Tajikistan

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Republic of Tajikistan
Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон
Çumhuriyi Toçikiston
FlagEmblem
Anthem: Surudi Milli
Our beloved country
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Capital
and largest city
Dushanbe
38°33′N 68°48′E / 38.550°N 68.800°E / 38.550; 68.800
Official languagesPersian[1]
Recognised regional languagesRussian[2]
Ethnic groups (2000)
DemonymTajik[3]
GovernmentDominant-party unitary
semi-presidential state
 - PresidentEmomalii Rahmon
 - Prime MinisterKokhir Rasulzoda
LegislatureSupreme Assembly
 - Upper houseNational Assembly
 - Lower houseAssembly of Representatives
Independence from the Soviet Union
 - Declared9 September 1991 
 - Completed25 December 1991 
Area
 - Total143,100 km2 (96th)
55,251 sq mi
 - Water (%)1.8
Population
 - 2013 estimate8,000,000[3] (98th)
 - 2010 census7,564,500
 - Density48.6/km2 (155th)
125.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP)2011 estimate
 - Total$16.221 billion[4]
 - Per capita$2,066[4]
GDP (nominal)2011 estimate
 - Total$6.523 billion[4]
 - Per capita$831[4]
Gini (2004)33.59
medium
HDI (2013)Increase 0.622[5]
medium · 127th
CurrencySomoni (TJS)
Time zoneTJT (UTC+5)
Drives on theright
Calling code+992
ISO 3166 codeTJ
Internet TLD.tj
 
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Republic of Tajikistan
Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон
Çumhuriyi Toçikiston
FlagEmblem
Anthem: Surudi Milli
Our beloved country
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
Capital
and largest city
Dushanbe
38°33′N 68°48′E / 38.550°N 68.800°E / 38.550; 68.800
Official languagesPersian[1]
Recognised regional languagesRussian[2]
Ethnic groups (2000)
DemonymTajik[3]
GovernmentDominant-party unitary
semi-presidential state
 - PresidentEmomalii Rahmon
 - Prime MinisterKokhir Rasulzoda
LegislatureSupreme Assembly
 - Upper houseNational Assembly
 - Lower houseAssembly of Representatives
Independence from the Soviet Union
 - Declared9 September 1991 
 - Completed25 December 1991 
Area
 - Total143,100 km2 (96th)
55,251 sq mi
 - Water (%)1.8
Population
 - 2013 estimate8,000,000[3] (98th)
 - 2010 census7,564,500
 - Density48.6/km2 (155th)
125.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP)2011 estimate
 - Total$16.221 billion[4]
 - Per capita$2,066[4]
GDP (nominal)2011 estimate
 - Total$6.523 billion[4]
 - Per capita$831[4]
Gini (2004)33.59
medium
HDI (2013)Increase 0.622[5]
medium · 127th
CurrencySomoni (TJS)
Time zoneTJT (UTC+5)
Drives on theright
Calling code+992
ISO 3166 codeTJ
Internet TLD.tj

Tajikistan (Listeni/tɑːˈkɨstɑːn/, /təˈkɨstæn/, or /tæˈkstæn/; Тоҷикистон [tɔd͡ʒikɪsˈtɔn]), officially the Republic of Tajikistan (Tajik: Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон, Çumhuriyi Toçikiston/Chumhuriyi Tochikiston; Russian: Республика Таджикистан, Respublika Tadzhikistan), is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. It borders Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. Pakistan is separated from Tajikistan by the narrow Wakhan Corridor in the south.

Most of Tajikistan's population belongs to the Persian-speaking Tajik ethnic group, who share language, culture and history with Afghanistan and Iran. 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). Mountains cover more than 90% of the republic. 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, aluminium and uranium has contributed greatly to this steady improvement.

Etymology[edit]

Tajikistan means the "Land of the Tajiks". The word Tajik was used by medieval Turks to refer to Iranian-speaking peoples.[citation needed] From the 11th century, the term referred to East Iranian people, but by the 15th century came to be applied to Persian speakers. In medieval Persian literature, Tajik appears as a synonym of "Persian". As a self-designation, the term Tajik (Tajik: Тоҷик), has become acceptable only during the last decades of the 20th century, particularly as a result of Soviet administration in Central Asia.[6] The term does not denote an ethnic group in the narrow sense, but remains a general designation of a variety of Persian-speaking peoples in Central Asia.[citation needed]

Tajikistan was frequently spelled as Tadjikistan or Tadzhikistan in English, transliterated from the Russian. (In Russian the phoneme /d͡ʒ/ in Таджикистан is spelled дж, that is, dzh or dj.) Tadzhikistan is the most common alternate spelling and is widely used in English literature derived from Russian sources. "Tajikistan" is the spelling in French and can occasionally be found in English language texts.

History[edit]

Prehistory[edit]

Modern Tajiks regard the Samanid Empire as the first Tajik state. This monument in Dushanbe honors Amir Ismail Samani.

The territory of what is now Tajikistan has been inhabited continuously since 4000 B.C. It has been under the rule of various empires throughout history, for the longest period being part of the Persian Empire. It was originally called Neb for a short period of time, before being given the name Tajikistan.[citation needed]

Further, Sir George Abraham Grierson says that the speech of Badakhshan was a Ghalcha until about three centuries ago when it was supplanted by a form of Persian.[7] Thus, the ancient Kamboja, probably included the Badakhshan, Pamirs and northern territories including the Yaghnobi region in the doab of the Oxus and Jaxartes.[8] 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 or Fargana — in the Sakadvipa or Scythia of the classical writers.[9] Thus, in 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 the Kambojas till it became part of Persian Achaemenid Empire. After the Persian Empire was defeated by Alexander the Great, the region became the northern part of Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian Kingdom.

Dushanbe government building

From the last quarter of 4th century BCE until the first quarter of the 2nd 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 2nd 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.[citation needed] The Samanid Empire supplanted the Arabs and enlarged 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.[citation needed]

Russian Tajikistan[edit]

In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to spread into Central Asia during the Great Game. Between 1864 and 1885 it gradually took control of the entire territory of Russian Turkestan from today's border with Kazakhstan in the north to the Caspian Sea in the west and the border with Afghanistan in the south. Tajikistan was eventually carved out of this territory, which historically had a large Tajik population. After the overthrow of Imperial Russia in 1917, guerrillas throughout Central Asia, known as basmachi, waged a war against Bolshevik armies in a futile attempt to maintain independence. The Bolsheviks prevailed after a four-year war, in which mosques and villages were burned down and the population heavily suppressed. Soviet authorities started a campaign of secularization, practicing Muslims, Jews, and Christians were persecuted,[citation needed] and mosques, churches, and synagogues[dubious ] were closed.

Soviet Tajikistan[edit]

In 1924, the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created as a part of Uzbekistan, but in 1929 the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR) was made a separate constituent republic (see also Shirinsho Shotemur). The predominantly ethnic Tajik cities of Samarkand and Bukhara remained in the Uzbek SSR. Between 1926 and 1959 the proportion of Russians among Tajikistan's population grew from less than 1% to 13%.[10] Some 120,000 inhabitants of Tajikistan died during World War II.[11]

In terms of living conditions, education and industry Tajikistan was behind the other Soviet Republics. In the 1980s, it had the lowest household saving rate in the USSR,[12] the lowest percentage of households in the two top per capita income groups,[13] and the lowest rate of university graduates per 1000 people.[14]

By the late 1980s Tajik nationalists were calling for increased rights. Real disturbances did not occur within the republic until 1990. The following year, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Tajikistan declared its independence. The first nation to establish an embassy in Dushanbe was Iran, which was also one of the first countries to immediately recognize Tajikistan as an independent state in 1991.[citation needed]

Independence[edit]

A Tajik woman holding her child in 2007.

The nation almost immediately fell into a civil war that involved various factions fighting one another; these factions were often distinguished by clan loyalties. Non-Muslims, especially Russians and Jews, fled during this time because of persecution, increased poverty and better economic opportunities in the West or in other former Soviet republics.[citation needed]

Emomalii Rahmon came to power in 1994, defeating former prime minister Abdumalik Abdullajanov in a November presidential election with 58% of the vote.[15] The elections took place shortly after the end of the war, and Tajikistan was in a state of complete devastation. The estimated dead numbered over 100,000. Around 1.2 million people were refugees inside and outside of the country.[16]

In 1997, a ceasefire was reached between Rahmon and opposition parties (United Tajik Opposition). Peaceful elections were held in 1999, though they were criticized by opposition parties and foreign observers. Rahmon was re-elected with 98% of the vote. Elections were held again in 2006, with Rahmon winning a third term in office with 79% of the vote in a field of five candidates. Several opposition parties boycotted the election and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was critical of it, although observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States claimed the elections to be legal and transparent.[citation needed]

Rahmon's government came under criticism from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in October 2010 for its censorship and repression of the media. The OSCE claimed that the Tajik Government censored Tajik and foreign websites and instituted tax inspections on independent printing houses that lead to the cessation of printing activities for a number of independent newspapers.[17]

Russian border troops were stationed along the Tajik-Afghan border until summer 2005. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, French troops have been stationed at the Dushanbe Airport in support of air operations of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. United States Army and Marine Corps personnel periodically visit Tajikistan to conduct joint training missions of up to several weeks duration. The Government of India rebuilt the Ayni Air Base, a military airport located 15 km southwest of Dushanbe, at a cost of $70 million, completing the repairs in September 2010.[18] It is now the main base of the Tajikistan air force (which reportedly has no planes). There have been talks with Russia concerning use of the Ayni facility,[19] and Russia continues to maintain a large base on the outskirts of Dushanbe and operate at least one military hospital in the capital city.

In 2010, there were concerns among Tajik officials that Islamic militarism in the east of the country was on the rise following the escape of 25 militants from a Tajik prison in August, an ambush that killed 28 Tajik soldiers in the Rasht Valley in September,[20] and another ambush in the valley in October that killed 30 soldiers,[21] followed by fighting outside Gharm that left 3 militants dead. To date the country's Interior Ministry asserts that the central government maintains full control over the country's east, and the military operation in the Rasht Valley was concluded in November 2010.[22] However, fighting erupted again in July 2012.[23]

Politics[edit]

Almost immediately after independence, Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war that saw various factions, allegedly backed by Russia and Iran[citation needed], 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.

President of Tajikistan, Emomalii Rahmon

"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.[24]

Tajikistan is officially a republic, and holds elections for the Presidency and Parliament. It is, however, a one party dominant system, where the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan routinely has a vast majority in Parliament. Emomalii Rahmon has held the office of President continually since November 1994. The parliamentary elections in 2005 aroused many accusations from opposition parties and international observers that President Emomalii Rahmon corruptly manipulates the election process. The most recent elections, in February 2010, saw the ruling PDPT lose four seats in Parliament, yet still maintain a comfortable majority. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe election observers said the 2010 polling "failed to meet many key OSCE commitments" and that "these elections failed on many basic democratic standards."[25][26] The government insisted that only minor violations had occurred, which would not affect the will of the Tajik people.[25][26]

Freedom of the press is ostensibly officially guaranteed by the government, but independent press outlets remain restricted, as does a substantial amount of web content. According to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, access is blocked to local and foreign websites including avesta.tj, Tjknews.com, ferghana.ru, centrasia.ru and journalists are often obstructed from reporting on controversial events. In practice, no public criticism of the regime is tolerated and all direct protest is severely suppressed and does not receive coverage in the local media.[27]

The presidential election held on November 6, 2006 was boycotted by "mainline" opposition parties, including the 23,000-member Islamic Renaissance Party. Four remaining opponents "all but endorsed the incumbent", Rahmon.[24] Tajikistan gave Iran its support in Iran's membership bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, after a meeting between the Tajik President and the Iranian foreign minister.[28]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Sughd ProvinceDistricts of Republican SubordinationKhatlon ProvinceGorno-Badakhshan Autonomous ProvinceA clickable map of Tajikistan exhibiting its four provinces.
About this image

Tajikistan consists of 4 administrative divisions. These are the provinces (viloyat) of Sughd and Khatlon, the autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan (abbreviated as GBAO), and the Region of Republican Subordination (RRP – Raiony Respublikanskogo Podchineniya in transliteration from Russian or NTJ – Ноҳияҳои тобеи ҷумҳурӣ in Tajik; formerly known as Karotegin Province). Each region is divided into several districts, (Tajik: Ноҳия, nohiya or raion), which in turn are subdivided into jamoats (village-level self-governing units) and then villages (qyshloqs). As of 2006, there were 58 districts and 367 jamoats in Tajikistan.[29]

DivisionISO 3166-2Map NoCapitalArea (km²)[29]Pop (2010) Census
SughdTJ-SU1Khujand25,4002,233,500
Region of Republican SubordinationTJ-RR2Dushanbe28,6001,722,900
KhatlonTJ-KT3Qurghonteppa 24,8002,677,300
Gorno-BadakhshanTJ-BG4Khorugh64,200206,000
DushanbeDushanbe10724,800

Geography[edit]

Satellite photograph of Tajikistan
Mountains of Tajikistan

Tajikistan is landlocked, and is the smallest nation in Central Asia by area. It lies mostly between latitudes 36° and 41° N (a small area is north of 41°), and longitudes 67° and 75° E (a small area is east of 75°). It is covered by mountains of the Pamir range,[30] and more than fifty percent of the country is over 3,000 meters (9,800 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.

MountainHeightLocation
Ismoil Somoni Peak (highest)7,495 m24,590 ft    North-western edge of Gorno-Badakhshan (GBAO), south of the Kyrgyz border
Ibn Sina Peak (Lenin Peak)7,134 m23,537 ft    Northern border in the Trans-Alay Range, north-east of Ismoil Somoni Peak
Peak Korzhenevskaya7,105 m23,310 ft    North of Ismoil Somoni Peak, on the south bank of Muksu River
Independence Peak (Revolution Peak)6,974 m22,881 ft    Central Gorno-Badakhshan, south-east of Ismoil Somoni Peak
Akademiya Nauk Range6,785 m22,260 ft    North-western Gorno-Badakhshan, stretches in the north-south direction
Karl Marx Peak6,726 m22,067 ft    GBAO, near the border to Afghanistan in the northern ridge of the Karakoram Range
Garmo Peak6,595 m21,637 ft    Northwestern Gorno-Badakhshan.
Mayakovskiy Peak6,096 m20,000 ft    Extreme south-west of GBAO, near the border to Afghanistan.
Concord Peak5,469 m17,943 ft    Southern border in the northern ridge of the Karakoram Range
Kyzylart Pass4,280 m14,042 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 than 10 kilometres.

Lakes[edit]

About 2% of the country's area is covered by lakes, the best known of which are the following:

Economy[edit]

Tajikistan: trends in its Human Development Index indicator 1970-2010
Tajik children

Tajikistan was the poorest republic of the Soviet Union and is the poorest country in Central Asia as well as in the former Soviet Union today. The current economic situation remains fragile, largely owing to corruption, uneven economic reforms, and economic mismanagement. With foreign revenue precariously dependent upon remittances from migrant workers overseas and exports of aluminium and cotton, the economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks. In FY 2000, international assistance remained an essential source of support for rehabilitation programs that reintegrated former civil war combatants into the civilian economy, thus helping keep the peace. International assistance also was necessary to address the second year of severe drought that resulted in a continued shortfall of food production.

In 2006, GDP per capita of Tajikistan was 85% of 1990s level,[31] while the population has increased from 5.3 million in 1991 to 7.3 million in 2009.

On August 21, 2001, the Red Cross announced that a famine was striking Tajikistan, and called for international aid for Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Tajikistan's economy grew substantially after the war. The GDP of Tajikistan expanded at an average rate of 9.6% over the period of 2000–2007 according to the World Bank data. This improved Tajikistan's position among other Central Asian countries (namely Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), which seem to have degraded economically ever since.[32] Tajikistan is an active member of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

In 2007 the Anzab tunnel was completed, connecting 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.

In 2004 a bridge between Afghanistan and Tajikistan was built, improving the country's access to South Asia. The bridge was built by the United States.[33]

Graphical depiction of Tajikistan's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.

The primary sources of income in Tajikistan are aluminium production, cotton growing and remittances from migrant workers.[34] Cotton accounts for 60% of agricultural output, supporting 75% of the rural population, and using 45% of irrigated arable land.[35] The aluminium industry is represented by the state-owned Tajik Aluminum Company - the biggest aluminium plant in Central Asia and one of the biggest in the world.[36]

Tajikistan's rivers, such as the Vakhsh and the Panj, have great hydropower potential, and the government has focused on attracting investment for projects for internal use and electricity exports. Tajikistan is home to the Nurek, the highest dam in the world.[37] Lately, Russia's RAO UES energy giant has been working on the Sangtuda-1 hydroelectric power station (670 MW capacity) commenced operations on 18 January 2008.[38][39] Other projects at the development stage include Sangtuda-2 by Iran, Zerafshan by the Chinese company SinoHydro, and the Rogun power plant that, at a projected height of 335 metres (1,099 ft), would supersede the Nurek Dam as highest in the world if it is brought to completion[40][41] CASA 1000 project will transmit 1000 MW of surplus electricity from Tajikistan to Pakistan with power transit through Afghanistan. The total length of transmission line is 750 km while the project is planned to be on Public-Private Partnership basis with the support of WB, IFC, ADB and IDB. The project cost is estimated to be around US$ 865 million.[42]

Other energy resources include sizable coal deposits and smaller reserves of natural gas and petroleum.

Tajik family celebrating Eid

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.[43] According to some estimates about 20% of the population lives on less than US$1.25 per day.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46]

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.[47] 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 the fight against illegal drug-trafficking is being achieved.[48]

Tajikistan holds 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).[49][50] 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.[47] 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.[51]

Since the collapse of the USSR, there has been a significant and growing trend of Tajiks migrating abroad for jobs and seeking refuge. In 2010, remittances from Tajik labour migrants totaled an estimated 2.1 billion US dollars, an increase from 2009.

Demographics[edit]

Group of Tajik children

Tajikistan has a population of 7,349,145 (July 2009 est.)[3] Tajiks who speak the Tajik language (a variety of Persian) are the main ethnic group, although there is a sizable minority of Uzbeks and Russians, whose numbers are declining due to emigration.[52] In 1989, ethnic Russians in Tajikistan made up 7.6% of the population, but they are now less than 0.5%, after civil war spurred Russian emigration.[53] The Pamiris of Badakhshan are considered to belong to the larger group of Tajiks. All citizens of Tajikistan are called Tajiks.[3]

The official and vernacular language of Tajikistan is Tajik although Russian is routinely used in business and communication. The Constitution mentioned it as the "language for inter-ethnic communication", but an amendment passed in 2009 removed all official roles of Russian.[54]

Despite its poverty, Tajikistan has a high rate of literacy due to the old Soviet system of free education, with an estimated 99.5% of the population having the ability to read and write.[3] The majority of the population follow Sunni Islam. There is also a sizeable minority of Ismailis.

Bukharan 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 German population in Tajikistan was 38,853 in 1979, but the German community has almost vanished through emigration to Germany since the Soviet collapse.[55] Nearly one million Tajik men worked abroad in 2009.[56] More than 70% of the female population lives in traditional villages.[57]

Health[edit]

Despite repeated efforts by the Tajik government to improve and expand health care, the system remains extremely underdeveloped and poor, with severe shortages of medical supplies. The state's 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 government of Tajikistan and the World Bank considered activities to support this part of the population described in the World Bank's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.[58] Public expenditure on health was at 1% of the GDP in 2004.[59]

Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 66.38 years in 2012.[60] The infant mortality rate is approximately 37 deaths per 1,000 children in 2012.[61] In the early 2000s, there were 203 physicians per 100,000 people.[59] Tajikistan is the only country in world where polio is on the rise. From zero cases in 2008 and 2009, 458 confirmed cases have been reported for 2010 (of 976 cases worldwide).[citation needed]

Culture[edit]

Tajik woman in national dress

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 80% of the citizens of Tajikistan. The main urban centers in today's Tajikistan include Dushanbe (the capital), Khujand, Kulob, Panjakent and Istaravshan. There are also Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Russian minorities.

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.

Tajikistan artisans created the Dushanbe Tea House, which was presented in 1988 as a gift to the sister city of Boulder, Colorado.[62]

In 2010, a Tajik citizen Nilufar Sherzod became Miss United Nations, representing Tajik culture.[63]

Education[edit]

The 2002-2005 public spending on education was 3.5% of the GDP.[59] According to a UNICEF-supported survey, about 25 percent of girls in Tajikistan fail to complete compulsory primary education because of poverty and gender bias,[64] although literacy is generally high in Tajikistan.[59]

Sport[edit]

Tajikistan's mountains provide many opportunities for outdoor sports, such as hill climbing, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain climbing. The facilities are limited, however. Mountain climbing and hiking tours to the Fann and Pamir Mountains, including the 7,000 m peaks in the region, are seasonally organized by local and international alpine agencies.

The Tajikistan Cricket Federation was formed in 2012 as the governing body for the sport of cricket in Tajikistan. It was granted affiliate membership of the Asian Cricket Council in the same year.

Football is the most popular sport in Tajikistan. The Tajikistan national football team competes in FIFA and AFC competitions. The top clubs in Tajikistan compete in the Tajik League.

Three Tajikistani athletes have won Olympic medals for their country since independence. They are: wrestler Yusup Abdusalomov (silver in Beijing 2008), judoka Rasul Boqiev (bronze in Beijing 2008) and boxer Mavzuna Chorieva (bronze in London 2012).

Religion[edit]

A mosque in Isfara, Tajikistan

Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school has been officially recognized by the government since 2009.[65] Tajikistan considers itself a secular state with a Constitution providing for freedom of religion. The Government has declared two Islamic holidays, Id Al-Fitr and Idi Qurbon, as state holidays. According to a U.S. State Department release and Pew research group, the population of Tajikistan is 98% Muslim. Approximately 87%-95% of them are Sunni and roughly 3% are Shia and roughly 7% are non-denominational Muslims.[66][67] The remaining 2% of the population are followers of Russian Orthodoxy, a variety of Protestant denominations, Catholicism, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. A great majority of Muslims fast during Ramadan, although only about one third in the countryside and 10% in the cities observe daily prayer and dietary restrictions. Relationships between religious groups are generally amicable, although there is some concern among mainstream Muslim leaders[who?] that minority religious groups undermine national unity. There is a concern for religious institutions becoming active in the political sphere. The Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), a major combatant in the 1992–1997 Civil War and then-proponent of the creation of an Islamic state in Tajikistan, constitutes no more than 30% of the government by statute. Membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a party which today aims for a nonviolent overthrow of secular governments and the unification of Tajiks under one Islamic state, is illegal and members are subject to arrest and imprisonment.[68] Numbers of large mosques appropriate for Friday prayers are limited and some[who?] feel this is discriminatory.

By law, religious communities must register by the State Committee on Religious Affairs (SCRA) and with local authorities. Registration with the SCRA requires a charter, a list of 10 or more members, and evidence of local government approval prayer site location. Religious groups who do not have a physical structure are not allowed to gather publicly for prayer. Failure to register can result in large fines and closure of place of worship. There are reports that registration on the local level is sometimes difficult to obtain.[69]

Government[edit]

Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Government:

Pres. Emomali RAHMON Prime Min. Oqil OQILOV First Dep. Prime Min. Matlubkhon DAVLATOV Dep. Prime Min. Murodali ALIMARDON Dep. Prime Min. Ruqiya QURBANOVA

Transport[edit]

Eu 733 0-10-0 locomotive in a Park near the main railway station Dushanbe, Tajikistan

See also[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.
 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Government
Media
Local web resources about Tajikistan