Tajikistan

 

History of Tajikistan

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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.

Cities

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  • Dushanbe - the capital and largest city by far
  • Isfara - an ancient Silk Road town in the center of the Ferhghana Valley on theKyrgyzstani border
  • Istaravshan - an old city home to the well known and beautiful Abdullatif Madrassah and Mosque
  • Khorugh - largest city of and gateway to the Pamirs
  • Khujand - the center of Tajikistan's Ferghana Valley region, and the nation's second largest city
  • Konibodom - in the heart of the Ferghana Valley, on the Uzbekistani border
  • Kulob - the country's third largest city
  • Qurghonteppa - the largest city in Khatlon, and the political heart of the rebellion in Tajikistan's last civil war
  • Tursunzoda - an aluminum town west of Dushanbe on the road and railroad to Uzbekistan

People & Culture

The area now called Tajikistan has an ancient culture, and many popular traditions and customs have been retained, including the costumes worn by both men and women and such ancient festivals as the New Year celebration, known as Naurūz, which takes place on March 21, the period of the vernal equinox. A newer festival celebrates the gathering of the cotton crop. These colorful affairs incorporate horse races, horsemanship, and wrestling contests. Although religion was actively persecuted during the Soviet period, Muslims (mostly Sunnite) continued regular mosque worship and observed religious holidays where possible. In the late 1980s, religious persecution abated and religious practices revived.

Weather and Climate

Tajikistan Climate
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Mid-latitude continental, hot summers, mild winters; semiarid to polar in the Pamir Mountains

Public Holidays

Tajikistan Public Holidays Year 2015
New Year Day January 1, 2015 Thursday
International Womens Day March 8, 2015 Sunday
Nowruz Holiday Mar 21, 2015 Saturday
April Fools Day April 1, 2015 Wednesday
Labour Day May May 1, 2015 Friday
Ramadan Start June 18, 2015 Thursday
New Years Eve December 31, 2015 Thursday

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Tajikistan. Exercise a high degree of caution.