Tajikistan is nestled between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the north and west, China to the east, and Afghanistan to the south. Mountains cover 93 percent of Tajikistan’s surface area. The two principal ranges, the Pamir Mountains and the Alay Mountains, give rise to many glacier-fed streams and rivers, which have been used to irrigate farmlands since ancient times. Central Asia’s other major mountain range, the Tian Shan, skirts northern Tajikistan. Mountainous terrain separates Tajikistan’s two population centers, which are in the lowlands of the southern ( Panj River ) and northern ( Fergana Valley ) sections of the country. Especially in areas of intensive agricultural and industrial activity, the Soviet Union’s natural resource utilization policies left independent Tajikistan with a legacy of environmental problems.
The lower elevations of Tajikistan are divided into northern and southern regions by a complex of three mountain chains that constitute the westernmost extension of the massive Tian Shan system. Running essentially parallel from east to west, the chains are the Turkestan, Zeravshan (Zarafshan), and Hisor (Gissar) mountains. The last of these lies just north of the capital, Dushanbe, which is situated in west-central Tajikistan.
More than half of Tajikistan lies above an elevation of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). Even the lowlands, which are located in the Fergana Valley in the far north and in Khatlon Province in the southwest, are well above sea level. In the Turkestan range, highest of the western chains, the maximum elevation is 5,510 metres (18,080 ft). The highest elevations of this range are in the east, near the border with Kyrgyzstan. That region is dominated by the peaks of the Pamir-Alay mountain system, including two of the three highest elevations in the former Soviet Union: Mount Lenin — 7,134 metres (23,406 ft) and Mount Communism — 7,495 metres (24,590 ft). Several other peaks in the region also exceed 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The mountains contain numerous glaciers, the largest of which, Fedchenko Glacier, covers more than 700 square kilometres (270 sq mi) and is the largest glacier in the world outside the polar regIn Tajikistan’s dense river network, the largest rivers are the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya; the largest tributaries are the Vakhsh and the Kofarnihon, which form valleys from northeast to southwest across western Tajikistan. The Amu Darya carries more water than any other river in Central Asia. The upper course of the Amu Darya, called the Panj River, is 921 kilometres (572 mi) long. The river’s name changes at the confluence of the Panj, the Vakhsh, and the Kofarnihon rivers in far southwestern Tajikistan. The Vakhsh, called the Kyzyl-Suu (“red water” in Turkic languages) upstream in Kyrgyzstan and the Surkhob in its middle course in north-central Tajikistan, is the second largest river in southern Tajikistan after the Amu-Panj system. In the Soviet era, the Vakhsh was dammed at several points for irrigation and electric power generation, most notably at Norak (Nurek), east of Dushanbe, where one of the world’s highest dams forms the Nurek Reservoir.
Numerous factories also were built along the Vakhsh to draw upon its waters and potential for electric power generation. Due to the uneven distribution of water throughout Central Asia, the Soviets created a system in which Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan provided water to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in summer, and these three countries provided oil and gas to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan during winter. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, this system fell apart and a new resource-sharing plan has yet to be put in place. According to research conducted by the International Crisis Group, this is due to corruption and lack of political will; failure to solve this issue could lead to irreversible regional destabilization.
Tajikistan’s climate is continental, subtropical, and semiarid, with some desert areas. The climate changes drastically according to elevation, however. The Fergana Valley and other lowlands are shielded by mountains from Arctic air masses, but temperatures in that region still drop below freezing for more than 100 days a year. In the subtropical southwestern lowlands, which have the highest average temperatures, the climate is arid, although some sections now are irrigated for farming. At Tajikistan’s lower elevations, the average temperature range is 23 to 30 °C (73.4 to 86.0 °F) in July and −1 to 3 °C (30.2 to 37.4 °F) in January. In the eastern Pamirs, the average July temperature is 5 to 10 °C (41 to 50 °F), and the average January temperature is −15 to −20 °C (5 to −4 °F).
Tajikistan is divided into
one autonomous region (Tajik: Вилояти мухтор, viloyati mukhtor
(Tajik: вилоятҳо, viloyatho Persian: ولایتها ),
sing. Tajik: вилоят, viloyatو Persian: ولایت ,
the Districts of Republican Subordination
Since independence, Tajikistan gradually followed the path of transition economy, reforming its economic policies. With foreign revenue precariously dependent upon exports of cotton and aluminium, the economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks. Tajikistan’s economy also incorporates a massive black market, primarily focused on the drug trade with Afghanistan, and heroin trafficking in Tajikistan is estimated to be equivalent 30-50% of national GDP as of 2012.In fiscal year (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. Tajikistan’s economy grew substantially after the war. The gross domestic product (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 have degraded economically ever since. As of August 2009, an estimated 60% of Tajikistani citizens live below the poverty line.The 2008 global financial crisis has hit Tajikistan hard, both domestically and internationally. Tajikistan has been hit harder than many countries because it already has a high poverty rate and because many of its citizens depend on remittances from expatriate Tajikistanis.
The politics of Tajikistan takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Legislative power is vested in both the executive branch and the two chambers of parliament.
Foreign relations of Tajikistan are based on a desire to secure foreign investment and promote regional security while ensuring Tajikistan’s independence. Sirodjidin Mukhridinovich Aslov is the Foreign Minister of Tajikistan.
In 1989, ethnic Russians in Tajikistan made up 7.6% of the population, but they are now less than 0.5%, after the civil war spurred Russian emigration. The ethnic German population of Tajikistan has also declined due to emigration and was 38,853 in 1979, and it has almost vanished since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Islam, the predominant religion throughout Central Asia, was brought to the region by the Arabs in the 7th century. Since that time, Islam has become an integral part of Tajik culture. Tajikistan is a secular country, but the post-Soviet era has seen a marked increase in religious practice in the country.The majority of Tajikistan’s Muslims adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam, and a smaller group belongs to the Shia branch of Islam. The Russian Orthodox faith is the most widely practiced of other religions, although the Russian community shrank significantly in the early 1990s. Some other small Christian groups now enjoy relative freedom of worship. Tajikistan also has a small Jewish community
Tajikistan harkens to the Samanid Empire (875–999). The Tajik people came under Russian rule in the 1860s. The Basmachi revolt broke out in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and was quelled in the early 1920s during the Russian Civil War. In 1924 Tajikistan became an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union, the Tajik ASSR, within Uzbekistan. In 1929 Tajikistan was made one of the component republics of the Soviet Union – Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR) – and it kept that status until gaining independence 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
It has since experienced three changes in government and the Tajik civil war. A peace agreement among rival factions was signed in 1997.