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Tadzhikistan

State

Capital

Tadzhikistan

Dushanbe

Currency unit

Rouble/Teng

Connections

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Borders

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History

Republic formerly in the Soviet Union, now sovereign.

The people speak Persian languages related closely to the Farsi of Iran and can understand the Iranian radio. However, there are also Turkic-speaking minorities, mainly Uzbeks. It was formerly part of the Emirate of Bokhara until the southern part of their land was conquered in 1841 by Afghanistan and the northern part by Russia. At one time Bokhara and Samarkand were predominantly Tadzhik cities but are now dominated by Uzbeks. There are many Tadzhiks now in Afghanistan centered on the city of Balkh (now called Wazirabad), reputed to be the oldest city in the world.

The Afghan frontier was fixed in 1895 by the Russians and the British. The republic was set up in 1929, as a member of the Soviet Union. It was split off from the other Central Asian areas partly as an exercise in "divide and rule" . Thus like many former colonial countries it has no historic integrity. In particular Bokhara and Samarkand were excluded.

During the Brezhnev years the republic was noted for its corruption. Moskva did not pay much attention to it as long as the cotton was delivered to quota. Indeed some reports describe it as having been an oriental backwater within the Soviet Union.

It seems unlikely that Tadzhikistan will be viable on its own. There are two natural divisions of the country separated by a pass which is closed during the long winters. The northern part might be drawn towards Bokhara and Samarqand; the southern towards Afghanistan. There might grow a desire to join up with the Tadzhiks of Afghanistan, who are about equal in number - 3,000,000. Iran would also be interested in a Persian speaking Muslim population (but there is no common frontier and the people are Sunni rather than Shi'ite). Another possibility is a federation of Central Asian Republics, already showing some signs of coming into being in the form of informal consultation among the non-Russian republics. However, the Tadzhiks are unlikely to cooperate with Turkic-speakers, though there are 800,000 Uzbeks within the republic. Also there are 800,000 Tadzhiks in neighboring Uzbekistan. There was a Civil war in the 1990s but at present it seems to be peaceful, partly because of Russian influence.

Russian settlers began to leave as early as 1989, especially after Tadzhik was made the state language. This has many of the features of a classic decolonization, as in southern Africa.

Declared independence in September 1991.

There was a state of civil war ostensibly between Communists and Islamic parties, but more realistically between northern and southern clans. Russian troops are assisting the government forces and manning the Afghan frontier.

Languages

Tadjik - a variety of Farsi (Persian)

Russians introduced first the Roman, then the Cyrillic script; the government plans the use of the Perso-Arabic script, which will assist relations with Afghanistan and Iran.

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Politics

The Communists hung on until October 1991 but were then forced to give up power by a combination of popular demonstrators and pressure from Moskva. However, former Communists continued to control the government, as some say the elections were manipulated by the Nomenklatura. The ruling party was still called Communist.

Islamic fundamentalism is rising, though the people are Sunni, rather than Shiah, despite speaking Farsi.

By May 1992 opposition to the communists still in power was growing.

The forces which overthrew the communist government in Afghanistan were led by the Ahmed Shah Masood, an Afghan Tadzhik. As the Tadzhiks have no history of their own state, other than as part of the former Emirate of Bokhara, there may well be demands for closer association with the Tadzhiks in Afghanistan.

The government in June 1992 was a coalition of Communists, Democrats and Islamic Renaissance parties. However, the mainly Uzbek regions of the north were not recognizing the government. At present there is a government, but it is hard to say whether it controls the whole territory.

It is considered that the ruler treats the country as his personal property for his own profit.

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Economics

A rather poor republic with few local resources. Potentially rich, if war can be stopped. Cotton, gold, silver, rubies are mined.

During the Soviet period little economic development occurred, leaving behind a typical post-colonial economy heavily dependent on delivery of cotton to the imperial power.

There is a high rate of unemployment and a high birth rate.

A problem is that although the farmers wish to convert from cotton to wheat they cannot because the fields are so poisoned with chemicals that they need to be allowed five years fallow before producing wheat with an acceptable level of contaminants.

The industrial areas share the same problems as Russian industry.

The civil war has destroyed much of the modern economy.

Observers travelling in the country note a growing drug economy as Opium and Heroin pass through the country from Afghanistan to Europe. Could it become a narco-economy?

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Green/Ecology

As with other former Soviet Central Asian republics the growing of cotton has damaged the ecology and the economy.

There is a high birthrate (52% of the population under 18).

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Human Rights

None

Last revised 20/05/12


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