|TAJIKISTAN COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Tajikistan within the continent of Asia
Map of Tajikistan
Flag Description of Tajikistan: three horizontal stripes of red (top), a wider stripe of white, and green; a gold crown surmounted by seven gold, five-pointed stars is located in the center of the white stripe; red represents the sun, victory, and the unity of the nation, white stands for purity, cotton, and mountain snows, while green is the color of Islam and the bounty of nature; the crown symbolizes the Tajik people; the seven stars signify the Tajik magic number "seven" - a symbol of perfection and the embodiment of happiness
Official name Jumhurii Tojikiston (Republic of Tajikistan)
Form of government republic with two legislative houses (National Assembly ; Assembly of Representatives )
Head of state President: Emomali Rahmon
Head of government Prime Minister: Kokhir Rasulzoda
Official language Tajik
Official religion none
Monetary unit somoni (TJS)
Population (2013 est.) 7,991,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 55,251
Total area (sq km) 143,100
- Urban: (2012) 26.4%
- Rural: (2012) 73.6%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 64.4 years
- Female: (2011) 70.8 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: not available
- Female: not available
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 990
1Includes 8 members appointed by the president and 1 seat reserved for the outgoing president.
Background of Tajikistan
Tajikistan, officially Republic of Tajikistan, Tajik Tojikiston or Jumhurii Tojikiston, Tajikistan also spelled Tadzhikistan, country lying in the heart of Central Asia. It is bordered by Kyrgyzstan on the north, China on the east, Afghanistan on the south, and Uzbekistan on the west and northwest. Tajikistan includes the Gorno-Badakhshan (“Mountain Badakhshan”) autonomous region, with its capital at Khorugh (Khorog). Tajikistan encompasses the smallest amount of land among the five Central Asian states, but in terms of elevation it surpasses them all, enclosing more and higher mountains than any other country in the region. Tajikistan was a constituent (union) republic of the Soviet Union from 1929 until its independence in 1991. The capital is Dushanbe.
Several ethnic ties and outside influences complicate Tajikistan’s national identity to a greater extent than in other Central Asian republics. The Tajik people share close kinship and their language with a much larger population of the same nationality living in northeastern Afghanistan, whose population also includes a large proportion speaking Dari, a dialect of Persian intelligible to Tajiks. Despite sectarian differences (most Tajiks are Sunni Muslims, while Iranians are predominantly Shīʿites), Tajiks also have strong ties to the culture and people of Iran; the Tajik and Persian languages are closely related and mutually intelligible. The Tajiks’ centuries-old economic symbiosis with oasis-dwelling Uzbeks also somewhat confuses the expression of a distinctive Tajik national identity. Since the early years of independence, Tajikistan has been wracked by conflict between the government and the Islamic opposition and its allies.
Geography of Tajikistan
More than nine-tenths of Tajikistan’s territory is mountainous; about half lies 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) or more above sea level. The Trans-Alay range, part of the Tien Shan system, reaches into the north. The massive ranges of the southern Tien Shan—the Turkestan Mountains and the slightly lower Zeravshan and Gissar ranges—define the east-central portion of the country. The ice-clad peaks of the Pamir mountain system occupy the southeast. Some of Central Asia’s highest mountains, notably the Soviet-named Lenin (23,405 feet [7,134 metres]) and Communism (24,590 feet [7,495 metres]) peaks, are found in the northern portion of the Pamirs. The valleys, though important for Tajikistan’s human geography, make up less than one-tenth of the country’s area. The largest are the western portion of the Fergana Valley in the north and the Gissar, Vakhsh, Yavansu, Obikiik, Lower Kofarnihon (Kafirnigan), and Panj (Pyandzh) valleys to the south.
The entire southern Central Asian region, including Tajikistan, lies in an active seismic belt where severe earthquakes are common. Seismologists have long studied the region, especially in connection with the massive hydroelectric dams and other public works in the area.
- Drainage and soils
The dense river network that drains the republic includes two large swift rivers, the upper courses of the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, together with their tributaries, notably the Vakhsh and Kofarnihon. The Amu Darya is formed by the confluence of the Panj and Vakhsh rivers; the Panj forms much of the republic’s southern boundary. Most of the rivers flow east to west and eventually drain into the Aral Sea basin. The rivers have two high-water periods each year: in the spring, when rains fall and mountain snows melt, and in the summer, when the glaciers begin to melt. The summer flow is particularly helpful for irrigation purposes.
The few lakes in Tajikistan lie mostly in the Pamir region; the largest is Lake Karakul, lying at an elevation of about 13,000 feet. Lake Sarez was formed in 1911 during an earthquake, when a colossal landslide dammed the Murgab River. The Zeravshan Range contains Iskanderkul, which, like most of the country’s lakes, is of glacial origin.
Tajikistan’s soil is poor in humus but rich in mineral nutrients. Sand, shingle, scree, bare rock, and permanent snow and ice cover about two-thirds of the surface.
The climate of Tajikistan is sharply continental and changes with altitude. In the warm-temperate valley areas, summers are hot and dry; the mean temperature in July is 81° F (27° C) in Khujand (Khojand) and 86° F (30° C) in Kŭlob (Kulyab), farther south. The corresponding January figures are 30° F (−1° C) and 36° F (2° C), respectively. In very cold winters, temperatures of −4° F (−20° C) and lower have been recorded. Annual precipitation is slight and ranges between 6 and 10 inches (150 and 250 millimetres) but is higher in the Gissar Valley. In the highlands conditions are different: the mean January temperature for Murghob in the Pamirs is −3° F (−20° C), and temperatures can drop to −51° F (−46 ° C). In this area precipitation barely reaches 2 to 3 inches a year, most of it falling in summer. Moist air masses move from the west up the valleys, suddenly reaching low-temperature areas and producing locally heavy precipitation, mainly heavy snow of as much as 30 to 60 inches of annual accumulation.
- Plant and animal life
The topographic and climatic variety gives Tajikistan an extremely varied plant life, with more than 5,000 kinds of flowers alone. Generally grasses, bushes, and shrubs predominate. The country’s animal life is abundant and diverse and includes species such as the great gray lizard, jerboa, and gopher in the deserts and deer, tiger, jackal, and wildcat in wooded areas or reedy thickets. Brown bears live at lower mountain levels, and goats and golden eagles higher up.
- Settlement patterns
Much of Tajikistan is unsuitable for human habitation, but those desert and semidesert lands suitable for irrigated farming have been turned into flourishing oases, with cotton plantations, gardens, and vineyards. The population density is also high in the large villages strung out in clusters along the foothill regions. There are also narrow valleys that support small villages (qishlaqs) surrounded by apple orchards, apricot trees, mulberry groves, and small cultivated fields.
Less than one-third of the country’s Tajiks live in urban areas, including the two largest cities, Dushanbe and Khujand. Smaller towns include the old settlements of Kŭlob, Qŭrghonteppa (Kurgan-Tyube), and Ŭroteppa (Ura-Tyube) and the newer Qayroqqum, Norak, and Tursunzoda. Russians no longer dominate Dushanbe’s ethnic mixture; they constitute less than one-third of the city’s inhabitants. In Tajikistan, as in the rest of Central Asia, there has been a general trend toward ruralization. Since 1970 the urban proportion of the population has declined, in part because the rate of natural population increase is greater among the rural population.
Most Tajiks continue to live in qishlaqs. Such settlements usually consist of 200 to 700 single-family houses built along an irrigation canal or the banks of a river. Traditionally, mud fences surround the houses and flat roofs cover them, and each domicile is closely connected with an adjacent orchard or vineyard. In the mountains the qishlaqs, sited in narrow valleys, form smaller settlements, usually 15 to 20 households. On the steep slopes the flat roof of one house often serves as the yard for the house above it. This mode of home construction makes Tajikistan’s mountain villages especially vulnerable to damage from the frequent strong earthquakes that characterize this region.
Demography of Tajikistan
The name Tajik came to denote a distinct nationality only in the modern period; not until the 1920s did an official Tajik territorial-administrative unit exist under that name. The area’s population is ethnically mixed, as it has been for centuries; but more than three-fifths of the population is ethnically Tajik, a proportion now rising as non-Tajiks emigrate to escape the protracted civil war.
On the basis of language, customs, and other traits, the Tajiks can be subdivided into a number of distinct groups. The Pamir Tajiks within the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region include minority peoples speaking Wakhī, Shughnī, Rōshānī, Khufī, Yāzgulāmī, Ishkashimī, and Bartang, all Iranian languages. Another distinct group is formed by the Yaghnābīs, direct descendants of the ancient Sogdians, who live in the Zeravshan River basin.
So closely are the Tajiks mixed with neighbouring Uzbeks that the Soviet partition of the area in 1924 failed to segregate the two nationalities with any degree of thoroughness. With nearly one million Tajiks in Uzbekistan and more than one million Uzbeks in Tajikistan, these nationalities remain in intimate, though not always friendly, interrelation. The country’s other ethnic groups include Russians, Tatars, Kyrgyz, Ukrainians, Germans, Jews, and Armenians.
Economy of Tajikistan
Tajikistan’s economy depends on agriculture, which employs two-fifths of the labour force. The civil war that followed Tajikistan’s independence devastated agriculture and industry in the republic. The central bank issues the national currency, the somoni.
Tajikistan possesses rich mineral deposits. Important metallic ores are iron, lead, zinc, antimony, mercury, gold, tin, and tungsten. Nonmetallic minerals include common salt, carbonates, fluorite, arsenic, quartz sand, asbestos, and precious and semiprecious stones. Energy resources include sizable coal deposits and smaller reserves of natural gas and petroleum. Some of the fast-flowing mountain streams have been exploited as hydroelectric power sources.
Farming still leads industry in importance in the economy of Tajikistan, and cotton growing surpasses all other categories of the country’s agriculture. Other important branches include the raising of livestock—including long-horned cattle, Gissar sheep, and goats—and the cultivation of fruits, grains, and vegetables. Tajikistan’s farmers grow wheat and barley and have expanded rice cultivation. Horticulture has been important in the territory of Tajikistan since antiquity, and apricots, pears, apples, plums, quinces, cherries, pomegranates, figs, and nuts are produced. The country exports almonds, dried apricots, and grapes.
Agriculture in Tajikistan would be severely limited without extensive irrigation. By the end of the 1930s the Soviet government had built two main canals, the Vakhsh and the Gissar, and followed these with two joint Tajik-Uzbek projects, the Great Fergana and North Fergana canals, using conscripted unskilled labour in a program that drew wide criticism from outside observers for its high toll of fatalities. After World War II the Dalverzin and Parkhar-Chubek irrigation systems were built, along with the Mŭminobod, Kattasoy, and Selbur reservoirs; the Mirzachol irrigation system; and a water tunnel from the Vakhsh River to the Yovonsu Valley.
Pesticides and chemical fertilizers used on the cotton fields have damaged the environment and led to health problems in the population. The upriver irrigation systems carry these pollutants into the rivers descending from Tajikistan’s mountains and into neighbouring republics.
Tajikistan’s light industry is based on its agricultural production and includes cotton-cleaning mills and silk factories; the Dushanbe textile complex is the country’s largest. Other branches of light industry include the manufacture of knitted goods and footwear, tanning, and sewing. There is a large carpet-making factory in Qayroqqum. Food-processing industries concentrate on local agricultural products, which include grapes and other fruits, various vegetable oils, tobacco, and geranium oil, which is used in perfume. The metalworking industry produces looms, power equipment, cables, and agricultural and household implements.
Most of the electric power generated in Tajikistan is hydroelectric. Major power stations operate on the Syr Darya at Qayroqqum and on the Vakhsh River at Norak and Golovnaya. A thermal station supplements them near Dushanbe. The chief mining and ore-dressing area is in the north; coal mining and oil extraction are among the oldest industries in the country. The extraction of natural gas began in the mid-1960s at Kyzyl-Tumshuk and in fields near Dushanbe, and a chemical plant built in 1967 produces nitrogen fertilizer.
Tajikistan’s limited railroads handle just under half of the country’s freight turnover, the rest of it going by truck. More than half of the roads and highways have paved surfaces. Airline flights to Tehrān and Islāmābād, Pak., connect Khujand and a few other towns with the outside world via Dushanbe.
Administrative and Social Condition of Tajikistan
In 1994 voters approved a new constitution to replace the Soviet-era constitution that had been in effect since 1978 and amended after independence. The new constitution establishes legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Unique among Central Asian republics, Tajikistan’s constitution provides for a strong legislature rather than a dominant executive, though the president is head of state. The prime minister serves as head of government.
Tajikistan is a republic with two legislative houses: the National Assembly and the Assembly of Representatives. Members of the National Assembly, the upper chamber, are in part appointed by the president and in part chosen by local deputies to serve five-year terms. Members of the Assembly of Representatives, the lower chamber, are elected by popular vote to five-year terms. The legislature has the authority to enact and annul laws, interpret the constitution, and confirm presidential appointees. The president is elected directly for a maximum of two five-year terms and appoints the cabinet and high court justices, subject to approval by the legislature. The highest courts include the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Economic Court (for commercial cases), and a Court of Gorno-Badakhshan, which has jurisdiction over the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region. Although the constitution lists numerous rights and freedoms of citizens, it provides a mechanism by which these rights and freedoms can be, and are, severely restricted by law.
With Tajikistan’s government immobilized by domestic political instability, the educational system has received insufficient direction and support.
Early in the 20th century, Tajiks in those Central Asian communities where the Jadid reformist movement had installed its New Method schools received the rudiments of a modern, though still Muslim, education. The educational establishment was dominated until the 1920s, however, by the standard network of Muslim maktabs and madrasahs. Soviet efforts eventually brought secular education to the entire population, and levels of Tajik literacy are now relatively high. The country’s higher educational establishments included numerous research institutes that functioned under the separate budget of the Academy of Sciences in Moscow until the breakup of the U.S.S.R. Since then, a drastic decrease in financial support from the government has curtailed much of these institutions’ former activity. The chronic problem of placing indigenous graduates in employment commensurate with their training besets the Tajiks, for outsiders such as Slavs, Tatars, and Jews have long held most academic and bureaucratic positions in the republic.
- Health and welfare
The system of medical care in Tajikistan does not adequately protect public health in a time when environmental pollution has become a major problem owing to the careless application of pesticides and chemicals in agriculture. Moreover, poor health and sanitary conditions permit the easy transmission of communicable diseases. Both the inhospitable environment and the low general standard of living have led to infant and maternal mortality rates exceeding those of any other Central Asian republic, and the rates throughout Central Asia far exceed those recorded in the West. Amenities such as paved roads, modern communications, potable running water, indoor toilets, and modern indoor heating and electrification are still confined to urban areas and thus benefit mostly non-Tajiks. Conditions in most rural areas remain primitive, though the state has worked to improve housing and community services. Although a high percentage of rural women work on the farms, they still tend to raise many children.
Culture Life of Tajikistan
History 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 has continued to mount crackdowns against any Muslims that it regards as extremists, closing a number of mosques, contributing to simmering Islamist militancy.
Tajikistan remains dependent on support 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 (PDP); 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 could reduce the flow of water needed for irrigation in Uzbekistan, led Uzbekistan to withdraw from the Central Asian power grid in late 2009, preventing the importation of electricity into Tajikistan during the winter months. In further moves to isolate Tajikistan, Uzbekistan also has held up transit of goods via rail, increased tariffs on goods transported to Tajikistan, and interrupted natural gas as well as electricity supplies to Tajikistan.
In Feb., 2010, the PDP again won a lopsided victory in the parliamentary elections, and the balloting was again denounced for failing to meet democratic standards. An ambush in September of government forces in the Rasht valley in the east led to fighting in the region between government forces and militants that continued into 2011; in mid-2012 there was fighting around Khorugh between government forces and armed groups associated with several warlords. President Rakhmon was reelected in Nov., 2013; the only significant opposition candidate had been banned from running.
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