For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.


Republic of Tajikistan

Area: 143,100 sq. km.
Capital: Dushanbe.
Terrain: Pamir and Alay mountains dominate landscape; western Ferghana valley in north, Kofarnihon and Vakhsh Valleys in southwest.
Climate: Mid-latitude continental, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid to polar in Pamir mountains.

Nationality: Tajikistani.
Population (2003 est.): 6.25 million .
Population growth rate (2003 est.): 2.1%.
Ethnic groups: Tajik 67%, Uzbek 23%, Russian 3.5%, other 6.5%.
Religion: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi'a (Ismaili) Muslim 5%, other 15%.
Language: Tajik (sole official language as of 1994), Russian widely used in government and business, 77% of the country, however, is rural and they speak mostly Tajik.
Education: Literacy (according to Tajikistan official statistics, 2000)--99%. The Tajik education system has suffered greatly since independence.
Health: Life expectancy--65.2 years men; 67.38 years women. Infant mortality rate--82.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.).
Work force (2000 est.): 3.187 million.

Type: Republic.
Independence: September 9, 1991 (from Soviet Union).
Constitution: November 6, 1994.
Branches: Executive--Chief of state: President Emomali RAHMONOV since November 6, 1994; head of state and Supreme Assembly chairman since November 19, 1992; head of government: Prime Minister Oqil OQILOV since January 20, 1999. Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the Supreme Assembly. Elections: president elected by popular vote for a 7-year term; election last held November 6, 1999 (next to be held NA 2006); prime minister appointed by the president. Election results: Emomali RAHMONOV elected president; percent of vote: Emomali RAHMONOV 96%, Davlat USMONOV 4%. Legislative--bicameral Supreme Assembly or Majlisi Oli consists of the Assembly of Representatives (lower chamber) or Majlisi Namoyanandagon (63 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms) and the National Assembly (upper chamber) or Majlisi Milliy (33 seats; members are indirectly elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms, 25 selected by local deputies, 8 appointed by the president; all serve 5-year terms) election results: Assembly of Representatives--percent of vote by party--PDPT 65%, Communist Party 20%, Islamic Revival 7.5%, other 7.5%; seats by party--NA; National Assembly--percent of vote by party NA%; seats by party--NA elections: last held February 27 and March 12, 2000 for the Assembly of Representatives (next to be held NA 2005) and March 23, 2000 for the National Assembly Judicial--Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president. Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party or DPT [Mahmadruzi ISKANDDAROV, chairman]; Islamic Revival Party [Said Abdullo NURI]; Social Democratic Party or SDPT [Rahmatullo ZOIROV]; People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan or PDPT [Emomali RAHMONOV]; Tajik Communist Party or CPT [Shodi SHABDOLOV]; Socialist Party of Tajikistan Party or [Mirhusein NARZIEV].
Suffrage: 18 years of age, universal.
Defense (2000 est.): Military manpower (availability): 1,253,427.
Flag: Three horizontal stripes of red (top), a wider stripe of white, and green; a gold crown surmounted by seven gold, five-pointed stars is located in the center of the white stripe.

GDP nominal: 1.09 billion.
GDP per capita (2003): Nominal: U.S.$162. Purchasing power parity is about $1,000.
GDP (2000. est.): Real growth rate: 9.2%.
Inflation rate: 33%.
Natural resources: Hydropower, some petroleum, uranium, gold, mercury, brown coal, lead, zinc, antimony, tungsten.
Unemployment rate: 20% (2001), under employment also is very high; 85% live under the poverty line (2002).
Agriculture: Products--cotton, grain, fruits, grapes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, goats.
Industry: Types--aluminum, zinc, lead, chemicals and fertilizers, cement, vegetable oil, textiles, metal-cutting machine tools, refrigerators and freezers.
Trade: Exports--$792 million (2000): aluminum (49%), electricity (23%), cotton (12%), gold, fruits, vegetable oil, textiles. Partners--Europe 43%, Russia 30%, Uzbekistan 13%, Asia 12%, other CIS 2% (1997). Imports--$839 million (2000.): electricity, petroleum products, aluminum oxide, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs. Partners--Other CIS 41%, Uzbekistan 27%, Russia 16%, Europe 12%, Asia 4% (2000).
External debt total (2000): $1.01 billion. Bilateral external debt: total --$509 million: Uzbekistan $130 million, Russia $288 million, U.S. $22 million, Turkey $26 million, Kazakhstan $19 million, Pakistan $16 million; multilateral debt: total--$365 million: World Bank $153 million, IMF $113 million, ADB $19 million (2000).
Debt/GDP ratio (2000): 129.

At 36'40' northern latitude and 41'14' eastern longitude, Tajikistan is nestled between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the north and west, China to the east, and Afghanistan to the south. Tajikistan is home to some of the highest mountains in the world, including the Pamir and Alay ranges. Ninety-three percent of Tajikistan is mountainous with altitudes ranging from 1,000 feet to 27,000 feet, with nearly 50% of Tajikistan's territory above 10,000 feet. Earthquakes are of varying degrees and are frequent. The massive mountain ranges are cut by hundreds of canyons and gorges at the bottom of which run streams which flow into larger river valleys where the majority of the country's population lives and works. The principal rivers of Central Asia, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, both flow through Tajikistan, fed by melting snow from mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Flooding and landslides sometimes occur during the annual Spring thaw.

Contemporary Tajiks are the descendants of ancient Eastern Iranian inhabitants of Central Asia, in particular the Soghdians and the Bactrians, and possibly other groups, with an admixture of western Iranian Persians and non-Iranian peoples, Mongols, and Turkic peoples, and reports of Alexander the Great's army. Until the 20th century, people in the region used two types of distinction to identify themselves: way of life--either nomadic or sedentary--and place of residence. By the late 19th century, the Tajik and Uzbek peoples, who lived in proximity for centuries and often used--and continue to use--each other's languages, did not perceive themselves as two distinct nationalities. The division of Central Asia into five Soviet Republics in the 1920s imposed artificial labels on a region in which many different peoples lived intermixed.

The current Tajik Republic hearkens back to the Samanid Empire (A.D. 875-999), that ruled what is now Tajikistan as well as territory to the south and west, as their role model and name for their currency. During their reign, the Samanids supported the revival of the written Persian language in the wake of the Arab Islamic conquest in the early 8th century and played an important role in preserving the culture of the pre-Islamic persian-speaking world. They were the last Persian-speaking empire to rule Central Asia.

After a series of attacks beginning in the 1860s during the Great Game, the Tajik people came under Russian rule. This rule waned briefly after the Russian Revolution of 1917 as the Bolsheviks consolidated their power and were embroiled in a civil war in other regions of the former Russian Empire. As the Bolsheviks attempted to regain Central Asia in the 1920s, an indigenous Central Asian resistance movement based in the Ferghana Valley, the "Basmachi movement," attempted to resist but was eventually defeated in 1925. Tajikistan became fully established under Soviet control with the creation of Tajikistan as an autonomous Soviet socialist republic within Uzbekistan in 1924, and as one of the independent Soviet socialist republics in 1929.

The Republic of Tajikistan gained its independence during the breakup of the U.S.S.R. on September 9, 1991 and promptly fell into a civil war from 1992-97 between old-guard regionally based ruling elites and disenfranchised regions, democratic liberal reformists, and Islamists loosely organized in a United Tajik Opposition (UTO). Other combatants and armed bands that flourished in this civil chaos simply reflected the breakdown of central authority rather than loyalty to a political faction. The height of hostilities occurred between 1992-93. By 1997, the predominantly Kulyabi-led Tajik Government and the UTO successfully negotiated a powersharing peace accord and implemented it by 2000.

Tajikistan is slowly rebuilding itself with an integrated government and continues to permit a Russian military presence to guard their border with Afghanistan and the basing of the Russian 201st Motorized Rifle Division that never left Tajikistan when it became independent. Most of these Russian-led forces, however, are local Tajik noncommissioned officers and soldiers.

Both Tajikistan's presidential and parliamentary elections, in 1999 and 2000, respectively, were widely considered to be flawed and unfair but peaceful. The inclusion of an overtly declared Islamic party committed to secular government (Islamic Rebirth Party) and several other parties in the Parliamentary elections represented an improvement in the Tajik people's right to choose their government. Tajikistan is the only Central Asian country in which a religiously affiliated political party is represented in Parliament. President Rahmonov, while no longer specifically obliged--as he was under the peace accords--to allocate one-third of government positions to the UTO, has kept some former UTO officials in senior cabinet-level positions. While the government and the now incorporated former opposition continue to distrust each other, they have often found a way to work with each other and are committed to peacefully resolving their differences.

Tajikistan's fragmented neighbor to the south, Afghanistan, continues to be a base of international terrorism, a scene of civil conflict between the Taliban and their opponents, and the world's largest producer of opium. This combination of negative factors produces crossborder effects that regularly threatens to destabilize Tajikistan's fragile and hard-won peace. In the summers of 1999 and 2000, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an officially declared terrorist organization by the U.S. Government, used Tajikistan as a staging ground for an insurgency campaign against the Government of Uzbekistan. At the same time, Taliban advances in northern Afghanistan threatened to inundate Tajikistan with thousands of refugees. All the while, a constant flow of illegal narcotics continue to transit Tajikistan from Afghanistan on its way to Russian and European markets, leaving widespread violent crime, corruption, increased HIV incidence, and economic distortions in its wake. During 2002, stability in the country continued to increase, and the year was largely free of the assassinations and outbreaks of violence perpetrated by unreformed opposition members that plagued the country in previous years.

Principal Government Officials
President--Emomali Rahmonov
Prime Minister--Oqil Oqilov
Foreign Minister--Talbak Nazarov
Ambassador to the United States--Hamrohon Zaripov Ambassador to the United Nations--Rashid Alimov

Tajikistan maintains an embassy the United States at 1725 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, (tel.: 202-233-6090, fax: 202-223-6091)

Tajikistan is the poorest CIS country and one of the poorest countries in the world. With foreign revenue precariously dependent upon exports of cotton and aluminum, the economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks. In FY 2000, international assistance remained and essential source of support for rehabilitation programs that reintegrated former civil war combatants into the civilian economy, thus helping keep the peace. International assistance also was necessary to address the second year of severe drought that resulted in a continued shortfall of food production.

Despite resistance from vested interests, the Government of Tajikistan continued to pursue macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform in FY 2000. In December 1999, the government announced that small-enterprise privatization had been successfully completed, and the privatization of medium-sized and large-owned enterprises (SOEs) continued incrementally. The continued privatization of medium-sized and large SOEs, land reform, and banking reform and restructuring remain top priorities. Shortly after the end of FY 2000, the Board of the International Monetary Fund gave its vote of confidence to the government's recent performance by approving the third annual Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility Loan for Tajikistan. Improved fiscal discipline by the Government of Tajikistan has supported the return to positive economic growth. The government budget was nearly in balance in 2001 and the government's 2002 budget targets a fiscal deficit of 0.3% of GDP, including recent increases in social sector spending.

The United States remains committed to helping Tajikistan in any way it can develop their economy, recover from their war and 2 years of severe drought, and rebuild its infrastructure so that the Tajik people may prosper in a stable, productive, democratic, and tolerant society.

In FY 2002, the U.S. Government budgeted approximately $141.5 million by all government agencies, bringing the total allocation in assistance to Tajikistan to $490 million over the past 10 years, not including $73 million in Department of Defense surplus and privately donated commodities. The breakdown of FY 2002 funding is as follows: democracy programs, $12.4 million; social services, $12.2 million; market reforms, $9.4 million; security and law enforcement, $21.5 million; humanitarian assistance, $75.6 million; community development, $10.4 million.

Over the past several years, U.S. Government assistance to Tajikistan has focused heavily on supporting political reconciliation and the establishment of a stable, pluralistic government. This has included direct support for the now-completed peace process, for demobilizing combatants, and for political party development and election administration. The U.S. Government also has promoted the development of a more active civil society in Tajikistan in order to build demand for democratic practices. To facilitate Tajikistan's transition to a market economy, the U.S. Government has helped the Government of Tajikistan rewrite laws and recast the public institutions needed to foster economic growth in a free market. To spur economic growth, the U.S. Government has promoted privatization, commercial law reform, microcredit programs, agricultural-sector development, and the strengthening of local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The U.S. Government's regional environmental and energy programs have supported Tajikistan's participation in regional water and energy management programs along with its Central Asian neighbors. U.S. Government-funded assistance in the health-care sector has demonstrated the openness of the Tajik medical community to quality improvements and the willingness of the Ministry of Health to support needed health-sector reforms. In FY 2000, U.S. Government-funded humanitarian assistance programs continued to target vulnerable groups throughout the country. Through extensive U.S. Government-funded training programs, thousands of Tajik citizens from a wide range of sectors have gained the skills needed to move forward with reforms in the public sector and to build a prosperous private sector economy.

The United States recognized Tajikistan on December 25, 1991, the day the U.S.S.R. dissolved, and opened a temporary embassy in a hotel the capital, Dushanbe, in March 1992. After the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, Embassy Dushanbe American personnel were temporarily relocated to Almaty, Kazakhstan, due to heightened embassy security standards. American Embassy Dushanbe personnel continue to work in Tajikistan on an unscheduled and intermittent basis. The embassy can be reached 24 hours a day, by calling either the Dushanbe or Almaty offices.

[Fact sheet on FY 2003 U.S. Assistance to Tajikistan.]

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Franklin Huddle, Jr.
Deputy Chief of Mission--Kenneth Gross
Administrative Officer--Sarah Penhune Political-Economic Officer--Bradley Evans Public Affairs and Consular Officer--Fiona Evans Defens Attache--Maj. David Brigham
USAID--Micheal Harvey

Almaty office: 531 Seyfullin Prospect, Almaty, Kazakhstan 480091, tel. 7-3772-21-03-56, fax 7-3772-21-03-62. Dushanbe Office: 10 Pavlova Street, Dushanbe, Tajikistan 734003, tel. 992-372-21-03-48/50/52, fax 992-372-24-15-62.

For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.

[This is a mobile copy of Tajikistan (04/03)]

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