The Republic of Tajikistan (Tajik: Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон; Jumhurii Tojikiston) is a former member of the Soviet Union located in in Central Asia. Its capital is Dushanbe.
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 these 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.
- Area: 55,251 sq mi; 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.
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. 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 had lived in proximity for centuries and often used--and continue to use--each other's languages. The division of Central Asia into five Soviet Republics in the 1920s imposed artificial divisions on a region in which many different peoples lived intermixed.
- Population (Oct. 2008 est.): 7,345,100
- Population growth rate (2008 est.): 2.3%
- Ethnic groups: Tajik 67%, Uzbek 23%, Russian 3.5%, other 6.5%.
- Religion (2003 est.): Sunni Muslim 85%, Shi'a Muslim 5%, other 10%.
- 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, 2003)--88%. The Tajik education system has suffered greatly since independence.
- Health: Life expectancy--61.68 years men; 67.59 years women. Infant mortality rate--110.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.).
- Work force (2003 est.): 3.301 million.
The current Tajik Republic hearkens back to the Samanid Empire (A.D. 875-999), which 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" between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia, 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.
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