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Tajikistan (10/01)


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 (2000 est.): 6.1 million .
Population growth rate (2000 est.): 1.5%.
Ethnic groups: Tajik 67%, Uzbek 23%, Russian 3.5%, other 6.5%.
Religion: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi'a 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--60.95 years men; 67.38 years women. Infant mortality rate--117.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.).
Work force: No recent data available.

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 (181 seats; next election 96 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms). Elections held February 26 and March 12, 1995 (next were held February 27 and March 23, 2000). Election results: percent of vote by party, NA. Estimated seats by party: Communist Party and affiliates 100; People's Party 10; Party of People's Unity 6; Party of Economic and Political Renewal 1; Islamic Rebirth Party 2; other 62. Judicial--Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president. Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party or TDP [Mahmadruzi SKANDDAROV, chairman]; Islamic Rebirth Party [Said Abdullo NURI]; National Unity Party--evolved from the People's Party and Party of People's Unity; Party of Justice and Development Rahmatullo ZOIROV]; People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan or PDPT [Abdulmajid DOSTIEV]; Rastokhez (Rebirth) Movement [Tohiri ABDUJABBOR]; Tajik Communist Party or CPT [Shodi SHABDOLOV]; Tajikistan Party of Economic and Political Renewal or TPEPR [leader NA].
Suffrage: 18 years of age, universal.
Defense: military manpower (availability): 1,253,427 (2000 est.).
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: $955 million.
GDP per capita (2000): $154/per capita.
GDP (2000. est.): Real growth rate: 8.3%.
Inflation rate: 33%.
Natural resources: Hydropower, some petroleum, uranium, gold, mercury, brown coal, lead, zinc, antimony, tungsten.
Unemployment rate: 54.1% (1998), under-employment also is high; 80% live under the poverty line (2001).
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): $1.2 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 Kyrgyztsan 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 Tajiksitan, fed by melting snow from mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyztsan. Flooding sometimes occurs 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 and continue to remain unreconciled with the Tajik Government. 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.

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

Tajikistan is the poorest NIS 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.

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 2000, the U.S. Government provided an estimated $49.30 million in assistance to Tajikistan, including $33.90 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food aid through Food for Progress and Section 416(b) Programs, $9.93 million in FREEDOM Support Act (FSA) assistance, $140,000 in other U.S. Government assistance, and $5.33 million in U.S. Defense Department excess and privately donated humanitarian commodities. USAID programs, which accounted for about $7.5 million of FSA-funded assistance to Tajikistan, were focused on the broad areas of democracy and governance, economic restructuring, health sector support, humanitarian assistance, and energy and environment assistance. In addition to providing FSA-funded assistance, USAID also provided $25,000 in assistance through Child Survival and Matching Grant Programs of its Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. The U.S. State Department's Public Diplomacy exchange programs accounted for approximately $1.0 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.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Franklin "Pancho" Huddle, Jr.
Deputy Chief of Mission--James Boughner
DAO--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.

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