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The Republic of Tajikistan is a Central Asian country surrounded by Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan.

The ethnic Tajiks are descendants of the Persian speaking people who have lived in the region since the beginning of history. Yet, despite the long heritage of its indigenous people, Tajikistan did not exist as a state until it was created by the Soviet Union in 1924.

When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, five Central Asian states declared their independence from Russia. Tajikistan is the smallest of these, as far as land area is concerned, but the third largest in population. Although Tajikistan has the ability to generate waterpower and has some mineral resources, arable land is scarce and its industrial base is narrow.

Seventy years of Soviet rule had provided some advantages, such as education and healthcare, but these were confined to the urban areas, and the Soviets harvested raw materials from Tajikistan for industrial uses elsewhere. Thus, Tajikistan's industrial infrastructure was limited at the time that it became independent of Russia.

The problems of an undeveloped economy were exacerbated by a lengthy civil war that began almost immediately, largely pitting one indigenous clan against another, although there were differences, as well, over whether to create a regime ruled by an elite or to establish a more democratic government. The civil war peaked in 1992, then continued through small-scale conflicts through the mid-1990s.

Victorious were those who preferred a repressive system of rule. Although Tajikistan is officially a republic, the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan has held a large majority in parliament since the government was created, and Tajikistan has had the same president since 1994. Although freedom of the press is guaranteed by the country's constitution, independent news media are severely restricted, as is web content, and no public criticism of the government is allowed.

More than 90% of the land area of Tajikistan is mountainous. Two of its larger mountain ranges, Pamir and Alay, originate glacier-fed rivers and streams that are used to irrigate agricultural areas below. The Tian Shan mountain range follows the border of northern Tajikistan. The country's two population centers, in the lowlands of the south and the northern section of the country, are separated by a complex of three mountain chains, the Turkestan, Zarafshon, and Hisor.

The country's largest rivers are the Syrdariya River and the Amu Darya River, the latter carrying more water than any other river in Central Asia. Its second largest river, the Vakhsh, was dammed in several places during the Soviet era, generating electric power. Most of Tajikistan's lakes are glacial, and situated in the Pamir region.

Being a mountainous terrain, Tajikistan's climate varies according to its elevation.

The population of Tajikistan is largely rural, with high ethnic tensions. Large-scale relocations have occurred through Soviet-era programs and because of its civil war. About 90% of the Tajik people live in valleys, and it includes some densely populated urban areas, such as Dushanbe, a Soviet-era development once known as Stalinabad, and now Tajikistan's capital.

As is common in many countries, the rural standard of living is considerably lower than in urban areas. In addition, rural areas are more likely to have poor infrastructure and a shortage of teachers and medical professionals.

In the first years after independence, much of the country's non-Tajik population emigrated. The majority of those leaving were Russians, largely in opposition to Tajik being made the official language, resentment of the growing assertiveness of ethnic Tajiks, and fear of violence. Others who left Tajikistan were Germans and Jews, many of them fleeing the civil war.

Today, the majority of the country's population are ethnic Tajiks, but there are sizable numbers of Uzbeks and Russians, although their numbers continue to decline.

Approximately 98% of the population of Tajikistan are Muslim, primarily Sunni, the remainder of its population divided between Russian Orthodox, Protestant Christian, Zoroastrian, and Buddhist. Although the Tajikistan government is secular, religious communities are required to register with the central government and local authorities, and there are reports that registration is sometimes difficult at the local level. People under the age of eighteen are not permitted to participate in public religious activity.

The focus of this category is on Tajikistan, so topics related to the country are appropriate, as are those representing businesses, industries, schools, religious institutions, and organizations in Tajikistan. Sites hosted outside of Tajikistan whose topic relates to the country may be listed here, as well.



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