Khujand, Qurghonteppa, Khorugh
Total 143,100 km2
Country Profile: Tajikistan
Tajikistan, officially the Republic of Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and People's Republic of China to the east. Tajikistan also lies adjacent to Pakistan but is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. Most of Tajikistan's population belongs to the Tajik ethnic group, who share culture and history with the Iranian peoples and speak the Persian language (officially referred to as Tajiki in Tajikistan). 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). 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 and aluminum wire has contributed greatly to this steady improvement, but lack of natural resources has hampered its economic recovery.
With foreign revenue precariously dependent upon exports of cotton and aluminium, the economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks. Tajikistan's economy grew substantially after the war. The GDP of Tajikistan expanded at an average rate of 9.6 % over the period of 2000–2004 according to the World Bank data, this has improved Tajikistan's position among other Central Asian countries. Tajikistan is an active member of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). The recently completed Anzab tunnel which connects the previously hard to access Northern part of the country to the capital Dushanbe has been labeled as part of the new Silk Road. It is part of a road under construction that will connect Tajikistan to Iran and the Persian Gulf through Afghanistan.
Tajikistan is landlocked, and is the smallest nation in Central Asia by area. It is covered by mountains of the Pamir range, and more than fifty percent of the country is over 3,000 meters (approx. 10,000 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. Because of the abudnace of rivers in Tajikistan, they produce an enormous amount of hydro-power, this is their main export aside from cotton. With the global warming and climate changes that are taking effect, Tajikistan will be an important source of energy for the future as they are a leader in hydro-energy.
Language and 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 two-thirds of the citizens of Tajikistan. Ancient towns such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Balkh and Khiva are no longer part of the country. The main urban centers in today's Tajikistan include Dushanbe, Khujand, Kulob, Panjakent and Istaravshan. 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.
Tajikistan has much room to improve its growing economy and will look to do so in the near future. They will continue to be a global leader in cotton production as well as aluminum exports. Also because of their abundant wealth of natural rivers, Tajikistan will continue to be a global leader in hydro-energy production, which will be particularly important in the years to come.
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