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Tajikistan

Тоҷикистон

3009

Country codes:TJ
Calling codes:992
Area:143,100.00 km²
Population:6,863,752

Introduction

Tajikistan (/tɑːˈdʒiːkɨstɑːn/, /təˈdʒiːkɨstæn/, or /tæˈdʒiːkiːstæn/; Тоҷикистон [ˈtɔdʒikɪsˈtɔn]), officially the Republic of Tajikistan (Tajik:Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон, Çumhuriji Toçikiston; Persian: جمهوری تاجیکستان Jomhuri-ye Tajikestan; Russian: Республика Таджикистан, Respublika Tadzhikistan), is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east.

Most of Tajikistan's population belongs to the Persian-speaking Tajik ethnic group, who share language, culture and history with Afghanistan and Iran . Once part of the Samanid Empire, Tajikistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union in the 20th century, known as the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR). Mountains cover over 90% of this Central Asian republic.

After independence, Tajikistan suffered from a devastating civil war which lasted from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country's economy to grow. Trade in commodities such as cotton, aluminium and uranium has contributed greatly to this steady improvement.

History

Early history

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

Acharya Yaska's Nirukta (7th century BC) attests that the verb Śavati in the sense "to go" was used by only the Kambojas.The Savati/Swati term is used for the people who had been living in ancient Swat state,The Gabari sultans,who claim their ancestor Sultan Samus the son of Kamboja. It has been shown that the modern Ghalcha dialects, Valkhi, Shigali, Sriqoli, Jebaka (also called Sanglichi or Ishkashim), Munjani, Yidga and Yaghnobi, mainly spoken in the Pamir mountains and countries on the headwaters of the Oxus, still use terms derived from ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense "to go". The Yaghnobi language, spoken by the Yaghnobis in the Sughd Province around the headwaters of Zeravshan valley, also still contains a relic "Śu" from ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense "to go".

Further, Sir George Abraham Grierson says that the speech of Badakshan was a Ghalcha until about three centuries ago when it was supplanted by a form of Persian. Thus, the ancient Kamboja, probably included the Badakshan, Pamirs and northern territories including the Yaghnobi region in the doab of the Oxus and Jaxartes. On the east it was bounded roughly by Yarkand and/or Kashgar, on the west by Bahlika (Uttaramadra), on the northwest by Sogdiana, on the north by Uttarakuru, on the southeast by Darada, and on the south by Gandhara.

Numerous Indologists locate original Kamboja in Pamirs and Badakshan and the Parama Kamboja further north, in the Trans-Pamirian territories comprising Zeravshan valley, north up parts of Sogdhiana/Fargana — in the Sakadvipa or Scythia of the classical writers.

Thus, in the pre-Buddhist times (7th–6th century BCE), the parts of modern Tajikistan including territories as far as Zeravshan valley in Sogdiana formed parts of ancient Kamboja and the Parama Kamboja kingdoms when it was ruled by the Kambojas till it became part of Persian Achaemenid Empire. After the Persian Empire was defeated by Alexander the Great, the region became the northern part of Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian Kingdom.

From the last quarter of 4th century BCE until the first quarter of the 2nd century BCE, it was part of the Bactrian Empire, from whom it was passed on to Scythian Tukharas and hence became part of Tukharistan. Contact with the Chinese Han Dynasty was made in the 2nd century BCE, when envoys were sent to the area of Bactria to explore regions west of China.

Arabs brought Islam in the 7th century CE. The Samanid Empire supplanted the Arabs and enlarged the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, which became the cultural centers of Tajiks (both of which are now in Uzbekistan). The Mongols would later take partial control of Central Asia, and later the land that today comprises Tajikistan became a part of the Emirate of Bukhara. A small community of Jews, displaced from the Middle East after the Babylonian captivity, migrated to the region and settled there after 600 BCE, though the majority of the recent Jewish population did not migrate to Tajikistan until the 20th century.

Russian presence

In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to spread into Central Asia during the Great Game. Between 1864 and 1885 it gradually took control of the entire territory of Russian Turkestan from today's border with Kazakhstan in the north to the Caspian Sea in the west and the border with Afghanistan in the south. Tajikistan was eventually carved out of this territory, which historically had a large Tajik population.

After the overthrow of Imperial Russia in 1917, guerrillas throughout Central Asia, known as basmachi, waged a war against Bolshevik armies in a futile attempt to maintain independence. The Bolsheviks prevailed after a four-year war, in which mosques and villages were burned down and the population heavily suppressed. Soviet authorities started a campaign of secularization, practicing Muslims, Jews, and Christians were persecuted, and mosques, churches, and synagogues were closed.

Soviet Tajikistan

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

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

By the late 1980s Tajik nationalists were calling for increased rights. Real disturbances did not occur within the republic until 1990. The following year, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Tajikistan declared its independence.

The first nation to establish an embassy in Dushanbe was Iran, which was also one of the first countries to immediately recognize Tajikistan as an independent state in 1991.

Post-independence

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

Emomalii Rahmon came to power in 1994, defeating former prime minister Abdumalik Abdullajanov in a November presidential election with 58% of the vote. The elections took place shortly after the end of the war, and Tajikistan was in a state of complete devastation. The estimated dead numbered over 100,000. Around 1.2 million people were refugees inside and outside of the country. In 1997, a ceasefire was reached between Rahmon and opposition parties (United Tajik Opposition).

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

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

Russian border troops were stationed along the Tajik-Afghan border until summer 2005. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, French troops have been stationed at the Dushanbe Airport in support of air operations of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. United States Army and Marine Corps personnel periodically visit Tajikistan to conduct joint training missions of up to several weeks duration. The Government of India rebuilt the Ayni Air Base, a military airport located 15 km southwest of Dushanbe, at a cost of $70 million, completing the repairs in September 2010. It is now the main base of the Tajikistan air force. There have been talks with Russia concerning use of the Ayni facility, and Russia continues to maintain a large base on the outskirts of Dushanbe and operate at least one military hospital in the capital city.

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

Culture

Historically, Tajiks and Persians come from very similar stock, speaking variants of the same language and are related as part of the larger group of Iranian peoples. The Tajik language is the mother tongue of around 80% of the citizens of Tajikistan. The main urban centers in today's Tajikistan include Dushanbe (the capital), Khujand, Kulob, Panjakent and Istaravshan. There are also Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Russian minorities.

The Pamiri people of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the southeast, bordering Afghanistan and China, though considered part of the Tajik ethnicity, nevertheless are distinct linguistically and culturally from most Tajiks. In contrast to the mostly Sunni Muslim residents of the rest of Tajikistan, the Pamiris overwhelmingly follow the Ismaili sect of Islam, and speak a number of Eastern Iranian languages, including Shughni, Rushani, Khufi and Wakhi. Isolated in the highest parts of the Pamir Mountains, they have preserved many ancient cultural traditions and folk arts that have been largely lost elsewhere in the country.

The Yaghnobi people live in mountainous areas of northern Tajikistan. The estimated number of Yaghnobis is now about 25,000. Forced migrations in the 20th century decimated their numbers. They speak the Yaghnobi language, which is the only direct modern descendant of the ancient Sogdian language.

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

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

Education

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

Geography

Tajikistan is landlocked, and is the smallest nation in Central Asia by area. It lies mostly between latitudes 36° and 41° N (a small area is north of 41°), and longitudes 67° and 75° E (a small area is east of 75°). It is covered by mountains of the Pamir range, and more than fifty percent of the country is over 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) above sea level. The only major areas of lower land are in the north (part of the Fergana Valley), and in the southern Kofarnihon and Vakhsh river valleys, which form the Amu Darya. Dushanbe is located on the southern slopes above the Kofarnihon valley.

The Amu Darya and Panj rivers mark the border with Afghanistan, and the glaciers in Tajikistan's mountains are the major source of runoff for the Aral Sea. There are over 900 rivers in Tajikistan longer than 10 kilometers.

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

Lesser known lakes (all in the Pamir region) include

Inforamtion above from the Wikipedia article Tajikistan, licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.

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