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Tajikistan
Tajikistan (pronounced /təˈdʒɪkɨstæn/or /təˈdʒiːkɨstæn/), officially the Republic of Tajikistan, is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and 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.

 

Politics

Almost immediately after independence, Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war . 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.

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).

Administrative divisions

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 ( nohiya or raion), which in turn are subdivided into jamoats (village-level self-governing units). As of 2006, there were 58 districts and 367 jamoats in Tajikistan.

Division

Capital

Area (km²)

Pop (2006)

Sughd

Khujand

25,400

2,060,900

Region of Republican Subordination

Dushanbe

28,600

1,531,300

Khatlon

Qurghonteppa 

24,800

2,463,300

Gorno-Badakhshan

Khorugh

64,200

218,400

Geography

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.

Mountain

Height

Location

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:

  • Kayrakum (Qairoqqum) Reservoir (Sughd)
  • Iskanderkul (Fann Mountains)
  • Kulikalon (Kul-i Kalon) (Fann Mountains)
  • Nurek Reservoir (Khatlon)
  • Bulunkul (Pamir)
  • Drumkul (Pamir)
  • Kara-Kul (Tajik: Qarokul; eastern Pamir)
  • Rangkul (Pamir)

Economy

Tajikistan was the poorest country in Central Asia as well in the former Soviet Union following a civil war after it became independent in 1991. With foreign revenue precariously dependent upon exports of cotton and aluminium, 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. 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 2000–2004 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. Tajikistan is an active member of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

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.

A new bridge between Afghanistan and Tajikistan has been built which will help the country have access to trade lines with South Asia.

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 335 metres (1,099 ft) 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.

Demographics

Tajikistan has a population of 7,320,716 (July 2006 est.). Tajiks who speak the Tajik language  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  Islam.  Bukharian Jews had lived in Tajikistan since the 2nd century BC, but today almost none are left.

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.