Site Information:  Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union



Public Affairs Source: Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Public Communication Description: Washington, DC Date: May 27, 19925/27/92 Category: Site Information Region: Eurasia Country: Tajikistan, USSR (former) Subject: History, Democratization, Trade/Economics, Cultural Exchange Map: Central, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Republics [TEXT]


The Tajiks of today are descended from one of the most ancient settled societies in Central Asia; archaeological remains date back to at least 3000 BC. They are the only Central Asian people descended from the Persians-the others are Turkic in origin-and the Tajik language of today is related closely to the Farsi dialect spoken in Afghanistan. The land and its people were well-known in ancient times, and the local kingdoms of Bactria and Sogdiana were tributary states of the Persian Empire. In 329 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region, followed by Arab invaders in the 7th century AD, who converted the people to Islam. In the 10th century, Turkic invaders replaced the Arabs. Although other invasions followed-notably the Mongols in 1221-the Tajiks developed an impressive culture. The magnificent ruins at Bukhara and Samarkand, today inside the boundaries of Uzbekistan, are products of Tajik culture, and the Tajiks have been notable contributors to Persian literature since the 10th century AD. In the mid-15th century, Tajikistan was conquered by the nomadic Uzbeks and became part of the emirate of Bukhara, until the mid-18th century when it was conquered by the Afghans. In the 1860s, Russia gained control of some Tajik territory, and, after the 1917 revolution, attempted to absorb the country. That attempt was not without cost, and it triggered a major rebellion, the Basmachi revolt, in 1922. Although the rebels operated in some parts of the country until 1931, the area became a constituent republic of the USSR in 1929. Despite Soviet rule, the Tajiks remained religious, and the area has been in ferment since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. Because many of the Tajiks in Afghanistan were descendents of those involved in the Basmachi revolt, the Soviets were compelled to remove Tajiks from their Afghanistan army. Tajikistan declared its independence on September 9, 1991. Today, the population is ethnically mixed, and there are about 4 million Tajiks in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with another 4 million across the border in Afghanistan.

"The Mountainous Heart of Asia"

* The Pamir mountain range, known as the "roof of the world", runs through Tajikistan and extends into China and Afghanistan. The two highest peaks in the former Soviet Union are in Tajikistan. * More than 50% of the country lies above 10,000 ft.; less than 10% of its land is valley. Severe earthquakes are common. * Tajikistan's neighbors are China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Pakistan is only 20 miles away-separated from Tajikistan by a narrow Afghan corridor. * Most Tajiks live in rural qishlags of 200-700 homes. In mountainous areas, qishlags generally consist of 15-20 homes. Since space is at a premium, the flat roof of one home generally serves as the yard for the home above. * Temperatures can vary widely. In the subtropical valleys, temperatures can reach 87F in the summer, with mountain lows of -50F in the winter. In Dushanbe in February, temperatures are expected to be 32F. * Tajikistan is experiencing a high population growth rate, and 50% of the population is under 20 years old. * More than 5,000 different flowers can be found in the country. * Tajikistan is rich in mineral deposits and is a major producer of cotton.

Principal Government Officials

President: Rakhman Nabiyev Prime Minister: Akbar Mirzoyev Minister of Foreign Affairs: Khudoiberdi Kholiqnazarov Capital: Dushanbe Dushanbe was founded in 1922 on the site of the village of Dush. From 1929-61, the city was known as Stalinabad.