Persian (Farsi). The rest of the people are mainly Uzbeks (15%), Russians, Kyrgyz, and others. Tajik is the official language, but Russian is widely used in government and business.
Tajikistan's economy is dependent on agriculture and livestock raising, due in part to the economic collapse that occurred with the end of Soviet rule and nearly a decade of civil strife in the 1990s. Two thirds of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, and some 900,000 members of the workforce are employed in Russia or other foreign countries. More than half the country's population lives in poverty, and official corruption is a serious problem.
Tajikistan's lowlands specialize in the cultivation of cotton, wheat, barley, fruit (including wine grapes), vegetables, and mulberry trees (for silk). Karakul sheep, dairy cattle, goats, and yaks are raised. The republic's mountains hold deposits of silver, gold, uranium, tungsten, zinc, lead, coal, antimony, salt, and mercury, and mining and aluminum, zinc, and lead processing are important industries. There is some petroleum. Tajikistan is well provided with hydroelectric resources, but due to poor management the country has suffered from seasonal power shortages in recent years. Other industries include light manufacturing (textiles, chemicals, and fertilizers) and food processing.
Aluminum, electricity, cotton, fruits, vegetable oil, and textiles are exported. Imports include electricity, petroleum products, aluminum oxide, machinery and equipment. Trade is primarily with the Netherlands, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. The country's economic problems and political turmoil have led Tajikistan to become an important heroin smuggling transit point.
Tajikistan is governed under the constitution of 1994. The president, who is head of state, is popularly elected for a seven-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. There is a bicameral legislature. The National Assembly has 34 members; 25 are selected by local deputies, eight are appointed by the president, and one seat is reserved for the former president. Members of the 63-seat Assembly of Representatives are popularly elected. All legislators serve five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into two provinces and the autonomous province of Badakhshan, the easternmost section of Tajikistan.
The people of Tajikistan are probably descended from the inhabitants of ancient Sogdiana. By the 9th and 10th cent., the Tajiks had achieved much success in fruit growing, cattle raising, and the development of handicrafts and trade. The Tajik territory was conquered by the Mongols in the 13th cent. In the 16th cent., it became part of the khanate of Bukhara. By the mid-19th cent., the Tajiks were divided among several internally weak khanates.
Russia took control of the Tajik lands in the 1880s and 90s, but the Tajiks remained split among several administrative-political entities, and their territories were economically backward and were exploited for their raw materials. In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Tajiks rebelled against Russian rule; the Red Army did not establish control over them until 1921. Tajikistan was made an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan in 1924; in 1929 it became a constituent republic of the USSR. In the 1930s canals and other irrigation projects vastly increased cultivated acreage as agriculture was more thoroughly collectivized; population also increased rapidly. Further expansion of irrigated agriculture occurred after World War II, especially in the late 1950s, as the area became increasingly important as a cotton producer. In 1978 there were anti-Russian riots in the republic.
In Dec., 1990, the Tajikistan parliament passed a resolution of sovereignty. The Republic of Tajikistan declared its independence in Sept., 1991, and in December it signed the treaty establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States. When the acting president sought to suspend the country's Communist party, the Communist-led parliament replaced him, and former Communist party chief Rakhmon Nabiyev was elected president in Nov., 1991. In 1992, Nabiyev was deposed by opposition militias.
An ethnically based civil war quickly erupted. Forces allied with the former Nabiyev government retook the capital and most of the country, and the parliament elected Russian-supported Emomali Rakhmonov president. Fighting between government troops, supported by the Russian army, and pro-Islamic forces, with bases and support in Afghanistan, persisted along the Afghan border despite a number of cease-fires. In the Nov., 1994, elections, which were boycotted by the Islamic opposition, Rakhmonov defeated another former Soviet leader to retain the presidency. In early 1996 there was a brief mutiny by Uzbek commanders, who seized towns in the south and west.
A peace accord was signed between the government and opposition forces in mid-1997, but some factions continued fighting. In a 1999 referendum, voters backed constitutional changes that would extend the president's term to seven years and allow the formation of Islamic political parties, and Rakhmonov was subesequently reelected. By the end of the 2000 a truce prevailed in most of Tajikistan. From 30,000 to 100,000 were estimated to have died in the fighting, and war and neglect had devastated much of the country's infrastructure, making the nation one of the poorest in the world. The government continued to mount crackdowns against any Muslims that it regards as extremists, closing a number of mosques.
Tajikistan remains dependent on help from Russia's military to preserve its tenuous stability and security, although Russian help patrolling the Afghan border ended in 2005, and Russian economic aid is also extremely important. A drought in W and central Asia in the late 1990s had particularly severe consequences in impoverished Tajikistan. The Feb., 2005, parliamentary elections resulted in a lopsided victory for the ruling People's Democratic party; the results were denounced by opposition parties, the usually progovernment Communist party, and European observers. The president's reelection in Nov., 2006, was boycotted by the main opposition parties and generally regarded as neither free nor fair. In Mar., 2006, President Rakhmonov called upon Tajiks to revive their national traditions and derussify their names; he changed his surname to Rakhmon.
Long-standing tensions with Uzbekistan over Tajikistan's construction of additional hydroelectric facilities, which Uzbekistan fears would reduce the flow of water needed for irrigation, led Uzbekistan to withdraw from the Central Asian power grid in late 2009, preventing the importation of electricity during the winter months. In an additional move to isolate Tajikistan, Uzbekistan also held up imports of goods via rail.
See S. Akinev, Islamic Peoples of the Soviet Union (1986).
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Tajikistan (or /təˈdʒiːkɨstæn/; Тоҷикистон, or [tɒːʤikɪsˈtɒn], Persian: تاجیکستان, taajikestaan), officially the Republic of Tajikistan (Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон), is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and People's Republic of China to the east. Tajikistan also lies adjacent to Pakistan but is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. Most of Tajikistan's population belongs to the Tajik ethnic group, who share culture and history with the Iranian peoples and speak the Persian language (officially referred to as Tajiki in Tajikistan). Once part of the Samanid Empire, Tajikistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union in the 20th century, known as the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR).
After independence, Tajikistan suffered from a devastating civil war which lasted from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly-established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country's economy to grow. Trade in commodities such as cotton and aluminium wire has contributed greatly to this steady improvement, but lack of natural resources (besides hydroelectric power and strategic location) has hampered its economic recovery.
Tajikistan frequently appeared as Tadjikistan or Tadzhikistan in English. This former transliteration of Tadjikistan or Tadzhikistan is from the Russian Таджикистан. (In Russian there is no single letter j to represent the phoneme /ʤ/ and дж, or dzh, is used.) Tadzhikistan is the most common alternate spelling and is widely used in English literature derived from Russian sources. Tadjikistan is the spelling in French and can occasionally be found in English language texts. In the Perso-Arabic script, "Tajikistan" is written تاجیکستان.
Controversy surrounds the correct term used to identify people from Tajikistan. The word Tajik has been the traditional term used to describe people from Tajikistan and appears widely in literature. But the ethnic politics of Central Asia have made the word Tajik a controversial word, as it implies that Tajikistan is only a nation for ethnic Tajiks and not ethnic Uzbeks, Russians, etc. Likewise, ethnic Tajiks live in other countries, such as China, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, making the term ambiguous. In addition, elements among the Pamiri population in Gorno-Badakhshan have at times sought to create an ethnic identity separate from that of the Tajiks.
The territory of what is now Tajikistan has been inhabited continuously since 4000 BCE. It has been under the rule of various empires throughout history, for the longest period being part of the Persian Empire.
Most of modern Tajikistan had formed parts of ancient Kamboja and Parama Kamboja kingdoms, which find references in the ancient Indian epics like the Mahabharata. Linguistic evidence, combined with ancient literary and inscriptional evidence has led many eminent Indologists to conclude that ancient Kambojas (an Avestan speaking Iranian tribe) originally belonged to the Ghalcha-speaking area of Central Asia. Achariya Yasaka's Nirukta (7th century BCE) attests that verb Śavati in the sense "to go" was used by only the Kambojas. It has been shown that the modern Ghalcha dialects, Valkhi, Shigali, Sriqoli, Jebaka (also called Sanglichi or Ishkashim), Munjani, Yidga and Yaghnobi, mainly spoken in Pamirs and countries on the headwaters of the Oxus, still use terms derived from ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense "to go". The Yaghnobi language, spoken by the Yaghnobis in the Sughd Province around the headwaters of Zeravshan valley, also still contains a relic "Śu" from ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense "to go". Further, Sir G Grierson says that the speech of Badakshan was a Ghalcha till about three centuries ago when it was supplanted by a form of Persian. Thus, the ancient Kamboja, probably included the Badakshan, Pamirs and northern territories including the Yaghnobi region in the doab of the Oxus and Jaxartes. On the east it was bounded roughly by Yarkand and/or Kashgar, on the west by Bahlika (Uttaramadra), on the northwest by Sogdiana, on the north by Uttarakuru, on the southeast by Darada, and on the south by Gandhara. Numerous Indologists locate original Kamboja in Pamirs and Badakshan and the Parama Kamboja further north, in the Trans-Pamirian territories comprising Zeravshan valley, north up parts of Sogdhiana/Fargana — in the Sakadvipa or Scythia of the classical writers. Thus, in the pre-Buddhist times (7th–6th century BCE), the parts of modern Tajikistan including territories as far as Zeravshan valley in Sogdiana formed parts of ancient Kamboja and the Parama Kamboja kingdoms when it was ruled by Iranian Kambojas till it became part of Achaemenid Empire.
From the last quarter of fourth century BCE until the first quarter of the second century BCE, it was part of the Bactrian Empire, from whom it was passed on to Scythian Tukharas and hence became part of Tukharistan. Contact with the Chinese Han Dynasty was made in the second century BCE, when envoys were sent to the area of Bactria to explore regions west of China.
Arabs brought Islam in the 7th century CE. The Samanid Empire Iranians supplanted the Arabs and built the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, which became the cultural centers of Tajiks (both of which are now in Uzbekistan). The Mongols would later take partial control of Central Asia, and later the land that today comprises Tajikistan became a part of the emirate of Bukhara. A small community of Jews, displaced from the Middle East after the Babylonian captivity, migrated to the region and settled there after 600 BCE, though the majority of the recent Jewish population did not migrate to Tajikistan until the 20th century.
The nation almost immediately fell into a civil war that involved various factions fighting one another; these factions were often distinguished by clan loyalties. The non-Muslim population, particularly Russians and Jews, fled the country during this time because of persecution, increased poverty and better economic opportunities in the West or in other former Soviet republics. Emomali Rahmonov came to power in 1992, and continues to rule to this day. However, he has been accused of ethnic cleansing against other ethnicities and groups during the Civil war in Tajikistan. In 1997, a ceasefire was reached between Rahmonov and opposition parties (United Tajik Opposition). Peaceful elections were held in 1999, but they were reported by the opposition as unfair, and Rahmonov was re-elected by almost unanimous vote. Russian troops were stationed in southern Tajikistan, in order to guard the border with Afghanistan, until summer 2005. Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, American, Indian and French troops have also been stationed in the country.
In 2008, the harshest winter in a quarter century caused financial losses of $850 million. Russia pledged $1 billion in aid. Saudi Arabia sent about 10 planes carrying 80 tons of relief and emergency supplies in February and another 11 tons in March.
Almost immediately after independence, Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war that saw various factions, allegedly backed by Russia and Iran, fighting one another. All but 25,000 of the more than 400,000 ethnic Russians, who were mostly employed in industry, fled to Russia. By 1997, the war had cooled down, and a central government began to take form, with peaceful elections in 1999.
"Longtime observers of Tajikistan often characterize the country as profoundly averse to risk and skeptical of promises of reform, a political passivity they trace to the country’s ruinous civil war," Ilan Greenberg wrote in a news article in The New York Times just before the country's November 2006 presidential election. Tajikistan is officially a republic, and holds elections for the President and Parliament. The latest parliamentary elections occurred in 2005 (two rounds in February and March), and as all previous elections, international observers believe them to have been corrupt, arousing many accusations from opposition parties that President Emomali Rahmon manipulates the election process.
The latest presidential election held on November 6, 2006 was boycotted by "mainline" opposition parties, including the 23,000-member Islamist Islamic Renaissance Party. Four remaining opponents "all but endorsed the incumbent", Rahmon. After November 2006 presidential elections, it is widely speculated that Rahmon has secured his seat for at least another two terms, which will allow him rule till 2020.
Tajikistan to this date is one of the few countries in Central Asia to have included an active opposition in its government. In the Parliament, opposition groups have often clashed with the ruling party, but this has not led to great instability.
|Division||ISO 3166-2||Capital||Area (km²)||Pop (2008)|
|Region of Republican Subordination||TJ-RR||Dushanbe||28,600||1,606,900|
Tajikistan is landlocked, and is the smallest nation in Central Asia by area. It is covered by mountains of the Pamir range, and more than fifty percent of the country is over 3,000 meters (approx. 10,000 ft) above sea level. The only major areas of lower land are in the north (part of the Fergana Valley), and in the southern Kofarnihon and Vakhsh river valleys, which form the Amu Darya. Dushanbe is located on the southern slopes above the Kofarnihon valley.
|Ismoil Somoni Peak (highest)||7,495 m||24,590 ft||North-western edge of Gorno-Badakhshan (GBAO), south of the Kyrgyz border|
|Ibn Sina Peak (Lenin Peak)||7,174 m||23,537 ft||Northern border in the Trans-Alay Range, north-east of Ismoil Somoni Peak|
|Peak Korzhenevskaya||7,105 m||23,310 ft||North of Ismoil Somoni Peak, on the south bank of Muksu River|
|Independence Peak (Revolution Peak)||6,974 m||22,881 ft||Central Gorno-Badakhshan, south-east of Ismoil Somoni Peak|
|Akademiya Nauk Range||6,785 m||22,260 ft||North-western Gorno-Badakhshan, stretches in the north-south direction|
|Karl Marx Peak||6,726 m||22,067 ft||GBAO, near the border to Afghanistan in the northern ridge of the Karakoram Range|
|Mayakovskiy Peak||6,096 m||20,000 ft||Extreme south-west of GBAO, near the border to Afghanistan.|
|Concord Peak||5,469 m||17,943 ft||Southern border in the northern ridge of the Karakoram Range|
|Kyzylart Pass||4,280 m||14,042 ft||Northern border in the Trans-Alay Range|
The Amu Darya and Panj rivers mark the border with Afghanistan, and the glaciers in Tajikistan's mountains are the major source of runoff for the Aral Sea. There are over 900 rivers in Tajikistan longer 10 kilometers.
About 1 % of the country's area is covered by lakes:
The recently completed Anzab tunnel which connects the previously hard to access Northern part of the country to the capital Dushanbe has been labeled as part of the new Silk Road. It is part of a road under construction that will connect Tajikistan to Iran and the Persian Gulf through Afghanistan.
The primary sources of income in Tajikistan are aluminium production, cotton growing and remittances from migrant workers.
Aluminium industry is represented by the state-owned Talco - the biggest aluminium plant in Central Asia and one of the biggest in the world.
Tajikistan has great hydropower potential, and has focused on attracting investment for projects for internal use and electricity exports. Tajikistan is home to the hydroelectric power station Nurek with the highest dam in the world. The latest development is the Russia's RAO UES energy giant working on Sangtuda-1 hydroelectric power station (670 MW capacity) commenced operations on 18 January 2008. Other projects at the development stage include Sangduta-2 by Iran, Zerafshan by Chinese SinoHydro and Rogun power plant with a projected dam height of to be built by Russia's UES. Other energy resources include sizable coal deposits and smaller reserves of natural gas and petroleum.
Foreign remittance flows from Tajik migrant workers abroad, mainly in Russia, has become by far the main source of income for millions of Tajikistan's people and represents additional 36.2 % of country's GDP directly reaching the poverty-stricken population. Migration from Tajikistan and the consequent remittances have been unprecedented in their magnitude and economic impact. Tajikistan has achieved transition from a planned to a market economy without substantial and protracted recourse to aid (of which it by now receives only negligible amounts), and by purely market-based means, simply by exporting its main commodity of comparative advantage — cheap labor. The World Bank Tajikistan Policy Note 2006 concludes that remittances have played an important role as one of the drivers of Tajikistan's robust economic growth during the past several years, have increased incomes, and as a result helped significantly reduce poverty. Drug trafficking is the major illegal source of income in Tajikistan as it is an important transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and, to a lesser extent, Western European markets; some opium poppy is also raised locally for the domestic market. However with the increasing assistance from international organizations, such as UNODC, and cooperation with the US, Russian, EU and Afghan authorities a level of progress on fight against illegal drug-trafficking is being achieved. Tajikistan holds the third place in the world for heroin and raw opium confiscations (1216.3 kg of heroin and 267.8 kg of raw opium in the first half of 2006). Drug money corrupts the country's government; according to some experts the well-known personalities that fought on both sides of the civil war and have held the positions in the government after the armistice was signed are now involved in the drug trade. UNODC is working with Tajikistan to strengthen border crossings, provide training, and set up joint interdiction teams. It also helped to establish Tajikistani Drug Control Agency.
Tajikistan has a population of 7,215,700 (January 2008 est.). Tajiks who speak the Tajik language (a variety of Persian) are the main ethnic group, although there is a sizable minority of Uzbeks and a small population of Russians, whose numbers are declining due to emigration. Pamiris of Badakhshan are considered to belong to larger group of Tajiks. Likewise, the official language of Tajikistan is the Tajik language, while Russian is largely spoken in business and for government purposes. Despite its poverty, Tajikistan has a high rate of literacy with an estimated 98 % of the population having the ability to read and write. Most of the population follows Sunni Islam, although a sizable number of Ismailis are present as well. Bukharian Jews had lived in Tajikistan since the 2nd century BC, but today almost none are left. There is also a small population of Yaghnobi people who have lived in the mountainous district of Sughd Viloyat for many centuries.
The Tajik Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare reported that 104,272 disabled people are registered in Tajikistan (2000). This group of people suffers most from poverty in Tajikistan. The Tajik government and the World Bank considered activities to support this part of the population described in the World Bank's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
Historically, Tajiks and Persians come from very similar stock, speaking variants of the same language and are related as part of the larger group of Iranian peoples. The Tajik language is the mother tongue of around two-thirds of the citizens of Tajikistan. Ancient towns such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Balkh and Khiva are no longer part of the country. The main urban centers in today's Tajikistan include Dushanbe (the capital), Khujand, Kulob, Panjakent and Istaravshan.
The Pamiri people of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the southeast, bordering Afghanistan and China, though considered part of the Tajik ethnicity, nevertheless are distinct linguistically and culturally from most Tajiks. In contrast to the mostly Sunni Muslim residents of the rest of Tajikistan, the Pamiris overwhelmingly follow the Ismaili sect of Islam, and speak a number of Eastern Iranian languages, including Shughni, Rushani, Khufi and Wakhi. Isolated in the highest parts of the Pamir Mountains, they have preserved many ancient cultural traditions and folk arts that have been largely lost elsewhere in the country.
The Yaghnobi people live in mountainous areas of northern Tajikistan. The estimated number of Yaghnobis is now about 25,000. Forced migrations in the 20th century decimated their numbers. They speak the Yaghnobi language, which is the only direct modern descendant of the ancient Sogdian language.