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: Tajikistan.



Tajikistan, officially Republic of Tajikistan, republic (2005 est. pop. 7,164,000), 143,100 sq km. It borders on China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, Kyrgyzstan in the north, and Uzbekistan in the west and northwest. Dushanbe is the capital and largest city. Administratively, the country is divided into two regions and one autonomous region (Badakhshan, the easternmost section of Tajikistan).

Land and People

Parts of the Pamir and Trans-Alai mt. systems are in the east, and the highest peaks in the country are Ismoili Somoni Peak (7,495m) and Lenin Peak, formerly Kaufmann Peak (7,134 m). The southeast is occupied by an arid plateau c. (3,660-4,570m) 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. Additional dams and irrigation projects, notably the Great Gissar Canal, have opened almost 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) of land to cultivation.

Most of Tajikistan's people are concentrated in its narrow, deep intermontane valleys. About 65% of the population is composed of Tajiks (also spelled Tadjiks or Tadzhiks), a Sunni Muslim people who speak a language virtually indistinguishable from Persian. The rest of the people are mainly Uzbeks (25%), Russians (3.5%), Tatars, Kyrgyz, and Ukrainians. In addition to the capital of Dushanbe, other important cities are Khudjand , Uroteppa, and Qurghonteppa.


Tajikistan's economy is dependent on agriculture and livestock raising. Some two thirds of the population is extremely poor, and a sixth now work in Russia or other foreign countries. Mining and raw-materials processing, which were formerly important, have diminished since the economic collapse in the 1990s, after Soviet rule ended and civil war began. The lowlands specialize in the cultivation of cotton, wheat, barley, fruit (including wine grapes), and mulberry trees (for silk). Karakul sheep, dairy cattle, and yaks are raised. The republic's mountains yield coal, antimony, silver, gold, salt, uranium, mercury, tungsten, lead, and zinc, but most mining has ceased. Cotton ginning, silk spinning, food processing, winemaking, carpet weaving, metals processing, and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, fertilizers, and cement were the leading industries, but these too have been curtailed. There is some petroleum, and Tajikistan is well provided with hydroelectric resources. The country's economic problems and political turmoil have led Tajikistan to become an important heroin smuggling transit point. Trade is primarily with other former Soviet republics; the first road to China was opened only in 2004.


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. 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. 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 that began in the late 1990s has 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.



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