Facts about Tajikistan
Why visit Tajikistan?
Not a lot of people know about Tajikistan, a small jewel of a country perched between Afghanistan and China. Tajikistan is landlocked, and is the smallest nation in Central Asia by area. It is covered by mountains of the Pamir range, and more than fifty percent of the country is over 3,000 meters above sea level. It was always rarely visited mainly because it was part of the closed world of the Soviet Union, and just because it is one of the least known and remote destinations in the world.
The good news for travellers is that today Tajikistan is safe, stable and scenically spectacular. As a tourist destination, Tajikistan must be rated as safe and — especially in the Pamirs, that were virtually untouched by the civil war of early 90s. After independence, Tajikistan suffered from a devastating civil war which lasted from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country's economy to grow. Its natural resources such as cotton and aluminium have contributed greatly to this steady improvement, although observers have characterized the country as having few natural resources besides hydroelectric power and its strategic location.
Tajikistan was always a land of great diversity. Although it is almost completely mountainous, there is a great difference between the life of the pastoral farmers of the valleys of the Pamir and Fan mountains, and the semi nomadic Kyrgyz herders who tend their flocks and live in yurts on the high plains at 4,000m around Murghab. There is another great contrast with the people who live in the hot and fertile Ferghana valley in the north, and those on the baking plains in the south stretching down to the Amu Darya, the border with Afghanistan. Most of Tajikistan's population belongs to the Tajik ethnic group, who share culture and history with the Persian peoples and speak the Tajik language, a modern variety of Persian.
The modern country is a fragile patchwork of mountain valleys, clans, languages and identities, forged together by little more than Soviet nation-building and the shared hopes for a peaceful future.
Now, when Tajikistan is independent and peace has returned, there is a chance for the traveller to visit and discover this interesting and hospitable country.