/teuh jik"euh stan', -stahn', -jee"keuh-/, n.

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Introduction Tajikistan -
Background: Tajikistan has experienced three changes in government and a five- year civil war since it gained independence in 1991 from the USSR. A peace agreement among rival factions was signed in 1997, and implemented in 2000. The central government's less than total control over some areas of the country has forced it to compromise and forge alliances among factions. Open skirmishes in the streets are less of a problem than they were during the war five years ago. Attention by the international community in the wake of the war in Afghanistan may bring increased economic development assistance, which would create jobs and increase stability in the long term. Tajikistan is in the beginning stages of seeking World Trade Organization membership and has been approved to join NATO's Partnership for Peace. Geography Tajikistan
Location: Central Asia, west of China
Geographic coordinates: 39 00 N, 71 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 143,100 sq km water: 400 sq km land: 142,700 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Wisconsin
Land boundaries: total: 3,651 km border countries: Afghanistan 1,206 km, China 414 km, Kyrgyzstan 870 km, Uzbekistan 1,161 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: midlatitude continental, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid to polar in Pamir Mountains
Terrain: Pamir and Alay Mountains dominate landscape; western Fergana Valley in north, Kofarnihon and Vakhsh Valleys in southwest
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Syr Darya (Sirdaryo) 300 m highest point: Qullai Ismoili Somoni 7,495 m
Natural resources: hydropower, some petroleum, uranium, mercury, brown coal, lead, zinc, antimony, tungsten, silver, gold
Land use: arable land: 5.41% permanent crops: 0.92% other: 93.67% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 7,200 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: earthquakes and floods Environment - current issues: inadequate sanitation facilities; increasing levels of soil salinity; industrial pollution; excessive pesticides; part of the basin of the shrinking Aral Sea suffers from severe overutilization of available water for irrigation and associated pollution Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: landlocked; mountainous region dominated by the Trans-Alay Range in the north and the Pamirs in the southeast; highest point, Qullai Ismoili Somoni (formerly Communism Peak), was the tallest mountain in the former USSR People Tajikistan -
Population: 6,719,567 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 40.4% (male 1,370,314; female 1,346,465) 15-64 years: 54.9% (male 1,835,573; female 1,854,677) 65 years and over: 4.7% (male 136,033; female 176,505) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.12% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 32.99 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 8.51 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -3.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/ female total population: 0.99 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 114.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 64.28 years female: 67.46 years (2002 est.) male: 61.24 years
Total fertility rate: 4.23 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ less than 100 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Tajikistani(s) adjective: Tajikistani
Ethnic groups: Tajik 64.9%, Uzbek 25%, Russian 3.5% (declining because of emigration), other 6.6%
Religions: Sunni Muslim 85%, Shi'a Muslim 5%
Languages: Tajik (official), Russian widely used in government and business
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 98% male: 99% female: 97% (1989 est.) Government Tajikistan -
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Tajikistan conventional short form: Tajikistan local short form: none former: Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic local long form: Jumhurii Tojikiston
Government type: republic
Capital: Dushanbe Administrative divisions: 2 provinces (viloyatho, singular - viloyat) and 1 autonomous province* (viloyati mukhtor); Viloyati Mukhtori Kuhistoni Badakhshon* (Khorugh), Viloyati Khatlon (Qurghonteppa), Viloyati Sughd (Khujand) note: the administrative center name follows in parentheses
Independence: 9 September 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day (or National Day), 9 September (1991)
Constitution: 6 November 1994
Legal system: based on civil law system; no judicial review of legislative acts
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Emomali RAHMONOV (since 6 November 1994; head of state and Supreme Assembly chairman since 19 November 1992) head of government: Prime Minister Oqil OQILOV (since 20 January 1999) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the Supreme Assembly election results: Emomali RAHMONOV elected president; percent of vote - Emomali RAHMONOV 97%, Davlat USMON 2% elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 6 November 1999 (next to be held NA 2006); prime minister appointed by the president
Legislative branch: bicameral Supreme Assembly or Majlisi Oli consists of the Assembly of Representatives (lower chamber) or Majlisi Namoyandagon (63 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the National Assembly (upper chamber) or Majlisi Milliy (33 seats; members are indirectly elected, 25 selected by local deputies, 8 appointed by the president; all serve five-year terms) election results: Assembly of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PDPT 65%, Communist Party 20%, Islamic Rebirth Party 7.5%, other 7.5%; seats by party - NA; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA elections: last held 27 February and 12 March 2000 for the Assembly of Representatives (next to be held NA 2005) and 23 March 2000 for the National Assembly (next to be held NA 2005)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president) Political parties and leaders: Congress of People's Unity of Tajikistan [Saiffidin TURAYEV]; Democratic Party or TDP [Mahmadruzi ISKANDAROV, chairman]; Islamic Rebirth Party [Muhammadsharif HIMMAT-ZODA, chairman]; Party of Justice and Development [Rahmatullo ZOIROV]; People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan or PDPT [Emomali RAHMONOV]; Socialist Party [leader NA]; Tajik Communist Party or CPT [Shodi SHABDOLOV]; Adolatho "Justice" Party [Abdurahmon KARIMOV, chairman] Political pressure groups and there are three unregistered
leaders: political parties with 1,000 or more members: Progressive Party [Suton QUVVATOV]; Social Democratic Party [Rahmatullo ZOIROV]; Unity Party [Hikmatuko SAIDOV] International organization AsDB, CCC, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE,
participation: ECO, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IOC, IOM, ITU, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (observer) Diplomatic representation in the US: Tajikistan does not have an embassy in the US, but does have a permanent mission to the UN: address - 136 East 67th Street, New York, NY 10021, telephone - [1] (212) 472- 7645, FAX - [1] (212) 628-0252; permanent representative to the UN is Rashid ALIMOV Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador
US: Franklin P. "Pancho" HUDDLE, Jr. embassy: 10 Pavlova Street, Dushanbe, Tajikistan 734003; note - the embassy in Dushanbe is not yet fully operational; most business is still handled in Almaty at 531 Sayfullin Street, Almaty, Kazakhstan, telephone 7-3272-58-79- 61, FAX 7-3272-58079-68 mailing address: use embassy street address telephone: 992-372-21-03-48, 03-50, 03-52 FAX: 992-372-24-15-62
Flag description: 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 Economy Tajikistan
Economy - overview: Tajikistan has the lowest per capita GDP among the 15 former Soviet republics. Cotton is the most important crop. Mineral resources, varied but limited in amount, include silver, gold, uranium, and tungsten. Industry consists only of a large aluminum plant, hydropower facilities, and small obsolete factories mostly in light industry and food processing. The civil war (1992-97) severely damaged the already weak economic infrastructure and caused a sharp decline in industrial and agricultural production. Even though 80% of its people continue to live in abject poverty, Tajikistan has experienced strong economic growth since 1997. Continued privatization of medium and large state-owned enterprises will further increase productivity. Tajikistan's economic situation, however, remains fragile due to uneven implementation of structural reforms, weak governance, and the external debt burden. Servicing of the debt, owed principally to Russia and Uzbekistan, could require as much as 50% of government revenues in 2002, thus limiting the nation's ability to meet pressing development needs.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $7.5 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 8.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,140 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 19% industry: 25% services: 56% (2000) Population below poverty line: 80% (2001 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 33% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 3.187 million (2000) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 67.2%, industry 7.5%, services 25.3% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 20% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $146 million expenditures: $196 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Industries: aluminum, zinc, lead, chemicals and fertilizers, cement, vegetable oil, metal-cutting machine tools, refrigerators and freezers Industrial production growth rate: 10.3% (2000 est.) Electricity - production: 14.245 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 2% hydro: 98% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 12.539 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 3.909 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 3.2 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: cotton, grain, fruits, grapes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, goats
Exports: $640 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: aluminum, electricity, cotton, fruits, vegetable oil, textiles
Exports - partners: Europe 43%, Russia 30%, Uzbekistan 13% (2000)
Imports: $700 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: electricity, petroleum products, aluminum oxide, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: Uzbekistan 27%, Russia 16%, Europe 12% (2000)
Debt - external: $1.23 billion (2000 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $60.7 million from US (2001)
Currency: somoni
Currency code: SM
Exchange rates: Tajikistani somoni per US dollar - 2.55 (January 2002), 2.2 (January 2001), 1550 (January 2000), 998 (January 1999), 350 (January 1997), 284 (January 1996) note: the new unit of exchange was introduced on 30 October 2000, with one somoni equal to 1,000 of the old Tajikistani rubles
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Tajikistan - Telephones - main lines in use: 363,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 2,500 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: poorly developed and not well maintained; many towns are not reached by the national network domestic: cable and microwave radio relay international: linked by cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; Dushanbe linked by Intelsat to international gateway switch in Ankara (Turkey); satellite earth stations - 1 Orbita and 2 Intelsat Radio broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 7, shortwave 2 (2001)
Radios: 1.291 million (1991) Television broadcast stations: 13 (2001)
Televisions: 820,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tj Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 5 (2001)
Internet users: 2,000 (2000) Transportation Tajikistan -
Railways: total: 482 km broad gauge: 482 km 1.520-m gauge note: includes only lines in common carrier service; lines dedicated to particular industries are excluded (2001)
Highways: total: 29,900 km paved: 21,400 km (includes some all- weather gravel-surfaced roads) unpaved: 8,500 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1990)
Waterways: none
Pipelines: natural gas 400 km (1992)
Ports and harbors: none
Airports: 53 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 51 over 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 914 to 1,523 m: 12 under 914 m: 36 (2001) Military Tajikistan -
Military branches: Army, Air Force and Air Defense Force, Presidential National Guard, Security Forces (internal and border troops) Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,646,278 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 1,349,505 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 72,056 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $35.4 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 3.9% (FY01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Tajikistan - Disputes - international: the undemarcated northern and western border with Uzbekistan is mined in many sections; continues to maintain a territorial dispute with Kyrgyzstan in Isfara Valley area; ongoing talks with China have failed to resolve the longstanding dispute over the indefinite boundary; Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan wrestle with sharing limited water resources and the regional environmental degradation caused by the shrinking of the Aral Sea
Illicit drugs: major transshipment zone for heroin and opiates from Afghanistan going to Russia and Western Europe; limited illicit cultivation of narcotics crops, mostly for domestic consumption

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officially Republic of Tajikistan

Country, southwestern Central Asia.

Area: 55,250 sq mi (143,100 sq km). Population (2004 est.): 6,606,000. Capital: Dushanbe. The majority of the population are Tajiks; Uzbeks make up a large minority. Language: Tajik (official). Religion: Islam (Sunni). Currency: somoni. Tajikistan is a mountainous country; about half of its territory lies at elevations above 10,000 ft (3,000 m), with the Pamirs dominating the east. The entire region is prone to seismic activity. The Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers cross it and are used for irrigation. Cotton, cattle, fruits, vegetables, and grains are raised. Heavy industries include coal mining, petroleum and natural gas extraction, metalworking, and nitrogen fertilizer production. Light industries include cotton milling, food processing, and textiles. Tajikistan is a republic with one legislative house; the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Settled by Persians с 6th century BC, Tajikistan was part of the empires of the Persian Achaemenian dynasty and of Alexander the Great and his successors. In the 7th–8th centuries AD it was conquered by the Arabs, who introduced Islam. The Uzbeks controlled the region in the 15th–18th centuries. In the 1860s the Russian Empire took over much of Tajikistan. In 1924 it became an autonomous republic under the administration of the Uzbek S.S.R., and it gained union republic status in 1929. It achieved independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Civil war raged through much of the 1990s between government forces and an opposition composed mostly of Islamic militants. A peace agreement was reached in 1997.

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▪ 2009

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 6,839,000
Chief of state:
President Imomalii Rakhmon
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

      In January–February 2008 Tajikistan experienced the most severe winter weather in 44 years. Pres. Imomalii Rakhmon estimated that the damage to the country's less-than-robust economy was at least $1 billion. The economic growth rate declined by half, as most of the country's industries were forced to close owing to lack of power. Though the country's agricultural sector was not as severely affected as was initially feared, the price of bread and cooking oil doubled, and most other food prices rose by 50%. The number of deaths that could be attributed to the cold was not made public; infant deaths were widely believed to have numbered in the hundreds, though this was disputed by the Ministry of Health. Many families, especially in rural areas, were forced to choose between food and fuel, especially as the price for fuel kept mounting.

      Tajikistan's political opposition accused the government of incompetence in handling the crisis, but popular unhappiness did not spill over into political action. The number of labour migrants, believed to exceed one-seventh of the population, reportedly increased. An IMF team confirmed in March that the amount of remittances from migrants had increased as family members working abroad sought to offset the rising price of food. President Rakhmon appealed to the Russian leadership to raise from 600,000 to 800,000 the official quota for the number of Tajiks allowed to work in Russia. In September Rakhmon told the UN General Assembly that the world food crisis posed as great a threat as terrorism, adding that in Tajikistan the crisis was affecting two-thirds of families; he also appealed to donor countries for help.

      Owing to an equally severe summer drought, the country's water supply was insufficient to meet the needs of much of the Central Asian region, which depended on Tajikistan's resource. This led to international tensions, ranging from angry disputes between Tajik and Kyrgyz villagers to pressure exerted by Uzbekistan on potential investors in large-scale Tajik hydropower projects. Uzbekistan, which feared that Tajikistan would control the region's water, urged investors to stop funding the projects.

      Tajikistan's reputation with the international donor community was not improved by the announcement in March that the IMF had discovered that the Tajik National Bank falsified reports about the country's financial resources; as a result, Tajikistan was required to return $47 million in improperly acquired loans. Tajik financial officials denied that the country's reputation had suffered, because a number of capacity-building projects financed by major donors went ahead as planned.

Bess Brown

▪ 2008

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 6,736,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov (from April Imomalii Rakhmon)
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

      The drift toward authoritarianism in Tajikistan continued in 2007 as Pres. Imomalii Rakhmon's extended family and personal clique increasingly dominated political and economic life in Tajikistan; most appointees to high government posts were natives of Rakhmon's home village of Dangara. He announced in March that he was dropping the Russian suffix (–ov) from his surname and invited his countrymen to return to the traditional forms of their names; during 2007 the “Tajikization” of surnames was most noticeable at the highest levels of government.

      The year began with Tajikistan in the midst of a severe power shortage, intensified by an exceptionally cold winter. The lack of power was caused by extremely low water levels in the reservoirs behind the country's power dams, particularly at Nurek, Tajikistan's single-most-important source of hydroelectric power. Uzbekistan failed to fulfill its commitment to supply Tajikistan with power in winter, asserting that its domestic demands were higher owing to the cold winter. Most of Tajikistan received electricity two hours a day at most, if at all. Erratic supplies of natural gas from Uzbekistan forced most city dwellers to heat with electricity; the absence of both light and heat intensified popular dissatisfaction, and by March the media were warning of rising social tensions.

      In May Rakhmon sharply criticized the spending of huge sums on family events such as weddings, circumcisions, and funerals; the national legislature quickly adopted a law that restricted the amounts that could be spent and the number of guests who could be invited to such occasions. The restrictions caused controversy but were generally accepted. Government efforts to force the population to redirect its saving and spending practices were undercut later in the year by an increasingly rapid rate of inflation. Attempts to establish price ceilings for meat and flour caused affordable foodstuffs to disappear from the markets.

      The disastrous winter intensified the Tajik government's efforts to find foreign investors to develop the country's hydroelectric potential. Angered by the long dispute with Rusal—the Russian aluminium giant, which in 2004 had agreed to complete the construction of a major power dam at Roghun above Nurek on the Vakhsh River—the Tajik government withdrew from the deal at the end of August; it had already begun a search for other investors. Uzbekistan, however, intensified its objections to the construction project, arguing that the new dam would reduce the amount of irrigation water available to Tashkent. Similar Uzbek objections to a power plant on the Zeravshan River in northern Tajikistan caused a Chinese consortium to drop that project.

Bess Brown

▪ 2007

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 7,063,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

 Issues of economic development and preparations for the presidential election on Nov. 6, 2006, dominated public life in Tajikistan throughout the year. In January, Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov ordered the government to accelerate strategic economic projects, especially the construction of hydropower plants and the building of roads. Construction proceeded on two large hydropower installations on the Vakhsh River, but a disagreement between the Tajik government and the main investor, the Russian aluminum giant RUSAL, over the height of the dam at Rogun held up the most important of the planned projects. In mid-March the International Monetary Fund confirmed its write-off of $99 million of Tajikistan's external debt, but IMF officials were soon expressing concern that the Tajik government was again borrowing heavily to finance road construction and a power-transmission line.

      In February a Russian publication noted that Tajikistan had the lowest average wage rate of any country in the former U.S.S.R.—the equivalent of $28 per month. Lack of employment opportunity at home drove hundreds of thousands of men of working age—possibly a million or more—to go abroad, mostly to Russia, to find work. Some officials at the local level complained that the government's emphasis on large-scale economic projects would do little to create large numbers of desperately needed jobs. While encouragement of small business was officially part of the government's development strategy, small-business entrepreneurs reported that high taxes and corruption remained serious hindrances to development. In May a law sharply limiting the permissible number of inspections of businesses by state agencies was adopted, but its effects had yet to be felt by year's end.

      President Rakhmonov was reelected in November with 79.3% of the vote. He was seen by most citizens as the guarantor of political stability and the man who held the best promise for economic improvement. The largest of the opposition parties, the Islamic Rebirth Party, chose not to field a presidential candidate after longtime party head Said Abdullo Nuri died in August. Although four other opposition parties did nominate candidates, the groups were far too small to pose a credible challenge to Rakhmonov. After the Central Electoral Commission allowed a splinter group of the Democratic Party to register a candidate, the main branch of the party decided that it would boycott the election.

      Law-enforcement officials repeatedly expressed concern that extremist groups, particularly the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Hizb ut-Tahrir, were becoming more active and more violent in 2006. The latter group was reported to be increasingly successful in recruiting women.

Bess Brown

▪ 2006

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 6,849,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

      Tajikistan's parliamentary election on Feb. 27, 2005, passed off quietly, despite previous criticism by opposition political figures that the Popular Democratic Party, the party of the president, enjoyed an unfair advantage after the independent media had been muzzled in the months leading up to the election. Opposition parties asserted that local election boards had denied many of their candidates places on the ballot. There was little active campaigning. Opposition claims of election fraud were rejected in March by the Central Election Commission, and final results gave 52 of the 63 seats in the lower house to the Popular Democratic Party. Only six newly elected deputies represented opposition parties.

      In mid-April Mahmadruzi Iskandarov, head of the opposition Democratic Party, was abducted in Moscow, where he had sought refuge to avoid what he said were politically motivated charges in Tajikistan. He later turned up in custody in Dushanbe, and, after a lengthy trial, in October he received a 23-year sentence on various charges, including terrorism, embezzlement, and illegal possession of firearms. Other opposition leaders warned that Iskandarov's harsh treatment could lead to popular disturbances.

      The authorities continued to restrict the independent media throughout the year. Prior to the February election, the National Association of Independent Media complained that government officials were refusing to give information to independent journalists while willingly sharing it with state media. In January the popular weekly Nerui Sukhan was closed for alleged tax evasion. It was allowed to resume publication in July but was almost immediately shut down again, and in August its editor in chief was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing electricity.

      In July Russian border guards stationed on the Tajik-Afghan frontier completed the handover to Tajik troops of responsibility for protecting Tajikistan's southern border. Some Russian media questioned whether Tajik troops were adequately prepared to guard the border, in particular to stop the flow of illegal drugs from Afghanistan into the Commonwealth of Independent States. During the year the international community promised assistance to Tajikistan to strengthen the country's border security.

      Economic officials reported rising indicators in all spheres, but international organizations questioned whether the country would be able to reach its Millennium Development Goals that were meant to cut the poverty level in half by 2015. In September the Russian Aluminum Co. launched construction of the Rogun power station, which had been started in the Soviet era but later abandoned. The firm intended to use the plant's electricity to power an expansion of Tajikistan's aluminum industry.

Bess Brown

▪ 2005

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 6,606,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

      During 2004 political life in Tajikistan was marked by growing tensions between Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov, his supporters, and opposition political parties, who accused the president of turning increasingly to authoritarian rule in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for February 2005. In July Rakhmonov signed a controversial new election law, despite threats from four political parties to boycott the upcoming poll. Their criticism of the new law focused on the exclusion of party representatives from election commissions and on the high registration fee for candidates.

      Leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party—which under the peace accords that ended the 1992–97 civil war was one of the opposition groups entitled to a certain percentage of government posts at all levels—asserted that Rakhmonov was unfairly dismissing party members from their official positions. It was not only the opposition that felt the effects of presidential disapproval. In February former interior minister Yakub Salimov, who had been one of Rakhmonov's main supporters during the civil war, was extradited to Tajikistan from Russia to face charges of treason and abuse of office. In August Gaffor Mirzoyev, head of the Tajik Drug Control Agency and one of Rakhmonov's field commanders during the civil war, was arrested on charges of having committed a number of serious crimes, including murder and illegal possession of firearms.

      Tajikistan's independent media also found it progressively more difficult to work as the election approached. Several publications that had been critical of the government were denied the use of printing facilities on various pretexts, and in July Rajab Mirzo, chief editor of the independent weekly Ruzi Nav, was badly beaten by an unidentified assailant.

      Large numbers of Tajiks—possibly as many as one million or more—continued to go abroad, primarily to Russia, in search of work. Tajik economists estimated that the amount of remittances sent back home by the labour migrants equaled the national budget. Many Tajik job seekers were deported from Russia for violations of the immigration rules, and the Tajik government and various international organizations began opening information offices to educate potential labour migrants about immigration requirements. In October Russia signed a deal granting all Tajik migrants legal status and medical insurance.

      Tajikistan continued to be a major transit area for illegal drugs to Russia and Europe from Afghanistan. In early August Russian border troops stationed in Tajikistan found a cache containing one ton of heroin and 72 kg (about 158 lb) of raw opium—the largest single haul of drugs to date. Such finds provided substance to Russian officials' claim that Tajik border troops were not ready to assume full responsibility for controlling the Tajik-Afghan border. Rakhmonov agreed to extend the Russian guards' stay until the end of 2006.

Bess Brown

▪ 2004

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 6,535,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

      A delegation of the European Parliament that arrived in Dushanbe in October 2003 summed up Tajikistan's situation very well: a country on the road to democracy but suffering from acute economic problems. One of the points on which the entire Tajik political spectrum agreed was the urgent need to reduce a level of poverty in the country that was forcing up to 800,000 Tajik citizens to go abroad, mostly to Russia, every summer in search of work. The Tajik leadership made it a top priority to seek foreign investment that would create jobs at home.

      Another top priority for Tajikistan was to try to stop the flow of contraband drugs from Afghanistan that were intended ultimately for Russia. In the first nine months of 2003, Russian border guards stationed on the Tajik-Afghan frontier and Tajik law-enforcement officers together seized almost 7 metric tons of illegal drugs, of which 4.5 tons were heroin. The comparable figures for 2002 were 4.3 tons of drugs, including 2.7 tons of heroin. These figures gave emphasis to Tajik Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov's plea to the UN General Assembly in September for the creation of an international antidrug coalition.

      President Rakhmonov precipitated a political crisis in the first half of the year with his request that the parliament submit to national referendum a series of constitutional amendments that he said were necessary to modernize the country. The most controversial amendment lifted a restriction on the number of presidential terms, and would thus make it possible for Rakhmonov to remain in office for 14 more years. Other changes included dropping constitutional guarantees of free health care and free higher education. Some opposition parties predicted that social instability would result if the amendments were adopted in the June 22 referendum. The amendments were adopted, but there was no evidence of massive social discontent over the changes.

      The most visible evidence of popular discontent over the situation in the country, in addition to the large-scale labour migration, was a growing presence of the international extremist Muslim party Hizb ut-Tahrir. According to sources in Tajik law enforcement, more than 200 party activists were arrested in 2002 and 2003, and “tons” of subversive literature calling for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia were confiscated. The authorities were particularly disturbed in 2003 by increasing evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir was spreading its influence in Tajikistan beyond the Tajik portion of the Fergana Valley.

Bess Brown

▪ 2003

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 6,327,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

      In 2002 Tajikistan was able to benefit from its participation in the international antiterrorism coalition to forge closer ties with a number of countries, including the U.S., France, the U.K., China, and Iran. These states, as well as international financial institutions, promised their assistance in overcoming the legacy of widespread poverty and lagging economic development that was left by Tajikistan's civil war in the first years of independence. In March the Asian Development Bank announced a $2.9 million program to reduce rural poverty, and later in the year the World Bank offered $26.4 million worth of credits to build a power plant in the Pamirs. Development of hydropower was high on the Tajik government's agenda for stimulating economic growth. Not only could it be used as the basis for domestic industry, but it could also readily be exported to neighbouring countries. Consequently, Tajik officials placed special emphasis on finding foreign investors to help complete Soviet-era hydroelectric projects, in particular that at Rogun.

      Despite its own difficult economic situation, Tajikistan promised such assistance as it was able to provide for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. In particular, the Tajiks offered training in various skills, notably for the Afghan military. The improving ties between the two countries were symbolized by the starting of weekly flights between Kabul and Dushanbe.

      Although in 2002 there was little evidence that Islamic extremists were entering Tajikistan from outside, the government asserted that there were plenty of the homegrown variety operating in the northern part of the country. The international movement Hizb-ut Tahrir, which sought to create a medieval-style caliphate in the Fergana Valley, had already gained a foothold in the northern, Tajik portion of the valley and was reported to be stepping up distribution of its literature. In July, embarrassed by the fact that there were a few Tajiks among al-Qaeda supporters held in the U.S. camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov warned of increasing militancy in the north and accused the Islamic Renaissance Party, a partner in the governing coalition, of encouraging extremism—a charge that the head of the party hotly denied. In August Rakhmonov warned the Muslim clergy to stay out of politics because international press reports of extremism in Tajikistan were undermining efforts to attract foreign investment. Between August and October, 33 of the 152 mosques in the Isfara district in the north were reported to have been closed—Rakhmonov had asserted that there were too many of them—and a number of imams were removed from their posts.

Bess Brown

▪ 2002

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 6,252,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

      Tajikistan continued to suffer the effects of the regionwide drought, which continued for a third year. International humanitarian assistance provided some relief, but the country's vital agricultural sector had little chance to start the process of recovery.

      The post-civil war peace process was endangered by outbreaks of violence that lasted from April, when the deputy minister of internal affairs was assassinated in Dushanbe, through the summer as government troops battled two armed gangs that had formerly been part of the Islamic opposition. Members of the Islamic opposition who had become government officials stated that the cleanup operation was necessary because, since the end of the civil war, the two groups had engaged in criminal activities, including hostage taking. One former opposition official reported that the killing of civilians during the operations against the gangs had undermined the implementation of the peace process. In July the adviser to Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov was shot dead in Dushanbe. Politicians of various parties attributed the violence to unspecified forces that wanted to destabilize the country. The minister of culture was assassinated in September.

      From the beginning of the year, Tajikistan was under pressure from international humanitarian-aid agencies to admit a group of several thousand Afghan refugees stranded on islands in the Amu Darya. The Tajik authorities refused to allow the refugees into Tajikistan on the grounds that there were armed men among them and in any case Tajikistan was unable to care for its own people. In April the mayor of Dushanbe ordered all Afghan refugees out of the capital.

      In January the Tajik authorities began jailing adherents of the banned Islamic sect Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was particularly strong in northern Tajikistan. In early April Kyrgyz officials asserted that militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan had returned to Tajikistan, which in previous years they had used as a launching point for attacks on Kyrgyzstan. Tajik officials denied this charge and subsequent claims that leaders of the Afghanistan-based group had been sighted in Tajikistan.

      Relations with neighbouring Uzbekistan remained tense; the Uzbeks had mined the border between the two countries, and numerous Tajik citizens were killed or maimed when they stepped on mines. The Tajik military spent the summer trying to remove as many mines as possible.

      Tajikistan continued to depend on the Russian military presence to protect its borders with Afghanistan. In May it joined the NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace program. After the terrorist attacks in the U.S. in September, Dushanbe was obliged to consult with Russia before agreeing to provide help to the international antiterrorist coalition.

Bess Brown

▪ 2001

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 6,213,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government:
Prime Minister Akil Akilov

      Elections for the two chambers of Tajikistan's new parliament were held in February and March 2000. The party of Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov received the largest number of votes, followed by the Communist Party. The Islamic Revival Movement, one of the main opponents of the government during the 1992–97 civil war, made a surprisingly poor showing, receiving less than 10% of the vote. At the end of March, the National Reconciliation Commission, which had overseen the implementation of the peace process, was dissolved on the grounds that its work had been completed.

      Although bombings and assassinations of public figures continued in Dushanbe, Tajikistan's main security concern in 2000 was Afghanistan. Uzbekistan repeatedly accused Tajikistan of harbouring Uzbek extremists who were alleged to have received training at terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Tajikistan consistently denied the charges and agreed to join Uzbekistan and other regional states in countering terrorist incursions. In July officials of the Shanghai Five (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) met in Dushanbe to coordinate efforts against terrorism. By the end of September, however, Tajikistan was facing a different problem with Afghanistan; thousands of refugees from the fighting in northern Afghanistan were reported to be gathering near the Tajik border. Tajik officials and international humanitarian organizations feared a large influx of refugees into Tajikistan if the Afghan Taliban succeeded in overcoming its remaining opponent, the Northern Alliance.

      In April members of an illegal extremist group called Hizb-ut Tahrir were arrested in northern Tajikistan; Tajik officials asserted that the group was actually based in Uzbekistan. In August Dushanbe denied that Uzbek militants trying to enter Uzbekistan through Kyrgyzstan had passed through Tajik territory, but he later announced that Tajik border guards had stopped a group of militants trying to enter Uzbekistan directly from Tajikistan. In September Tajikistan made a formal complaint to Uzbekistan about the latter's mining of the common border.

      Effects of the drought that affected much of Central Asia were especially devastating for Tajikistan's economy, still in the process of recovering from the civil war. Even before the effects of the drought were felt, the World Bank estimated that 80% of the population of Tajikistan was living in poverty. Though in July the United Nations announced that it would maintain a presence in Tajikistan to help rehabilitate the economy, most international donors were slow to respond to the Tajik government's pleas for assistance.

Bess Brown

▪ 2000

143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 6,213,000
Chief of state:
President Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government:
Prime Minister Yahyo Azimov

      Some aspects of the 1997 peace accord that was to end the five-year civil war between the Tajik government and the largely Islamic opposition were successfully implemented in 1999, but there were serious setbacks as well. In May the Tajik parliament adopted a general amnesty for fighters of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) and thereby overcame a major stumbling block to the peace process. In the middle of the year, the UTO announced its intent to boycott the National Reconciliation Commission, the joint government-opposition group responsible for overseeing implementation of the peace agreement, because of alleged government unwillingness to implement important provisions of the peace agreement. These points included the release of imprisoned UTO fighters and the allocation of 30% of all government posts to the opposition. After less than a month, the UTO returned to the commission, saying that disagreements with the government had been minimized and that the peace process was irreversible.

      At the beginning of August, Sayed Abdullo Nuri, head of the UTO, announced that the opposition had met the August 1 deadline for disbanding its armed forces. The process of integrating the opposition's armed units into the Tajik military was reported to be complete.

      In October, however, the peace process received a major setback when UTO representatives withdrew from the National Reconciliation Commission after government-appointed election officials refused to register three opposition candidates for the November presidential election. After international intervention, the UTO not only returned to the commission but also supported the reelection of Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov, who won a second seven-year term with an overwhelming majority of the votes.

      Tajikistan rejected frequent charges by Uzbekistan that Islamic extremist terrorists were being trained at camps within Tajikistan. After bombings of government buildings in Tashkent in February, the Tajik authorities promised their Uzbek counterparts that they would deport a group of some 500 Uzbeks who had fled to central Tajikistan, some of whom were alleged to have been involved in the attack on the Uzbek capital. Relations between the two countries deteriorated further when Uzbekistan, in agreement with Kyrgyzstan, bombed a remote area of northern Tajikistan in order to destroy a group of Uzbek militants who had crossed into Kyrgyzstan in August and seized a number of hostages. That raid, and another in early October, were sharply protested by Tajikistan as unjustified attacks on its territory.

Bess Brown

▪ 1999

      Area: 143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 6,112,000

      Capital: Dushanbe

      Chief of state: President Imomali Rakhmonov

      Head of government: Prime Minister Yahyo Azimov

      In Tajikistan during 1998 it seemed to many that the process of implementing the 1997 peace agreement was grinding to a halt. The accord, which ended five years of civil war, had been signed by the two major combatants, the government of Tajikistan and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), a coalition of Islamic and secular democratic forces. Many smaller groups were excluded, and in 1998 they made their presence felt through military assaults and a series of killings that undermined the peace process. Also less than constructive were some actions of the Tajik government, which was reluctant to accept opposition members in the coalition government as required by the terms of the peace agreement or to prepare for constitutional changes and elections that were specified in the agreement.

      In January the opposition briefly suspended its participation in the National Reconciliation Commission, created to oversee implementation of the peace agreement. Shortly afterward Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov agreed to appoint five UTO members to posts in a coalition government being slowly assembled under the terms of the peace agreement. At the end of February, the peace process received a boost when Akbar Turajonzoda, deputy head of the UTO, returned from exile in Iran to take up the post of first deputy prime minister. Turajonzoda's appeal for the Islamic Rebirth Party to be given an equal chance to contest planned elections was rejected by the parliament, which adopted a law prohibiting religious-based political parties. President Rakhmonov vetoed the law but asserted publicly that he would not tolerate an Islamic government in Tajikistan.

      Among the groups excluded from the peace process was the National Revival Bloc of a former prime minister, Abdumalik Abdullojonov, which represented the interests of the Leninabad region in northern Tajikistan. Political antagonism between the north and Dushanbe worsened in March with the sentencing to death of six northerners, including Abdullojonov's brother, on charges of having attempted to assassinate Rakhmonov in 1997.

      Violence undermined the peace process in late March and early April when government and opposition forces engaged in major military clashes near Dushanbe. The government accused the UTO of inability to restrain its own forces. In June an important UTO military leader was killed in Dushanbe. The following month four members of the UN Military Observers mission (UNMOT) were killed, apparently by a renegade opposition group. Though the killings were sharply condemned by both the government and the UTO, they resulted in a drastic reduction in the international presence in Tajikistan. Most UNMOT observers were removed, and the U.S. embassy was closed in September for security reasons. On July 31 the head of Tajikistan's customs service was assassinated; a prominent Muslim clergyman was killed in August; and UTO official Otakhon Latifi, the most prominent opposition figure to be assassinated to date, died in September.


▪ 1998

      Area: 143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 6,054,000

      Capital: Dushanbe

      Chief of state: President Imomali Rakhmonov

      Head of government: Prime Minister Yahyo Azimov

      Tajikistan's civil war ended officially on June 27, 1997, with the signing in Moscow of peace accords between the government of Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), a coalition of largely Islamic groups that had been fighting government forces since the end of 1992. Leaders of the two sides agreed in December 1996 to begin a final round of peace negotiations, and during the first half of 1997, hard bargaining over the terms of the accords preceded the signing. The final version of the accords set up a National Reconciliation Commission, to be headed by UTO chief Sayed Abdullo Nuri, with Parliament Speaker Abdulmajid Dostiyev as vice-chairman, and gave the UTO one-third of all government and judicial positions at all levels and in all regions of the country, including areas where there had never been an opposition presence.

      Negotiators for the UTO repeatedly expressed concern that the National Revival Bloc of former prime minister Abdumalik Abdullojonov, which represented the interests of northern Tajikistan, was excluded from the peace process at the insistence of the government. In April President Rakhmonov was wounded in an assassination attempt in Khujand, the major city of northern Tajikistan. Opposition and outside observers attributed the attack to anger in the region over the failure to include northern representatives in the final peace negotiations, but the government in Dushanbe used the assault as an excuse for large-scale arrests of northern political activists, including Abdullojonov's brother, who was dying of cancer.

      Many small bands of fighters who were outside the control of either the government or the opposition were excluded from the peace process as well. These groups made their presence felt throughout the year, with attacks on both government and opposition forces and the taking of hostages. In February one armed band seized several military observers from the UN Mission in Tajikistan, some staff members of the International Committee of the Red Cross, four Russian journalists, and the minister of security, who had been sent from Dushanbe to negotiate the release of the international hostages. In August Col. Makhmud Khudoiberdiyev, formerly a government supporter, attacked government troops in the vicinity of Dushanbe. After heavy fighting against the regular army, Khudoiberdiyev and his supporters were driven out of their headquarters in the southern part of the country and disappeared. Rumours that Khudoiberdiyev had found refuge in Uzbekistan were hotly denied by Uzbek authorities. The deputy head of the UTO, Akbar Turajonzoda, commented that the only solution to violence by groups left out of the peace process was to bring them into it.

      Opposition chief Nuri arrived in Dushanbe on September 11 to take up his duties as chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission, somewhat later than expected owing to several bombings in the city, including one in the Dushanbe hotel where opposition leaders were to live. Despite continuing violence in the capital, the commission began its work of implementing the peace accords.

      In mid-October a group of some 70 gunmen attacked the barracks of the Presidential Guard in Dushanbe, killing 14 guardsmen and demonstrating the fragility of the peace in Tajikistan. Opposition spokesman Davlat Usmon stated that the attackers were probably from a group that was formerly part of the UTO but had rejected the peace accords.

      This article updates Tajikistan.

▪ 1997

      A landlocked republic of Central Asia, Tajikistan borders Kyrgyzstan on the north, Uzbekistan on the north and west, Afghanistan on the south, and China on the east. Area: 143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 5,945,000. Cap.: Dushanbe. Monetary unit: Tajik ruble, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 298 Tajik rubles to U.S. $1 (469.44 Tajik rubles = £ 1 sterling). President in 1996, Imomali Rakhmonov; prime ministers, Jamshed Karimov and, from February 8, Yahyo Azimov.

      Fighting between the forces of Tajikistan's neocommunist government and armed Islamic opposition groups intensified in 1996. The opposition had had limited success in attacking government forces within Tajikistan and had concentrated on cross-border assaults from bases in northern Afghanistan.

      Another round of UN-sponsored peace talks held in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, between the government and the opposition ended inconclusively in February. Only after the talks were over did the opposition agree to an extension of a cease-fire that was having some effect on the border. It did not prevent the intensification of fighting in the important Tavildara region in the southern part of the country, however, and the opposition was able to capture the area in the summer. Talks were resumed in July and resulted in a new cease-fire agreement, which the two sides promptly accused each other of having violated. Although government forces claimed to have retaken Tavildara by late August, fighting continued into the autumn. Yet another cease-fire was signed in Moscow on December 23, with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin looking on.

      The government of Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov faced its first major internal challenge when two regional commanders mutinied in January. Both men, who were part of Rakhmonov's southern clique, demanded the resignation of the government and the removal from Tajikistan of Russian troops that had been a mainstay of Rakhmonov's regime in the fighting against the Islamic opposition and its Afghan allies. Rakhmonov compromised, dismissing several government officials and giving one of the rebellious commanders an important military post. The presidents of Russia and Turkey, both major aid donors, praised Rakhmonov's skill in ending the mutiny, but the Tajik president's position was visibly weakened. Later in the year he faced demands from the northern region of the country that the predominance of southerners in administrative posts be ended. In July three former prime ministers formed an opposition group calling for the creation of a government in which all parties and regions of the country would be represented.

      In February Prime Minister Yahyo Azimov, appointed at the beginning of the month, declared that privatization was his first priority in trying to reverse the effects of four years of war on Tajikistan's economy. (BESS BROWN)

      This article updates Tajikistan.

▪ 1996

      A landlocked republic of Central Asia, Tajikistan borders Kyrgyzstan on the north, Uzbekistan on the north and west, Afghanistan on the south, and China on the east. Area: 143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 5,832,000. Cap.: Dushanbe. Monetary unit: Tajik ruble (new currency introduced May 10, 1995, to replace the at par value [interim] Tajik ruble and Russian ruble at a rate of 1 Tajik ruble to 100 Russian rubles; on May 15 the Tajik ruble became sole legal tender), with (Oct. 4, 1995) a free rate of 44.90 Tajik rubles to U.S. $1 (71.35 Tajik rubles = £1 sterling). Chief of state in 1995 (president of the National Assembly), Imomali Rakhmonov; prime minister, Jamshed Karimov.

      Sporadic fighting continued in Tajikistan throughout 1995 despite efforts by the United Nations and individual states alike to obtain a settlement of the three-year-old civil war. Increasingly, clashes between government troops and the forces of the Islamic opposition occurred in the interior of the country rather than on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, where the opposition had its headquarters.

      On February 26 the first post-Soviet parliamentary elections were held in Tajikistan. Voter turnout was high, even in regions that had been opposition strongholds. The Islamic opposition in exile rejected the election results on the grounds that not all parties could take part and that the opposition had been denied freedom of the press. Among the first actions of the new parliament was a vote for a new currency, the Tajik ruble, to replace the Russian ruble. Tajikistan had hoped for a monetary union with Russia, but Russian financial officials were reluctant to link their country's economy so closely with that of war-ravaged Tajikistan.

      Despite the extension of a fragile cease-fire arranged in late 1994 between government and opposition troops, the level of fighting on the Tajik-Afghan border increased sharply in April, shortly before UN-sponsored talks began in Moscow between Tajik government and opposition representatives to set a date for a fourth round of peace negotiations. The Moscow talks were nearly derailed at the start by Russian Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev, who warned the opposition that Russia would not tolerate further attacks on its peacekeeping troops in Tajikistan. The opposition, deeply offended, condemned his remarks as interference in internal Tajik affairs.

      At the Moscow talks a date was set in May for the fourth round of negotiations, which were preceded by a meeting between Tajik Pres. Imomali Rakhmonov and Islamic opposition chief Said Abdullo Nuri in Kabul, Afghanistan, the first face-to-face meeting of the leaders of the two sides in the Tajik conflict. Despite this encouraging prologue, the negotiations, held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, resulted in little progress on the constitutional issues dividing the two sides. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, two of the states that contributed troops to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping contingent in Tajikistan, let it be known that they were considering withdrawing their forces if no solution to the conflict was found.

      A fifth round of peace negotiations between the government and opposition was scheduled to begin on September 18, but it was postponed indefinitely when the two sides were unable to agree on a venue for the talks. In August Islamic opposition chief Nuri agreed to extend the cease-fire until mid-November, but sporadic fighting continued between opposition troops and Russian peacekeepers on the Tajik-Afghan border, with the commander of the CIS troops accusing the opposition of "terrorist" activities. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Tajikistan.

▪ 1995

      A landlocked republic of Central Asia, Tajikistan borders Kyrgyzstan on the north, Uzbekistan on the north and west, Afghanistan on the south, and China on the east. Area: 143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 5,813,000. Cap.: Dushanbe. Monetary unit: Tajik ruble (introduced May 1994 as interim currency to replace the Russian ruble; in January 1994 Tajikistan had introduced the Russian ruble as its own currency to replace the pre-1993 Russian [or Soviet] ruble), with (Oct. 13, 1994) an official rate of 2,900 Tajik rubles to U.S. $1 (4,612 rubles = £ 1 sterling). Chief of state in 1994 (chairman of the National Assembly and president), Imomali Rakhmonov; prime ministers, Abdujalil Samadov (acting) and, from December 2, Dzamshed Karimov.

      Throughout 1994 armed groups of the banned Tajik Islamic opposition and their Afghan supporters carried out almost daily attacks on Russian and Tajik border troops guarding the Tajik-Afghan frontier. Even though Tajikistan's neo-Communist regime was almost completely dependent on Russian military and economic assistance to remain in power, Russia had difficulty persuading the Tajik government to begin negotiations with the armed opposition to end the fighting that had dragged on since 1992. Although Russian forces were heavily engaged in protecting the border with Afghanistan, which Moscow viewed as the most important line of resistance against the spread of Muslim fundamentalism, Russia refused to become involved in Tajikistan's internal conflict. During the summer, when a number of journalists, government officials, and Russian officers assisting the Tajik Ministry of Defense were assassinated in Dushanbe, the opposition was accused of the murders. Foreign human rights activists protested when two prominent journalists were arrested for distributing an opposition Tajik-language newspaper that was printed in Moscow but never banned in Tajikistan. In July a group of armed oppositionists inside Tajikistan succeeded in seizing control of an important highway east of Dushanbe for several days; it was one of the most significant opposition successes since the restoration of the communists at the end of 1992.

      In April Russian and UN officials brought together representatives of the Tajik leadership and the Islamic and democratic opposition-in-exile for talks in Moscow that, it was hoped, would lead to a cease-fire. Two rounds of talks ended inconclusively. In September, after the government met opposition demands for an amnesty for political prisoners, a temporary cease-fire under UN supervision was finally agreed to. A third round of talks to establish a permanent cease-fire was held in Islamabad, Pak., in late October. The talks began with an opposition charge, supported by Helsinki Watch, that the government had not fulfilled its promise to release a number of political prisoners.

      In April the government released the draft of a new constitution, which was approved by the voters on November 6. In the presidential election held the same day, Imomali Rakhmonov, who had been acting president, was declared the victor despite charges of electoral fraud and voter intimidation. The Western-oriented Democratic Party broke with the rest of the opposition in accepting Rakhmonov's election, but the Islamic opposition refused to recognize it. Rakhmonov was formally installed in office on November 16. There was considerable criticism of the election both inside and outside Tajikistan because the two candidates, Rakhmonov and former prime minister Abdumalek Abdulajanov, represented only one region of Tajikistan. The election, therefore, was seen as further dividing the country. Officials of the Russian border guards in Tajikistan claimed that despite a cease-fire agreement, opposition forces were preparing a major offensive for the spring of 1995.

      Tajikistan's government remained dependent on Russia not only to protect the border but also to support the country's economy, which had been weakened by two years of fighting. In January Tajikistan adopted the Russian ruble as the first step toward complete integration of the Tajik economy with that of Russia. Russian financial officials, however, were less than enthusiastic about the proposed monetary union, and Tajik pleas to speed up the planned union went unheeded. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Tajikistan.

▪ 1994

      A landlocked republic of Central Asia, Tajikistan borders Kyrgyzstan on the north, Uzbekistan on the north and west, Afghanistan on the south, and China on the east. Area: 143,100 sq km (55,300 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 5,705,000. Cap.: Dushanbe. Monetary unit: pre-1993 Russian ruble, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 1,165 rubles to U.S. $1 (1,765 rubles = £ 1 sterling). Chief of state in 1993 (chairman of the National Assembly and acting president), Imomali Rakhmonov; prime ministers, Abdumalek Abdulajanov to December 18 and, from late December, Abdujalil Samadov.

      The civil war that ravaged Tajikistan in the last six months of 1992 wound down in January 1993 with a government of former Communist officials installed in Dushanbe determined to silence, if not physically destroy, the anti-Communist opposition that had briefly dominated the country's government the previous year. Tens of thousands of Tajiks, mostly sympathizers of the Islamic Renaissance Party, fled into Afghanistan between late December 1992 and February 1993 to escape attacks by armed supporters of the Dushanbe government, over whom the new leadership appeared to have minimal control.

      From the moment of its arrival in Dushanbe, the new government began persecuting the groups that had made up the anti-Communist coalition in 1992—the Islamic Renaissance Party, the Western-oriented Democratic Party, the Tajik nationalist Rastokhez ("Rebirth") Party, and the Lale Badakhshon movement, which sought independence for the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous oblast in the Pamirs. The opposition press was closed down, and Tajik nationalist control of the broadcast media was ended. Some liberal journalists were arrested and others went into exile. The four opposition organizations were formally banned in June. Their leaders were charged, largely in absentia, with armed insurrection against the constitutional order and with waging war against the established government. Most opposition leaders fled to Afghanistan, Iran, or Russia, where they attempted to continue their resistance to the pro-Communist forces in power in Dushanbe.

      Although it was able to gain control of most of the country in early 1993, the new government remained heavily dependent on military assistance from other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, primarily Russia and Uzbekistan, to counter continued insurgency inside Tajikistan by armed supporters of the Islamic Renaissance Party and attacks from Tajik oppositionists in Afghanistan and their Afghan supporters. Fighting continued into the summer between government troops and small groups of resistance fighters who took refuge in the mountains east of the capital. The government also had limited success in enforcing its will on Gorno-Badakhshan, where the leadership continued to sympathize with the opposition.

      The main threat to the regime in Dushanbe was, however, the attacks from Afghanistan. Fighting on the border occurred almost daily throughout the year, with casualties on both sides. One such attack, in which 25 Russian troops were killed, was widely believed to have been the reason for the firing of Russian Security Minister Viktor Barannikov in July. While most assaults involved small handfuls of Tajik opposition fighters and Afghan helpers, in September and October incursions by groups of up to 400 men were reported by Russian border guards stationed on the Tajik-Afghan border.

      Return of the Tajik refugees in Afghanistan became a major concern for Tajikistan's leadership, who feared with some justification that the refugees would come under the influence of Afghan Islamic fundamentalists. Tajikistan's head of state, National Assembly Chairman Imomali Rakhmonov, sought United Nations help and even courted the Kabul government in an effort to get the refugees back. By year's end, however, few had proved willing to accept government assurances of their safety should they return to their homes.

      By the end of 1993, Tajikistan was the only former Soviet republic still using Soviet (i.e., pre-1993) rubles as its single authorized currency. Dependent on Russian military aid and with the Tajik economy virtually destroyed by the civil war, the country's leadership believed that it had no alternative but to join Russia in a new economic union that had been spurned by the other CIS states. In return, Russia promised to provide assistance to keep Tajikistan's economy from complete collapse. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Tajikistan.

* * *

officially  Republic of Tajikistan , Tajik  Tojikiston  or  Jumhurii Tojikiston , Tajikistan also spelled  Tadzhikistan 
Tajikistan, flag of 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 (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) 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 (Sunnite) Muslims, while Iranians are predominantly Shīʿites), Tajiks also have strong ties to the culture and people of Iran; the Tajik and Persian languages (Persian language) 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.

The land (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 (Zeravshan Range) and Gissar ranges—define the east-central portion of the country. The ice-clad peaks of the Pamir (Pamirs) mountain system occupy the southeast. Some of Central Asia's highest mountains, notably the Soviet-named Lenin (Lenin Peak) (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 (earthquake) 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 (Panj River) 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.

The people
      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 (Tajikistan) 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 (Uzbek) 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 (Jew), and Armenians (Armenian).

The economy
      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.

      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 (irrigation and drainage). 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.

Administration and social conditions

      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.

      Members of the legislature, a unicameral National Assembly, are elected 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 (Islāmic world), 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.

Edward Allworth

Cultural life
      The area now called Tajikistan has an ancient culture, and many popular traditions and customs have been retained, including the costumes worn by both men and women and such ancient festivals as the New Year celebration, known as Naurūz (Nōrūz), which takes place on March 21, the period of the vernal equinox. A newer festival celebrates the gathering of the cotton crop. These colourful affairs incorporate horse races, horsemanship, and wrestling contests. Although religion was actively persecuted during the Soviet period, Muslims (mostly Sunnite) continued regular mosque worship and observed religious holidays where possible. In the late 1980s, religious persecution abated and religious practices revived.

      The principal language of the republic, Tajik (known to its speakers as Tojikī), with distinct northern and southern dialects, belongs to the southwest group of Iranian languages, in the Indo-European family; it is very closely related to Dari and is also used widely in neighbouring Afghanistan. The language of the Pamir Tajiks belongs to the eastern Iranian group. Tajik was formerly written in a modified Arabic and later in the Roman alphabet, but since 1940 it has used a modified Cyrillic script. Writers from this region have made notable contributions to literature since the 10th century AD, and a vigorous folk literature continues.

      A number of Tajik poets and novelists achieved fame during the 20th century. They include Abdalrauf Fitrat, whose dialogues Munazärä (1909; The Dispute) and Qiyamät (1923; Last Judgment) have been reprinted many times in Tajik, Russian, and Uzbek, and Sadriddin Ayni, known for his novel Dokhunda (1930; The Mountain Villager) and for his autobiography, Yoddoshtho (1949–54; published in English as Bukhara); both Fitrat and Ayni were bilingual in Uzbek and Tajik. Abū al-Qāsim Lāhūtī's poem Taj va bayraq (1935; Crown and Banner) and Mirzo Tursunzade's Hasani arobakash (1954; Hasan the Cart Driver) respond to the changes of the Soviet era; the latter's lyric cycle Sadoyi Osiyo (1956; The Voice of Asia) won major communist awards. A number of young female writers, notably the popular poet Gulrukhsor Safieva, have begun circulating their work in newspapers, magazines, and Tajik-language collections.

      Tajikistan's government recognized Tajik as the official language of the state in 1989, and the new constitution affirms this status while according Russian special privilege. The Tajik language has secure status in cultural life—which the widespread use of Russian, and at one time Uzbek, had limited—as well as in administration and education.

      The Tajik National Theatre, which was established in 1929, long presented opera, ballet, musical comedy, and puppetry. Regional theatres and troupes later appeared in towns such as Nau. Tajik studios have produced feature films and documentaries and have dubbed films from elsewhere. Radio and television services expanded during the later decades of Soviet rule, and Dushanbe has had a television centre since 1960. Broadcasting and the performing arts suffered deep cutbacks after 1985, however, when Soviet subsidies diminished and then ceased entirely.

Aleksandr Ilyich Imshenetsky Edward Allworth

      The Tajiks (Tajik) are the direct descendants of the Iranian peoples whose continuous presence in Central Asia (Central Asia, history of) and northern Afghanistan is attested from the middle of the 1st millennium BC. The ancestors of the Tajiks constituted the core of the ancient population of Khwārezm (Khorezm) and Bactria, which formed part of Transoxania (Sogdiana). They were included in the empires of Persia and Alexander the Great, and they intermingled with such later invaders as the Kushāns and Hepthalites in the 1st–6th centuries AD. Over the course of time, the eastern Iranian dialect that was used by the ancient Tajiks eventually gave way to Farsi, a western dialect spoken in Iran and Afghanistan.

      The Arab conquest of Central Asia that began in the mid-7th century brought Islam (Islāmic world) to the region. But tribal feuds weakened the Arabs, and, with the rise of the Sāmānids (Sāmānid Dynasty) (819–999), the Tajiks came under the rule of an Iranian dynasty. The first Turkic (Turkic peoples) invaders (from the northeast) seized this area of Transoxania in 999, and, because both conquered and conquerors were Muslim, in time many Tajiks—especially those in the valleys of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya—became Turkicized. This resulted in the transformation of a formerly purely Iranian land into “Turkistan.” The name Tajik, originally given to the Arabs by the local population, came to be applied by Turkic invaders and overlords to those elements of the sedentary population that continued to speak Iranian languages.

      Until the mid-18th century the Tajiks were part of the emirate of Bukhara (Uzbek khanate), but then the Afghans conquered lands south and southwest of the Amu Darya with their Tajik population, including the city of Balkh, an ancient Tajik cultural centre.

      Russian conquests in Central Asia in the 1860s and '70s brought a number of Tajiks in the Zeravshan and Fergana valleys under the direct government of Russia, while the emirate of Bukhara in effect became a Russian protectorate in 1868.

      After the Russian Revolution of 1917, a considerable proportion of the Tajik people was included in the Turkestan A.S.S.R. established in April 1918. In August 1920 the Revolution was extended to the khanate of Bukhara, which embraced most of the territory occupied by modern Tajikistan; the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic was declared in October 1920, and early in 1921 the Soviet army captured Dushanbe and Kŭlob ( Kulyab). Tajikistan was the scene of the Basmachi Revolt in 1922–23, and rebel bands under Ibrahim Bek operated in eastern Bukhara until 1931. The Tajik A.S.S.R. was created as part of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (S.S.R.) in 1925; in January 1925 a Special Pamirs region was created out of the Kyrgyz and Tajik parts of the Pamirs, and in December 1925 this region was renamed the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region. In 1929 the status of the Tajik A.S.S.R. was raised to that of a Soviet socialist republic. The change in status marked the first time that the Tajik people had their own state, albeit not a fully independent one, as it was still part of the Soviet Union.

      As a full-fledged member of the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), the underdeveloped, mountainous Tajik S.S.R. underwent a spectacular social and economic transformation. A sense of nationhood was instilled in the Tajik people—particularly by B.G. Gafurov, the leader of Tajikistan's Communist Party from 1946 to 1956 and a historian respected in the West. Dams were constructed for electric power generation and irrigation, and industry was developed in the Vakhsh River valley. Soviet health care and education were gradually introduced in the republic. The village of Dushanbe (known as Stalinabad from 1929 to 1961) was transformed into a modern capital city boasting the Tajik State University (1951) and the Tajik Academy of Sciences (1948). Such progress notwithstanding, Tajikistan remained the poorest republic of the Soviet Union.

      The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the somewhat reluctant declaration of full independence on Sept. 9, 1991. Once independence was achieved, turmoil—degenerating into civil war—plagued the new country; communists fought to retain power in the face of opposition from an alliance of Islamic and democratic forces. The presidential election of November 1991 was won by Tajikistan's former communist strongman Rahman Nabiyev, and in March 1992 massive nonviolent demonstrations protesting his dismissal of opposition elements began in Dushanbe. After government forces opened fire on the demonstrators in April, violence soon spread to the southern city of Kŭlob and elsewhere. Opposition forces drove Nabiyev from office in September and briefly took power, but by November a government led by Imomali Rakhmonov (from March 2007, Emomalii Rakhmon) and backed by Russian troops had regained control, ending the first phase of the civil war. A mass exodus to Afghanistan followed. Sporadic fighting continued as the Islamic fundamentalist forces and their allies, now based in Afghanistan, continued to launch attacks on the Russian and Tajik troops guarding the border. By the mid-1990s the fighting had left tens of thousands dead and had displaced more than a half million people. In 1994 government and rebel elements reached a tenuous cease-fire, and Rakhmonov was subsequently elected president. Sporadic fighting continued until June 1997, when a peace agreement brokered by the United Nations, Russia, and Iran essentially ended the war and produced some order in the strife that had characterized much of Tajik life since the country's independence. The endemic political unrest had a deleterious effect on the country's economy, which was dependent in large part on foreign aid.

      Following the agreement rebels began to reenter political and social life, though small groups of dissenters continued to engage in attacks on government targets, and Rakhmonov was elected to another term in office in 1999 with the support of some of his former adversaries. The flow of militants from Afghanistan slowed after the overthrow of the Taliban in late 2001, but smaller numbers of determined Islamic extremists continued to sift across the border, disrupting life and commerce in Tajikistan and other Central Asian states. Moreover, the fall of the Taliban led to an upswing in narcotics production in Afghanistan, and Tajikistan soon became a major transit point for Afghan heroin and opium headed for markets in Europe and elsewhere.

Denis Sinor Ed.

Additional Reading

A good overview of the history and geography of Tajikistan is provided in Robert Middleton et al., Tajikistan & the High Pamirs: A Companion and Guide (2008). Accounts from travelers to Central Asian countries include Philip Glazebrook, Journey to Khiva (1992); Georgie Anne Geyer, Waiting for Winter to End: An Extraordinary Journey Through Soviet Central Asia (1994); and Charles Undeland and Nicholas Platt, The Central Asian Republics: Fragments of Empire, Magnets of Wealth (1994). Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile: Tajikistan (annual), provides up-to-date information on the economy, resources, and industry.

Few works written in English deal exclusively or predominantly with Tajik history. They include Kirill Nourzhanov, Tajikistan: The History of an Ethnic State (1999); Teresa Rakowska-Harmstone, Russia and Nationalism in Central Asia: The Case of Tadzhikistan (1970); Muriel Atkin, The Subtlest Battle: Islam in Soviet Tajikistan (1989); and Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh, “The Bloody Path of Change: The Case of Post-Soviet Tajikistan,” The Harriman Institute Forum, 6(11):1–10 (July 1993).Since Tajikistan is a modern political construct, information on its past, even its recent past, must be culled from general works on Central Asia, such as Tom Everett-Heath (ed.), Central Asia: Aspects of Transition (2003); Audrey Burton, The Bukharans: A Dynastic, Diplomatic, and Commercial History, 1550–1702 (1997); Richard N. Frye, Bukhara: The Medieval Achievement (1965, reissued 1990); and Geoffrey Wheeler, The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia (1964, reprinted 1975). Various topics relevant to the Tajik past are treated in H.A.R. Gibbs et al. (eds.), The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed. (1954– ); and in Eshan Yarshater (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica (1982– ). René Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia (1970, reissued 1999; originally published in French, 1939), although dated, remains a comprehensive historical survey of the region.Edward Allworth David Roger Smith Gavin R.G. Hambly Denis Sinor

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