For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.
Republic of Tajikistan
Area: 143,100 sq. km.
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.
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, 2003)--88%. The Tajik education system has suffered greatly since independence.
Health: Life expectancy--65.2 years men; 67.38 years women. Infant mortality rate--89 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.).
Work force (2003 est.): 3.301 million.
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 in 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 or Majlisi Namoyanandagon (lower chamber; 63 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms) and the National Assembly or Majlisi Milliy (upper chamber; 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). Elections: last held February 27 and March 12, 2000 for the Assembly of Representatives (next to be held in 2005) and March 23, 2000 for the National Assembly. Election results for Assembly of Representatives, percent of vote by party--PDPT 65%, Communist Party 20%, Islamic Revival 7.5%, other 7.5%. 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 (2003 est.): Military manpower (availability)--1,273,700.
GDP nominal (2003 est.): $1.64 billion.
GDP nominal per capita (2003): U.S.$252. Purchasing power parity is about $1,000.
GDP real growth rate (2003 est.): 10.2%.
Inflation rate: 14%.
Natural resources: Hydropower, some petroleum, uranium, gold, mercury, brown coal, lead, zinc, antimony, tungsten.
Official unemployment rate (2003): 2.1%. The official rate is estimated based on the number of registered unemployment benefit recipients; under employment also is very high, approximately 40% of the workforce; 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--$797.9 million (2003): aluminum (49%), electricity (23%), cotton (12%), gold, fruits, vegetable oil, textiles. Partners—Netherlands 25.2%, Turkey 24.2%, Latvia 9.8%, Switzerland 9.6%, Uzbekistan 8.5%, Russia 6.5%, Iran 6.4%, Hungary 1.5%, and Ukraine 0.8% (2003). Imports--$881.3 million (2003): electricity, petroleum products, aluminum oxide, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs. Partners-- Russia 20.2%, Uzbekistan 15.2%, Kazakhstan 10.9%, Azerbaijan 7.1%, Romania 4.4%, Turkey 3.3%, China and Brazil 3%, Iran 2.7%, Italy 2.6%, UAE 1.6%, Germany 1.4%, Latvia 1.4%, Lithuania 1% (2003).
Total external debt (2000): $1.01 billion; total bilateral external debt--$509 million, of which Uzbekistan $130 million, Russia $288 million, U.S. $22 million, Turkey $26 million, Kazakhstan $19 million, Pakistan $16 million; total multilateral debt--$365 million, of which 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 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.
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, 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), 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.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The Republic of Tajikistan gained its independence during the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (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 Renaissance 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. In June 2003, Tajikistan held a flawed referendum to enact a package of constitutional changes, including a provision to allow President Rahmonov the possibility of reelection to up to two additional 7-year terms after his current term expires in 2006.
Afghanistan continues to represent the primary security concern in Tajikistan's immediate neighborhood, although much less so than in earlier years. With the ouster of the former Taliban government from Afghanistan, Tajikistan now has much friendlier relations with its neighbor to the south. The Taliban-allied Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a U.S. Government-declared terrorist organization formerly active in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, has also been greatly diminished as a threat to Tajikistan's domestic stability. Rampant illicit trafficking of Afghan opium and heroin through Tajikistan remains a serious long-term threat to Tajikistan's stability and development, fostering corruption, violent crime, HIV/AIDS, and economic distortions.
Principal Government Officials
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 in the United States at 1005 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037 (tel.: 202-233-6090; fax: 202-223-6091).
Tajikistan is the poorest Commonwealth of Independent States (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 an 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 state-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 targeted a fiscal deficit of 0.3% of GDP, including recent increases in social sector spending.
With the ouster of the former Taliban government from Afghanistan, Tajikistan now has much friendlier relations with its neighbor to the south. Tajikistan 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.
The United States remains committed to assisting Tajikistan in its economic and political development, as Tajikistan continues to recover from its civil war legacy. U.S. assistance efforts are evolving away from humanitarian aid and political reconciliation, as those needs increasingly have been met. Instead, our efforts are targeted toward broader goals of democratic and economic reforms. [For more information, see fact sheet on FY 2004 U.S. Assistance to Tajikistan.]
U.S.-Tajik relations have developed considerably since September 11, 2001. The two countries now have a broad-based relationship, cooperating in such areas as counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, and regional growth and stability. We continue to assist Tajikistan on economic reforms and integration into the broader global marketplace, for example in pursuing World Trade Organization (WTO) accession. Tajikistan has been a strong supporter of U.S. efforts in the war on terrorism and in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Tajikistan established an embassy in Washington in temporary offices in February 2003, and will formally open its first permanent chancery building in March 2004. The United States is currently constructing its own new embassy compound, the first purpose-built U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan, with completion scheduled for early 2005.
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 remains formally based in Almaty, but is currently transitioning to fully normalized operations in Tajikistan, with personnel spending most of their time in Dushanbe. The Embassy can be reached 24 hours a day, by calling either the Dushanbe or Almaty offices.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Richard E. Hoagland
Deputy Chief of Mission--Thomas Armbruster
Management Officer--Bruce Wilson
Political-Economic Officers--Amanda Cranmer, Joseph Chamberlain
Public Affairs and Consular Officer-Jenifer Washeleski
Defense Attache--Maj. Taft Blackburn
USAID Country Representative--Peter Argo
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.