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 (July 2006 est.): 7,320,815.
Population growth rate (2006 est.): 2.19%.
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.
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 (appointed by the president): 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, 2006. Election results: Emomali RAHMONOV 79.3%, Olimjon BOBOYEV 6.2%, Amir QARAQULOV 5.3%, Ismoil TALBAKOV 5.1%, Abduhalim GHAFFOROV 2.8%. 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, 2005 for the Assembly of Representatives. Election results: percent of vote by party--People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan 74.9%, Communist Party 13.64%, Islamic Revival 8.94%, other 2.5%. Judicial--Supreme Court; judges are appointed by the president.
Political parties and leaders: People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan or PDPT [Emomali RAHMONOV]; Islamic Revival Party or IRPT [Muhiddin KABIRI]; Tajik Communist Party or CPT [Shodi SHABDOLOV]; Democratic Party or DPT [Saidjafar ISMONOV heads government-recognized faction; (Mahmadruzi IZKANDAROV, currently serving 23-year prison term, is chairman of original DPT; Rahmatullo VALIYEV is deputy)]; Social Democratic Party or SDPT [Rahmatullo ZOYIROV]; Socialist Party of Tajikistan or SPT [Abdukhalim GAFFOROV; (Murhuseyn NARZIEV heads a rival faction of the SPT party currently unrecognized by the government)]; Agrarian Party or APT [Amir Birievich QARAQULOV]; Party of Economic Reform or PERT [Olimjon BOBOYEV].
Suffrage: 18 years of age, universal.
Defense (2003 est.): Military manpower (availability)--1,273,700.
GDP nominal (2005 est.): $2.3 billion.
GDP nominal per capita (2005): U.S. $364. Purchasing power parity is about $1,300.
GDP real growth rate (2005 est.): 6.7%.
Inflation rate (consumer prices, 2006 est.): 7.5%.
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; 60% live under the poverty line (2004).
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 (2006 est.)--$1.16 billion f.o.b.: aluminum (49%), electricity (23%), cotton (12%), gold, fruits, vegetable oil, textiles. Partners (2005)--Netherlands 46.6%, Turkey 15.8%, Russia 9.1%, Uzbekistan 7.3%, Latvia 4.9%, Iran 4%. Imports (2006 est.)--$1.513 billion f.o.b.: electricity, petroleum products, aluminum oxide, machinery and equipment, foodstuffs. Partners (2005)--Russia 19.3%, Kazakhstan 12.7%, Uzbekistan 11.5%, Azerbaijan 8.6%, China 7%, Ukraine 6.2%, Romania 4.6%, Turkmenistan 4%.
Total external debt (2005 est.): $1.09 billion; total bilateral external debt--$509 million, of which Uzbekistan $94 million, U.S. $18.2 million, Turkey $26 million, Kazakhstan $19 million, Pakistan $16 million; total multilateral debt (2000)--$365 million, of which World Bank $153 million, IMF $113 million, ADB $19 million.
Debt/GDP ratio (2005): 46.7%.
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 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.
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 to 1997 internal fighting ensued 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 and 1993. By 1997, the predominantly Kulyabi-led Tajik Government and the UTO successfully negotiated a power-sharing peace accord and implemented it by 2000.
The last Russian border guards protecting Tajikistan's 1,400 km border with Afghanistan completed their withdrawal in July 2005. Russia maintains its military presence in Tajikistan with 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.
Tajikistan's most recent presidential election in 2006 and its 2005 parliamentary elections were considered to be flawed and unfair but peaceful. 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 re-election to up to two additional 7-year terms after his term expired in 2006. The February 2005 parliamentary elections, in which the ruling party secured 49 of the 63 seats, failed to meet many key Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) standards on democratic elections, but there were some improvements over previous elections.
After the November 6, 2006 presidential election in which President Rahmonov secured a new 7-year term in office, the OSCE determined that democratic practices were not fully tested "due to the absence of genuine competition, which provided voters with only nominal choice." There were four other candidates on the ballot but no strong opposition candidate. The strongest opposition party, the IRPT, decided not to field a candidate and two other parties (the DPT and SDPT) boycotted the election.
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--Khamrokhon Zaripov
Ambassador to the United States--Charg� d'Affairs, a.i. Mahmadnazir Sharipov
Permanent Representative to the United Nations--Sirojiddin Aslov
Tajikistan established an embassy in Washington, DC in temporary offices in February 2003, and formally opened its first permanent chancery building in March 2004. Tajikistan's embassy in the United States is 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. Though a pull-out of Russian border guards was completed in July 2005, Tajikistan continues to permit 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 2006 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. In light of the Russian border forces' withdrawal from the Tajik-Afghan border, the U.S. Government leads an international donor effort to enhance Tajikistan's territorial integrity, prevent the transit of narcotics and material or technology related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and support a stable, peaceful Tajikistan in order to prevent the spread of influence and activities of radical groups and terrorists.
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.
When completed in August 2007, a U.S. Government-funded $36 million bridge over the Pyanzh River will connect Sher Khan, Afghanistan, with Nizhniy Pyanzh, Tajikistan and is expected to transport more than 1,000 cars daily. The bridge will enhance economic and commercial opportunities on both sides of the river, allowing goods and people to move across more easily. On the Afghan side, the bridge road will connect to the Afghan Ring Road, which is being built with international assistance primarily via the Asian Development Bank.
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 in 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 has since returned to full operations and in July 2006 moved into a purpose-built Embassy compound.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Tracey Ann Jacobson
Deputy Chief of Mission--Thomas Hushek
Management Officer--Bruce Wilson
Political/Economic Section Chief--Elizabeth Horst
Public Affairs Officer--Jon Larsen
Consular Officer--Gregory Pfleger
Defense Attach�--Maj. Dan Green
USAID Country Representative--Carolyn Bryan
The U.S. Embassy is located at 109-A Ismoili Somoni Avenue, Dushanbe, Tajikistan 734019. Embassy phone:  (37) 229-20-00, Consular section phone:  (37) 229-23-00, Embassy Fax:  (37) 229-20-50.