Capital and largest city Dushanbe
Official languages – Tajik (Persian)
Area – Total 143,100 km2
Water (%): – 1.8
Population: – 2011 estimate7,616,000
Ethnic groups (2000) – 79.9% Tajik, 15.3% Uzbek, 1.1% Russian, 1.1% Kyrgyz, 2.6% others
Currency: – Somoni (
Time zone: – UTC+5
Calling code: – +992
Internet TLD: – . tj
Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. It borders Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan are separated from Tajikistan by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. The country is geographically, politically and culturally divided in the center: the sparsely populated Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) occupies the mountainous eastern half; while the agrarian and urban centers of Tajikistan make up the western and far northern parts.
Tajikistan is a landlocked country, and is almost completely covered by mountains, except for areas of hilly lowlands in the southwest and in the north in the Fergana Valley; 50% of the country is over 3,000 meters (10,000ft) above sea level. The country is essentially divided into several parts by enormous mountain ranges, making transportation and communications difficult. Major mountain ranges include the Pamir in the east, which cover nearly all of Gorno-Badakhshan Province; the Fann Mountains in the northwest, which separate Dushanbe and the southwest territories from the northern part of the country; and branches of the Tien Shan in the northeast, which sweep down from Kyrgyzstan and adjoin the Pamir. Many peaks in Tajikistan are among the highest in the world, rising to a maximum of 7,495m (24,590ft) at Ismoil Somoni Peak (formerly Peak Communism).
Tajikistan is a major water source for Central Asia, and many wild and beautiful rivers flow across Tajikistan and along its borders, including the unruly Pyanj (which eventually becomes the Amu Darya) along the entire southern border with Afghanistan; the Syr Darya in the north, one of Central Asia's most important waterways; and the Vaksh, which flows from north to south from Kyrgyzstan to the Pyanj, and features the enormous scenic reservoir at Nurek, held back by the world's highest dam. Lakes include Lake Kara-Kol in Gorno-Badakhshan, a huge salty runoff lake in the middle of a vast breathtaking wilderness.
93% of its territory is surrounded by mountains, referring to the highest mountain systems of Central Asia: Tyan-Shan and the Pamirs. Almost half of the territory of Tajikistan is situated at a height of more than 3000m. The huge mountains are everywhere cut up by a rich network of gorges and canyons, through the bottom of which, the flows of mountain rivers storm.
The climate is continental and is characterized by sharp seasonal and daily fluctuations. The cold winter passes into rainy spring and is quickly replaced by dry summer, with the exception of Pamir. Tajikistan belongs to two climatic areas: Asian and Central Asian.
An average temperature of January in plains and foothills fluctuates from +2 up to 2C. An average temperature of July exceeds 31C in the plains and falls lower +10C. The autumn period is characterized by an unsteady temperature (from -3-5 up to 36+38C). The annual course of humidity depends on the air temperature. An annual amount of sediments reaches 200mm in the central regions. In deep hollows and narrow valleys, a number of sediments decrease up to 100-300m per year. An average annual amount of the sediments reaches 1200mm in Pamir. The types of sediments are various: the snow is 15-20% per year, high in the mountains up to 100%. The mountain winds occur only high in the mountains.
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.
The Culture of Tajikistan has developed over several thousand years. Historically, Tajiks and Persians come from very similar stock with a mutual language and are related as part of the larger group of Iranian peoples, though ancient towns such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Balkh and Khiva which are inhabited by a majority of Tajiks are not currently part of the country. The Tajiks' ancestors were from Scythian proto-Indo-European tribes who were nomads of the Eurasian steppes and were among the first to settle in Central Asia about 4000 years ago. The territory of Tajikistan has seen many conquests and cultural influences, including campaigns by the Persians and Alexander of Macedonia. Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism, was from the area, and the Arabs later introduced Islam beginning in the tenth century. The Soviet period dramatically changed the culture of the country, introducing western culture and art and attempting to suppress the Islamic faith.
January 1 - New Year's Day
March 8 - International Women's Day
March 20-March 22 - Persian New Year (Navruz)
May 1 - International Labor Day
May 9 - Victory Day (WWII)
September 9 - Independence Day
November 6 - Constitution Day
November 9 - National Reconciliation Day
Date varies - Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan celebration, early October)
Date varies - Eid ul-Adha (70 days after Ramadan ends)