Tajikistan -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Tajikistan
Capital City: Dushanbe
Languages: Tajik (official), Russian widely used in government and business
Official Currency: Somoni (TJS)
Population: 7,211,884 (July 2008 est.)
Land Area: 143,100 sq km
Landforms: landlocked; mountainous region dominated by the Trans-Alay Range in the north and the Pamirs in the southeast; highest point, Qullai Ismoili Somoni (formerly Communism Peak), was the tallest mountain in the former USSR
Land Divisions: 2 provinces Viloyati Khatlon (Qurghonteppa), Viloyati Sughd (Khujand) and 1 autonomous province - Viloyati Mukhtori Kuhistoni Badakhshon
Tajikistan -- History --
The Tajiks, whose language is nearly identical with Persian, were part of the ancient Persian Empire that was ruled by Darius I and later conquered by Alexander the Great (333 B.C.). In the 7th and 8th centuries, Arabs conquered the region and brought Islam. The Tajiks were successively ruled by Uzbeks and then Afghans until claimed by Russia in the 1860s. In 1924, Tajikistan was consolidated into a newly formed Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which was administratively part of the Uzbek SSR until the Tajik ASSR gained full-fledged republic status in 1929.
Tajikistan declared its sovereignty in Aug. 1990. In 1991, the republic's Communist leadership supported the attempted coup against Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. Tajikistan joined with ten other former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States on Dec. 21, 1991. A parliamentary republic was proclaimed and presidential rule abolished in Nov. 1992. After independence, Tajikistan experienced sporadic conflict as the Communist-dominated government struggled to combat an insurgency by Islamic and democratic opposition forces. Despite continued international efforts to end the civil war, periodic fighting continued. About 60,000 people lost their lives in Tajikistan's civil war. The conflict ended officially on June 27, 1997, with the signing in Moscow of peace accords between the government of President Imomali Rakhmonov and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), a coalition of largely Islamic groups. Since then, however, peace has been tenuous, marred regularly by killing sprees by various opposition groups.
In 2005 parliamentary elections, the president's governing party received 80% of the votes; international monitors pronounced them irregular. President Rakhmonov won a third term in the Nov. 2006 elections, which were boycotted by opposition parties. Since he came to power ten years ago, he has shut down the country's independent media and jailed opposition leaders. His government has also been accused of numerous human rights abuses and corruption.
Tajikistan -- Economy --
Tajikistan was the poorest of the former Soviet republics. Civil war wracked Tajikistan’s economy from the time of independence until a peace accord was signed in 1997. Turmoil in the south destroyed much of the region’s infrastructure, created thousands of refugees, and sorely disrupted agricultural production. A large number of Russian-speaking people, many of them technically skilled workers or professionals, fled the country to seek safety and more favorable economic conditions. The combination of these factors caused the gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the value of goods and services produced, to drop an average of 16 percent a year between 1990 and 1996. However, in 1997 the GDP began to rebound. GDP was $2.81 billion in 2006.
Economic reforms planned at the time of independence were mostly suspended because of the war. After the war, the government was able to focus on the difficult process of transforming the centrally planned economy of the Soviet period into one based on free-market principles. The government turned to mass privatization—the selling of state assets to the private sector—as a way to generate revenue, promote foreign investment, and gain support from international financial institutions such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). Although the reform process proceeded rapidly beginning in 1997, Tajikistan continued to face many serious economic problems, both as a legacy of Soviet central planning and civil war and as a consequence of economic transition.
Agriculture forms the foundation of Tajikistan’s economy. The sector employed 67 percent of the workforce in 2000. The principal crop is cotton, which is grown on irrigated lands along the tributaries of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya. The cultivation of cotton is a legacy of the Soviet period, when government planners mandated that cotton be grown as an export crop. Cotton continues to be an important source of revenue. Other major crops include grain, primarily wheat; vegetables, particularly potatoes, onions, and tomatoes; and fruit, such as grapes and apples. Silkworms, who feed on the leaves of mulberry trees, are also cultivated for the production of raw silk. Raising cattle and sheep is also important. Much of the best farmland is held by collective farms, which lease agricultural plots to private farmers.
Mineral resources in the republic are extensive. Tajikistan has metals such as gold, silver, iron, lead, and tin; mineral fuels, mainly coal; and industrial materials such as phosphates and semiprecious stones. Much of the country’s mineral resources have yet to be developed. Many are in remote mountainous areas where the lack of transportation and severe weather make mining difficult. Several foreign companies have entered into joint ventures with the government of Tajikistan to mine gold, silver, and coal.
Some industrialization has taken place since the 1930s, but manufacturing still accounts for a relatively small part of Tajikistan’s economy. While Tajikistan produces substantial amounts of cotton, only about one-tenth of it is processed into textiles inside the country. Heavy manufacturing is limited to a few concerns, principally a massive aluminum plant located in Tursunzade, west of Dushanbe. However, the country has no deposits of aluminum ore and must import the raw material from other countries, mainly Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Mountain rivers provide ample sources of hydroelectric power in Tajikistan, and an extensive hydroelectric power system was built during the Soviet period. Massive dams produced 98 percent of the country’s electricity in 2003, with the rest coming from thermal plants fueled by natural gas. Large quantities of electricity are needed to refine aluminum; the abundant supply of electricity in Tajikistan is why Soviet planners built the massive aluminum smelter in Tursunzade. New power stations are being built in Tajikistan with international assistance, positioning the country to become a major exporter of electricity in the region. Tajikistan is dependent on imports for other energy sources, including gas and oil.
Tajikistan’s chief trading partners are other former Soviet republics, principally Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia. The country is also developing trading relationships with European and Asian nations.
In 2000 Tajikistan introduced a new currency, the somoni, to replace the Tajik ruble. One somoni is made up of 100 dirams. The government issued the new currency in the expectation that it would help facilitate the transition to a market economy. For example, the new currency was designed to simplify financial transactions, as 1 somoni replaced 1,000 Tajik rubles. The Tajik ruble had been in use since 1995, when it replaced the Russian ruble. In 1994 Tajikistan had joined the “ruble zone,” comprising Russia and some other former Soviet republics, but Russia’s economic problems caused a severe shortage of rubles in Tajikistan. By issuing its own currency in 1995, the country gained control over its own monetary policy.
Tajikistan -- Culture --
Let's start with the fact with that Tajiks are a very ancient nation. Hence, the culture of this people is rather unique and originates somewhere in extreme antiquity. Tajiks have managed to preserve the traditions and customs of people who are the basis of the cultural life of the nation.
The cult structures and archaeological finds which testify about prosperous cultural development are related to the 6th - 5th centuries B.C. among those are the objects made of metal, stone, terracotta.
During the archaeological excavations near the city of Penjikent were found dwelling and cult structures, beautiful monumental paintings, sculptures which are related to the 7th - 8th centuries.
And what magnificent samples of architecture are the ancient mosques! Their wall paintings can be regarded as authentic pieces of art.
Tajiks always aspired to knowledge of the world. And this is reflected in their science, literature, art. Tajiks are especially protective in relation to their native language. For millennia they have carefully preserve it, passing it from generation to generation, like a kind of a relic, trying not to distort it borrowing something foreign. Arabian conquerors practically destroyed the original tongue of Tajiks - dari. However, Tajiks managed to return its original magnificence. The language sounded again in the masterpieces of Tajik classics: fiction, songs, scientific treatises, etc.
All this proves that Tajiks have always had special attitude toward culture, arts, beauty, aesthetics, and grace. They have been always educated nation with their peculiar vision of the world.
But the peak of cultural development of Tajik was during the period of Samanids rule (874-1005 AD), especially under Ismail Samani. It was the time when science, literature, astronomy, mathematics, natural sciences, philosophy prospered. Ismail Samani, being one of the most educated person,created favorable conditions for cultural boom. This time is still named « the Golden Age of Tajik civilization ». In the court of Ismail Samani were gathered the best scientists, writers, philosophers, poets, astronomers, painters, alchemists. The doors of the palace were always open for visitors bringing news of the latest developments in the world's culture.
The names of such talents as Ibn-Sino, Abu-Raikhan-Berunii, Al-Khorezmii, Imom Termezii, Farabi, Rudakii, Firdausi, Saadi, and Omar Khayyam are known worldwide. In fact they lived and created on territory of modern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Tajiks treat with respect the epoch when Tajik nation with its common language, territory and culture formed.
In 1999 the celebration of Samanid Dynasty 1,100 anniversary turned into a grandiose festival for the entire country. The celebrations, symposiums and international conferences took place not only in Tajikistan but also in many cities of the world.
Dushanbe in many respects is the cultural capital of the republic. There various international festivals of arts, music, dance, films, folklore and many other are held.
The modern cultural life of Tajikistan cannot be described without the State Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Aini, Tajik Drama Theatre named after Lakhuti, Russian Drama Theatre, the Academy of Sciences, state universities, historical museums, museums of fine arts, botanical gardens and other cultural institutions.
Tajikistan -- Political system, law and government --
President: Emomaly Rahmon(2008)
Prime Minister: Akil Akilov(2008)
After Tajikistan became an independent republic in 1991, a period of political instability delayed the drafting of a new constitution to replace the one of the Soviet period. In 1994 voters approved a new constitution that formally established Tajikistan as an independent republic with a presidential system of government. In a 1999 referendum, voters approved constitutional amendments that created a new, two-chamber legislature and extended the presidential term of office from five years to seven.
A president is head of state in Tajikistan. The president is directly elected for a term of seven years. Although the constitution imposes a limit of two consecutive terms, constitutional amendments passed in 2003 created an exception for the standing president, Imamali Rakhmonov, allowing him to run for two additional terms after having served two consecutive terms. The president appoints the prime minister and the members of the council of ministers, subject to legislative approval.
The legislature of Tajikistan comprises a lower chamber, the Majlisi Namoyandagon (Assembly of Representatives), and an upper chamber, the Majlisi Milliy (National Assembly). The 63 members of the Majlisi Namoyandagon are elected by popular vote for five-year terms; 22 are elected by proportional representation (in which representatives are elected from party lists in proportion to the number of votes each party receives), and 41 are elected from single-member constituencies (geographical areas that each have one representative). The 33 members of the Majlisi Milliy are indirectly elected for five-year terms; 25 are selected by local deputies, and 8 are appointed by the president. The Majlisi Namoyandagon acts on a permanent basis, while the Majlisi Milliy convenes at least twice per year.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. The Supreme Court is the highest court in Tajikistan. Other high courts include the Supreme Economic Court and the Constitutional Court. The president appoints the judges of these three courts, with the approval of the legislature. Other courts include the Military Court, the courts of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, and local courts. The judges of all courts are appointed to ten-year terms.
For purposes of local government, Tajikistan is divided into Soghd Region (formerly Leninabad Region), Khatlon Region, the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, and the capital, Dushanbe. The regions and Dushanbe are subdivided into districts. In addition, a number of districts in the central part of the country are not part of any region. Dushanbe is administratively independent of the regions. Dushanbe and the regions are administered by local councils, whose members are elected to five-year terms. The president appoints a chairperson to head each council.